What Defines a Robarts Scientist?

Robarts Research Institute Scientific Personnel Appointments and Classifications

Version:  20101004

A.  Preamble:  The Robarts Research Institute’s strategic planning document (June 2010) speaks to the role of the Institute fostering integration of basic and clinical science across the London health science community. With this, there will be an increasing number of individuals from across the University of Western Ontario (“the University”) being considered for appointment as a Robarts Scientist ( “Robarts Scientist”).  For purposes of this document, Robarts Scientists for which the Robarts Research Institute has a direct responsibility will be considered to be a “Robarts Core Scientist”.  Practically, designation as a Robarts Scientist is often associated with an alternative workload plan resulting in 75% protected research time.  This, for some departments within the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and its affiliated Faculties, can result in a loss of professoriate dedicated to teaching.  Coupled with the potential for the University to consider the designation of “Robarts Scientist” as a specific category of researcher for which the Robarts Research Institute will not have a direct responsibility, there is a need to develop concise terms of reference for such a designation. 

B.  Individual category descriptions

B.1. (a) Robarts Core Scientist. A Robarts Core Scientist appointment is defined as a person whose position is approved by the Robarts Credentials Committee and has a concurrent tenured, tenure track or limited term academic appointment at the University or has a clinician/scientist appointment at an affiliated hospital or Institute. This designation may include scientists that are initially engaged on a probationary basis (in which case the terminology of “Robarts Core Scientist (Provisional)” will apply – see below).  An investigator can seek an appointment as a Robarts Core Scientist following either nomination or as a result of an active competition that must be mediated by a Robarts Search and Selection Committee (containing appropriate UWO departmental/Faculty representation) established by the Scientific Director and sponsoring Group or Centre Director. The Robarts Credentials Committee must approve the appointment of the scientist after the selection process. A Robarts Scientist is assigned space and suitable resources appropriate for the conduct of their research. This designation includes emeritus professors who may also be Robarts Scientists.

B.1. (b)  Terms.  To be defined as a Robarts Core Scientist the individual must:

i. be appointed only with the concurrence of the candidate’s respective home department chair, including discussion with respect to alternate workload agreements,

ii. if a nominated candidate, then must provide at the time of application, 2 letters of support from Robarts Core Scientists with such letters normally from a member within the nominating Centre and another Centre,

iii. present a seminar to which the entire Robarts community is invited,

iii. be subject to the annual credentialing and review process,

iv. have a research focus that aligns with the Robarts strategic plan,

v. have a vested interest and commitment to the Institute as manifested by a meaningful participation in Robarts grants (i.e., as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator),

vi. have a clearly defined role within the Robarts that will be developed in conjunction with their respective departmental chair, including a discussion of roles and responsibilities should the individual lose the designation of a “Robarts Core Scientist”, and

vii. participate in the culture of the Institute as manifested by, but not limited to, participation in research groups, intracentre activities, student education (inclusive of both undergraduate and postgraduate trainees) and committees.

To be defined as a “Robarts Core Scientist”, the Institute must:

i. demonstrate a clear investment (i.e., space, salary support if appropriate, etc.),

ii. provide equitable access to resources and infrastructure (i.e., Research Development Officer, research grant oversight, etc.),

iii. provide access to the culture (i.e., inclusion in notifications regarding lectureships, Taylor dinner, social events, educational events, etc), and

iv. provide access to the training milieu

B.1.(c)  Performance evaluation and termination.  Performance as a Robarts Core Scientist will be evaluated across multiple domains, including academic productivity (H numbers), peer-reviewed funding, and contribution to the culture of Robarts.  Appointments will be contractual with durations of 5, 3 or 1 year.  The credentials committee will annually review the performance and make recommendations to the Scientific Director.  While such recommendations are not binding upon the Scientific Director, should the director elect to take a position in opposition to this, then the Scientific Director will be obliged to take this to the Robarts Executive Committee for approval.  If still in conflict, then the Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry will arbitrate the decision.  At any time, a Robarts Core Scientist may request to have his/her appointment rescinded.  Issues of funding allocation and salary will then be negotiated with respective departmental chair.

B.2.(a)  Robarts Core Scientist (Provisional).   A Robarts Core Scientist (Provisional) appointment is defined as a person who has assigned space and resources for only a prescribed period of time so long as in the scientist is in proper standing at the University, affiliated hospital or Institute and are approved by the credentials committee. Within six months prior to the end date of the Robarts Core Scientist (Provisional) appointment, the appointment will be vetted by the Credentials Committee in conjunction with the relevant Centre Head or Group Director and the Scientific Director.  Approved removal of the provisional status will result in an appointment that will be as a Robarts Core Scientist. If their provisional appointment within any of the aforementioned organizations is rescinded, then their appointment as a Robarts Core Scientist (Provisional) will end on the termination date defined by the provisional appointment and their space will be subsequently vacated.

B.2.(b) Terms.  All of the terms as delineated in items B.1 (b) will apply with the addition of the following:

 i. a mentorship committee will be defined, and

 ii. space allocation will be reviewed by the Robarts space committee

B.2.(c) Performance evaluation and termination.  All of the terms as delineated in item B.1.(c) will apply with the exception that the duration of appointment will be defined as not exceeding 3 years.  One renewal will be possible and will be at the discretion of the Credentials Committee.

B.3.(a) Robarts Affiliate Scientist.  A Robarts Affiliate Scientist is defined as a person who has an active collaboration with a Robarts Core scientist(s) and the collaboration requires the utilization of Institute space and resources.  Such integrated research collaborations are expected to result in both the generation of grant applications (either as co-investigator or as PI) and the publication of co-authored papers.  A Robarts Affiliate Scientist will actively participate in his/her affiliated Robarts research group’s seminar series, Institute sponsored seminars and other Institute activities such as the Robarts Research Day and scientific retreats. The Affiliate Scientist must hold a primary appointment at a recognized institution (university, hospital, government, industry).   This designation is akin to an adjunct professor appointment that is granted in University departments. It is not a permanent appointment and must be renewed every 3 years (see below).  Affiliate Scientists will be required to acknowledge their position at the Robarts on their CV’s and in their publications that are directly relevant to research conducted in the Robarts Research Institute. 

The use of Robarts Institute resources, even if routine, does not constitute a reason to apply for Robarts Affiliate Scientist status.  A Robarts Affiliate Scientist does not directly hold space within the Institute although an individual Robarts Core Scientist or Research Group may at their discretion provide space that is within their direct jurisdiction to the affiliate scientist. There is neither salary commitment nor voting rights on Robarts issues associated with the position of Robarts Affiliate Scientist.   There also will be no direct administrative support for Robarts Affiliate Scientists by Research Group administrative assistants. 

B.3. (b)  Terms.  To be defined as a Robarts Affiliate Scientist, the individual must:

i. provide a supporting letter from the Centre head or group director where the affiliate scientist will work and a Robarts Core Scientist from another group must each write a supporting letter. The letters must indicate that the affiliate scientist will be asset to his/her home group, that the individual will contribute to the Institute strategic plan, and that there is potential for this person to interact and benefit research occurring within their group.

ii. must present a seminar to which the entire Robarts community is invited

To be defined as a Robarts Affiliate Scientist, the Group director or Head of Centre:

i. be the primary individual(s) responsible for overseeing the activities of the Robarts Affiliate Scientist within the Institute

ii. provide the CV and supporting letters and indicate that the seminar was held to the credentials committee who will then communicate their recommendation to the Director

iii. communicate the decision to the nominated Affiliate Scientist along with the terms of the appointment to the candidate

B.3.(c) Performance evaluation and termination.  A Robarts Affiliate Scientist will receive an initial three year renewable appointment.  At the end of the initial appointment, the Robarts Affiliate Scientist up for renewal will be reviewed by their research group (e.g. Imaging, Molecular Brain Research, Vascular Biology and Clinical Trials).  Based on performance (joint papers published, grants as co-PI or co-applicant, co-supervision of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students) a recommendation for continuance will be submitted to the Scientific Director for approval.  If the Affiliate Scientist does not submit a renewal application, then the position will be terminated.