Principal Investigator Resources
Principal Investigator Guidelines
A principal investigator (PI) is normally a member of the academic or research faculty who bears responsibility for the intellectual leadership of a project. The principal investigator accepts overall responsibility for directing the research, the financial oversight of the award’s funding, as well as compliance with relevant university policies and federal regulations as well as sponsor terms and conditions of an award.
Principal Investigator Eligibility Chart
|Faculty Rank Type and/or HR Classification||Serve as PI||Serve as Co-PI|
|Professor (all ranks)||Yes||Yes|
|Retired Faculty Member||Yes*||Yes|
|Research Professor (all ranks)||Yes||Yes|
|Senior Project Associate||No**||Yes|
|Collegiate Faculty (all ranks)||Yes||Yes|
|Senior Research Associate||No**||Yes|
|Adjunct Faculty (all ranks)||No**||No
|Senior Research Scientist||Yes||Yes|
|Instructor/Professor of Practice/Clinical Faculty/Lecturer (all ranks)||No**||Yes|
|Visiting Professor (all ranks)||No***||Yes|
* See exception request process for retired faculty eligibility requirements
** Exceptions require approval of department head, dean and the senior vice president for research and innovation
***Exceptions require approval of department head and dean; visiting professor required to be on Virginia Tech payroll while serving as principal investigator
^Unless required by sponsor and approved by department head and dean
Principal Investigator Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible to qualify for principal investigator status, an individual must demonstrate or possess the following:
- A doctorate or master’s with substantial related experience
- Evidence of scholarship
- Direct benefit to the university
Principal Investigator (PI): This individual has been designated by the university and the sponsor as the responsible person for overall administrative, fiscal, scientific and technical direction, and conduct of a sponsored project in accordance with relevant university policies and procedures, federal and state regulations, sponsor guidelines as well as the terms and conditions of an award.
Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): This individual has been designated by the university and the sponsor as a Co-PI and shares the responsibilities for the sponsored project with the PI. In addition to responsibilities for the administrative, compliance, and scientific and technical direction of a sponsored project, the Co-PI has fiscal authority and may oversee the spending of a sponsored project in accordance with its terms and conditions.
Co-Investigator (Co-I): As an investigator on a sponsored project, this individual is responsible for conducting research within the terms and conditions of the award and in accordance with the university policies and procedures.
Collaborator: This individual commits to contribute to the scientific development or execution of the project, but does not commit any specified measurable level of effort on the project. Individuals who qualify for the role of PI, Co-PI, or Co-I and who will contribute measurable effort may not be listed as a collaborator.
Those individuals listed as non PI eligible on the Principal Investigator Eligibility Chart may be considered for approval for PI status by submitting a completed Principal Investigator Status Request (PDF) and sending the form to OSP using the email address of pistatusOSP@vt.edu. The request may be made for continuous PI status of an active employee or approval of PI status for a specific proposal submission. Initial duration for approval is up to one year with possibility of extension upon request.
Current employees in the following categories can request PI status
- Salaried employees not normally considered eligible by their rank.
Please review the PI Eligibility Criteria to determine if PI status can be requested for the employee rank.
- Faculty on P-14 appointment.
Faculty in a part time position paid on P-14 appointment may request to continue serving as PI or Co-PI for the effort expended on sponsored projects.
Non-paid affiliates with an HR approved P-86 appointment may be considered for approval for PI status by submitting a completed Principal Investigator Status Request (PDF) and sending the form to the Office of Sponsored Programs using the email address of pistatusOSP@vt.edu.
Note: Virginia Tech division of human resources governs the non-paid affiliate appointment process, using the P-86 form. Departments may consult with the Office of Sponsored Programs about the eligibility requirements for non-paid affiliates by contacting pistatusOSP@vt.edu.
Non-paid affiliates in the following categories may request PI status:
- Emeritus Faculty
Faculty granted emeritus status upon retirement by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may serve as PIs, subject to the approval of the department head and the college dean. The sponsor of the award will need to be made aware of the change in the PI’s status and approve the individual remaining PI. If the emeritus faculty chooses to not be re-employed by the University to be paid for their effort, they will be required to certify their time and effort via a manual process rather than the standard Personnel Activity Reports (PARs) process.
- Newly recruited incoming faculty
A future employee who wishes to have PI eligibility prior to the start of their appointment to facilitate a transfer of funded projects to Virginia Tech or to submit new proposals as an eligible Virginia Tech PI does NOT need to complete the PI Status Request Form. The PI or department administrative support staff should send the PI’s executed offer letter to the appropriate pre-award associate prior to processing the proposal in SUMMIT.
- Faculty separating from the University
In most instances, when a PI separates from the university, the active awards for which they are a PI should either be transferred to the PI’s new institution or transferred to another PI at Virginia Tech. Both changes should be requested from the sponsor via the Office of Sponsored Programs.
Limited circumstances that may warrant the granting of PI eligibility status to a PI separating from the university include:
- The active award has an award end date within three months of the PI’s separation date from the university with no intention to request an extension or modification to extend end date; or
- The sponsor makes a formal written request to the Office of Sponsored Programs for the award not to be transferred to the PI’s new institution and for the PI who is separating from the university to remain the PI.
The department making a request to obtain PI eligible status for an individual should follow these procedures:
- A Principal Investigator Status Request (PDF) must be prepared to provide a rationale for the individual to serve as PI. The request must include a current CV for the proposed PI, and must be endorsed by the appropriate department head or institute director.
- The request is submitted to the appropriate senior management level (deans or VP office) for endorsement.
- The PI request packet and supporting requested documents should be forwarded to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) using the email address of pistatusOSP@vt.edu.
- Upon review of the PI request, OSP will confirm request approval or denial with the requesting department.