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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Principal Investigator Considerations

Taking the Lead Being a Principal Investigator (PI) for a Project

Ohio State has specific guidelines about who may serve as a PI for projects that are administered by the Ohio State Office of Sponsored Programs. This information is available at this web site: County Extension educators and specialists who have faculty status may serve as PIs. Non-faculty professionals who wish to be PIs must apply. 

Serving as a PI for a project is appropriate WHEN the project fits within your program responsibilities and will enhance or expand your program efforts positively. PI responsibilities include:

  • Provide leadership, support, and guidance to the people who may be hired to do the day-to-day work;
  • A commitment to the project and to keeping efforts and resources directed toward the outcomes promised in the proposal and/or contract;
  • Enough involvement with the project and/or the people to be able to write or review required progress and final reports, and see that they are completed and submitted on time;
  • Understanding the budget because you have been involved with its preparation and are confident you can keep the project within it;
  • Timely and informed review and approval of project expenditures from the project funds.
  • Prepared, in the event project costs exceed the awarded amount, to cover the project overrun from some other acceptable and pre-determined source.

PI responsibilities can be time-consuming. Do not be the PI for a project when you are not prepared, willing, and/or able to provide leadership to the project, accept the fiscal responsibility, and/or meet other obligations that may be part of the conditions of receiving the funds. Before assuming the PI role for a project, carefully review who and what will be involved. You need to be prepared to fulfill your promises to the people who provide the funding, provide leadership to, the people who may be hired to deliver the project, deliver quality programs to the participants in project activities.

See also: Principal Investigator Status for Extension Professionals

Updated by Jackie LaMuth, Brian McClain – 2013
Reviewed by Cindy Buxton, Angie LeMaster – April 2015