Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility Administrative Procedures

Faculty and authorized professional research staff are encouraged to seek external financial support for specific projects undertaken to further the mission of the University in teaching, research, and public service. The purpose of University research is the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. Sponsored projects enhance and expand the educational opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students at the University, promote research, scholarly inquiry, and the development of new knowledge, contribute to the academic achievement and stature of the institution, and assist the university in fulfilling its responsibilities to the state and the nation.

Upon submission of a grant or contract to an external sponsor, the University assumes responsibility for the proper performance of the stated project, the fiscal management of the funds received, and accountability to the sponsor. Much of these obligations are vested in the principal investigator (PI) by the University. For this reason, it is essential that the University identify which ranks and appointments are entitled to the privilege of serving as PI.

A principal investigator (PI) is the lead scientist for a particular well-defined science or other academic project, who takes direct responsibility for the overall design, conduct, and reporting of the research or other externally funded sponsored activity.  In addition, the PI is responsible for all regulatory requirements and review.

The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) serves as the coordinating office for externally funded research and sponsored projects at The University of Texas at Austin.  The goal of OSP is to assist faculty and professional research staff in their efforts to secure and ensure proper stewardship of external funding by conducting proposal review, authorization and submission; award negotiations and acceptance; account management; close-out, reports, audits, collection; professional development and education; and export control and research compliance.

A PI is authorized to apply for research funding through OSP, and to conduct research in an ethical manner after the University has accepted the award on his/her behalf.

A PI or Co-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 the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP).

Automatic PI status is granted to employees of the University who are salaried tenure or tenure-track Academic or Research Faculty.

Other individuals holding non-academic approved Research Titles (see HOP 7-1020 – Research Titles) or Administrative titles may also qualify for automatic PI status, provided the individual is a paid employee (see table 3.1.A. below for a list of Research and Administrative titles with automatic PI status).

For those who have automatic PI status, an e-mail must be sent to osp@austin.utexas.edu to obtain access to the Research Management System (RMS). Individuals must provide the department name to which their awarded grants will be credited to ensure an accurate unit code is created.

Exceptions to serve as PI or Co-PI must be requested for:

  • Non-tenure track faculty
  • Employees holding titles not eligible for automatic PI status
  • Non-employees
  • Emeritus faculty
  • Newly hired faculty/researchers

Procedures for requesting an exception are outlined below under the section titled 3.3 Procedures to Request Exception for PI Status.

Principal Investigator requests solely for protocols reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), or the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) on studies that are not externally sponsored or funded should be directed to the Office of Research Support and Compliance.

Table 3.1.A. The following university non-academic titles are eligible for automatic PI status provided the individual is a paid employee:

Other Research, and Administrative Titles with Automatic PI StatusJob CodePosition Type
Senior Research Scientist0701                               A&P                               
Research Scientist0702A&P
Senior Research Engineer0703A&P
Research Engineer0704A&P
Research Associate0708A&P
Dean0335 A&P
Vice Dean0338A&P
Associate DeanA&P
Assistant DeanA&P
Vice PresidentA&P
Associate Vice PresidentA&P
Assistant Vice President0313A&P
Vice Provost0319A&P
Associate Vice Provost0321A&P
Assistant Vice Provost0323A&P
Executive Director of a Unit0457A&P
Director of a Unit0379A&P
Director of a Program0382A&P
Director of an Academic Program0362A&P
**Director titles outside of Director 0379, 0382, 0362 or 0457 job code must request PI/Co-PI status exceptionA&P

Persons holding the titles listed below in Tables 3.2.A through 3.2.C are not automatically granted PI status and must submit an Exception Request for PI/Co-PI status (See Section 3.3 below). Titles listed in Table 3.2.D are not eligible for PI status. Requests for persons holding eligible titles should be addressed to the designated official of the Vice President for Research (The Office of Sponsored Projects, Assistant Vice President for Research & Director or Associate Director) via osp@austin.utexas.edu. Exceptions may be granted on a multiple submission or project-specific basis:

  • Project-specific: Request for PI/Co-PI status for a specific project will endure for the life of the project.
  • Multiple submission:
    • Annual authorizations are approved through August 31 and require a request for renewal each year on or before September 1 (Please note: OSP does not issue annual renewal reminders), or
    • Position-specific authorizations can be approved for multiple years as long as the individual holds the same appointment at the University. In this case, it is incumbent on the requesting department to inform OSP if there is a change in the status of employment requiring rescission of PI or Co-PI status.

Considerations for exceptions will include whether or not the sponsored activity will have at least one PI who is a paid employee of the University over the entire performance period of the proposed or granted awards.

Exceptions to serve as a PI are generally not granted to individuals holding without-compensation, affiliated appointments. However, research title holders at a 0% or research affiliate appointment may submit proposals as PI without a Co-PI if the submission is accompanied by a written assurance from the unit head that the individual will hold a paid appointment during the award performance period.

Newly hired faculty/researchers may request temporary PI status and may submit proposals/transfer applications without a UT Co-PI as long as 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. Exceptions for emeriti will be granted on a project-specific basis. Please complete the Emeritus portion of the Exception request form.

To ensure that all agency requirements are met throughout the lifetime of the project, a Co-I must be identified who can step-in as PI for projects led by emeritus faculty should the emeritus faculty become disengaged from the project due to incapacity or absence from the University for an extended period of time. A Co-I must be a UT employee who is PI-eligible (refer to the section titled 3. Eligibility above) and who can be actively participating in the project, a knowledgeable colleague, the PI’s Department Chair, or Associate Dean for Research for the PI’s College.

Postdoctoral fellows may serve as Co-PIs on sponsored projects, but may not serve in the role of PI. Postdoctoral fellows and adjunct faculty 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 or adjunct faculty member.

There are times when it is a sponsor requirement that a postdoctoral fellow serve as PI on a project, or it is most appropriate for the postdoctoral fellow to serve as PI on a project to help further their career. In cases such as these, please refer to the section titled 4. Other Consideration PI of Record  on this page for additional information. An adjunct faculty member may not be recognized as PI with a sponsor or PI of Record.

Adjunct faculty may serve as Co-PIs on sponsored projects, but may not serve in the role of PI at the University or with the sponsor. An adjunct faculty member may not serve as PI of Record, i.e. be recognized as PI on a project by a sponsor. Outgoing faculty members may keep a grant at the University, however a new PI at the University with active PI status must be appointed to the project with notification to the sponsor of the change in PI.

If a title is not listed below please refer to the section titled 3.3. Procedures to Request Exception for PI Status on this page to request exception for PI/Co-PI status.

Table 3.2.A. Titles listed below are generally considered for PI/Co-PI status on a multiple submission basis:

Administrative and Classified Titles that may request PI status for multiple submissionsJob CodePosition Type
Clinical Professor0013              Non-Tenure Track Faculty                   
Clinical Associate Professor0024Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Clinical Assistant Professor0034Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Lecturer0050Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Engineering Scientist4204Classified
Instructor0040Non-Tenure Faculty
Instructor (Medical)0240Non-Tenure Faculty
Instructor in Clinical Nursing0041Non-Tenure Faculty
Instructor in Clinical Pharmacy0042Non-Tenure Faculty
Instructor of Medicine (Clinical Scholar)0244Non-Tenure Faculty
Instructor of Medicine (Clinical Educator)0243Non-Tenure Faculty
Professor of Instruction0007Non-Tenure Faculty
Associate Professor of Instruction0023Non-Tenure Faculty
Assistant Professor of Instruction0038Non-Tenure Faculty
Professor of Practice 0014Non-Tenure Faculty
Associate Professor of Practice0023Non-Tenure Faculty
Assistant Professor of Practice0033Non-Tenure Faculty
Senior Research Fellow0705A&P
Research Fellow0706A&P
Senior Engineering Scientist0707A&P
Engineering Scientist Associate4205Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate V (E)4207Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate IV E4208Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate V4212Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate IV4213Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Professional (Part Time)4223Classified

Table 3.2.B. Titles listed below generally considered for PI/Co-PI status on a project-specific basis:

Titles that may request PI status on a project-basisJob CodePosition Type
Program Director0381                               A&P                               
Program Manager0367A&P
Program Coordinator8105Classified
Project Director0371A&P
Project Manager0361A&P
Project Manager9109Classified
Project Coordinator0489A&P
Professor Emeritus0000Faculty
Professor Emeritus (Medical)0200Faculty
Professor of Instruction Emeritus0006Non-Tenure Faculty
Professor of Practice Emeritus0005Non-Tenure Faculty
Associate Professor Emeritus0018Faculty
Associate Professor Emeritus (Medical)0218Faculty
Research Affiliate - Research Fellow *A011
Research Affiliate - Sr. Research Fellow *A012

* VPR approval required

Table 3.2.C. Titles listed below may request Co-PI status on either a multiple submission or project-specific basis:

Titles that may serve as Co-PI onlyJob CodePosition Type
Adjoint Professor0019                               Faculty                               
Adjoint Associate Professor0029Faculty
Adjoint Assistant Professor0039Faculty
Adjunct Professor0015Faculty
Adjunct Associate Professor0025Faculty
Adjunct Assistant Professor0035Faculty
Researcher0710A&P
Researcher Fellow0711A&P
Postdoctoral Fellow0712A&P
A&P Hourly Employment0520A&P
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate III E4209Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate II E4210Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate I E4211Classified
Research Engineering/Scientist Assistant4222Classified
Research Affiliates - PostdoctoralA010

Table 3.2.D. Titles listed below may NOT be considered a PI or Co-PI:

Titles that are not eligible to serve as PI or Co-PIJob Code
Visiting Researcher/ScholarA006                               
Visiting Professor0012
Visiting Associate Professor0022

The individual’s department (Dean, Associate Dean for Research, Department Director or Chair) must initiate a request to OSP using the Exception Request for PI/Co-PI Status form and sent via e-mail to osp@austin.utexas.edu.

The request for exception must include:

  1. Name of individual
  2. Position title
  3. Department unit code
  4. Type of Status
    1. PI, or
    2. Co-PI
  5. Type of request
    1. Project-specific:
      1. Title of proposal associated with the request:
    2. Multiple Submissions:
      1. Annually renewable, or
      2. Position-specific
  6. Acknowledgement that the proposed PI/Co-PI has read and agrees to abide by Researcher Responsibilities.
  7. Statement that the individual seeking PI status is compliant with the University’s policy and has:
    1. Completed Conflict of Interest training
    2. Submitted their Financial Information Disclosure (FID) form
  8. Written assurance from the unit head that the individual will hold a paid appointment during the award performance period for requests for individuals with 0% or research affiliate appointments.

The request as recommended by the appropriate unit head is reviewed by the Office of Sponsored Projects designate of the Vice President for Research. When a decision is rendered, all individuals copied on the original request and appropriate staff within the Office of Sponsored Projects will be notified.

Department-Specific Exception Request Requirements

Cockrell School of Engineering requests must be routed through the Dean's office via Reggie Crim, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist (reggiecrim@austin.utexas.edu; 512-471-2890) and Joey Walker, Senior Grants and Specialist (walker@mail.utexas.edu; 512-471-5450), Cockrell School of Engineering prior to forwarding on to OSP.

College of Liberal Arts requests must be routed through the relevant department chair, and then the Associate Dean for Research, Esther Raizen, (raizen@austin.utexas.edu) prior to forwarding to OSP.

Dell Medical School requests must be routed through Lindsey Demeritt, Associate Director of Sponsored Research, Dell Medical School (dellmedspa@austin.utexas.edu; 512-495-5500) prior to forwarding on to OSP.

College of Pharmacy must be routed through the Office of Research and Graduate Studies via Cory Davis, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist, (pharmacyresearch@austin.utexas.edu; 512-232-7511) prior to forwarding to OSP.

Certain sponsors and program guidelines require a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow to act as a Principal Investigator (PI) (i.e., NIH, HRSA, etc.) and will be recognized as such in the sponsor’s proprietary system, such as NIH eRA Commons.

This is meaningful to the student / postdoctoral fellow because the official sponsor record and award documents will reflect the graduate student or postdoctoral fellow as the project PI and will show that the graduate student or postdoctoral fellow has agreed to conduct the proposed research as required by program guidelines. Under these circumstances, OSP refers to the graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in the University’s internal systems as PI of Record and requires a faculty mentor to shepherd the proposal and award through internal systems. All internal records will reflect the faculty mentor as the primary PI; the faculty mentor PI is ultimately responsible to the University for the technical and fiscal oversight of the project. A formal request for exception is not necessary to be listed as PI of Record on internal records.

An adjunct faculty member may not serve as PI of Record or be recognized as PI on a project by a sponsor.