FAQs—Academic Researchers Unit

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1. Do all initial appointments have to be one year? What if we don’t have the funding or enough work for a year?

All appointments must be a minimum of one year until the first merit or promotion review. However, if there is a lack of work, lack of appropriate funding, or programmatic need, the initial appointment may be less than a year and must be documented the reason on the UC-AP-RA1. If the department chooses to extend the appointment, the extension must be for at least a full year or until the first review action whichever is sooner. At any time when there is a lack of funding, work, or programmatic change, lay-off procedures must be followed.

2. We used to switch appointments to without salary appointments instead of doing a layoff or a reduction in time. Is this still allowed under the contract?

No. Without salary appointments are not part of the Union. Therefore, if there are gaps in funding, a non-PI Academic Researcher should be laid off pursuant to the Layoff and Reduction in Time article. They should not be placed into a Without Salary title, even if requested by the affected appointee.

The only exception allowed by the contract is for individuals holding PI status. Article 11, Section B-4 states, “At the written request of the Academic Researcher who has received notice of layoff or reduction in time, who is supported primarily by sources on which they are PI or co-PI, the University may reduce the salary for a fixed period of time as an alternative to reduction in time, provided they remain FLSA exempt and provided their effort remains commensurate with their appointment percentage.”

3. My department has funding available and we want to pay a without salary Academic Researcher. Can we just move them into a represented title?

No. When an Academic Researcher is being moved from a without salary (WOS) title to a paid, represented title they must go through a recruitment.When hired into the salaried title, their years at rank/step restart.

4. Do Junior Specialists undergo merit reviews?

Junior Specialists do not undergo merit/promotion reviews. Their appointment may be less than a year due to programmatic need, or lack of funding or work. However, they are only to remain at each step for one year. If reappointed, they must receive a step and salary increase.

5. When a Junior specialist is appointed into an Assistant Specialist title, is a promotion file required?

No. The department/school should prepare an appointment file consistent with normal procedures.

6. I have an Academic Researcher who just received a Merit and should be reappointed for the normative years at step. If they have a visa end date prior to the end of that normative time, what end date should I put in the merit letter?

The visa end date should be used as the end date for the appointment in the merit/promotion letter. If the department is able to extend the visa, they may submit an extension to the normative time using the UC-AP-RA1 form.

7. Is there a normative time for review for Academic Researchers at indefinite steps?

Project Scientists and Researchers

Time at Full Professional Researcher and Full Project Scientist at Step V and above may be for an indefinite time.

Full Professional Researchers and Full Project Scientists at Steps V and above shall be reviewed at least every five years. Following the review, the individual should be reappointed for a minimum of three (3) years which may be followed by a subsequent two (2) year appointment to bring the individual to the next five (5) year review.


Time at Full Specialist, Step IX is for 4 years but may be for an indefinite time. Full Specialists at Step IX are to be reviewed every 4 years. Following the review, the individual should be reappointed for a minimum of two (2) years which may be followed by a subsequent two (2) year appointment to bring the individual to their next four (4) year review.

NOTE: For Professional Researchers, Project Scientists, and Specialists Advancement to Above Scale will not occur after less than four years at Step IX. 
8. Can an Academic Researcher request a deferral of a required review?

Yes. A request for a one-year deferral with written justification that is supported by the PI, Chair, and Dean should be submitted to the Office of Academic Personnel by February 1. If a one-year deferral is approved, department should submit UC-AP-RA1 form extending the appointment for 1 year and the review must take place and completed within the following academic year.

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