Stewardship of knowledge is a privilege and obligation of faculty at all institutions of higher education. NC State University recognizes that faculty, who both impart knowledge to students and seek new knowledge, are central to its core research mission. The Board of Trustees has established criteria for the appointment of faculty and others to the positions of principal investigator (PI) and co-principal investigator (co-PI). The policy statements below complement the basic principle that PIs and co-PIs are expected to (1) be responsible in the stewardship of public resources, (2) be dedicated to advancing knowledge and (3) maintain the highest standards of conduct in research.
The Board of Trustees, consistent with most institutions of higher education from around the country, has established a Policy that states, in part…
“4.4 All tenure-track faculty members may submit proposals for support of research and scholarly projects. All proposals must be approved by a faculty member’s unit or department head and Dean before submission to the Vice Chancellor for Research for final campus approval. Non-tenure-track faculty members and employees with termed appointments may submit proposals with prior approval of their Dean and the Vice Chancellor for Research.”
Furthermore, a Principal Investigator is…
The individual (or in the case of some NIH projects, the individuals) designated by [NC State University], and approved by [the sponsor], who will be responsible for the scientific or technical direction of the [entire] project.
Co-Principal Investigators or Co-Project Directors (co-PI/co-PD) are individuals designated by NC State University, and approved by our sponsors, who have substantively complementary responsibility for the scientific or technical direction of all or a portion of a project.
An individual can only be a Principal Investigator or a Co-Principal Investigator pursuant to the guidance articulated in the policy of the Board of Trustees defined above or as authorized under an approved exception as described below.
Principal Investigatorship/Co-Principal Investigatorship carries enormous responsibilities. Some, but not all, of these responsibilities are articulated in the Faculty Toolbox by clicking [here].
This web page endeavors to clarify in what circumstances exceptions will be granted and to clarify the logic behind such exceptions and the underlying policy. All exceptions should be addressed to the Director of Sponsored Programs via email.
Certain exceptions that require approval but do not require further justification are described below:
- Postdoctoral Associates on a paid appointment or similarly situated paid employees are considered to be trainees or apprentices and are generally not eligible for an exception unless the program to which the institution is applying specifically requires that such an individual serve as the Principal Investigator such as Postdoctoral fellowship programs. Postdoctoral Associates are eligible for exceptions to serve as co-Investigator on projects where the department head and dean’s office have determined that the substance of the contribution to the proposed work, the anticipated contribution to the conduct of the work, and the expected duration of the Postdoctoral Associate appointment and the project are congruent (recall that PD appointments may not run more than 5 years).
- Students, including those on assistantship are not eligible for an exception unless the program to which the institution is applying specifically requires that the student serve as the Principal Investigator such as on certain graduate student fellowship applications.
- Visiting Scholars who are concurrently paid employees of the institution and have an established scholarly career meritorious of consideration by an academic department for appointment at the Visiting Associate Professor rank or above may be considered for Principal Investigator status.
- Adjunct faculty on paid termed appointment with an established career meritorious of consideration by an academic department for appointment at the Adjunct Associate Professor rank or above may be considered for Principal Investigator status provided there is a co-Investigator from the tenured or tenure-track faculty rank of the institution.
- Certain NCARS and NCCES employees can serve as co-Investigator including Research Assistant Professor, Research Associate Professor, Extension Assistant Professor and Extension Associate Professor. NCARS and NCCES Researcher and Senior Researcher can also serve as sole PI on grants and contracts. This eligibility does not imply tenure.
- SHRA employees are generally ineligible for Principal Investigator status.
- Certain other scenarios will naturally occur. All requests are entertained by the Director of Sponsored Programs on a case-by-case basis.
- Emeritus professors are eligible to be lead investigators.
Investigator Eligibility Revocation
Academic administrators may also request the restriction of Principal Investigator or co-Investigator status by outlining the reasons for such restriction, in writing, to the Director of Sponsored Programs. The Director of Sponsored programs will meet with the Academic Department Head, Dean, and other responsible authorities as well as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation to make and execute a decision to restrict Principal Investigator and/or co-Investigator status of otherwise eligible employees. Reasons for restriction include, but are not limited to: (1) Findings of misconduct; (2) History of failure to meet deliverables or reports on current or past sponsored projects in a timely and orderly fashion; (3) Unmanageable impairment of objectivity; (4) Current investigation into possible misconduct; (5) Fiduciary improprieties; (6) Actions by third parties warranting such actions; etc.