Role of the Principal Investigator (PI)


The Principal Investigator has primary responsibility for achieving the technical success of the project, while also complying with the financial and administrative policies and regulations associated with the award. Although Principal Investigators may have administrative staff to assist them with the management of project funds, the ultimate responsibility for the management of the sponsored project award rests with the Principal Investigator. These fundamental responsibilities of the Principal Investigator during the post-award phase of a sponsored project award include:

  • Execute the project as outlined in the funded proposal, using sound management techniques
  • Carry out the project's financial plan as presented in the funded proposal, or make changes to the plan following a prescribed set of policies and procedures
  • Report project progress to the sponsor as outlined in the terms of award
  • Maintain an accurate record of project related expenses
  • Comply with all Dartmouth College and DHMC policies and procedures related to project management and personnel practices
  • Comply with all applicable sponsor rules, regulations and/or terms and conditions of the award

The Principal Investigator's responsibilities may be divided into two related but distinctly different sets of activities: those activities involving the management of the work of the project, and responsible spending of project funds. While the work of the project should drive the financial activities, sound management practices in both arenas are required. The financial stewardship of sponsored project funds is a shared responsibility with other areas of the College, among them the OSP.

Once a project has been funded, there is the expectation by both the Sponsoring Agency and OSP that the Principal Investigator will responsibly spend the award. Sound fiscal management of sponsored project funds requires knowledge of and adherence to a prescribed set of federal and locally developed financial guidelines. Over the life of a sponsored project award, a researcher may initiate changes to a project that impact on the management of these awarded funds. A Principal Investigator must have a good understanding of the procedures associated with initiating financial transactions or changes to a sponsored project award's financial plan.

To facilitate Principal Investigators' fulfillment of these responsibilities, the OSP is committed to assisting Principal Investigators in the administration of research and other sponsored activities. In addition to offering workshops and training sessions, the OSP has prepared a number of training and procedural documents aimed at acquainting a Principal Investigator with the policies and procedures that affect the management of a sponsored project award. 

Adherence to Certifications

At the time a proposal is submitted, the Principal Investigator will have signed and agreed to a specific set of obligations covering the management of a project's work. Particularly in the case of use of human and animal subjects, these certifications must be thoroughly followed. Failure to follow certification guidelines may result in sanctions imposed by the Dartmouth College Council on Sponsored Activities under the Misconduct in Science Policy. 

Project Staff

The Principal Investigator has responsibilities and prerogatives in the selection, training, and evaluation of project staff, subject to the policies and procedures of Dartmouth College's Office of Human Resources. These College personnel policies and procedures conform to federal and state laws, and reflect Dartmouth College's approach to the management of human resources. Consistent with these policies and procedures, a Principal Investigator may select staff to carry out the work of the project. Principal Investigator's unfamiliar with Dartmouth College personnel policies and procedures are encouraged to contact staff in the Office of Human Resources. 


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