2.1 Principal Investigator Eligibility and Criteria for Exceptions

Establishes the policy that principal investigatorship or co-principal investigatorship on externally funded projects is limited to members of the Academic Council and the Medical Center Line (MCL) faculty, with specific exceptions.

Authority

Senate of the Academic Council

Committee on Research

Contact

Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Arvin, Ann Margaret

Dean-Academic

Vice Provost and Dean of Research

650-725-4421

1. Principal Investigator Eligibility Policy

Eligibility to act as a principal investigator (PI) or co-principal investigator (Co-PI) on externally funded projects is a privilege limited to members of the Academic Council and to the MCL faculty. This policy limitation is in place because PIs are responsible for determining the intellectual direction of the research and scholarship, and for the training of graduate students.

The designation of "PI" or "Co-PI" for any member of the Academic Staff, or other individual who is not a member of the University's Academic Council or MCL faculty, requires specific approval by the relevant department chair, school dean and, in some cases, the Dean of Research, as described below.

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2. Exceptions

There are two kinds of exceptions to the PI eligibility policy. The first deals with those situations in which exceptions may be granted by the department chair and dean if all of the prescribed conditions are in place. The second category of exception represents all other situations which require the approval of the department chair, school dean, and Dean of Research. Exceptions in this second category rarely will be granted.

A. Exceptions Subject to the Approval of the Department Chair and School Dean

Requests for PI eligibility for researchers who are not members of the Academic Council or the MCL faculty (e.g., Academic Staff members, Postdoctoral Scholars, Instructors or other researchers) in the following situations may be made on a case-by-case basis by the relevant member of the Academic Council or MCL faculty who has oversight responsibility for the proposed PI.


Such requests are subject to the written approval of the department chair and cognizant dean. (In those cases where the proposals arise from areas outside a school dean's jurisdiction, the Dean of Research will act as the equivalent of the school dean in approving such requests.) The approval of the department chair and the dean shall not be pro forma, but shall take into account the academic quality of the proposal, the qualifications of the proposed PI, and the relevance and importance of the proposal to other activities of the University. Such requests will be made only for a particular project with a specified project period. Documentation of the chair and dean's approval must accompany proposals submitted to the Office of Sponsored Research.

1. Conferences, Exhibits, Workshops or Public Events

Researchers who are not members of the Academic Council or the MCL faculty may be approved to serve as PIs on externally sponsored projects whose sole purpose is to fund short conferences, exhibits, workshops, or other public events of a character appropriate to the University.

2. Specific Projects Which Are Part of Large Interdisciplinary Programs

Researchers who are not members of the Academic Council or the MCL faculty may be approved to serve as PIs on projects within the scope of a large interdisciplinary program. For this purpose a "large interdisciplinary program" is defined as a research program which: a) is directed by a member of the Academic Council or MCL faculty, b) has an expected duration beyond the involvement of any individual faculty participant, c) has more than one faculty member involved, and d) requires expertise in more than one discipline or technical area. All of the following conditions must be met in order for the department chair and school dean to approve PI exceptions in such cases:

  1. The proposed project must be a demonstrably important component of the success of the overall interdisciplinary program, as defined above

  2. There is no member of the Academic Council or MCL faculty associated with the large interdisciplinary project who is qualified to take responsibility for the scientific direction of the prospective research project

  3. No incremental space will be required for the project

  4. For each graduate student participating on the project, a qualified faculty member has been identified to assure that the student's research program and the education derived from it are consistent with the degree for which the student is a candidate

  5. Exceptions approved under this provision will be reported to the Dean of Research on an annual basis.

3. Career Development Awards

Researchers who are not members of the Academic Council or the MCL faculty may be approved to serve as PIs on a class of projects generically referred to as Career Development Awards, whose stated purpose is to advance the individual's scientific career. Such petitions may be approved if the project is to be carried out under the mentorship of an established faculty investigator who is named in the proposal, and if the project can be conducted within the overall intellectual scope and laboratory space of the faculty mentor. Typically in these cases the awards cover only the individual's salary and incidental expenses, but not incremental staff or students.

B. Rare Exceptions Subject to the Approval of the Department Chair, School Dean and Dean of Research

In addition to the foregoing, rare exceptions to the PI eligibility policy may be made at the discretion of the Dean of Research in unusual and non-recurring situations that meet a particular need or opportunity for the University. Such requests will be considered only for a specific project with a specific project period. Examples of rare exceptions that have been granted are: proposals submitted by visiting faculty members and other senior visitors for a limited period of time; proposals submitted by a faculty candidate selected by a department but not yet approved by the Provost, Advisory Board, and President; permission for administrators to submit proposals in support of a project in their area (e.g., the museum or the Stanford University Press); special cases of sponsored instruction; and situations where an Academic Council or MCL faculty investigator ceases to be available and it is necessary for the proposed PI to oversee an orderly phase out of a project.


Requests for such exceptions should be made by a member of the Academic Council or MCL faculty on behalf of the proposed PI. Such requests are subject to the approval of the cognizant department chair, school dean, and the Dean of Research.

In all cases, the following six criteria must be met:

1. Criteria for Granting Rare Exceptions

  1. The proposed research must meet a programmatic need of Stanford. Meeting a programmatic need means addressing an area of investigation that is not currently covered at Stanford and is endorsed by a sponsoring member of the Academic Council or MCL faculty as directly relevant to and supportive of the research or teaching programs of the faculty. Research that may be important in its own right and for which outside funding is available will not be judged as meeting the programmatic need criterion unless it facilitates the ongoing objectives of the University in an identifiable and direct way.
  2. The proposed research cannot be funded and/or conducted effectively at Stanford unless the proposed individual is the PI. Among other things, this generally will mean that there is no member of the Academic Council or MCL faculty available to take the responsibility for the scientific direction of the project.
  3. The proposed PI's qualifications to direct the project provide assurance that the work will be conducted in accord with the standards of excellence of the University.
  4. No incremental space will be required for the project.
  5. For each graduate student participating in the project, a qualified faculty member has been identified to assure that the student's research program and the education derived from it are consistent with the degree for which the student is a candidate.
  6. The research must be designed and conducted in such a way that work can be discontinued when programmatic need ends or if the sponsoring faculty member ceases to be available.

Exceptions to the PI eligibility policy will be rare in situations other than those described in Section 2A. above. A written copy of any such requests, along with the justification and approvals of the sponsoring faculty member, the chair, school dean, and Dean of Research should accompany the sponsored project proposal submitted to the Office of Sponsored Research.

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3. Project Designations Other Than Principal Investigator

Establishment of project teams is the Principal Investigator's responsibility. In this regard, the PI will consider such factors as project requirements, sponsor guidelines related to key project personnel, and the qualifications and contributions of participating researchers, among other factors. Stanford University considers co-principal investigators (Co-PIs) to be equivalent to principal investigators in all regards; eligibility for co-principal investigator status is therefore the same as for principal investigator status, as defined in this policy. Other project designations are at the discretion of the Principal Investigator, and may include, for example:

A. Associate Investigators

In circumstances where this designation would be consistent with sponsor guidelines, the PI may designate members of the Academic Staff-Teaching (AS-T, Lecturers and Sr. Lecturers), Academic Staff-Research (AS-R, Research Associates and Sr. Research Scientists, Sr. Research Engineers, and Sr. Research Scholars), Academic Staff - Libraries (Assistant Librarians, Associate Librarians, Librarians, Senior Librarians), Postdoctoral Scholars, Instructors or other researchers as "Associate Investigators" on sponsored projects.

B. Co-Investigators

Senior members of the Academic Staff-Research (Sr. Research Scientists, Sr. Research Engineers, and Sr. Research Scholars) and senior members of the Academic Staff - Libraries (Librarians or Senior Librarians) may also be designated by their Academic Council or MCL faculty supervisors as "Co-Investigators" on those externally-funded projects in which such senior Academic staff members (Research or Libraries) carry substantial project leadership roles. It is not expected that this designation will normally be used for Postdoctoral Scholars, Instructors or other researchers, although such designation may be used in cases where the researcher is performing in such a role and the designation is allowed by the sponsor.

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4. Review

The PI Eligibility and Criteria for Exceptions policy, including all modifications, should be reviewed by the appropriate body of the Senate of the Academic Council in a period not more than five years from November 1991, and thereafter periodically at intervals not to exceed ten years.

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