Recognition of Distinction

The 2024 Recognition of Distinction exercise is now closed for applications 


The Recognition of Distinction Scheme is an annual exercise to confer the title of full professor at the University of Oxford 

Conferment of the title of professor will have no implications for the duties of the individual concerned. Successful applicants whose substantive post is in one of the University Associate Professor grades or who are Keepers in GLAM, will receive an AP with title allowance unless they already receive recruitment or retention payments at this level or above, and will also be eligible for consideration in professorial merit pay exercises.   

It is recommended that those considering applying should take advice on their potential case from their head of department, their faculty board chair, or equivalent; though it should be noted that encouragement to apply cannot guarantee a successful outcome.   

Applications are especially welcome from under-represented groups in order to address the under-representation of women and minority ethnic staff among the University’s senior academics. 


All those employed by the University in academic or senior research roles are eligible to apply, as are other University employees who are making a significant and sustained academic contribution to the University. 

Applications from individuals whose work is interdisciplinary and spans more than one division, or who hold contracts in more than one division, will be considered by the division which the applicant considers to be most relevant. Applications from individuals working in Continuing Education or GLAM and will be considered by the academic division appropriate to their academic contribution.  

Individuals not employed by the University, but who are employed on a long-term basis by an Oxford College or Permanent Private Hall, or by a Recognised Independent Centre, or by the NHS, and who, in the view of the divisional committee, are making a significant and sustained academic contribution to the University’s work, are eligible to be considered for title. Any applicant not employed by the University should apply in the normal way to the division most appropriate to their academic contribution. The divisional committee will first decide whether the nature and extent of the applicant’s contribution to the University, and the opportunities for that to continue, are sufficient for eligibility; the committee will notify its decision regarding eligibility direct to the applicant. 



Applications will be considered by a Recognition of Distinction Committee in each academic division on behalf of Divisional Boards. Recommendations will be made by the Recognition of Distinction Committees to the Senior Appointments Panel of the University’s People Committee which consists of the Vice-Chancellor (chair); the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (People and GLAM), the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation). The Senior Appointments Panel will review the divisional recommendations and supporting documentation. It may seek further information, consideration or comment from the divisional committees. It will ratify the recommendations when it is satisfied that proper procedures have been followed and that standards have been applied consistently. Applicants will be notified in writing of the outcome by the Vice-Chancellor and titles will take effect immediately. 


There are three criteria for the conferment of the title of full professor: research, teaching, and good citizenship. All three criteria must be met.  In this exercise there are no circumstances in which narrowly undershooting any one of these criteria can be compensated by exceptional achievements in respect of the other criteria. 

The criteria are set out below: 


An ongoing research record characterised by a significant influence on the field of study, of a high order of excellence and international standing, and the quality of which in terms of research distinction is at least equal to that expected of those appointed to full professorships at other leading international research universities.

‘Research’ is to be understood as original investigation undertaken to gain knowledge and understanding, including work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce and industry, as well as to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, and artefacts, including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products, and processes, including design and construction. 

Research must be published and available for inspection. 

This requirement goes significantly beyond the level of research achievement necessary for reappointment to the retiring age in an Associate Professorship at Oxford.  The University will be looking for evidence of an appropriate combination of some or all of the following activities and outputs, considered in the context of excellence in the discipline:  

  • research outputs or scholarship recognised in terms of originality, innovation, significance and rigour; 

  • academic leadership in shaping the future of the discipline (which may include the establishment of successful research groups and/or significant engagement with major collaborations);  

  • an effective contribution to the research culture of the department/faculty at Oxford, eg through the supervision and mentoring of the next generation of researchers;  

  • a proven record of successful DPhil supervision;  

  • a record of securing external research funding, from relevant sources, where appropriate; 

  • influence of the research activity beyond academia, including engagement with technology transfer and/or technical developments and/or knowledge exchange including patents, where appropriate; 

  • recognition of the excellence of research, for example through election to learned societies and research bodies/invitations to deliver prestigious lectures/appointment to editorial boards of leading journals. 

Not all of these seven points have to be met (and this is not an exhaustive list of possible research achievements).  However, strong performance across several aspects is expected for the conferment of the title of full professor, and the title is not likely to be conferred on applicants with achievements in just a few of the above areas, nor in the absence of research outputs or scholarship recognised in terms of originality, significance and rigour. 


An ongoing record of involvement in University and/or college administration concomitant with the duties of the University post and the college fellowship (where one is held), and demonstrable competence in such administration. 

An ongoing record of effective teaching for the University and for colleges concomitant with the duties of the University post and the college fellowship (where one is held). 

‘Teaching’ covers either undergraduate or graduate teaching and supervision, or both. 

Good citizenship

“Good citizenship” may include activities such as the holding of University and/or college offices, service on University and/or college committees, and leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives, amongst others. Account may also be taken of editorship of journals, service on committees working in a national context, and other forms of public engagement, as well as activities connected to enterprise, links with industry and business etc. 


Completed applications should be submitted electronically through the University's HR system and according to the specifications outlined in the call for applications.



The 2024 round is open for applications between 27 November 2023 and 18 January 2024