Eligibility to Serve as Principal Investigator

Purpose

To establish the role and responsibilities of a Principal Investigator; the categories of appointments for those individuals who are eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator; and an approval procedure to allow those individuals who are not included in the default categories to serve as Principal Investigators.

Scope

To establish the role and responsibilities of a Principal Investigator; the categories of appointments for those individuals who are eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator; and an approval procedure to allow those individuals who are not included in the default categories to serve as Principal Investigators.

Authority

Vice Chancellor for Research

Policy

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for the design, scientific and technical conduct, administrative oversight, fiscal accountability, regulatory oversight, and reporting for a research, instructional, or public services project. If the sponsor allows, a project may have multiple Principal Investigators who share the authority and responsibility for the project. If there are multiple Principal Investigators, each shall have the authority and be responsible for the proper conduct of the project.

An individual with an appointment in one of the following categories, whether in regular or emeritus status, may serve as a Principal Investigator without the need to seek approval under this policy:

  • Professor (Assistant, Associate, and Full)

The Vice Chancellor for Research delegates the authority to grant approval to serve as a PI to academic deans, institute directors, and campus administrative officers. The applicable academic dean, institute director, or campus administrative officer has the discretion to grant approval to serve as a PI.

Upon approval by the applicable academic dean, institute director, or campus administrative officer, an individual with an appointment in one of the following categories may serve as a Principal Investigator:

  • Specialized Faculty
    1. Teaching
    2. Research
    3. Clinical
    4. Visiting
  • Research Associate
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate or Research Fellow
  • Research Scientist
  • Departmental or Institute Affiliate
  • Academic Professionals

Definitions

  • Principal Investigator (PI)

    An individual vested by the university with the primary responsibility to independently design, conduct, and supervise sponsored projects awarded to the university.

  • Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI)

    Individuals who share the authority and responsibility as Principal Investigator on projects where the sponsor allows more than one Principal Investigator.

  • Co-Investigator

    Individuals who serve as key project personnel, but without the oversight responsibility of a Principal Investigator.

  • Postdoctoral Appointee

    An individual with an appointment as a postdoctoral associate, trainee, fellow, scholar or other postdoctoral position, who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent), and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance necessary professional skills and research independence to pursue his/her chosen career path.

Processes/Procedures/Guidelines

A unit executive officer shall submit to the applicable academic dean, institute director, or campus administrative officer a request for approval, which should include, for example, the following information:

  • The category of appointment of the proposed Principal Investigator identifying his/her current appointment, planned appointment or changes in appointment, and the duration of the appointment.
  • A brief description of the proposed project, including the title, scope of work, and sponsor, and how the project aligns with the individual’s responsibilities.
  • A brief description of the qualifications of the proposed Principal Investigator, and the level of mentorship available, if applicable.
  • An affirmation from the unit executive officer that space and facilities will be provided without detriment to the regular instructional or research responsibilities of the unit in which the project will be performed.

The academic dean, institute director, or campus administrative officer should review all requests for approval taking into consideration the qualifications of the individual, the scope of work, the sponsor, and the level of mentorship available, if applicable. Depending upon the circumstances, the academic dean, institute director, or campus administrative officer may limit the approval to a specific sponsored project or subject to specific conditions. The academic dean, institute director, or campus administrative officer will document all approvals and make them available upon request to the Office of Sponsored Programs within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

For more information, refer to Office of the Provost, Communication 19: Sabbatical Leaves of Absence, Communication 25: Employment Guidelines for Specialized Faculty Holding Non-Tenure Systems Positions, and Communication 26: Promotion to Teaching, Research or Clinical Associate or Full Professor Titles.

For Frequently Asked Questions related to this policy, please see Business Policies & Guidelines

Exceptions

The Vice Chancellor for Research may approve exceptions to this policy.

Contact

David Richardson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, (217) 300-7191, daverich@illinois.edu