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Responsibilities of a Principal Investigator

Principal Investigators are required to conduct themselves and their research responsibly and with integrity in accordance with the terms of the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research. The administrative responsibilities of Principal Investigators with respect to research funds awarded to them in support of their research or in support of specific contractual research or service activities will be outlined herein.

Click here to view the Research Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research Policy


The University as a steward of the research funds provided through an award has established a series of policies and procedures aimed at ensuring:

  • The ability to comply with the regulations of the research sponsor;
  • The proper management of the funds;
  • Accountability to the sponsor and other university stakeholders; and
  • The effective conduct of the research activities in accordance with the highest standards of professionalism, safety and ethics. 

The University delegates the overall responsibility for the pursuit and management of the research proposal to the Principal Investigator as an employee of the University and as the person who is most knowledgeable about the research proposal. The University supports the Principal Investigator in meeting his/her responsibilities by providing organizational infrastructure to support compliance with the requirements of the University and the sponsor.

Principal Investigators are responsible for conducting their research as indicated in the proposal, and for the overall sound administration of all research funds allocated to them, including: 

  • The proper allocation of research funds and sound financial management;
  • Human resource management and supervision of employees and students;
  • Ensuring a safe working environment;
  • Ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions governing the grant or contract; and
  • Ensuring that expenditures do not exceed the value of the award. 

Financial Management

Effective financial management is expected and required of all Principal Investigators conducting research at the University of Windsor. Accountability of these research funds is demonstrated by ensuring the following:

It is required that all Principal Investigators plan, allocate and distribute their expenditures in a manner which will provide for reasonable completion of their project within the financial limits of the award. Principal Investigators must ensure eligibility of all expenses in accordance with rules and regulations of the sponsor and plan for contingencies. 

The Principal Investigator initiates and approves all requests for commitments and transactions for supplies, services, and enumeration. The Principal Investigator ensures that activities comply with University policies and procedures and the requirements of the sponsor and that the activities are eligible costs under the guidelines for the award or contract and have been approved in the budget submitted to the sponsor. The Principal Investigator sees that the expenses or commitments are charged to the appropriate Grant Account, are necessary to the research endeavour being undertaken, and that there are sufficient funds to cover the transaction.

The Principal Investigator ensures constant supervision and monitoring of the funds by reviewing the monthly accounting statements provided by Research Finance and identifying and reporting any discrepancies, errors and inconsistencies to Research Finance. The Principal Investigator exercises financial control over grant funds through the review of claims, submission of original vouchers, stubs, receipts, and other documentation, the authorization of all expenditures, and the review of all applicable financial reports.

The Principal Investigator ensures that all financial reports prepared by Research Finance, as required by the sponsor, are carefully reviewed and approved for submission in a timely manner. All financial statements, reports, and invoices must be submitted to the research sponsors by Research Finance after review and approval.

Principal Investigators are accountable and responsible for all deficits resulting from overexpenditures, expenses deemed ineligible by the sponsor or for failure of the Principal Investigator to comply with the rules and regulations of the sponsor. Principal Investigators must ensure that their available funds are not over-spent, and shall work with Research Finance to make the necessary arrangements should this occur.

Principal Investigators must know, understand and apply all applicable policies and procedures of the University and of the sponsor. Where there is a difference between the policies of the University and the sponsor, the more stringent requirement will be followed.

Principal Investigators are responsible for the conduct of their research projects, including:

  • Doing the work, monitoring, and controlling the progress of the project in a professional manner;
  • Ensuring compliance with University policies and procedures including the Research Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research Policy (VPRI-13-002);
  • Ensuring compliance with the sponsor’s rules and regulations and contractual terms and conditions;
  • Ensuring compliance with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research;
  • All scientific and technical discussions with the sponsor and reporting to the sponsor. In particular, the Principal Investigator must ensure that all non-financial reports (progress and final reports, deliverables, etc.) required by the sponsors are submitted in a timely manner, as required to ensure that the University receives the committed funds; and
  • Supervising their support staff and students, in accordance with the University’s policies and procedures. The Principal Investigator is responsible to oversee all research conducted by his or her students and research staff and must ensure that all research staff are aware of and abide by the terms and conditions of the award and the policies and procedures of the University. 

The Principal Investigator is responsible for all interactions with the sponsor related to the technical aspects of the research project. The Principal Investigator must inform and provide any correspondence/documentation to ORIS, for all matters related to changes to the research project, including changes in dates, budget allocations, increases or decreases to the amount awarded, and any changes to the project which may require written amendment or written approval.

Principal Investigators are not authorized to sign applications, proposals, contracts, or contract amendments on behalf of the University. All documents of this nature must be signed by the Executive Director, Research and Innovation. All financial statements reports and invoices must be submitted to the sponsors by Research Finance after review and approval.