Professorship and Readership Conferment information- 2021

Call for Applications

Deadline for submission of applications is 4th May 2021 by 11.59 pm

Each year applications are invited for the conferment of Professorships and Readerships.  

To help with the application process a series of Briefing Sessions are held for members of staff interested in applying. The purpose of the sessions is to offer potential applicants the opportunity to ask any questions they may have regarding their application, in order to ensure the criteria is fully understood and adhered to.  We are currently working on a bigger and broader briefing portfolio and so information pertaining to the dates and times of these sessions will be confirmed in due course.

Procedures for Submission

Full details of Criteria and Guidelines for Conferment can be downloaded here  

Your application must be completed on the CV template & Letter template. Applications should be saved in word format, include the initials of your School and your surname, and be sent electronically to profsandreaders2021@ljmu.ac.uk, with the subject header clearly marked 'Professorship/Readership Conferment Application 2021'.  An Application & Technical Criteria Pro forma must be completed along with an Independent External Assessors Form. A signed copy of your latest PDPR/Appraisal form must also be provided with your application.  If this is not included then the application will not be considered.

In accordance with procedures the deadline for applications must be adhered to, late applications will only be considered under exceptional circumstances.  The Conferment Panel and HR also request that each applicant completes an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form. This should be sent as a separate attachment to profsandreaders2021@ljmu.ac.uk

Circumstances Impacting on Volume of Output

Circumstances having an impact on volume of output for Professorial or Readership Conferment

The panel is determined to treat all applicants fairly and equitably.  To this end the panel will take into account circumstances that have had an impact on an individual’s ability to provide the volume of output that might be expected of a Professor or Reader.  The quality or level of performance required will not vary, but volume expectations will be varied appropriate to an individual’s personal circumstances as specified below.   

The panel will consider the following individual circumstances to the extent that they are stated to have had a material impact on the individual’s ability to produce the expected volume of output relevant to the conferment of the title of Professor or Reader:

Family and domestic matters, including:

  • Absence on maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave and arrangements on return to work following these periods of leave.
  • Part-time working or other flexible working arrangements.
  • Time spent acting as a carer or other domestic commitments.

Disability, ill-health and injury, including:

  • Any disability to which the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 applies, including both permanent disabilities and any temporary disability with a duration of 12 months or more.
  • Absence from work on the advice of a registered medical practitioner.

Prolonged absences (absences for more than six months consecutively in the period relevant to the conferment of the title of Professor or Reader) which were agreed by the individual with the institution but which do not fall into one of the categories above. They include:

  • Secondment to non-academic positions outside the higher education sector.
  • Career breaks for purposes unconnected with research, teaching or other academic duties.

Other absences which the institution is legally obliged to permit, such as absences for religious observance or absence arising out of involvement as a representative of the workforce.

Any other personal circumstances which are considered to have had a significant impact on an individual’s ability to produce the expected volume of research outputs in the period relevant to the conferment of the title of Professor or Reader.

Over the last 12 months this may include issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g. illness, carer, shielding, home schooling).

In addition, where the panel is considering subjects that require laboratory-based activity they  will be mindful of health and safety restrictions imposed on pregnant and nursing women which may have prevented them from undertaking some types of activity during the period relevant to the conferment of the title of Professor or Reader.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Does the application go back to the Faculty &/or Professional/Service Areas?

A. All applications go from HR to the Faculty PVC &/or Executive Lead for Professional/Service areas, not the School/ Department. This change took place in 2002 and is due to the changes in the university structure. The Faculty is asked for the local view of the applicant and the at the Shortlisting Panel a School representative (normally the School Director) will present the case and lead discussion.  The Faculty make a recommendation to the University panel regarding the academic standing of the applicant within their School/Faculty.

Q. Are Faculties asked to prioritise applications?

A. Faculty PVC’s &/or Executive Leads for Professional/ Service areas are asked to convene a meeting of the Directors of Schools/ Departments and other relevant staff including representation from the University Panel (to provide oversight and consistency) to consider all applications from their Faculty. Faculty meetings should take adequate steps to reflect key EDI issues on their panel. Faculties are asked to prepare briefing notes on individual applications that review and comment on the strengths and weaknesses of each application. Personal circumstances information (produced by the candidate) are noted and taken into consideration. The relative merit of the application in relation to the published conferment criteria should be commented upon.

Q. Is there any quota on the number of awards available?

A. No, there is no quota, applications are judged on their individual merit.

Q. How many of the four criteria can you apply against?

A. The applicant can only apply against one criterion and it is a matter for the applicant to decide.  The application procedure asks that applicants state clearly which of the four criteria they are making their case against. Try to ensure that you apply against the criteria that demonstrates the full impact of your work and experience.  It is important however that you make reference in your application as to how your work contributes to the four pillars of the University Strategy 2017 – 2022.

Q. What are the benchmarks for deciding whether an applicant meets the criteria?

A. There are no benchmarks for the criteria as a whole. The Panel has to consider a very broad range of subject areas and types of submissions. It would be impossible to set specific benchmarks that would cover the very wide range of applications that might be successful. The primary consideration is the overall quality of the application and there is no algorithm for deciding whether an applicant has reached the appropriate level. Decisions are made based on a judgement of all of the evidence provided and the process is not mechanistic.

Q. What kinds of Independent External Assessors are required?

A. Three appropriate Independent External Assessors who have not supervised, collaborated or published with the applicant, but should be able to comment on the applicant's standing in their subject area. They should be selected for their understanding of the subject field rather than for their personal knowledge of the applicant.  The assessors should be able to comment on the content and context of the submission and should either be an academic or of equivalent standing in a relevant field. Independent external assessors' details should be listed with full contact details (including relationship to the external assessor, a postal address, email and, where available, a phone number) together with a brief resume for each.

Q. Is it appropriate to nominate international, industrial or professional Independent External Assessors?

A. There is no reason why international, industrial or professional Assessors cannot be nominated. It is a requirement for promotion to Professorial level that at least one of the assessors is of international affiliation. Consideration should be given to the appropriateness of the Assessor on the basis of the case for support that is being made. Assessors must be able to understand the academic context within the UK as well as comment on the applicant's contribution to and standing in their field. Assessors must be external to LJMU.  An international external assessor, as with any assessor, must be able to comment in an informed manner on the applicant's standing against the criteria used by LJMU.

Q. Is it necessary for applicants to contact Independent External Assessors before nominating them?

A. No, applicants should not do this. The Chair will initially select three of the nominated Assessors and the Secretary to the Panel will approach them formally on behalf of the Panel.

Q. Where do professional bodies fit in?

A. Involvement in professional bodies might be a way to demonstrate external recognition in a particular field. An example could be if an applicant was working for their professional body on developing a new curriculum for their field, the applicant could then show that they had contributed to or led developments in their field. In many areas specific Professional Accreditation would also reflect recognition and evidence of esteem.

Q. What kind of evidence is required regarding the quality of my work, and my standing in my field?

A. Evidence of reputation and standing outside the applicant's immediate locality (e.g. LJMU) is required. Applicants should use their statement of case for support to describe their contribution to their field and the impact they have had beyond what would be expected of a hardworking, committed and professional member of staff. This will normally mean demonstrating the impact that an individual has had on influencing and leading developments outside LJMU.

Q. How can standing in teaching and learning be demonstrated?

A. Applicants should demonstrate that they are having an impact beyond their immediate local environment, in practice this will normally mean something that could be benchmarked in some way by an external reviewer. For example, being a member of a national committee/working group or adviser on policy initiatives on L&T; being invited to provide expert input to a conference as keynote speaker; having developed initiatives that were taken up by others in the sector; having got funding for teaching related research and/or projects; having published in journals on L&T in HE. Other examples include evidence of leading, teaching and learning developments across LJMU; evidence of advances in pedagogy; influencing the national agenda; leading a major national initiative in the field; recognition of achievement by professional bodies.

Applicants would be expected to cite the evidence but not to submit it, e.g. if an applicant cited that they were a member of the National Advisory Panel for the National Teaching Fellowship Awards that could easily be verified. Similarly if an applicant stated that work they had done on L&T had been published in Office for Students Good Practice Case Studies as an example of best practice that is easily verified, published by, for example, the Advance HE or one of its Subject Networks.

Q. How does the Panel judge future promise?

A. The criteria for conferment state that the Panel will look for positive evidence of actual and sustained achievement as well as future promise or “trajectory”. The Panel would expect to see something about an applicant's future plans in their letter of support perhaps backed up by specific details (e.g. in research this might be In Press or submitted publications) The panel would normally expect to see evidence of sustained achievement over time, and evidence that the achievement was likely to continue into the future. Often this will simply mean that an applicant has a consistent and continuing pattern of achievement, with no obvious or inexplicable reduction in output. If there is some reason why a simple pattern of achievement is absent a short explanation of this should be provided.

Q. Where does enterprise fit in to the criteria?

A. The criteria for enterprise is the same as for the other subject areas. Applications will be judged on the basis that they have achieved significantly more than would be expected to be the case for a normal, hardworking, committed member of our staff working on enterprise activity. The Panel would normally expect to see evidence that was, in principle, benchmarkable externally, which indicated a sustained pattern of achievement and which was having an impact beyond the immediate environment of the applicant.

Q. How is interdisciplinary activity assessed?

A. Applicants should explain the interdisciplinary nature of their work in the case for support and nominate appropriate independent assessors who could comment on this.

Q. How would the Panel consider publications or evidence in different languages?

A. Publications or any other evidence of activity produced in languages other than English should be listed in the applicant's CV with their original title and an English translation of the title underneath it. Applicants should nominate appropriate independent assessors who would be able to understand and comment on the standing of the publications.

Q. How is the membership of the Panel determined?

A. The conferment panel is appointed via the Vice Chancellor and includes members of the Executive Leadership Team.  The panel also contains representatives of the Faculty PVC’s, as well as an external panel member. In appointing members consideration is given to subject balance, continuity and social composition and the panels ability to reflect EDI criteria and carefully evaluate all conferment routeways.

Q. What information is given to unsuccessful applicants on the outcome of their application?

A. Feedback from the Faculty panel will be via the School/Professional Services Director (or their nominated individual). Unsuccessful applicants at the University Panel are advised of the outcome of their application by HR as soon as possible after the Panel meeting (this included bother initial and final University Panel). A member of the Panel can give oral feedback to each unsuccessful applicant if requested.  The Independent External Assessors' reports are confidential to the Panel.  An action plan will be devised by the Faculty following the feedback received.

Q. Are staff who are on fixed term contracts eligible to apply for conferment?

A. Staff employed on contracts supported by specific limited funding streams (for example, research assistants funded from grant income) are not eligible to apply for Professorships and Readerships. The reason for this is that no budget is available to support the increased costs associated with the award of the title due to the staffing costs being determined at the commencement of the contract.

Q. How does any application take into consideration someone who is part-time?  

A. The evidence provided in the application will take account of the size of the part-time FTE and the length of the part-time working and will, in general terms, be used to reduce the volume of evidence required (but not that of quality).

Q. If you are on a part-time contract and do work related to your application outside of LJMU, can you include this?

A. If the work is relevant to your academic production, impact and esteem then this may be included and if so must be clearly articulated within the submission.

Q. I am a researcher based in a service department. I am considering applying for readership (research route) in a couple of years’ time.  In terms of Faculty panel approval process how and where will I be evaluated?

A. You will be evaluated against the same criteria as all other applicants in your conferment routeway.  Your application will likely be considered within the Faculty panel that is closest to the academic focus of your activity and your Professional Service Director will present your case and lead discussion.

Q. Are applicants able to seek feedback from the Faculty PVC/Executive lead before sending their application in?

A. Yes, applicants are encouraged to seek feedback from their Faculty PVC/ Executive Lead and anyone else locally (Director of School, Line manager etc) that they feel will be able to give them objective feedback on their application.

Q. Will the Panel take into account an individual's career circumstances?

A. Yes.  As described in "Circumstances having an impact on volume of output for Professorial or Readership Conferment" on page 11 of the Criteria and Guidelines for Conferment document, the Panel will consider how an applicant's submission may have been impacted by relevant circumstances if this is brought to their attention by the applicant. This can also include the recent impact of CoVid-19.

Q. Is there any practical support available during the Conferment application writing process?

A. programme of events will be scheduled to support the 4 separate pathways, women and BAME applicants.  Those staff who are being actively mentored will get support and we urge staff to seek support and advice from colleagues locally, especially those who have been successful previously and will be supported by members of the University Conferment Panel.

Q. If you feel you straddle TWO criteria areas? How to pick which one?

A.This is probably one of the toughest questions and requires some long, honest self-reflection as well as feedback from mentors, colleagues etc.  In essence the simple answer is where you feel you best meet the criteria and can demonstrate high quality and sustained activity.  Sometimes the external voice is helpful.  Don’t forget that is your letter you have to comment on your activity in meeting all of the pillars of the University Strategic Plan, so this will allow you space to demonstrate your broader activities and achievements.

Q. How does the application for readership take into consideration someone who is part-time?

A. Already covered above so remove.

Q. The importance of gathering voices of external stakeholders (relevant to an application) has been mentioned. Can these be informal/formal quotes or are these in addition to the peer reviews?

A. These would be informal quotes, likely best placed in your letter and because they know you and your work personally these people would not necessarily be well-place to provide the independent expert peer-review.  If you use quotations of this nature, please make sure the person involved gives their agreement as comments may be verified/audited.

Q. What is the status of a) mentoring Ed D students and supervision of Ed D students regarding completions? Does this count as PhD completions?

A. All Doctoral-level students are included in the supervision criteria.  This includes the most common route of PhD.  Supervision of Doctoral programmes like EdD, DBA and other professional Doctorates are still “Doctoral” level, produce new knowledge and insight and require similar skill development and demonstration in supervision.

Q. If I fall short on one criterium (i.e. grant income) and can provide strong evidence in the other 3 criteria, along with good citizenship within LJMU and service to profession externally, what is your advice? Drop everything else and try to secure that grant, or attempt an application for promotion?

A. Again, this a tough element of the process as there is no “one” single way career and CV development happens for all.  Academics should engage in a healthy self-critical reflection on their career at regular timepoint to identify areas of strength and relative weakness.  Garnering external funding is an important element of career and work development in many ways. In and of itself it reflects some level of esteem for your ideas and work and of course it will likely lead to outputs, conference presentations, possibly PGR completions.  It is probably not wise to “drop everything” but it is important to have focus and look to manage specific areas of your activity and CV at different times.  Clearly if you have received some focussed feedback on a prior submission that states a specific requirement it is sensible to focus on that and demonstrate success at the next application.

Q.          How is it ensured that the Conferment process is fair and that no one suffers any disadvantage due to a protected characteristics (e.g. race, sex, disability)

A. This information for applications is recorded on a standard proforma with the conferment process using specific criteria, which is identified in the documentation and is based on an individual’s ability to evidence their success against the criteria. The documentation and process gives individual the opportunity to highlight their personal circumstances and any impact that this has had. The panel recognises and integrates any stated personal circumstances that may have affected an individual’s ability to work and meet the criteria.  

As part of our equal opportunity policies we are committed to monitoring applications and appointments through the conferment process.  It is our intention to ensure that applications are treated solely on the basis of their merits, abilities and potential, regardless of gender, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, age, socio-economic background, disability, religious or political beliefs, trade union membership, family circumstances, sexual orientation or other irrelevant distinction.



Requests for visiting positions: Guidance notes and application form

Procedures for Appointing to Externally Advertised Professor Post

The procedure * agreed by the Professorship and Readership Conferment Panel for appointing a Professor is as follows:

  1. An external of professorial status, knowledgeable in the subject area, to be on the interview panel. This person should normally be from another HEI.

  2. In the case of promotion of a candidate to a Chair, two independent, external references are to be taken up. These should be nominated by the appropriate Faculty. Independent external assessors should be selected for their understanding of Professorial appointments and knowledge of the subject field rather than for their personal knowledge of the applicant. They should not have supervised, collaborated or published with the applicant.  One of these references must be provided by the external panel member. In the case of appointment of a candidate already holding a Chair no further external references are required in addition to that of the external panel member and the candidate’s nominated referees for the post.

  3. An internal member of the Professorship and Readership Conferment Panel to be on the interview panel. The Chair or Secretary of the Conferment Panel should be consulted about this in the first instance

  4. The appointment should be notified to the Secretary of Conferment Panel who will report the appointment to the annual Conferment Panel

*all externally appointed professors should meet the LJMU conferment criteria Criteria and Guidelines for Conferment

Procedures for Appointing to Externally Advertised Reader Post

The procedure* agreed by the Professorship and Readership Conferment Panel for appointing a Reader is as follows:

  1. An external of professorial status, knowledgeable in the subject area, to be on the interview panel. This person should normally be from another HEI.

  2. In the case of promotion of a candidate to a Readership two independent, external references to be taken up on each candidate.  These should be nominated by the appropriate Faculty.  Independent external assessors should be selected for their understanding of Readership appointments and knowledge of the subject field rather than for their personal knowledge of the applicant. They should not have supervised, collaborated or published with the applicant.

    In the case of appointment of a candidate already holding a Readership, no further external references are required in addition to that of the external panel member and the candidate's nominated referees for the post.

  3. An internal member of the Professorship and Readership Conferment Panel to be on the interview panel. The Chair or Secretary of the Conferment Panel should be consulted about this in the first instance.

  4. The appointment should be notified to the Secretary of the Conferment Panel who will report the appointment to the annual Conferment Panel

* all externally appointed readers should meet the LJMU conferment criteria Criteria and Guidelines for Conferment