G. Senior Research Scientists

Note: The Senior Research Scientist position in the FAS divisions of the Arts and Humanities and Social Science is called “Senior Research Scholar.” The Senior Research Scholar position is in all ways identical to the Senior Research Scientist position, differing only in name. References to “Senior Research Scientist” below and throughout the FAS Appointment and Promotion Handbook encompass Senior Research Scholars as well.

(1) Description

Senior Research Scientist appointments are made to secure the paid professional services of an individual in support of the intellectual pursuits of a faculty member(s), department, core facility, or research center. Senior Research Scientists are able to conduct their own independent research in collaboration with a Harvard faculty member or in support of a core facility or research center. They may supervise other researchers. The Research Scientist (see 13F) and Senior Research Scientist appointments are part of a professional research track, not an academic track that is intended to lead to a possible faculty appointment.

Individuals receiving this appointment will possess a doctoral degree at the time of appointment and ordinarily will have had at least ten years of postdoctoral experience. Individuals should have a strong record of scholarly publications.

Senior Research Scientists have rights as “principal investigator” or “project director.”

The appointment, which is contingent on funding and space, is made for five years. Feedback on performance will be provided on an annual basis. Reappointment in this rank for an additional five-year term requires review within the first six months of the fifth year, with subsequent reviews for reappointment at similar intervals thereafter. Part-time appointments or non-consecutive appointments for a fraction of a year will ordinarily count as a one-year appointment for determining eligibility for a renewal or a review date.

Note: Members of the FAS and University community are expected to familiarize themselves with, and conform to, Harvard policies on teaching, research, and service, as appropriate to their position. Please see Chapter 2, “FAS and University Policies,” for more information.

In keeping with Harvard University’s Intellectual Property policies (https://vpr.harvard.edu/pages/intellectual-property-policy) and other research policies, faculty and researchers are expected to sign electronically the Harvard University Participation Agreement by the start of their appointment.

(2) Salary

Senior Research Scientists are paid at a rate commensurate with experience, in consultation with the assistant dean for faculty affairs.

(3) Appointment/Search and Promotion Review Procedures

A search is required for all external appointments to senior research scientist, and a promotion review is required for all internal promotions to senior research scientist from a Harvard position as a research scientist. Please see the processes below.

Search Process for External Appointment to Senior Research Scientist:

a. Departments or principal investigators should place an advertisement in an appropriate professional journal, indicating the availability of positions in their areas. Other suggested recruitment methods include posting open positions on the department’s webpage, making direct inquiries in the service of developing a diverse pool, and consulting lists of diverse individuals, including women and minorities. Advertising copy must indicate that Harvard is “an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, protected veteran status, disability, genetic information, military service, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or other protected status.” Care should be taken to avoid language that could be construed as discriminatory with regard to age.

As two recommendation letters must be obtained for all short-list candidates (and five more external letters for the finalist must later be solicited, before any offer can be made), the advertisement may indicate that candidates should submit with their application either contact information for two recommendation letters or else two recommendation letters. All recommendation letters should be from experts at the ladder faculty ranks, and all external letters should be from experts at the tenured ranks. For both kinds of letters, it may be appropriate to include highly accomplished senior researchers from corporations or research institutes, or well-established museum professionals or practicing artists.

In addition, the advertisement should request a curriculum vitae (including a list of publications) and a research statement.  The summary research statement should be no more than 3-4 pages.

Please note that print advertisements are not required for research appointments; online ads are sufficient.

b. The P.I. should suggest, for approval by the assistant dean for faculty affairs, a three-person search committee composed of individuals at the tenure-track, tenured, or senior non-ladder faculty ranks, or at the rank of Senior Research Fellow.

c. The committee reviews the candidates’ materials (including the two recommendation letters for all short-list candidates). In considering a possible finalist, the committee solicits five additional letters from experts external to Harvard, for a total of seven letters in the final dossier. At least three letter writers should be "arm's length" from the individual. "Arm's length" means that the evaluator is not a past or present advisor, mentor, collaborator, co-teacher, or other role in close relationship to the candidate, as assessed by the divisional dean/SEAS Dean’s office.

The letter soliciting external evaluations, which should first be approved by the assistant dean for faculty affairs, should include: the criteria for appointment to the senior research scientist position; an indication that the University will make every effort possible to keep the response confidential and will make it available only to individuals involved in the formal review process; the deadline for receipt of responses and contact information. With the letter the committee should include the candidate’s curriculum vitae (including a list of publications) and research statement.

d. After reviewing all materials, including external letters for the finalist, the committee votes on the case. After a favorable vote, the committee drafts a case statement and sends a dossier to the assistant dean for faculty affairs, for review. The dossier includes:

  • A statement describing the steps taken to identify candidates from diverse populations, including women and minorities; a description of how the leading candidate was identified; a description of how many diverse individuals applied or were considered; comparison of the candidate with other leading candidates (in particular, women and minorities), and reasons why the other leading candidates were not chosen.
  • The Departmental EEO Report displaying aggregate demographic data from the search. This report, which does not identify characteristics of individual applicants, can be retrieved through the ARIeS system.
  • The case for appointing the candidate, including a summary of the search process, a summary of the candidate’s qualifications and contributions, an explanation of how the candidate meets the criteria for senior research scientist, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate’s case as noted in the recommendation letters, external evaluations, and the internal deliberations of the search committee, and the committee’s signatures, with an indication of the primary author of the statement.
  • A curriculum vitae (including a list of publications)
  • The candidate’s research statement
  • The candidate’s recommendation letters, copies of the letter soliciting external evaluations, and the external letters received.
  • Copies of all advertisements.

e. Once the dossier has been reviewed by the assistant dean, the final dossier will be submitted to a subcommittee of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP). The CAP subcommittee reviews the dossier, and the divisional dean decides whether to approve the appointment. If approval is granted, the offer letter is issued by the department or the P.I., cc’ing the divisional assistant dean.

f. If the offer is accepted, the final dossier is sent to the Appointments Office with the offer letter, and the appointment is processed in the Aurora system by the department.

Review Process for Internal Promotion to Senior Research Scientist:

For promotion to senior research scientist from a Harvard position as a research scientist, please see the steps below.

a. The P.I. should suggest, for approval by the assistant dean for faculty affairs, a three-person review committee composed of individuals at the tenure-track, tenured, or senior non-ladder faculty ranks, or at the rank of Senior Research Fellow. The P.I. should not serve as a member of the committee.

b. The committee asks the candidate (who should have a strong record of scholarly publications) to submit a curriculum vitae (including a list of publications) and a summary research statement of no more than three to four pages. In addition, the candidate should submit a list of experts in the field whom the department may wish to consult about the review or any experts the candidate feels should not be consulted, with an accompanying explanation. At least three letter writers should be "arm's length" letter writers. "Arm's length" means that the evaluator is not a past or present advisor, mentor, collaborator, co-teacher, or other role in close relationship to the candidate, as assessed by the divisional dean/SEAS Dean’s office. If the candidate prefers, the candidate may provide this explanatory information to the department chair. The candidate may also consult with the assistant dean.

c. The committee reviews the candidate’s materials. These materials should include a letter from the P.I., describing what the candidate has been doing, what the impact of the candidate’s work has been, the expected length of the candidate’s project and the stability of its funding, and why it is important for the candidate to remain at Harvard rather than pursue an independent career.

In addition, seven evaluative letters about the candidate must be obtained by the committee before any offer can be made. The committee takes into consideration the suggestions of the candidate (as submitted with the candidate’s materials in Step b. above), but the committee has final authority in deciding who it will ask to write letters. At least five of the seven letters must be from letter-writers external to Harvard; one letter can be from the Harvard department seeking to make the appointment (or, for candidates from SEAS, this letter can be either from the SEAS area seeking to make the appointment or else from SEAS more broadly); and one letter can also be from Harvard, but must be external to (as applicable, depending on the candidate’s primary affiliation) the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. All seven letters should be from experts at the tenured ranks; it may be appropriate to include highly accomplished senior researchers from corporations or research institutes, or well-established museum professionals or practicing artists. At least three letter writers should be arm’s-length letter writers.

The letter soliciting external evaluations, which should first be approved by the assistant dean for faculty affairs, should include: the criteria for appointment to the senior research scientist position; an indication that the University will make every effort possible to keep the response confidential and will make it available only to individuals involved in the formal review process; the deadline for receipt of responses and contact information. With the letter, the committee should include the candidate’s curriculum vitae (including a list of publications) and research statement.

d. After reviewing all materials, including external letters for the candidate, the committee votes on the case and informs the P.I. or the department. After a favorable vote, the committee drafts a case statement and sends a dossier to the assistant dean for faculty affairs, for review. The dossier includes:

  • The case for appointing the candidate, including a summary of the candidate’s qualifications and contributions, an explanation of how the candidate meets the criteria for senior research scientist, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate’s case as noted in the external and internal evaluations and the internal deliberations of the review committee, and the committee’s signatures, with an indication of the primary author of the statement.
  • A curriculum vitae (including a list of publications)
  • The candidate’s research statement
  • Copies of the letter soliciting evaluations, and the letters received.
  • Copy of the P.I.’s letter describing the candidate’s work, impact, expected project length and funding, and the rationale for the candidate continuing at Harvard.

e. Once the dossier has been reviewed by the assistant dean, the final dossier will be submitted to a subcommittee of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP). The CAP subcommittee reviews the dossier, and the divisional dean decides whether to approve the promotion. If approval is granted, the offer letter is issued by the P.I., who should cc the divisional assistant dean.

f. If the offer is accepted, the final dossier is sent to the Appointments Office with the offer letter, and the appointment is processed in the Aurora system by the department.

(4) Documentation Requirements

In a search or promotion review, the department must submit items a. and b. below to the Appointments Office in the Office for Faculty Affairs via Aurora and deliver item c. to Central Payroll.

a. The dossier described in section 3d (of either the search process or promotion review process, as appropriate) above.

b. 1 electronic PDF copy of a senior research scientist offer letter/letter of agreement between the candidate and principal investigator. Please cc Roanne Bosch (roannebosch@fas.harvard.edu), the Communications and Outreach Coordinator in FAS Research Administration Services.  Roanne will assign the senior research scientist any required trainings applicable to FAS/SEAS faculty and Principal Investigators named on sponsored projects.

c. Original, completed I-9 form and any necessary payroll documents. (If the research associate is paid as an employee, an I-9 form is required for a first appointment or after a break in service of one year or more. Note: If a valid I-9 is already on file, this is indicated in the recommendation letter.)

Departments should retain documents according to practices recommended by Harvard Archives at https://grs.harvard.edu/ (please log in).