Policy on PI Status
It is University policy that only those with whom the University has or intends to have an on-going contractual relationship may serve as principal investigators (PI) or program directors (PD) for projects, research or otherwise, supported by external funding sources.
The status of Principal Investigator (PI) or program director (PD) is granted automatically as a matter of privilege to tenured and tenure-track faculty, regular faculty on the research and "practice of" tracks, and select senior administrators. All other appointments must receive permission from their deans or the Provost. Those who wish to be co-PIs must meet the same criteria as PIs and PDs. The Duke Policy on PI Status is found in the Faculty Handbook.
Graduate Students: In general, graduate students are not eligible to serve as PIs on sponsored research projects. However, several funding mechanisms require the graduate student be designated as the PI or Co-PI. For instance, NSF's Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants, require a faculty member, usually the student's advisor, to serve as the PI and the student is listed on the proposal as a Co-PI.
Requesting Special PI Status: The procedure for requesting eligibility to serve as a principal investigator may be granted in specific instances by someone with the appropriate authority such as the Dean of the school, the director of an institute, or a Vice Provost. Follow the link above for detailed instructions and guidance.
Outside Collaborators and PI Status
Outside collaborators (non-Duke personnel) may not be listed as co-PIs on Duke proposals. An outside collaborator is not a Duke faculty member and does not "automatically" have PI status nor would he or she have an on-going contractual relationship with Duke. The reason for not allowing this, however, goes beyond these two issues to the contractual relationships between Duke and its sponsors. The institutional signature on a proposal, indicates compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant if an award is made. The signature also certifies that the University - and its PIs - are in compliance with numerous federal regulations such as the use of human and animal subjects, misconduct in science, conflict of interest, lobbying, affirmative action, cost accounting standards, to name a few. Signing a proposal that lists outside collaborators as co-PIs would imply that Duke can certify compliance for other institutions and their faculty members when clearly we cannot. Consequently, we require that outside collaborators be recognized in other ways in a proposal. Alternatives for working with and recognizing the key roles of faculty from other institutions include collaborative proposals, subcontracts and consultancies.