Roles & Responsibilities
Principal investigators, as designated by the Institution and approved by the sponsor, are responsible for the scientific or technical direction as well as the budgetary and financial oversight of the project. While departmental administrators and central accounting personnel provide PIs essential management support in this area, it is the investigator who must make the crucial financial decisions related to expenditures. Additionally, principal investigators have the primary responsibility to ensure that faculty, students, staff, post docs and visiting scholars receive the appropriate training, instruction and mentorship necessary to work safely in his/her laboratory, which may include the identification, coordination, and training for the research team with other units on campus. In addition, the PI shall ensure that equipment and supplies are in place so that research can be conducted safely. Moreover, the PI is responsible for taking the actions necessary for his/her laboratory to comply with Rice policies as well as with all federal, state and local laws.
Additionally, this responsibility includes:
- following institutional and sponsor instructions as well as terms and conditions;
- ensuring the proper recording and storage of data;
- reporting of intellectual property;
- proper handling of hazardous materials;
- directing the use and care of equipment;
- handling issues regarding conflicts of interest; research ethics; and scientific misconduct.
- For research involving human subjects or the use of animals in research, or potential export control issues, principal investigators shall also ensure that students, post docs and research staff receive information and complete the necessary training prior to conducting any research in these areas.
- Principal investigators shall also inform their research staff, post docs and students of those University policies and procedures that may impact their research projects such as those regarding purchasing, travel, and intellectual property.
- Principal investigators should inform members of their research teams, including students and post docs, of the source of support of the research and of their salary or stipend and principal investigators must have first-hand knowledge of the effort and amount and type of contribution each person makes to a research project.
Department administrators are responsible for supporting the PIs to ensure that research proposals are prepared completely and processed timely and that grant awards are administered in compliance with University policies, procedures and federal or state laws and regulations. Such financial duties include:
- Reviewing accounting statements to ensure that expenses are charged appropriately;
- Assisting the PI in planning grant expenditures to ensure timely close-out;
- Assisting the PI on effort reporting and other reporting requirements.
- Staff are responsible for successfully completing required training and adhering to safe practices while working or doing research in laboratories. They must follow the required work practices and use personal protective equipment and engineering controls. Additionally, they are responsible for properly using university-supplied materials and equipment and for exercising good judgment in safely carrying out their work by following established procedures.
- Staff are responsible for promptly notifying and reporting potentially unsafe conditions and environmental health hazards, as well as injuries and illnesses in the laboratory, to the PI, to the PI’s designated laboratory representative or to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. See University Policy 313.
Deans and Department Chairs
In supporting sponsored research activities by their faculty, post docs, and research staff, schools and departments assume certain responsibilities. Approvals of deans (or their designee) and department chairs (or their designee) of a proposal via Cayuse or paper certifies to the following:
- scholarly merit of the project;
- the competence of the principal investigator in the area of research;
- the recognition of applicable safety standards and regulations and the existence of plans for appropriate action to comply with them;
- the ability of the principal investigator to successfully manage the proposed research project;
- compliance with existing University and departmental policies;
- acknowledgment that, to the extent possible, the research project relates to the academic objectives of the department and provides opportunities for graduate and/or undergraduate education or research training;
- the availability of University and department space, facilities, and equipment including
- information technology resources to fulfill project needs;
- the adequacy of the budget and the determination of the department to prevent cost overruns;
- the capability of the department to provide necessary administrative support (personnel and supplies); and
- assurance that the project will be conducted with appropriate management and oversight.
Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance
Under the leadership of the Vice Provost for Research, SPARC reviews, approves, and provides institutional signature for proposals, awards, and contracts as these documents relate to externally sponsored research and projects. In addition, SPARC is responsible for monitoring compliance with federal regulations and University and sponsoring agency policies and procedures regarding the management of non-financial aspects of sponsored research and projects. SPARC functions as a liaison between sponsors and the Principal Investigator in matters of policy, procedures, and regulations and provides communication, guidance, education, and training on proposals, awards, and contracts to the Rice University research community.
For additional information see, Rice University Policy No. 301