In the traditional hierarchy of British and other Commonwealth universities, reader (and principal lecturer in the new universities) are academic ranks above senior lecturer and below professor, recognising a distinguished record of original research. Reader is similar to a professor without a chair, similar to the distinction between professor extraordinarius and professor ordinarius at some European universities, professor and chaired professor in Hong Kong and "professor name" (or associate professor) and chaired professor in Ireland. Readers and professors in the UK would correspond to full professors in the US.
The promotion criteria applied to a readership in the United Kingdom are similar to those applied to a professorship: advancing from senior lecturer to reader generally requires evidence of a distinguished record of original research.
In Denmark and Norway, docent was traditionally a title ranking between associate professor and professor, and was virtually identical to a readership in the United Kingdom, although today, the title is used somewhat differently. The traditional Danish/Norwegian docent title is widely translated as reader. Historically, there would often only be one professor (chair) for each institute or discipline, and other academics at the top academic level would be appointed as docents. In Norway all docents became full professors when the docent rank was abolished in 1985. In Sweden and countries influenced by Sweden, docent is the highest academic title below that of (full) Professor, but it is usually not an academic position in itself, but is more like a degree; in this sense it is somewhat comparable to the Habilitation found in certain countries in Continental Europe. The Swedish docent title is translated as either reader or associate professor in the sense of a title above senior lecturer (i.e. associate professor as an alternative title of reader, as found in certain Commonwealth countries and Ireland).
Several UK universities (e.g. the University of Leeds; the University of Oxford) have recently dispensed with the reader grade (those currently holding readerships retain the title, but no new readers will be appointed). In the few UK universities that have adopted North American academic titles (i.e. lecturer is equivalent to assistant professor; senior lecturer equivalent to associate professor; professor equivalent to professor), readerships have become assimilated to professorships.
Associate professor in place of reader
At some universities in Commonwealth countries, such as India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Malaysia, and in Ireland, the title associate professor is used in place of reader, and similarly ranks above senior lecturer and below professor. This associate professor title should not be confused with the associate professor title used in the American system; like the reader title it ranks higher than an associate professor under the American system, as the American associate professor corresponds to the senior lecturer rank in the Commonwealth. The rank reader in the UK academic system, and the equivalent associate professor in certain other countries otherwise using the British system of academic ranks, is considered to be equivalent to the professor rank in the American system, while the chair/professor rank in the UK and Commonwealth system is considered to be equivalent to the distinguished professor rank in the American system.