Use of research titles at the University is governed by the Vice President of Research and the Executive Vice President and Provost. The Procedures for Research Titles document, updated for December 1, 2016, is a publication created in conjunction with HOP 7-1020: Research Titles, to provide information concerning research titles to department contacts. The handbook contains practical application examples and comprehensive guidelines for temporary and regular research positions, both paid and unpaid.

Policies and Procedures for Research Titles - select below

Regular, Paid Research Titles

Research Associate, Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist

 

The College of Natural Sciences has established a process for the College for hiring into regular research titles. Recruiting is required for these titles. Before an offer of employment is extended, the Research Title Checklist must be completed, signed, and the packet emailed or delivered to the CNS HR office. Signature approval varies depending the level of the hire:

Research Associate

If the candidate holds a doctoral degree, approval to hire is delegated to the Chair or Director of the department unless the candidate is a direct-report to the Chair/Director. If the candidate does not hold a doctoral degree and/or is a direct-report to the Chair/Direct, both the Chair/Director and the Assistant Dean for Research must give signature approval of the hire on the CNS Research Hiring Checklist before an offer of employment is extended.

Research Scientist/Senior Research Scientist

Chair/Director and Assistant Dean for Research signature approvals are required before an offer of employment is extended.

HRMS Document Remarks - Regular Paid Employee - Research Positions

  • Initial assignment must contain name and date of Chair/Director approval, and if applicable name and date of Assistant Dean approval
  • Modify documents: explain the reason for the modification

On all documents, explain any warnings about background check, I-9, work authorizations, appointments on default account.

Researcher Promotion Guidelines

research promotions

Research promotions will be effective September 1 of each year. Promotion requests must be submitted by June 15 of each respective year. Requests should be submitted for promotions for Research Associate positions to Research Scientist positions, and Research Scientist positions to Senior Research Scientist positions. Full details and requirements are located in the Research Promotions Memo (PDF).

 

Temporary, Paid Research Titles

Includes Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow

Recruitment to the temporary research titles is optional. Assignment limits apply depending on the title used. The individual generally may not move from one title to another title in this series. At the time of initial assignment, a determination is made of the appropriate title to use and once the time limitation in title has been met, the assignment will end. An individual in a temporary position can be considered for a regular title through a competitive recruiting and selection process via the University's recruiting system.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Full CNS guidelines and procedures for hiring Postdoctoral Fellows are listed on the Postdoctoral Fellow Hiring page. This title is used for the traditional postdoctoral assignment intended to provide a training program of advanced academic preparation and research training under mentorship of a more experienced scientist/scholar. The title is intended for individuals who have received their doctoral degree within the past three years. University policy limits assignment to this title to five years total, usually assigned year-to-year and renewed based on available funding and performance.

Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow

From Procedures for Research Titles: At time of initial assignment, a determination should be made as to the appropriate title to use (senior research fellow, research fellow, or postdoctoral fellow). An employee cannot move between these titles (except as noted in #5 below). Assignments are for one year and can be renewed for a second year. The assignment may be extended past the end of the second year to finish up a project (with prior Dean approval), but it should not exceed a total of three years. Read full details concerning use of these titles in the Procedures for Research Titles. The Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow titles can be used for:

  1. a visiting scientist/engineer who is regularly based at another institution or in industry and plans to return after a limited stay at UT Austin,
  2. a visiting scientist/engineer who is invited to collaborate on University sponsored activities and who is established professionally in their field,
  3. a temporary research assignment for individuals whose primary assignment is as a member of the non-tenure track faculty (exception to assignment time limitation),
  4. temporary positions that do not fit in one of the other categories due to limited time the position is needed, limited number of hours per week that the position is needed, limited funding, or
  5. bridging an assignment into a postdoctoral fellow position prior to receipt of the Ph.D. (exception to no transfer between titles procedure).

HRMS Document Remarks - Temporary Paid Employee - Research Positions

Initial assignment:

  • Initial (S)RF/PDF assignment (SRF for Sr. Research Fellow, RF for Research Fellow, PDF for Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Degree received date and university
  • Expected length of assignment (should match offer letter)
  • Permanent place of employment, if applicable
  • Example: Initial RF assignment. PHD received 2004 from State University, State, Country. Assignment is expected to continue for 2 years. Permanent place of employment - Dept of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics - Cornell University.

Modify Documents

Any subsequent HRMS modify document must contain Document Remarks with the initial PDF/RF/SRF assignment, and explain the reason for the modification.

  • Examples:
    1. Initial RF 09/01/2015. This document updates funding only.
    2. Initial RF 09/01/2015. This document extends the assignment to MM/DD/YYYY.
    3. Initial RF 09/01/2015. This document extends the assignment to MM/DD/YYYY and updates funding.

NOTE: If funding does not extend the full length of the assignment or the entire fiscal year, whichever is applicable, provide an explanation of the UNFUNDED line in the Funding section of the HRMS document.

CNS Salary/Rate Policy 

The University has instituted a minimum salary for incumbents assigned to a Postdoctoral Fellow or (Senior) Research Fellow position. Department administrators can contact the Dean's Office for information regarding minimum salary requirements. Salaries can exceed the minimum, depending on available funding, but must be sustainable for the duration of the assignments.

All documents: explain any warnings about background check, I-9, work authorizations, default account funding

Unpaid Research Affiliates and Visiting Scholars

Includes:

Research Affiliate-Postdoctoral

Research Affiliate-Research Fellow

Research Affiliate-Senior Research Fellow

Visiting Researcher/Scholar

Research Affiliates and Visiting Researchers are individuals who obtain sponsorship from a UT researcher or faculty member to work collaboratively with that sponsor on a specific research project. These affiliates are self-funded or independently funded by a third party source such as a grant or other institution. If their visit is 14 days or longer they must be assigned through HRMS, following the process outlined by the Vice President for Research Office.

A Research Affiliate (RA-Postdoc, RA-Research Fellow, RA-Senior Research Fellow) or Visiting Researcher/Scholar position is used to create a university assignment and the designated university privileges for visiting researcher. Use of research titles at the University is governed by the Vice President for Research and the Executive Vice President and Provost. The Procedures for Research Titles document, published in March 2013, is a publication created in conjunction with HOP 7-1020: Research Titles, to provide information concerning research titles to department contacts. The handbook contains practical application examples and comprehensive guidelines for temporary and regular research positions, both paid and unpaid. 

Qualifications 

Research Affiliate - Postdoctoral Fellow (job code A010): Recent Ph.D. graduates (within three years) who are self-funded or independently funded by a third party source such as a grant or other institution. Postdoctoral Fellows are typically recruited by a member of the UT faculty or research body to further UT research endeavors.

  • Important to note: Assignments to this title count toward the five-year postdoc maximum. Postdocs who move between paid and unpaid postdoc titles will be limited to a total of five years.

Research Affiliate - Research Fellow (job code A011): Have at least three years of research experience (post-Ph.D.), and plan to return to their home institutions after brief collaborations at UT. They are self-funded or independently funded by a third party source such as a grant or other institution. Research Fellows are typically recruited by a member of the UT faculty or research body to further UT research endeavors. Research Fellows may request co-Principal Investigator status from the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Research Affiliate - Senior Research Fellow (job code A012): Have established research careers at other institutions, to which they plan to return after brief collaboration at UT. They are self-funded or independently funded by a third party source such as a grant or other institution. Senior Research Fellows are typically recruited by a member of the UT faculty or research body to further UT research endeavors. Senior Research Fellows may request co-Principal Investigator status from the Office of Sponsored Projects. 

Visiting Researcher/Scholar (job code A006): Visitors from corporations or academic institutions who are self-funded or independently funded by a third party source such as a grant or other institution. Visitors typically initiate request for nomination and collaborate on research that may primarily benefit their own research endeavors. 

Process for Assignments and Required Document Remarks

Create a position if needed. Instructions are outlined in HRMS Help pages.

If department is authorized to run the Visual Compliance check in the Visual Compliance System, follow this process:

  1. Department contact collects official identification and CV from visitor, determines whether the visitor meets the criteria for Research Affiliate, and runs and reviews results of the Visual Compliance check. Note: CNS HR can coordinate with VP for Research to authorize the department contact for the Visual Compliance system, and will provide training on the system.
  2. Department contact creates HRMS assignment document with anticipated dates of visit, certifies that the VC was run, enters the required Document Remarks (see 2.a below), and routes it forward. Send a scanned copy of the offer letter, and for Postdoc Affiliates, a copy of the CV and degree verification to personnel@cns.utexas.edu with the document ID in the subject line. VP for Research requires the following in Document Remarks: Affiliate's nationality, their home institution, background check completed MM/DD/YYYY, results of the Visual Compliance, name of sponsoring PI, research topic, and how the research affiliation benefits the University.
  3. CNS HR reviews offer letter and HRMS assignment to make sure the dates match, required remarks are correct, and approves the document.
  4. Upon final approval of the assignment, department contact obtains Chair signature on the offer letter, sends to visitor, and emails a PDF copy with the visitor's name and assignment document ID in the file name to liza@austin.utexas.edu.
  5. Important to note: The VP for Research requires that the dates on the HRMS assignment match the dates on the offer letter. Any subsequent modifications to the assignment dates due to visa issues or other delays require a new offer letter with the new dates. 
  6. For renewals/extensions: If the last assignment is within 365 days, it is not necessary to run a new Visual Compliance check or background check. Simply submit a renewal letter and the HRMS assignment document.

If department is NOT authorized to run the Visual Compliance check in the Visual Compliance System, follow this process:

  1. Department contact sends copy of official identification, CV, and for Postdoc Affiliates, a copy of degree verification along with an unsigned draft offer letter to CNS HR personnel@cns.utexas.edu.
  2. CNS HR reviews the CV for minimum degree requirements, offer letter wording, spelling, and begin and end dates for the visit. 
  3. CNS HR runs the Visual Compliance check and send the results to the department contact. CNS HR retains the documentation from Step 1 in a pending file.
  4. Department contact acknowledges electronically on the HRMS assignment document that the Visual Compliance check was clear, enters the required document remarks, and routes the assignment to CNS HR. VP for Research requires the following in Document Remarks: Affiliate's nationality, their home institution, background check completed MM/DD/YYYY, results of the Visual Compliance, name of sponsoring PI, research topic, and how the research affiliation benefits the University.
  5. Using the documentation, CNS HR compares the dates on the letter to the dates on the HRMS assignment, and checks to make sure the document remarks contain the wording required by the VP for Research office.
  6. Upon final approval of the assignment, department contact obtains Chair signature on the offer letter, sends to visitor, and emails a PDF copy with the visitor's name and assignment document ID in the file name to liza@austin.utexas.edu.
  7. Important to note: The VP for Research requires that the dates on the HRMS assignment match the dates on the offer letter. Any subsequent modifications to the assignment dates due to visa issues or other delays require a new offer letter with the new dates.
  8. For renewals/extensions: If the last assignment is within 365 days, it is not necessary to run a new Visual Compliance check or background check. Simply submit a renewal letter and the HRMS assignment document.