Rank Descriptions

Academic Appointments

Research Investigator

A person appointed to the position of Research Investigator must hold a doctoral degree or its equivalent in professional and technical experience and typically has completed two or more years of postdoctoral work.  The typical candidate for this position is someone whose scholarly reputation is equivalent to a person who has recently completed a Ph.D. or M.D. and/or postdoctoral training and demonstrates evidence of potential for scholarship.  Candidates for research investigator are not expected to have a record of Institutional citizenship or teaching, although achievement in these areas is a welcome addition.

Research investigator positions are intended for persons for whom a full-time career in research is expected.  Appointments are recommended by the Department Chair or unit head, within the constraints of the University appointment procedures, and must be approved by the Dean’s Office of Faculty Affairs.  The time-in-rank limit for the Research Investigator is four years.  The Research Investigator can be promoted to Assistant Research Scientist or to Research Assistant Professor on the Research Professor Track. 

Research Scientist Track

Research Scientist Track faculty are typically part of a scientific team or have achieved independence in a research program and have demonstrated excellence in initiation, direction and completion of research projects.  A record of peer-reviewed publications is expected.  

Assistant Research Scientist

Candidates who are appointed or promoted to this rank must have a record of publications in peer-reviewed journals.  Candidates for this rank are establishing a national presence with talks, abstract presentations and/or participation at professional meetings.  Candidates for Assistant Research Scientist should demonstrate potential for scholarly development, possibly as part of a larger research program. 

Appointments and promotions to assistant research scientist require review by the Advisory Committee on Primary Research Appointments, Promotions, and Titles (APRAPT) and approval by the Medical School Executive Committee.  The time-in-rank limit for the Assistant Research Scientist is six years.  (A review of the Assistant Research Scientist’s progress will be conducted by the Medical School upon completion of the third year in rank.)

Associate Research Scientist

Appointment or promotion to this rank requires growing national and/or international scientific visibility.  Independence in research is not required, but may be developing as represented by a substantial record of collaborative funding as a team scientist (usually as co-investigator).  There should be a strong and sustained record of publication in peer-reviewed journals, including a number of first-author and/or senior-author publications and evidence that this accomplishment will continue.  A candidate for this rank typically have a record of participation in or presentation at professional meetings, symposia, and/or invited talks.

Promotion to associate research scientist signals the passage into medical academia’s senior rank.

Appointments and promotions to associate research scientist require review by APRAPT; approval by the Medical School Executive Committee; endorsement by the Dean/Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, and the Vice President for Research.  There is no time–in-rank limit for the Associate Research Scientist.  However, longevity in this rank is not sufficient evidence of accomplishment or merit for promotion.  

Research Scientist

Appointment and promotion to this highest rank in the Research Scientist Track requires an internationally recognized record of continued excellence in research productivity and contributions.  A Research Scientist will have a sustained record of first-author and/or senior-author publications in peer-reviewed journals.  A Research Scientist will have served as principal investigator on center grants, major grants (e.g. NIH R01) or equivalent.  A significant and sustained record of participation in relevant professional meetings is expected of a Research Scientist. 

Appointments and promotions to research scientist require review by APRAPT; approval by the Medical School Executive Committee; endorsement by the Dean/ Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, and the Vice President for Research.

Research Professor Track

Research professor track faculty must have achieved or demonstrated the potential for autonomy as independent scientists or as part of a scientific team and excellence in initiation, direction and completion of research projects.  A record of substantial teaching and mentoring within the context of one or more research programs with postdoctoral fellows, junior research colleagues, or students at any level is an expectation in the Research Professor Track.

Research Assistant Professor

Candidates who are appointed or promoted to this rank must have an established record of publications in peer-reviewed journals in which several are primary or senior authored.  Emerging national visibility is typically documented by participation in professional meetings.  Candidates for Research Assistant Professor will have evidence of potential for extramural funding (often mentored K awards and/or foundation grants); with a strong potential for future independent “RO1 NIH type” proposals.  Contributions to education and Institutional citizenship are typical.  Candidates at this rank typically have documented teaching and mentoring within the context of one or more research programs with postdoctoral fellows, junior research colleagues, or students at any level.

Appointments and promotions to research assistant professor require review by the Advisory Committee on Primary Research Appointments, Promotions, and Titles (APRAPT) and approval by the Medical School Executive Committee. The time-in-rank limit for the Research Assistant Professor is seven years. (A review of the Research Assistant Professor’s progress will be conducted by the Medical School upon completion of the third year in rank.)

Research Associate Professor

Appointment or promotion to this rank requires independent, distinguished, and productive research that has been consistent over a number of years and has gained national or international recognition.  There should be clear evidence of in obtaining significant independent external funding as principal investigator; past the level of initial research grants and fellowships.  There should be a strong record of publication in peer-reviewed journals, including numerous first-author and/or senior-author publications and evidence that this accomplishment will continue.  Many researchers appointed or promoted to research associate professor also have a substantial record of book chapters, abstracts, and/or textbook co-authorships.

A Research Associate Professor must have produced research that has achieved a national reputation.  A candidate for this rank should have a record of invited national lectures, seminars, study sections, and ad hoc reviews.  Candidates at this rank will have a record of substantial teaching and mentoring, both in quantity and quality, within the context of one or more research programs with postdoctoral fellows, junior research colleagues, or students at any level.  Institutional citizenship is expected to achieve this rank but cannot substitute for distinguished research performance. Promotion to Research Associate Professor signals the passage into medical academia’s senior rank.

Appointments and promotions to Research Associate Professor require review by APRAPT; approval by the Medical School Executive Committee; endorsement by the Dean, the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, the Vice President for Research, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President.  There is no time-in-rank limit for this position.  There is no time-in-rank limit for this position.  However, longevity in this rank is not sufficient evidence of accomplishment or merit for promotion.  

Research Professor

Appointment and promotion to this highest rank in the Research Track requires an internationally recognized record of continued excellence in research.  A Research Professor will have a substantial and continued record of first-author and/or senior-author publications in peer-reviewed journals.  A Research Professor will have served as principal or co-principal investigator on center grants, major grants (e.g. NIH R01) or equivalent and demonstrate a maintained record of such funding.  National and international lectures, seminars, study sections, and ad hoc reviews are expected of a Research Professor.  Research Professors are expected to perform mentoring, supervising, and laboratory or research based teaching in a number of venues.  Institutional citizenship is expected of a Research Faculty.

Appointments and promotions to research professor require review by APRAPT; approval by the Medical School Executive Committee; endorsement by the Dean, the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, the Vice President for Research, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President.

Joint & Secondary Appointments

Joint appointments are implemented in a secondary or tertiary department for instances of substantial and ongoing academic or clinical collaboration beyond routine collegial interactions. Joint/Secondary appointments are added after the faculty member has been here in the primary role. The primary or home department usually is responsible for the paperwork.

Joint appointments are extraordinary, they are not used for perfunctory title dissemination or routine recruitment enticements. They may be funded or unfunded (dry).

Review the U-M Provost's guidelines on Joint Appointments →

Appointment Packets for Joint Medical School Appointments

If a Medical School faculty member will be jointly appointed in another Medical School department, the Office of Faculty Affairs requires only one appointment packet. The department staff working on this type of joint appointment should produce a Transmittal Letter that includes information for both departments and the faculty member's CV. The Transmittal Letter for the packet should also be signed by both department chairs.

MOU Requirements

Because of the complexity of joint appointments and appointments where the appointment is held outside the department in which the faculty has primary board certification, a detailed MOU will be required among the chairs of the participating departments, and signed by the participating chairs and the candidate.

Revenue & Research Grants

The general principle regarding financial faculty support will be based on where the faculty revenue is generated. Credit and research grant direct and indirect revenue will be distributed to the primary department in which the work was done, or shared between departments when and if this is desired. Any sharing arrangement would need to be codified prior to grant submission.

For joint appointments between clinical and non-clinical departments or schools, these guidelines will be followed with the exception of credentialing issues and distribution of clinical revenue.

Adjunct Faculty

According to the Regents’ Bylaws (Sec. 5.22 Adjunct Professorships and Sec. 5.23 Clinical Instructional Staff), adjunct faculty positions:

  • Require annual renewal
  • Are part-time (less than 50 percent)
  • May be compensated or uncompensated

Adjunct Research

Adjunct Research Track faculty appointments are made when an individual’s primary employment responsibilities lie outside the University. This appointment indicates that the individual is working for a limited portion of his/her time (part-time) on a research project housed in the Medical School. Adjunct appointments may be made at any research faculty rank, but must be consistent with the individual’s professional qualifications.

Adjunct Faculty from Industry

Increased collaboration between the University and industry has resulted in requests for faculty appointments in the Medical School from employees of industrial companies. These appointments should enhance the Medical School’s instructional programs and foster research collaboration with industry. Adjunct appointments are appropriate for qualified individuals. People whose primary employer is a for-profit organization should be appointed only as adjunct faculty.

At the time of appointment, there must be full disclosure of all details of employment status so that any potential for conflict of interest can be addressed. Ownership of intellectual property must also be disclosed. The nominating chair should define claims to patent ownership and royalties and should identify eligibility to publish and present findings.

Appointment of adjunct faculty as principal investigators on University extramural grants will not occur under ordinary circumstances. Any University space, for example, must be requested by the department chair of the prospective adjunct faculty and must be used primarily for the academic benefit of the department and the Medical School.

Adjunct faculty are generally not eligible for clinical privileges at Michigan Medicine or VAMC. Adjunct faculty may be involved in medical education, graduate medical education, or clinical research in the clinical setting at Michigan Medicine, but they should not be the attending of record or responsible for the delivery of patient care.

Adjunct faculty are not voting members of the Executive Faculty of the Medical School, may not serve on the Executive Committee of the Medical School, are not members of the University Senate, and may not participate in the election of representatives to the University Senate Assembly.

How To...

For faculty leaving the University who currently have an appointment within the Medical School the following is required:

  • Letter from their department chair requesting the Adjunct title
  • Current CV

Send to OFA

  • Approval will be granted by the Assistant Dean on the research track.

Upon approval, the department will:

  • Process the title change in MPathways through a PAR

Supplemental Titles

Supplemental titles are used for special faculty appointments that fall outside the standard categories.

Supplemental appointments are made under the same criteria as appointments in the regular tracks. For example, the criteria for a Visiting or Adjunct Research Associate Professor are the same as for an Research Associate Professor in the Research Track. The recommendation packet has the same documents, and the approval procedure is the same.

No Appointment Activity Record (AAR) is required for any supplemental appointment.

Visiting Faculty

This title may be used in conjunction with all track titles.

  • Appointees to this title must have employment responsibilities with another institution of higher education and are usually on leave from that institution (e.g. a professor from UCSF who is here for a 6-month sabbatical).
  • Appointees may be full-time, with a maximum length of appointment of 1 year or less.

Written requests to extend appointments beyond 1 year may be granted under unusual circumstances. Requests must specify what contributions the visiting faculty member has made, why an extension is needed, and what provisions are being made for allocation of space and for payment of any salary.

Emeritus Status

An honorary title received upon retirement (for all tracks with appointment at the rank of assistant professor or higher at the time of retirement) given by the Regents on recommendation of the School. An “active status” appointment may be requested for retirees who wish to continue their clinical, research, or service activities. An active appointment is necessary if the retiree requires clinical privileges, receives payment for clinical services or teaching, or continues to be formally involved in research grant activity.

Review the Standard Practice Guide Policy on Emeritus/Emerita Titles (SPG 201.80) →

Retiring faculty who have had a significant role in departmental activities may be considered for the formal Emeritus Faculty title. The chair decides whether a retiring faculty member has earned emeritus status. If so, the chair must propose appointment to the emeritus rank by recommending emeritus appointment to the Dean.

For the department, the advantages of maintaining a group of emeritus faculty are: continuing contact for mentoring, teaching, research, or other departmental activities; maintaining faculty contact for personal donations and help with development; and having emeritus faculty available for advice to students, residents, junior faculty as it may be appropriate.

The provision of office space, clerical assistance, or financial support to active emeritus faculty is sometimes provided by departments, but is dependent on the department's capabilities.

Emeritus Faculty Program FAQ