Research Professor: Meaning, Requirements & Responsibilities

Have you ever wondered who a research professor is? A research professor is one who specializes in conducting research and publishing findings.

They are usually involved in cutting-edge research that pushes the limit or boundary of knowledge in their field. Their work can unravel new discoveries or insight into already existing theories. 

In this article, I will talk about research professors, their job responsibilities, and the requirements to be one.

Let’s dive right in.

What is a research professor?

A research professor or a research scientist is an untenured employee of an academic institution that specializes in doing major research. Their primary aim is mainly research. Although, on special occasions, they may be called to teach. 

For many academic institutions, having a research scientist is a way of adding to the reputation of the institution. This is because the university attracts more attention when they make groundbreaking contributions.

What are the responsibilities of a research professor?

A research professor is charged with a number of responsibilities. Below is a list of the major duties or responsibilities they are charged with.

1. Conducting research

The most important responsibility of a research professor is to conduct research. These researches are usually on topics related to their fields of study.

2. Teaching classes when instructed to do so

Sometimes a research professor is called on to teach undergraduate and graduate students in their area of expertise. On other occasions, it could be to fill in for an absent lecturer.

3. Work with other faculty members

Research professors are also required to work with other faculty members. They work together to develop new courses or curricula or revise existing ones.

4. Publish findings

Research professors are required to maintain active research programs in their field. Furthermore, publishing all findings from this research in peer-reviewed journals.

5. Performing administrative duties

Research professors also perform some administrative duties. Duties such as overseeing the work of postdoctoral fellows and teaching assistants.

6. Participating in academic activities

They are also required to participate in the institution’s academic activities. These activities include; attending conferences, seminars, lectures, and workshops related to their field of study.

7. Prepare proposals for funding

Research professors also prepare proposals for external funding sources such as foundations or government agencies.

8. Review applications

Another responsibility of research professors is to review applications. These applications are for graduate school admission or postdoctoral fellowships.

9. Assist or work with students

A research processor can also provide students with advice and guide them on their research projects or thesis topics.

Research professor salary and growth prospect

Their salary varies depending on the years of experience they possess and the nature of the research they conduct. They can also earn extra from additional compensation, usually in the form of commission or bonuses.

The following is the annual salary range of a research professor, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Median annual salary: Estimated at $125,000 ($60.1/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: Estimated at $225,000 ($108.17/hour).

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of research professors is expected to grow by 21% over the next decade.

They further stated that research professors would be needed mainly in applied research fields. These fields include; biotechnology, nanotechnology, and neuroscience.

What are the requirements for the job of a research professor?

If you are considering a job as a research professor, below are the requirements;

1. Education

For you to be a research professor, you must have a bachelor’s degree in any of the science-related fields. These fields include biology, chemistry, and physics. You will also need to have a Ph.D. in any of these fields in other to qualify for this position.

2. Training and experience

Research professors or scientists are also expected to possess adequate training and experience in their desired field.

3. Certificate and license

Although it is not mandatory, having a license or a certificate in a particular field gives you an edge over others. These certifications demonstrate your knowledge of a preferred method of research or software application.

4. Adequate skills

A research professor is expected to possess adequate skills. Some of the skills you should have include; effective communication, time management, collaboration, etc.

How can you become a research professor?

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Being a research professor is a great way of putting your love for research to good use. You will have the opportunity to work with young minds and groom them on their research skills.

The first thing you should do is to get a doctorate in your field. Also, it would be best if you had experience doing research and publishing findings.

It is also important that you have experience teaching or working with students. Showing that you are capable of communicating and breaking complex ideas to them.

It can take a while before you reach the level of a research professor, so ensure you start early. Furthermore, build your experience working with senior professors who can support your career development.


Which job is similar to that of a research professor?

  • Research associates
  • Assistant professors
  • Senior research scientists

Where does a research professor work?

Research professors usually work in academic institutions, such as colleges and universities.

Do research professors teach?

Yes, they do.

They could be instructed to teach or work alongside students.

Does the institution fund all the research of research professors?

No, they don’t.

Many research professors get their research grants from sponsors or investors. These investors could be companies that are in association with the institution.

Is a research professor different from a normal professor?

Yes, it is.

The research professor’s role focuses mainly on research, while a professor’s role focuses mainly on teaching.


As a research professor, you have a lot of responsibilities and duties. You need to be aware of the meaning and requirements of the position, in order to meet the expectations of your students, departmental administrators, and colleagues.

You also need to be able to fulfill the various requirements of the position. However, becoming a research professor can be quite promising with an average growth rate of 21% in the next decade.

You only need a Ph.D. degree in a relevant field and several years of academic experience. In addition, you must have excellent written, oral, and communication skills to become a research professor.

I hope you enjoyed this article, if you did, you should also see what professor emeritus means.

Thanks for reading.