Principal Investigator Eligibility

Faculty are primarily responsible for the quality and reputation of the University and should routinely serve as Principal Investigator or Project Director (PI/PD).

Because of the significant delegation of responsibility and authority, only employees of the university may be designated PI/PD.

Part-time employees may have significant duties, and responsibilities outside of the University and temporary employees may lack commitment to the University; therefore, individuals designated to serve as PI/PD should be employed in full-time, base-budgeted positions.


Individuals employed as Faculty or Staff may serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) or the Project Director (PD) on sponsored programs.

Students and individuals employed in Temporary Academic Positions may only serve as the PI/PD with prior approval by the Executive Vice President for Research & Innovation.

Students, Temporary Academic Positions, Adjunct Faculty and other individuals not employed by UofM may serve as a Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI) provided that a Faculty member agrees to serve as Contact PI and the Leadership Plan is approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs.


Adjunct Faculty: Individuals not employed by the University but who have a formal academic relationship approved by academic personnel services or approved by the Graduate School. Adjunct Faculty employed as part-time instructors come under the guideline for Temporary Academic Positions.

Co-Investigator (Co-I): This title designates key personnel without the oversight responsibilities of the Principal Investigator or Project Director; therefore, individuals designated as Co-I do not need to meet the qualifications to be PI.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Co-PI is the same as Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI.) Under the multiple principal investigators concept, the National Science Foundation will refer to multiple investigators as Co-PI (while the National Institutes of Health will refer to each multiple investigator as PI).

Co-Principal Investigator / Project Director (Co-PI/PD): Co-PI/PD as currently used on the Proposal Summary Form means Co-Investigator (key personnel on a project other than the PI/PD.) Use of Co-PI/PD will be phased out and replaced with MPI.

Contact PI: Projects with multiple principal investigators must designate a Contact PI who is responsible for communications among the project team, the sponsor, and UofM administration units. The Contact PI will be entered on the Proposal Summary Form as PI/PD. Sponsors may permit rotating which MPI is the Contact PI; however, for logistical reasons, all UofM documentation will be filed under the original Contact PI as shown on the Proposal Summary Form.

Faculty: For use in this guideline, Faculty is defined as employees with the following Banner characteristics:

1. Employee class code “F9” or “FA” on PEAEMPL form;

2. Status code “Full Time” on PEAEMPL form;

3. Budget profile “EDUGEN” on NBAPBUD form;

4. Budget profile “GRANTS” on NBAPBUD form where the funding source is either a Chair of Excellence or a Center of Excellence

Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI): This title identifies two or more individuals who share responsibility for the conduct of the project in accordance with the Leadership Plan for MPI Projects.

Principal Investigator (PI): This title identifies the individual responsible for the conduct of the project. Responsibilities include the intellectual conduct of the project, fiscal accountability, administration, and compliance.

Project Director (PD): This title identifies an individual responsible for the conduct of the project. Project Director has the same responsibilities as Principal Investigator but is the traditional title used for non-research sponsored programs.

Staff: For use in this guideline, Staff is defined as employees having managerial or supervisory responsibilities with the following Banner characteristics:

1. Employee class code “AD” on PEAEMPL form;

2. Status code “Full Time” on PEAEMPL form;

3. Budget profile “EDUGEN” on NBAPBUD form.

Temporary Academic Positions: For use in this guideline, Temporary Academic Positions include, but are not limited to, graduate assistants, temporary instructors, visiting scholars, and soft money positions having budget profile “GRANTS” on NBAPBUD form.


General: Projects with Multiple Principal Investigators must have a Leadership Plan approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs that delineates the roles of the investigators. Leadership Plans should describe the governance and organizational structure of the research project including the communication plan and processes for making decisions on scientific direction, allocating resources, determining authorship of publications, sharing intellectual property, and resolving conflicts.

Reporting: Leadership plans should designate the investigator responsible for reporting. If reporting requirements are not met, the NIH will stop making awards to all investigators on the project.

Special Reviews: Leadership plans should specify the investigator responsible for human subjects, animal studies, or other special reviews as appropriate.

Fiscal Accountability: Leadership plans must specifically identify investigators who will have authority to expend funds. An investigator not employed by UofM (e.g. students or Adjunct Faculty) may not have spending authority; however, a non-UofM employee may have spending authority through subcontract with the investigator’s employer. If more than one investigator will have spending authority, the Leadership Plan must allocate budget to each investigator. Prior to approving the Leadership Plan, the Office of Sponsored Programs must determine that the plan for fiscal accountability can be implemented in Banner. When awarded, investigators will have their share of the budget entered under their individual Banner organization codes. During the project period, funds may be re-allocated among investigators as described in the Leadership Plan. If budget re-allocation is not addressed in the Leadership Plan, then the decision to re-allocate budget must be unanimous among the investigators.