PI Eligibility on Sponsored Agreements, Proposals, and Projects
This following guideline identifies those Texas A&M titles that are eligible for principal investigator (PI) designation on sponsored agreements, proposals, and projects, consistent with Texas A&M University SAP 15.01.01.M5.01.
Eligibility to act as a university PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator on a sponsored project is limited to university employees (faculty or faculty-equivalent research position), excluding positions for which student status is a requirement. University Principal Investigators who have a non-faculty/non-faculty equivalent research position must be granted an exception based on the approval of the vice president for research (VPR) or designee. For those reporting to an academic college, a recommendation for an exception from the department head and dean is required prior to routing to the VPR or designee for approval. For those who do not report to an academic college, the appropriate unit head will make a recommendation to the VPR for approval. Except as provided in the case of retirees, all individuals who serve in the role of a principal investigator on university-sponsored projects must be employed by the university in a budgeted position.
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 within the terms and conditions of the award and in accordance with university and system rules and regulations. Where there are other PIs on the grant designated by the university and the sponsor, they are referred to as Co-PIs. In these cases the PI assumes the role of project leader or lead PI and is listed first on the proposal.
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 university and System rules and regulations. Individuals serving in this role must be approved by the university through the normal administrative channels. Co-Is do not have fiscal authority by virtue of their title, but can be given authority if delegated in writing by the PI.
Collaborator: An individual who 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. Individuals are not expected to meet the eligibility criteria defined in Texas A&M Rule 15.01.01.M5 to serve as a collaborator on a sponsored research proposal or project.
Individuals with the following titles are authorized to be a PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator within the identified limitations as determined and approved by the department or center and the dean of the college or head of the unit, in which the person is appointed. Approval by the VPR or designee is not required for the following titles:
Retired Faculty: Participation as a PI requires approval from the department head and the college dean. Retired faculty wanting to serve as a PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator must be re-employed by the university and placed on payroll for the percentage of time they will serve as a PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator at the time of award. Retired faculty not serving in these roles may work on projects as a collaborator, not requiring employment.
Emeritus Faculty: Retired faculty granted emeritus status by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents may serve as PIs, subject to approval from the department head and the college dean. Emeritus faculty wanting to serve as a PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator have the option to be re-employed by the university and placed on payroll for the percentage of time they will serve as a PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator at the time of award. Emeritus faculty who choose not to be re-employed by the university will be required to certify their time and effort via a manual process and not through the standard time-and-effort certification system.
Postdoctoral Research Associate: Individuals holding the position of postdoctoral research associate can serve as a PI, Co-PI, or Co-Investigator with the approval of their department head and dean, contingent upon the PI-eligibility requirements of the sponsor guidelines and the specific discipline objectives of the college or center and the role performed by the individual. The approval should be provided to Sponsored Research Services’ proposal administration so that it may accompany the proposal for internal routing.
Visiting Faculty: As members of the faculty, visiting faculty and faculty equivalents may serve as PIs, Co-PIs, or Co-Investigators. However, the term of the proposed project cannot exceed the duration of their anticipated appointment, as determined by the department head and college dean.
Karan Watkins, Director
Division of Research
Texas A&M Research Administration