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Criteria for being designated a principal investigator (PI) in RDM

A researcher will be eligible to be designated as an RDM PI if they meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Has been awarded the title of University Research Lecturer (URL) or Associate Professor (AP) or holds a more senior appointment;
  2. Holds an intermediate level fellowship awarded in open competition from a major external funder;
  3. Holds significant funding in their own name, commensurate with their field of work and awarded in open competition, together with evidence of substantial independent research achievements, judged to be of equivalent standing by the RDM panel;

AND if they can demonstrate via their current CV that they have achievements in research (publications and grant funding) and teaching, and make contributions to ‘good citizenship’ within RDM and the wider University. Where the applicant has recently moved, or is about to move, from another department or organisation ‘good citizenship’ activities in their previous department or host organisation will be considered to meet this criteria.


  1. NHS Consultants can become RDM PIs if they are awarded the title of Associate Professor.
  2. The MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (MRC WIMM) uses the term Group Leader to recognise those PIs who lead independent groups of researchers within WIMM laboratories. Whereas WIMM Group Leaders will usually be RDM PIs, not all RDM PIs within the WIMM are WIMM Group Leaders. The criteria and process for designation as a WIMM Group Leader are set out in the policy document (MRC WIMM network access required to view) titled ‘Designation as a Group Leader in the WIMM in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine’.

Anyone wishing to discuss their eligibility to become an RDM PI should contact the Head of Strategic Research Development ( or their Head of Division in the first instance.

What being a PI in RDM means

  1. An RDM PI will have an independent programme of research that may involve them supervising DPhil students and line managing research staff (research assistants/technicians etc).
  2. An RDM PI is expected to have secured funding to support their research.
  3. An RDM PI will have access to desk space, in accordance with the allocation of desk space by the Division in which they are based. NHS Consultants who are RDM PIs may not be provided with additional desk space.
  4. An RDM PI will be provided with appropriate bench space for their research, by the Division in which they are based.
  5. An RDM PI will be provided with administrative support through the Finance/Grant and Human Resources teams in their Division, to support submission of grant applications and enable effective grant management, and for recruitment of staff and advice on HR issues.
  6. An RDM PI will have an annual Personal Development Review (PDR) with their Head of Division or designate to discuss their progress, objectives and career development needs.
  7. An RDM PI may be a supervisor of graduate students from the Department’s direct entry DPhil programme (DPhil in Medical Sciences), from Oxford-wide DPhil programmes and other graduate student programmes, in accordance with the Code of Practice for Supervisors.
  8. The Department will provide the RDM PI with access to shared facilities and infrastructure in accordance with the usual procedures.
  9. An RDM PI may be supported by the Department to apply for suitable University titles (Associate Professor or Full Professor) when they are deemed to meet the required criteria. Advice on this process will be provided by the Head of Division or the Head of Strategic Research Development.
  10. An RDM PI is expected to maintain the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of their research and to ensure that those they line manage also uphold these standards, in accordance with the University of Oxford’s Code of practice and procedure on academic integrity in research.
  11. An RDM PI will interact with colleagues and carry out research in a safe, respectful, and considerate manner in accordance with University and Departmental values and rules on safety and general conduct in the workplace.
  12. An RDM PI will be listed in the PI section of the RDM website and can have their own research page on the website.

Process for designation as a PI in RDM

  1. RDM will operate an annual call inviting suitably qualified researchers to apply for RDM PI status. The applications will be reviewed by RDM’s Academic Career Progression Panel which will make recommendations to RDM’s Senior Leadership Team.
  2. An application for RDM PI status should include a one-page cover letter setting out how the criteria to become an RDM PI are met, and an up-to-date CV covering achievements in research, teaching and ‘good citizenship’ in RDM and the wider University.
  3. Applicants can apply for RDM PI status, without having to apply for the title of Associate Professor (AP).
  4. In exceptional circumstances, the panel will have discretion to make decisions on conferring RDM PI status outside this annual round: the same criteria and panel membership will apply.

A document with this information is also available.

Policy effective from 11 December 2023.