Roles and responsibilities

Principal Investigators and their staff, the department chair/area director, college deans/unit vice presidents and Sponsored Projects each have established roles and responsibilities in the proposal submission process. Learn about responsibilities for each respective role:

  • Principal Investigator roles and responsibilities

    A principal investigator (PI) is the individual who assumes full responsibility for completion of a funded sponsored project by directing the project work and reporting directly to the funding agency. Below are some of the key responsibilities undertaken by a PI at the University of Nevada, Reno.

    • Originates the idea for research or project.
    • Determines possible funding sources.
    • Understands institutional policies and procedures as they relate to sponsored projects.
    • Studies sponsor guidelines and submission instructions.
    • Plans research or project.
    • Determines personnel needed for project and corresponding effort requirements.
    • Works with department for salary projections.
    • Collects applicable proposal materials such as biosketches, letters of collaboration, current and pending support, etc.
    • Completes research plan, abstract, budget and budget Justification, and all other components of proposal.
    • Enters project proposal into grants management system, InfoEd, including all required internal forms (Transmittal eform, SP-11, etc.) and routes proposal for internal review and approval of the PI, other key personnel, chairs/directors and deans/VPs and Sponsored Projects.
    • Allows a minimum of five business days for Sponsored Projects pre-award proposal review.
    • Is available for feedback and requests for revisions from the Sponsored Projects representative.
    • Edits proposal as needed after receiving suggestions and comments from Sponsored Projects staff.
  • Department Chair or Director, and the College Dean or Unit Vice President roles and responsibilities

    The department chair/director and college dean/unit VP review and approve sponsored projects proposals via InfoEd thereby endorsing the principal investigator (PI) as follows:

    • The department agrees that the individual is eligible to serve as PI on a sponsored project at the University of Nevada, Reno (University or UNR).
    • The PI has, in general terms, the knowledge, time and ability to work toward completion of the project scope of work.
    • The department will take responsibility for the conduct of the agreement if the PI is not capable, able or willing to complete the terms of the agreement. This includes over-expenditures or non-payments which are the result of fault by the PI.
    • The PI has the resources available which include equipment, space and support to complete the scope of work. If resources are not available, that support is requested in the proposal or there is a pre-negotiated agreement with all appropriate University parties that the space, equipment and/or support will be provided if the award is made.
    • The department chair/director is aware of any potential conflict of interest and is willing to manage, eliminate or minimize as required by the UNR conflict of interest policy and federal regulations.
    • The department chair/director is aware of any cost sharing/matching commitments, is aware of the source of the cost share/matching and assures necessary commitments will be in place prior to the award.
    • The department chair(s)/director(s) of Co-PIs are aware of their participation and, if needed, have negotiated a split of indirect cost recovery if the Co-PIs are in different departments from the PI.
    • The Co-PIs have the resources available similar to all of the above.

    Financial Aspects

    • You have reviewed the project budget.
    • You agree with any cost matching/sharing requirements including both cash and in-kind.
    • You agree with any commitment for distribution of indirect cost recovery.
    • You, your college and your department will take reasonable responsibility for over-expenditures and/or lack of reimbursement from the sponsor due to non-performance of the University researcher(s).


    • You have agreed to any proposed space allocation or renovation as indicated in the proposal or on the transmittal form.
    • You agree with any commitment of time proposed including any proposed reassignment from teaching during the academic year.
    • No undergraduate or graduate student's education/research will be compromised by his or her participation in the project.


    • The PI qualifies to be a principal investigator under University policy, and your department/college/campus unit is committed to supporting the project.
    • The proposal is compatible with the PI's expertise and capability.
  • Sponsored Projects roles and responsibilities

    A unit within Research & Innovation, Sponsored Projects provides sponsored projects administration services for the University of Nevada, Reno (University). Below is a list of responsibilities related to proposal preparation and submission undertaken by the Sponsored Projects pre-award team.


    • Assists faculty in identifying and obtaining funding for research, training and scholarly activities.
    • Assists faculty in proposal and pre-award processing.
    • Identifies funding opportunities for both general University information and specific areas of interest to research faculty.
    • Advises principal investigator (PI) and University staff regarding federal, state, local government and other funding agencies' rules, regulations and procedures.
    • Reviews the MANDATORY - Transmittal eform within InfoEd and any other required internal forms (SP-22, SP-11).
    • Reviews all proposals prior to submission (including revisions, supplements and continuations) for accuracy, correctness and legal sufficiency considering agency requirements and University policies. Pre-award administrators routinely check application format, budgets and other parts of the proposal as part of the review process.
    • Communicates with PI and staff about any revisions required to comply with sponsor or University policies.
    • Communicates with PI about any revisions that may strengthen the proposal.
    • Advocates and acts as a steward for the policies and procedures of the University, vice president for research and sponsoring agency.
    • Submits proposals as the authorized representative for the University.