Principal Investigators of Sponsored Projects Policy

Research and other sponsored project activities are supportive of Emerson College’s broad educational mission and are thus conducted under the responsible control of the College’s tenured and tenure-track faculty. For this reason the College normally requires Principal Investigators (PIs) (also sometimes referred to as Project Directors) of externally funded projects to be members of the tenured and tenure-track faculty. The Chair of PIs home department and the Dean of his or her school must approve each proposal for an externally sponsored program by signing the Proposal Routing Form, and, by doing so, are indicating their approval for the PI to undertake the project.

In certain instances, it may be appropriate for individuals who are not members of the full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty to serve as PIs (e.g., Adjunct or Term Faculty). If the PI of a proposed project is not a member of the full-time tenure-track faculty, the signatures of the chair and dean on the Proposal Routing Form and, by doing so, the Chair and the Dean indicate their approval of the PI to undertake the project on behalf of the College. More specifically, the signature of the Chair and the Dean on the Proposal Routing Form also indicate their approval of the person serving in that capacity for that project, after having carefully considered the pertinent issues, including but not limited to:

  • Grants are awarded to the College, not to the individual. If the PI, for whatever reason, is no longer available, able, or willing to carry out the work of the grant, the College would need to identify another qualified individual to put forward to the sponsor as a possible replacement PI.
  • PIs have fiscal oversight of the grant FUND, which includes responsibility for approving expenses and signing time sheets and/or effort reports for employees paid from the grant.
  • Sponsors typically require a variety of reports throughout the award lifecycle, including financial and technical reports. The completion of the reports is the responsibility of the PI. The College must be certain that any technical reports can be completed should a PI become unavailable to do so.

In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate for individuals who are not members of the tenured and tenure-track faculty to serve as PIs (e.g. Adjunct or Term Faculty). If the Chair and Dean approve a PI who is not a member of the tenured and tenure-track faculty, an appropriate Co-PI must also be named by the Chair or the Dean who is a tenured and tenure-track faculty member or a full-time administrator.

Some externally funded programs are clearly of an administrative, as contrasted with an academic or scholarly, nature and can be headed by a full-time staff member. In this case, the immediate supervisor and the appropriate Vice President should also indicate their approval of the individual serving as PI by signing the Proposal Routing Form.

Visiting graduate students, post-docs, and visiting faculty generally do not serve as PIs or Co-PIs. In some cases, an externally funded program may require that one of these individuals be listed as a PI or Co-PI, or there may be another legitimate cause to consider a waiver of this restriction. In such cases, the Associate Vice President for the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship should be contacted well in advance of the proposal deadline so the case may be discussed and considered with the appropriate College personnel. It should be noted that any PI, Co-PI, or investigator is bound by all Emerson College research policies throughout the life of any award.