Principal Investigator (PI) Responsibilities

Effective grant administration requires attention to detail, strong communication skills, and a thorough understanding of both the project's objectives and the administrative requirements of the funding agency. Collaboration among principal investigators (PIs), department- and school- based administrators and the Office of Research Administration is essential for successful grant management and the achievement of project goals.

PI Roles and Responsibilities

The principal investigator (PI) on a research grant plays a critical role in leading and managing the research project. Their responsibilities encompass various aspects of project planning, execution, and dissemination of results. Here are some of the key roles and responsibilities of a PI on a research grant:

  • Project design and planning: The PI is typically responsible for conceptualizing the research project, defining its objectives, and developing the research design and methodology. This involves outlining the research questions, hypotheses, and the overall approach to be taken. Find funding and collaborators for your project.
  • Grant proposal development: The PI is often the lead writer and coordinator for the grant proposal. They are responsible for articulating the significance of the research, outlining the methodology, detailing the budget, and justifying the resources required for the project. Explore proposal development resources. 
  • Award acceptance: The PI is responsible for working with PASA on the review and acceptance of awards to Case Western Reserve University. They are responsible for complying with award terms and conditions, sponsor regulations, and subcontract scope of work. See the steps for accepting and setting up an award
  • Fiscal management: The PI oversees the budget allocated for the project, ensuring that funds are allocated appropriately to cover research expenses such as personnel salaries, equipment, supplies, travel, and other project-related costs. They are responsible for managing the budget effectively throughout the duration of the project. Learn more about financial management of your projects. 
  • Personnel management: The PI may be responsible for hiring and supervising research staff, including postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and research assistants. They provide mentorship, guidance and direction to team members, delegate tasks, and ensure that everyone works towards achieving the project's objectives. 
  • Research data: The PI is custodian of research data and is responsible for the collection, management and retention of research data. They are responsible for  developing and maintaining an orderly system of data organization that is in compliance with the sponsor requirements. The PI is also responsible to ensure that data is transferred and shared in accordance with CWRU and sponsor requirements. Get resources for research data management.
  • Regulatory compliance and ethics: The PI ensures that the research project adheres to all relevant ethical guidelines and regulatory requirements. This includes obtaining necessary approvals from institutional review boards (IRBs), the Institutional Animal Care and User Committee (IACUC) and the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) as appropriate. For human-subjects research, the PI is responsible for ensuring informed consent from participants and maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of research data. Learn more about regulatory compliance
  • Progress monitoring and reporting: The PI monitors the progress of the research project, tracking milestones and deadlines to ensure that the project stays on schedule. They are responsible for providing regular updates to funding agencies, preparing progress reports, and communicating any significant developments or challenges encountered during the project. Review various reporting obligations
  • Knowledge dissemination: The PI oversees the dissemination of research findings through publications in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at conferences and other scholarly activities. They may also engage in knowledge translation efforts to communicate research findings to relevant stakeholders and the broader community. 
  • Reporting disclosure requirements: PIs are responsible for ensuring that they adhere to all CWRU disclosure requirements for outside interest and intellectual property. This includes the submission of all final and financial reports required by sponsors when a PI is leaving CWRU. Learn about final invention/patent reporting procedures.  

Overall, the primary investigator plays a central role in leading and managing the research project, ensuring its successful implementation, and contributing to the advancement of knowledge in their field of study.

See Research Administrator Responsibilities