Expectations of a Principal Investigator (PI)

Updated: March 2023

A principal investigator (PI) at Purdue University is typically a member of the faculty who bears primary responsibility for the intellectual leadership and integrity of a project. The PI accepts overall responsibility for directing the research, scope, and deliverables of the project; financial oversight of the funding; as well as compliance with relevant University policies, federal regulations, and sponsor terms and conditions of an award. Types of awards PIs are responsible for include research contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, training or service projects, clinical studies, and other sponsored projects. PIs do not have the authority to execute contracts or agreements on behalf of Purdue University.

All persons serving as PI and in most cases Co-PI at Purdue University must accept all of the responsibilities detailed in the following sections associated with the application for, and administration of, their awards and projects.


  • Prepares the technical proposal, works with Sponsored Program Services Pre-Award to develop the budget and related materials, and confirms that the entire proposal meets requirements outlined in the sponsor’s program guidelines
  • Identifies and evaluates subrecipients and consultants
    • Determines the programmatic requirements of the subrecipient for successful completion of project outcomes
    • Evaluates programmatic performance risks and determines an appropriate mitigation strategy (Conducts a Pre-Award Risk Assessment as necessary.)
    • Evaluates the subrecipient and consultant cost proposals and determines if they are reasonable, necessary, and appropriate for the work being performed
  • Requests cost sharing dollars, if required
  • Satisfies regulatory research requirements (i.e. use of human subjects, animals, biosafety, research conflict of interest, export control, etc.)
  • Assures the final proposal is properly endorsed and coordinates with Pre-Award staff to obtain appropriate approvals prior to submission
  • Confirms that all information provided in the proposal submission is true, complete, and accurate to the best of the PI’s knowledge
  • Discloses to the Sponsored Program Services Office and the funding agencies all research projects to which the PI devotes effort– ongoing or proposed – both domestic and international - in the Current and Pending Support/Other Support document of the proposal application or at Just-in-Time.  This includes any direct support provided to the PI, even if not officially through Purdue
  • Discloses outside professional activities and financial relationships, whether compensated or uncompensated, through the Reportable Outside Activity Form. Such disclosures must include all work for, or financial interests received from, domestic and international institutions of higher education or the government or quasi-governmental organizations. In most cases these should also be reported in the Current and Pending Support/Other Support documents of the proposal application or at Just-in-Time.

Conduct of Sponsored Programs and Other Project-Related Activities

  • Read and understand the award documents and contracts
  • Conducts the research and other project-related activities, which includes, but is not limited to:
    • Managing project personnel
    • Overseeing the scope of work, timelines, and deliverables
    • Overseeing the scientific integrity of the project
    • Communicating any allegations of academic fraud or scientific misconduct to the appropriate office
    • Developing consultant and subrecipient monitoring plans
  • Evaluates consultant and subrecipient performance outcomes
    • Authorizing payments to consultants and subrecipients
    • Discloses inventions, discoveries, and improvements to Purdue University and the Purdue Research Foundation as required by University policy and funding agreement
  • Complies with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) for combating trafficking in persons

Award and Administrative Oversight

  • Reviews and approves, in conjunction with the appropriate University Research Administration staff, the terms and conditions of the award
  • Recognizes the University as the recipient of awards
  • Provides financial oversight of the funding
  • Certifies allocability and appropriateness of charges to sponsored programs
  • Ensures compliance with relevant University policies, federal regulations, and sponsor terms and conditions of an award
  • Reviews and certifies Personnel Activity Reports based on actual effort
  • Manages subrecipient(s) to ensure the subaward is used for authorized purposes; is in compliance with Federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the award; and that subaward performance goals are achieved.
  • Completes accurate and timely interim and final technical reports as required by the sponsor
  • Prepares continuation or renewal proposal, if needed
  • Retains project data and materials as required (minimum requirement of 3 years following the date of submission of the final expenditure report). Refer to the Records Management website for more details.
    • In accordance with Policy V.B.3 retain records pertaining to any known or anticipated claim, liability, dispute, investigation, grievance, complaint, audit, and/or litigation as instructed even if the retention period or disposition date specified for the records has expired.
  • Discloses annual conflict of interest and prepares a disclosure of Significant Financial Interests, including stipends, living expenses, payments, and travel reimbursements received from other organizations
  • Discloses financial interests related to the PI’s research in all public sharing of research results including journal articles, presentations, and other publications.  Journals and professional organizations have various, often broader standards for financial interest disclosure than the University. Review those standards for each relevant journal or organization and disclose appropriately.
  • Promptly alerts departmental leadership and the Export Control/Information Assurance Office in the event the PI believes a collaborator or visitor is misusing their access or relationship with Purdue
  • Complies with US export control regulations when doing any of the following: accepting publication restrictions in research; traveling internationally and attending conferences; participating in international collaborations; using proprietary information; working with international staff and students; hosting international visitors; shipping materials internationally; or engaging in any international transactions
  • Provides appropriate supervision for all visits and visiting scholars hosted by the PI to ensure that they are upholding University policy and are appropriately using University resources

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