Eligibility to Serve as a Principal Investigator on Sponsored Projects

The principal investigator (PI) is the individual with ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the activities of a well-defined science or other academic project, including all regulatory compliance requirements, review, and reporting of the research or other externally funded sponsored activity.

A PI is authorized to apply for research funding through Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP). A PI is not authorized to submit a proposal directly to a sponsor without OSP approval, accept an award on behalf of the University, or to sign contracts/agreements on behalf of the University. Any negotiations associated with an award must be conducted by OSP.

The table below denotes specific roles at the University and eligibility to serve as a PI:

Status/TitleEligible PI
(automatic in UTRMS-Grants)
Eligible to be PI with Associate Dean/Department Chair approvalUnder the direction of a lead PI – listed as Key Personnel: PI of Record in UTRMS-Grants
Tenure-track FacultyX
Research-Assistant, Associate, or Full ProfessorX
Non-tenure-track Faculty (Benefits Eligible)X
Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of Instruction or PracticeX
Directors, Chairs, Deans, VPs, AVPsX
Affiliate or Clinical Faculty when all of the research will be conducted in a UT, Dell, or Seton facilityX
Research ScientistsX
Research AssociatesX
Faculty InstructorsX
Emeritus FacultyX
Adjunct FacultyX
Visiting Faculty and ScholarsX
Postdoctoral FellowsX
Research AssistantsX
Graduate StudentsX
Undergraduate StudentsX

Newly hired faculty/researchers may request temporary PI status and may submit proposals/transfer applications without a UT Co-PI if the project’s start date is after their official start date. After their official start date, PI status becomes automatic.

Retired/Emeritus Faculty do not receive automatic PI approval even if PI status was held before retirement. A Co-PI must be identified and must be a UT employee who is PI-eligible (refer to the table above) and who is able to actively participate in the project. Please specify faculty type as “Emeritus” when submitting a PI Exceptions Request.

Postdoctoral fellows may not serve in the role of PI. Postdoctoral fellows must seek a sponsoring PI who will submit necessary proposal documentation to OSP for review and endorsement. Should the proposal be funded, the sponsoring PI will assume budgetary and reporting responsibilities at the university level on behalf of the postdoctoral fellow.

Adjunct faculty may not serve in the role of PI at the University or with the sponsor. Outgoing faculty members may keep a grant at the University, with the appointment of a Co-PI at the University who has active PI status and with notification to the sponsor.

The individual’s department (Dean, Associate Dean for Research, Department Director or Chair) must submit a PI Exception Request to OSP.

The following requirements will be necessary to obtain a PI Status Exception:

  1. Acknowledgement that the proposed PI has read and agrees to abide by Researcher Responsibilities.
  2. The individual seeking PI status will also need to be compliant with the University’s COI policy.
  3. Written assurance from the unit head that the individual will hold a paid appointment during the award performance period will be required on requests for individuals with 0% or research affiliate appointments.

The request as recommended by the appropriate unit head is reviewed and approved by the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Additional Department-Specific Exception Request Requirements:

Some colleges or departments may have more restrictive policies for obtaining PI status. Please confirm with your department or unit head for additional guidance.

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