The UW-Madison Faculty Senate, at its meeting on 5 February 2001, approved the creation of two zero-dollar, honorific working titles to be used to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of meritorious academic staff in research. Those titles are associate research professor and research professor.

The honorific working title associate research professor can be awarded to outstanding academic staff members with terminal degrees and titles of associate scientist or higher rank. The honorific working title research professor can be awarded to outstanding academic staff members with terminal degrees and titles of senior scientist or distinguished scientist. The research professor titles are limited, in nearly all cases, to academic staff members whose funding is 50% or more from non-state GPR sources. These titles are awarded only to truly meritorious academic staff members and require the positive recommendation of the executive committee of the department in which the staff member is employed, or the relevant academic planning council (APC) for staff members not easily identified with a single department. The basis for awarding the associate research professor and research professor titles is criteria and documentation similar to that required for tenured faculty.

A department or APC recommendation is forwarded to the dean of the school or college. Upon approval by the dean, the recommendation is forwarded to the appropriate divisional committee. The divisional committee reviews the dossier to determine whether it meets the criteria for bestowing the title. If the divisional committee approves the dossier, it recommends that the provost grant the proposed working title.