3.2.1 Professional Research Personnel: Hiring and Promotion Guidelines

Professional research personnel are members of the General Faculty but not members of the Academic Faculty and not eligible for tenure. While research personnel are subject to many of the general hiring and promotion criteria for Academic Faculty, there are significant differences.

Research titles include Research Scientist, Research Engineer, Research Technologist, and Research Associate at ranks of I, II, Senior, and Principal.  

Research Scientist, Engineer, and Technologist Titles

A person is normally hired into a Scientist, Engineer, or Technologist position, where appropriate, on the basis of the field of their most recent degree or their experience.  Standards of evaluation will generally be based on the standards of that field.

Research Associate Titles

The title of Research Associate is held by research personnel who meet all normal requirements, but for whom the title of Engineer, Scientist, or Technologist is not appropriate. The title is intended for professional Staff for whom a specific need exists, but because of the different nature of their education or experience, should not be classified (at least initially) in the Research Engineer/Scientist/Technologist structures. In determining when it will be suitable to use the Research Associate title structure, reliance will be placed on comparison with the established criteria for Research Engineer/Scientist/Technologist. That is, the qualifications for Research Associate should have an equivalency to Research Engineer/Scientist/Technologist, but will differ in some particular aspect. In general, it will offer more flexibility in considering the candidate's total qualifications and suitability for employment at Georgia Tech. The title is intended to be broad enough in scope to include any professional categories appropriate to our needs. Examples include medical doctors, social scientists, architects, and management experts.

Promotion to a Higher Rank

Following are normal requirements for consideration for promotion to a higher rank. These experience and performance criteria may also be used for determining the initial rank when hiring professional research personnel. Credit for previous academic or research professional experience should be explicitly stated in writing at the time of employment. In addition to these criteria, to be considered for promotion will normally require a number of years in rank, as follows:

  • Research Scientist II – Three (3) years as Research Scientist I
  • Senior Research Scientist – Four (4) years as Research Scientist II
  • Principal Research Scientist - Five (5) years as Senior Research Scientist

As used in this Handbook, "years of experience," "years in rank," and "years at Georgia Tech" are to be calculated as of July 1st of the year in which the promotion would take effect.  Note: In the above and following sections, the term "Scientist" is used to indicate any one of the following: Scientist, Engineer, Technologist, or Associate. 

Requirements for professional registration and other legal or professional certification are not identified in these revised guidelines as prerequisites for promotion. Instead, these formal evidences of competency are expected to be provided by persons assigned to duties that require them.

Research Scientist I
This is the initial rank held by research personnel who have at least a bachelor's degree and who will be performing on a professional level.

Research Scientist II
This rank requires one (1) of the following:

  • A Master’s degree and three (3) years of relevant full-time experience after completion of that degree,
  • A Master’s degree and five (5) years of relevant full-time experience after completion of a Bachelor’s degree, or
  • A Doctoral degree.

Qualified candidates who are recommended by the normal administrative process will not be reviewed by a Presidential committee. Professional recognition in one's research field will be expected.

In addition to the candidate’s education and experience, the promotion recommendation shall include substantive evidence of the candidate's progress toward developing the capabilities for performing at the level expected of research professionals in the same field holding senior research staff ranks at Georgia Tech. Such evidence might consist of papers published or contributed to, significant managerial efforts on sponsored projects, products developed and delivered to the sponsor community such as software or hardware and documented impacts of these products, or equivalent teaching responsibilities performed in an instructional unit.

Senior Research Scientist
This rank requires one (1) of the following:

  • A Master’s degree and seven (7) years of relevant full-time experience after completion of that degree,
  • A Master’s degree and nine (9) years of relevant full-time experience after completion of a Bachelor’s degree, or
  • A Doctoral degree and four (4) years' relevant full-time experience.

The rank of Senior Research Scientist is reserved for those professionals who have demonstrated a level of scholarly achievement and technical, managerial, and entrepreneurial productivity commensurate with the highest standards of Georgia Tech. Achievements should include recognized contributions to their specific technical disciplines; supervision of other research professionals through review and approval of proposals, technical reports and other communications; and representation of Georgia Tech to external organizations for the purpose of obtaining, managing, and performing high-quality sponsored research programs. Preference will be shown for qualified personnel holding a Doctoral degree in their specified discipline.

In addition to the basic requirements, above, demonstrated superior performance of professional duties is required as follows:

A.    Peer recognition of mastery of a complex and difficult field of specialization as demonstrated through authorship of refereed papers and/or products developed and delivered to the sponsor community such as software or hardware, and documented impacts of these products. The latter may come in the form of sponsor satisfaction testimonials. While emphasis will be given to authorship of journal and symposium papers which have been refereed, recognition will also be given to contributions to other journals, organizational publications, widely distributed reports which effect an education and technology information transfer; and at least two (2) of the following B through E.

B.    Supervision of others' work by virtue of being a program manager, project director/principal investigator, co-project director/principal investigator, or task leader on sponsored research of such magnitude as to require guidance and supervision of other professionals.

C.    Important technical contributions and innovation as documented in formal reports of several projects over a minimum time of four (4) years prior to recommendation for promotion. For candidates holding the Doctoral degree, the last two (2) years of employment prior to employment at Georgia Tech will be considered if adequately documented, and the four-year time in grade requirement be reduced to two (2) years for candidates so qualified.

D.    Substantial documented contributions in sponsored program development.

E.    Superior ability in representing the School/Center/Laboratory/Georgia Tech in service to and dealings with outside organizations.

Principal Research Scientist   
This rank requires either:

  • A Master's degree and eleven (11) years' relevant full-time experience; or
  • A Doctoral degree and seven (7) years' relevant full-time experience.

At least the most recent three (3) years of relevant experience shall have been at a responsible technical or managerial level. Preference will be shown for qualified personnel holding a Doctoral degree in their specific discipline.

In addition to the basic requirements above, the candidate for the rank of Principal Research Scientist must
 

A.    Show clear evidence of consistent performance in the making of original and innovative contributions that are nationally recognized for their excellence as documented by external peer review of the candidate's work (See Section on Letters of Evaluation below); and have demonstrated outstanding capabilities in at least two (2) of the following research or service activities B through D:

B.    Leadership in developing and managing a technical thrust involving related projects. Special consideration will be given to programs involving a broad participation by research and instructional Faculty and Students

C.    Substantial contributions to Georgia Tech by service to the Institute, the State, the Nation, or to the candidate's profession

D.    Broad recognition of technical stature as evidenced by invited papers or seminars, session chairperson at national symposia, memberships on national committees, offices in professional societies, or other appropriate honors

Letters of Evaluation
At least three (3) letters of evaluation must be obtained by the Institute from highly qualified persons in the candidate's professional field who are not employed by the Institute.

Joint Appointments in Instructional Units
Instances may arise where it is appropriate for a Research-titled Faculty member not in an Instructional Unit to receive a joint appointment to such a Department.  See Section 3.3.2 concerning Joint Appointments.