In my university department there is a professor who holds the position of Head of the department, and then there are also several Deputy Heads, who are in charge of different management areas —more precisely: Research, Teaching and Infrastructure. Notice that, in our case, the Head and the Deputy Heads are not necessarily 'senior professors' or 'full professors'; they can be also (young) 'associate professors'. They are in fact elected by popular vote within the teachers belonging to that department.

My question is just this: What is the right way to refer to the Deputy Head who is in charge for the Research matters of the department?

  • Research Deputy Head?

  • Deputy Head for Research?

  • Deputy Head of Research?

  • ...

Actually, I am not sure whether the term 'Deputy Head' is right or not, in this context.

I would appreciate your feedback on this terminology question.

  • 4
    It's whatever the department wants it to be.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 11, 2015 at 23:22
  • 1
    @jakebeal, this doesn't help. I am not an English speaker, and therefore I am not sure about what is the more frequent or natural way to refer to this kind of charges in English.
    – Vicent
    Feb 11, 2015 at 23:27
  • English is quite protean as a language: any of them are reasonable and might be often encountered. The construction is more likely to be #2 or #3, though, since that parallels "Head of Department" in its construction.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 11, 2015 at 23:31

2 Answers 2


"Deputy Head of Research" is someone who deputises for the "Head of Research".

By contrast, "Deputy Head for Research" (or, sometimes, "Deputy Head (Research)") is someone who deputises for some generic "Head" in the specific area of research.

"Research Deputy Head" is unidiomatic and sounds like a command "go and research the deputy head" rather than a title. The "research" coming first somehow stresses it as a verb rather than a noun.

Even more common than any of those constructions, at least in my part of the world, is the simpler "Head of Research".

In practice, there will be a definitive answer to this question which you can only find out by asking within your university.


I am not sure Department Head is an honorific as much as a job description. I am confident that Head of Research is not an honorific. I would just go with Professor/Dr instead of using the job title. If you want to be informal, and it sounds like you do not, go with first names. The only positions that you might want to start using the job title as an honorific is Dean, Chancellors, and Presidents.

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