Supplements

  • Thursday 13 November 2014
  • NO. 5077
  • VOL. 145

Recognition of Distinction 2015: Call for Applications for the Conferment of the Title of Full Professor, University of Oxford

1 Introduction and outline of exercise

Applications are invited for the 2015 Recognition of Distinction exercise to confer the title of full professor at the University of Oxford. The closing date for applications will be noon on 7 January 2015.

Applications will be considered by a Recognition of Distinction Committee in each academic division on behalf of Divisional Boards. Recommendations will be made by the Recognition of Distinction Committees to the Senior Appointments Panel of the University's Personnel Committee which consists of the Vice-Chancellor (chair); the Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Personnel and Equality, and for Education; and the Registrar; and, for this purpose, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). The Senior Appointments Panel will review the divisional recommendations and supporting documentation. It may seek further information, consideration or comment from the divisional committees. It will ratify the recommendations when it is satisfied that proper procedures have been followed and that standards have been applied consistently. Applicants will be notified in writing of the outcome by the Vice-Chancellor and titles will take effect immediately.

It is recommended that those considering applying should take advice on their potential case from their head of department, faculty board chair, or equivalent; though it should be noted that encouragement to apply cannot guarantee a successful outcome.

Conferment of the title of professor will have no implications for the duties of the individual concerned.

Successful applicants whose substantive post is in one of the Associate Professor grades (ie formerly University Lecturers, ULNTFs, CUF Lecturers, Faculty Lecturers, titular or supernumerary titular ULs/CUFs) or who are Keepers in ASUC, will receive an increase to their salary of £2,600 per annum (at current rates) from 1 October 2015 (unless they already receive recruitment or retention payments at this level or above) whether or not they actually choose to use the title of professor. They will then become eligible for consideration in subsequent professorial distinction award exercises.

Applications are especially welcome from under-represented groups in order to address the under-representation of women and minority ethnic staff among the University's senior academics.

2 Eligibility

All those employed by the University in academic or senior research roles are eligible to apply, as are other University employees who are making a significant and sustained academic contribution to the University.

Individuals not employed by the University, but who are employed on a long-term basis by an Oxford college or permanent private hall, or by a recognised independent centre, or by the NHS, and who, in the view of the divisional committee, are making a significant and sustained academic contribution to the University's work, are eligible to be considered for title. Any applicant not employed by the University should apply in the normal way, and the divisional committee will first decide whether the nature and extent of the applicant's contribution to the University, and the opportunities for that to continue, are sufficient for eligibility; the committee will notify its decision regarding eligibility direct to the applicant. If the divisional committee judges that a non-employee is not eligible for consideration no further assessment of the case will be undertaken.

Divisional boards may confer the title of visiting professor on an individual who is not an Oxford University employee if it is considered that the individual more appropriately fits that category and is of appropriate distinction.

Applications from individuals working in Continuing Education or in the Academic Services and University Collections, or from individuals who are not employed by the University, will be considered by the academic division in which the individual's academic contribution is being made.

Applications from individuals whose work is interdisciplinary and spans more than one division, or who hold contracts in more than one division, will be considered by the division which the applicant considers to be most relevant. Divisions will confer as necessary about such applications, and should indicate in their report to the Senior Appointments Panel that they have done so.

Unsuccessful applicants may reapply for title in subsequent exercises. However, applicants are advised that success in subsequent exercises will require additional evidence against the criteria, taking into account the feedback from previous applications. While an important publication (or the equivalent) may provide significance evidence within one year of an unsuccessful application, it is expected that the accumulation of evidence may take two or more years. Applicants are advised to discuss the timing of any reapplication with the relevant head of department or faculty board chair.

3 Criteria for Conferment of the Title of Full Professor

There are three criteria for the conferment of the title of full professor: research, teaching, and good citizenship. All three criteria must be met. In this exercise there are no circumstances in which narrowly undershooting any one of these criteria can be compensated by exceptional achievements in respect of the other criteria.

The criteria are set out below:

Research

An ongoing research record which is characterised by a significant influence on the field of study, and is of a high order of excellence and of international standing, and the quality of which in terms of research distinction is at least equal to that expected of those appointed to full professorships at other leading international research universities.

'Research' is to be understood as original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding, including work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce and industry, as well as to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, and artefacts, including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products, and processes, including design and construction.

Research must be published and available for inspection.

This requirement goes significantly beyond the level of research achievement necessary for reappointment to the retiring age in an Associate Professorship at Oxford. The University will be looking for evidence of an appropriate combination of some or all of the following activities and outputs, considered in the context of excellence in the discipline:

  • research outputs or scholarship recognised in terms of originality, innovation, significance and rigour;
  • academic leadership in shaping the future of the discipline (which may include the establishment of successful research groups and/or significant engagement with major collaborations);
  • an effective contribution to the research culture of the department/faculty at Oxford, eg through the supervision and mentoring of the next generation of researchers;
  • a proven record of successful DPhil supervision;
  • a record of securing external research funding, from relevant sources, where appropriate;
  • influence of the research activity beyond academia, including engagement with technology transfer and/or technical developments and/or knowledge exchange including patents, where appropriate;
  • recognition of the excellence of research, for example through election to learned societies and research bodies/invitations to deliver prestigious lectures/appointment to editorial boards of leading journals.

Not all of these seven points have to be met (and this is not an exhaustive list of possible research achievements). However, strong performance across several aspects is expected for the conferment of the title of full professor, and the title is not likely to be conferred on applicants with achievements in just a few of the above areas, nor in the absence of research outputs or scholarship recognised in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Teaching

An ongoing record of effective teaching for the University and for colleges concomitant with the duties of the University post and the college fellowship (where one is held).

'Teaching' covers either undergraduate or graduate teaching, or both.

Good citizenship

An ongoing record of involvement in University and/or college administration concomitant with the duties of the University post and the college fellowship (where one is held), and demonstrable competence in such administration.

'Good citizenship' may include activities such as the holding of University and/or college offices, service on University and/or college committees, amongst others. Account may also be taken of editorship of journals, service on committees working in a national context, and other forms of public engagement, as well as activities connected to enterprise, links with industry and business etc.

4 Applications

Applications for the exercise should be submitted via the online system (see section 8 below for instructions) by noon on 7 January 2015.

Applications must consist of one document comprising no more than 12 sides of A4 in total (with a font size no smaller than the equivalent of Arial 10), including lists of publications etc. Any additional information, such as a covering letter (should you wish to include one), must be included within the 12-side page limit.

The document should include a curriculum vitae arranged in order under the headings listed below (where applicable), with brief notes to explain the context and significance of your work. It would be helpful for each page to have a running header with your surname and department/faculty. Please note that your application may be at a disadvantage if you do not follow the guidance below and present the information clearly. You attention is particularly drawn to the request to asterisk your six most significant publications in point (2). You are strongly recommended to ask another person to check your application for clarity before submitting it.

(1) Any relevant information such as might normally appear in a curriculum vitae, including employment history and current post. Please include your whole career (summarising as appropriate), not just recent achievements.

(2) Advanced study and research, including publications, grants etc. Please mark with an asterisk your six most significant publications and indicate clearly on which papers you are the corresponding author and on which grants you are the PI. Your case will be judged on work published and available for inspection. Forthcoming work and the stage it has reached (eg commissioned, in press) should be included to show what you are currently working on, but should not be included amongst your six most significant publications.

(3) University lectures and classes given, including any participation in curriculum development, syllabus design etc – over the last three years or such period as may be required to demonstrate fulfilment of the criteria.

(4) Graduate supervision and other graduate teaching undertaken – over the last three years or such period as may be required to demonstrate fulfilment of the criteria.

(5) University examining – over the last three years or such period as may be required to demonstrate fulfilment of the criteria.

(6) University administration, academic leadership, contribution to the subject outside the University, editorship of journals, service on committees working in a national context, other forms of public engagement, any enterprise activities or links to industry or business in appropriate cases – over the last three years or such period as may be required to demonstrate fulfilment of the criteria.

(7) Undergraduate teaching for college(s) – over the last three years or such period as may be required to demonstrate fulfilment of the criteria.

(8) College administration – over the last three years or such period as may be required to demonstrate fulfilment of the criteria.

(9) Future plans for research.

(10) The preferred precise title which you think would be appropriate, eg Professor of English Literature, Professor of Engineering Science. The title should be as concise as possible. Final decisions on the precise titles to be conferred on successful applicants will be made by the University. You are free to specify that if your application is successful you would not wish to use the title of professor.

Applicants who have been away from their normal role for the past three years (eg on research leave) are asked to provide details of their teaching and good citizenship prior to that date, as well as details of any relevant activities undertaken during the period away. Teaching and good citizenship undertaken at other institutions prior to appointment at Oxford may be taken into account for recently appointed staff.

Each applicant's case will be judged as it stands on the closing date, and applications may not be updated with new information after that date. Potential applicants anticipating significant events, such as an important publication, between the closing date and the final consideration of applications by the Senior Appointments Panel may wish to consider waiting until the next exercise, when any new evidence can be considered.

5 Disclosure of Personal Circumstances

Applicants should feel free to disclose circumstances that may, over a considerable period of time, have had a substantial effect on their record of research. This is intended to cover not only circumstances protected under employment and equality legislation, but also unusually high loads of teaching and/or administration and/or clinical duties. In respect of the last five years, applicants who were submitted in the REF with a reduced number of outputs may wish to report that decision (this applies in particular to those who may have kept their particular circumstances confidential, in which case they need not supply the underlying details). Any such disclosure should be provided as a separate document, not included as part of the 12-page application. Disclosures will be seen by the divisional committee and the Senior Appointments Panel but not by independent assessors, and will be treated as strictly confidential.

6 References

The references listed below should be requested by applicants and be submitted by the referees to the relevant Divisional Recognition of Distinction Committee by noon on 7 January 2015 (please see section 8 for divisional email addresses).

(a) From the head of department or the faculty board chair (or head of division if the applicant is a head of department or faculty board chair), who may however delegate the writing of the reference. In respect of those who are working in Continuing Education, or the Academic Services and University Collections, there should also be a reference from the head of the department/faculty board chair with which their academic work is most closely associated.

(b) From one research referee of their own choice, who may be either internal to Oxford or external. It would be most helpful to divisional Recognition of Distinction committees if the research reference explained how the applicant's work fits within the field of research, as this will assist them in evaluating the work and in interpreting the other research evaluations. The research referee may also address the teaching and/or the good citizenship criteria if he or she wishes to do so. 

(c) From the head of house (who may delegate the writing of the reference) in all cases where applicants have a college attachment which carries the expectation that they will undertake some teaching and/or good citizenship (eg acting as college advisor to a group of graduate students). However, if an applicant has a college association which amounts to no more than, say, occasional SCR dining rights, there is no need for the head of house to provide a reference.

The principal function of the references from the head of department or faculty board chair and the head of house is to give an assessment of the individual's contributions against the criteria for teaching and good citizenship. These referees may also address the research criterion if they wish. Where an applicant does not have a college attachment the assessment of the teaching and 'good citizenship' criteria will rely on the reference from the head of department or faculty board chair.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their referees at an early stage in order to ensure that they are able to meet the 7 January deadline. Heads of department/faculty board chairs and heads of house may have multiple references to write and early contact will help them considerably.

Applicants should ask their referees to mark their references 'Confidential'. It is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that their references are submitted by the deadline and to check with their referees (not with the divisional office) that references have been sent.

In addition to the references arranged by applicants as outlined above, divisional Recognition of Distinction Committees will seek at least two additional independent evaluations for each applicant which focus on the extent to which applicants meet the research criterion. By submitting an application in the exercise, applicants are giving permission for divisions to send their applications (but not any disclosures of personal circumstances) to these additional assessors. Applicants are advised not to include personal data such as home address or details of personal circumstances in their 12-page application document if they would not wish third parties to have that information.

The combination of research reference and independent evaluations should be sufficient to give the clearest evidence as to whether the research criterion has been met, noting that that criterion requires a research record at least equal in distinction to that expected of those appointed to full professorships at other leading international research universities. The independent assessors may also address the teaching and/or the good citizenship criteria if they wish to do so. The divisional committees may seek supplementary information, as they see necessary, in order to reach fair and consistent recommendations.

Where it has not proved possible for a division to obtain at least two additional independent evaluations within the timescale of the exercise, consideration of the application will be suspended by the divisional committee.

7 Timetable for the Recognition of Distinction exercise 2015

October–December 2014

(i) Discuss candidacy with head of department/faculty board chair or other senior colleagues as appropriate, and attend a divisional briefing session if offered.

(ii) Contact referees (head of department/faculty board chair, head of house if relevant and one research referee) to ask them to send references to the division by 7 January 2015.

(iii) Prepare application and any disclosure of personal circumstances.

18 November 2014

The online application process will be open for applications to be submitted.

noon, 7 January 2015

Deadline for submission of applications including:

  • an application arranged as outlined in section 4 above to be submitted via the online process
  • a separate statement of personal circumstances, if relevant, to be submitted via the online process
  • references requested by applicants, including from head of department/faculty board chair, head of house if relevant and one research referee. Referees should send the reference, marked 'Confidential', by email to the relevant divisional email address set out in section 8 below.

Please note that the noon on 7 January deadline is final.

January–April 2015

Divisional Recognition of Distinction Committees will: review applications; request additional research evaluations for each applicant; confer with other divisional committees about interdisciplinary applicants; seek any additional material as evidence if required; review applications from those who are not employees of the University and notify such applicants with a decision about their eligibility for consideration.

May–June 2015

Divisional Recognition of Distinction Committees will meet to make recommendations for the conferment of title to the Senior Appointments Panel.

Long Vacation 2015

The Senior Appointments Panel will meet to consider the recommendations from Divisional Recognition of Distinction Committees. The Vice-Chancellor will write to all applicants to notify them of the outcome. Titles for successful applicants will take effect immediately the decision is notified.

Feedback will be available from the head of division (or the committee chair if the committee was not chaired by the head of division) in cases in which it is agreed not to confer the title of full professor.

October 2015

A list of people on whom the title of full professor has been conferred will be published in the Gazette. Additional payments to those eligible will take effect from 1 October 2015.

It is important that departments and colleges do not publish details of successful applicants on their websites until the outcomes for all their candidates are known.

8 How to Apply

The online system will be open for applications between 18 November 2014 and noon on 7 January 2015.

Please remember that you must arrange for references to be sent to the relevant division by email by noon on 7 January 2015. The addresses are:

Please note that the online system is normally intended for people applying for jobs and there is therefore some information on the screens which is not relevant to applications for the conferment of title. Please ignore the information that only applies to job applications.
In order to submit your application you will need the following:

  • a memorable password;
  • your application (no more than 12 sides of A4 with a font size no smaller than the equivalent of Arial 10 – see section 4 above) in its final form; you will not be able to make any changes to it once you have submitted it;
  • where applicable, your separate disclosure of personal circumstances.

(i) Go to www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/staffinfo/recognition and click on the link for your division. This takes you to a page headed 'Job Details' with the sub-heading 'Recognition of Distinction (division)'. Click on 'Apply' at the bottom of the page.

(ii) Register with the online system by clicking on 'Register Now'.

(iii) Enter your Email Address and a memorable password, your Forename and Surname. Make a note of these logon details for future reference, then click on 'Register'.

(iv) Complete the brief personal details form which will appear on your screen once you have registered. Click on 'Save and Continue'.

(v) A screen headed 'Application Checklist' will now appear. You will be asked to complete a brief equal opportunities monitoring form and answer some additional questions (the data collected from both sections will be anonymised and used for statistical reporting once the exercise is completed). When you are ready to upload your application, click on 'Attach Documents'. Then click on 'Browse' to find your application (and separate disclosure of personal circumstances if appropriate), and click on 'Upload'.

(vi) Now click 'Return to Checklist', and you will see the 'Application Checklist' page again.

  • From this page: you can review your application if you wish by clicking on 'Preview Form'.
  • You can also save your application on the system without submitting it so that you can return to it later should you wish to modify it before submission; (To return to such a pending application, click on the appropriate link from www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/staffinfo/recognition, log into the online system using your email address and the password you created at registration, click on 'My Applications' from the left-hand menu, and then click on the small square to the right of the red x to return to the 'Application Checklist' screen.)
  • When you are ready, you can submit your application by clicking on the 'Submit' button. You will see an on-screen message confirming that your application has been submitted correctly. You must use 'Submit' to submit your application no later than noon on 7 January 2015.

(vii) You may now log out of the system. You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application. NB: this will be a standard system acknowledgement email; please ignore the reference to shortlisting.