• Home
  • Grants Life Cycle
  • Principal Investigator Designation

Principal Investigator Designation

The Principal Investigator (PI) is the lead researcher or project director ultimately responsible for an externally sponsored project. This responsibility includes not only the scope of work of the project, but also its fiscal administration, responsibility for meeting the terms and conditions of the award, and representing the project to the sponsoring agency. All proposals and sponsored projects must have designated one person who will serve as the principal investigator for the project. At the University of Kansas, only persons who possess PI status may be designated as the principal investigator for a project or to submit a project proposal to an external funding agency.

PI Status
In order to be designated as the PI on a proposal or sponsored project, an individual must first have PI status. There are three different types of PI status on the Lawrence campus: regular, special, and project-specific. Because of the serious responsibility that serving as a PI entails, PI status is restricted to certain individuals. The Lawrence campus does not grant PI status to students.

Other researchers who participate in carrying out the scope of a sponsored project and share in the credit are usually identified as a Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) or a Co-Investigator (Co-I). The PI may delegate to a Co-PI or Co-I responsibilities for fiscal, administrative, or other aspects of the project. Although some tasks may be delegated in this way, the PI alone continues to bear the overall responsibility for the project. In order to serve as a Co-PI or Co-I, an individual must first be granted PI Status; there is no separate approval process for Co-PI or Co-I status.
 
When two or more individuals decide to share the PI responsibility for a sponsored project, each individual will be designated as Co-PI. However, one of the individuals must still be designated as the official PI and bear ultimate responsibility for the project in the eyes of KU and, in most cases, in the eyes of the sponsor.
 
Some sponsors use specific terminology to identify the investigators besides the PI, while others do not. For example, NIH uses Co-I but NSF uses Co-PI. Terminology used in a proposal to describe project roles should correspond with that used by the sponsor.
 
Regular PI Status:
Faculty and academic staff on the Lawrence campus who have one or more of the official job titles listed below automatically attain PI status, effective with their written acceptance of appointment.
Professor Librarian III Senior Scientist Senior Curator Senior Specialist Research Professor
 
Associate Professor
Librarian II Associate Scientist Associate Curator
 
Associate Specialist
Associate Research Professor
Assistant Professor
 
Librarian I Assistant Scientist Assistant Curator Assistant Specialist Assistant Research Professor
    Junior Scientist Junior Curator Junior Specialist  
The KU Lawrence campus honors regular PI status granted to individuals at other KU campuses once the other campus confirms that status to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
 
When a tenure-track faculty member is denied tenure, he or she automatically loses the privilege of submitting new sponsored research proposals, effective on the date of notification of their denial of tenure. All other rights and responsibilities associated with PI status continue until the effective date of that faculty member's termination.
 
Emeritus faculty retain their PI status.  However, they must submit a signed statement of commitment agreeing to comply with all relevant University regulations relating to the conduct of sponsored research projects (see Principal Investigator Acknowledgment of Responsibilities PDF) and they must demonstrate that a department or other unit on campus will provide project oversight services and any research space needed to support their activities.
 
Special PI Status:
The University may grant special PI status to certain directors, research associates, and courtesy appointees. These individuals must possess credentials similar to those persons described in the regular PI status category and be regular employees of the University.
 
To obtain special PI status, the individual's supervisor must submit to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research:
  • a letter of recommendation based on the nominee's expertise,
  • a copy of the nominee's curriculum vita,
  • a statement that the supervisor's unit agrees to support and house any project awarded under the nominee's direction,
  • and a signed statement of commitment from the individual agreeing to comply with all relevant University regulations relating to the conduct of sponsored research projects.
Requests for special PI status must be submitted at least three (3) working weeks (15 working days) prior to the deadline for submission of the proposal. 
 
If there is a change in the appointment of a person who has Special PI status, that person must be re-nominated for PI status. 
 
Project-Specific PI Status:
The University may grant project-specific PI status to unclassified or University Support Staff employees of the University who do not qualify for regular or special PI status, visiting faculty, postdoctoral researchers for whom submission of grants is an express requirement or expectation of their employment or training, and research affiliates, adjunct faculty and others who possess qualifications similar to those persons described in the regular PI status category but are not regular employees of the University.  This status is granted only on a project-by-project basis and must be requested for each new proposed project.

To obtain project-specific PI status for employees of the University or postdoctoral researchers the individual's department chair or supervisor must submit to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research:

  • a letter of recommendation based on the nominee's expertise that addresses the relevance of the project to the nominee's regular employment responsibilities,
  • the project's title,
  • a copy of the nominee's curriculum vita,
  • a statement that the supervisor's unit agrees to support and house the specific project, and
  • a signed statement of commitment from the individual agreeing to comply with all relevant University regulations relating to the conduct of sponsored research projects (see Principal Investigator Acknowledgment of Responsibilities checklist)

Requests for project-specific status must be submitted at least three (3) working weeks (15 working days) prior to the deadline for submission of the proposal.

Limited-Term PI Status
In special circumstances, if the unclassified or University Support Staff for whom the status is requested has an established record of proposal submissions with prior approved project-specific PI status the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research may assign a limited- term PI status for a certain time frame. In these cases, the department chair or supervisor will be informed of this decision and the individual involved will be allowed to submit other proposals within the specified time frame without additional requests for PI status.  However, after the specified time frame elapses or if the appointment of the individual changes before that, new submissions will require PI status requests to RGS as appropriate to the circumstances.

PI Status for Non-University Employees
PI status is not usually granted to individuals who are not employed by the University of Kansas.  But if there are compelling reasons for requesting this status for adjunct faculty or research affiliates, then a request from the hosting department or center for project specific PI status must be made.

When project specific PI status is requested for individuals who are not employees of the University, the director of the unit with which the individual is affiliated must submit to the office of the Vice Provost for Research:

  • a letter of recommendation based on the nominee’s expertise that clearly specifies the rationale for granting project-specific PI status,  and describes arrangements for insuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations governing the activities to be undertaken,
  • the project's title,
  • a copy of the nominee's curriculum vita
  • a statement that the supervisor's unit agrees to support and house the specific project, and
  • a signed statement of commitment from the individual agreeing to comply with all relevant University regulations relating to the conduct of sponsored research projects (see Principal Investigator Acknowledgment of Responsibilities checklist)

Requests for project-specific PI status for non-university employees should be submitted as far in advance of the specific grant deadline as possible and in no cases less than three (3) working weeks (15 working days) prior to the submission deadline for the grant.

 

Why KU
  • 48 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Pharmacy school No. 2 nationally for NIH funding
  • Hall Center receives 3rd NEH challenge grant to support humanities research collaboration
  • Regional leader in technology commercialization
  • 12 graduate programs rank in top 10 nationally among public universities.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Driving discovery, innovation, entrepreneurship
  • Home to 15 major research centers & state surveys
  • 1st in nation for its special education master’s and doctorate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • 1st in nation for its city management and urban policy master’s program.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities