UW Research


It is typical to collaborate with other UW faculty on research grants. Ensure appropriate faculty effort and corresponding salary amounts are included in the budget at the proposal stage. Discuss eligibility and compensation arrangements with your department administrator before including them into the budget.

Investigator status is distinct from eligibility. PI eligibility is determined by the school or college. Review the Roles section on this page for more information.

Check sponsor requirements before including staff positions into the budget as direct costs. Sponsors typically expect Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) to cover administrative and clerical staff salaries for activities related to a project. Carefully read GIM 23 and budget development to understand when budgeting such costs as a direct cost may be justified. Work with your department administrator to determine if the staff person is eligible.


Roles on a research team are varied and may include scientists, faculty, students, doctors, nurses, or staff who help coordinate and perform the research. The team could be very large, with many people across different units or institutions, or it might include just a few people. Information listed here is indicative of some of the roles on a research project and their key responsibilities.

Note that any changes to the PI or Key Personnel listed in a proposal or participating on an award requires prior sponsor approval.


There are various roles that can qualify as an Investigator. These roles include, but are not limited to, the Principal Investigator, project director, co-principal investigator (Co-PI), and may also include other, Senior/Key Personnel, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, trainees, staff members, collaborator, or consultant, depending on the person’s role in the research.

Review: Who is considered an investigator and needs to disclose Significant Financial Interest (SFI)?

Senior/Key Personnel

Investigator roles mentioned on this page will typically also be considered Senior/Key personnel. Senior/Key Personnel are individuals designated within a research proposal (including the PI) who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation. Federal sponsors typically require documentation on Current and Pending, or Other Support for these individuals’ research endeavors.

Many areas of research have their own expectations for each of these roles. Thoroughly explain individual contributor roles in your Personnel Justification and the Letters of Support.

Principal Investigators (PIs)

PI eligibility is determined by schools or colleges. PIs are ultimately responsible for the design, administration, and conduct of a research project. This includes compliance with sponsor, state, federal, and institutional regulations, requirements, and guidance.

Institutional example: at the UW, PIs are required to complete Grants Management for Investigators training.

The PI remains responsible for aspects of the research that are delegated to other members of the research team. Sometimes the role of the PI is known as the Program or Project Director (PD).

PI responsibilities include (but are not limited to) ensuring that:

  • All research team members have the appropriate education, training, qualifications and are eligible to participate on the project
  • Informed consent is appropriately obtained from any study participants
  • Research documentation is maintained according to UW records retention and awarding sponsor requirements
  • Significant Financial Interest disclosures are made
  • Outside interests (including Foreign Interests) are disclosed according to UW and sponsor guidelines
  • Financial, administrative, and training policies, regulations and requirements are followed, such as
  • All paid positions are correctly budgeted in the proposal budget and included within the budget narrative
  • Responsible Conduct of Research and appropriate research integrity measures are followed


Co-Investigators can be delegated all of the duties of a Principal Investigator, but do not have final responsibility for the conduct of the research project. They often share the PI’s area of expertise and contribute to guiding the scientific direction of the project.

Co-PI or Multiple PI

Some sponsors use the term Co-PI or Multiple PI to indicate the role has equal responsibility and authority as the lead PI (NSF) while other sponsors use the term to represent that the individual has more authority than a co-investigator but not equal authority as the PI/PD (USDA.) Some sponsors use the term to represent an alternative title for a non-lead PI on a multi-PI project. Not all sponsors use this role.

What’s the difference between a PD/PI, Multiple PI, a Co-PI, a Co-Investigator, and an Application PI?


Mentors are established researchers who perform independent research with independent peer-reviewed research funding. A mentor has a demonstrated high level of productivity and a distinguished record of original contributions as a recognized leader in their research field.

Mentors are typically listed as Key Personnel in a fellowship proposal and an advisory member in a career development proposal, and usually do not commit specific measurable level of effort.

Note for institutional training grants (T32): Only the Program Directors are listed as Key Personnel in the application. Proposed mentors and training faculty members or steering committee members are typically not listed as Key Personnel. While Investigator status may change during an award due to participation, each will be required to disclose in FIDS before participating in the research. See GIM 10: Financial Conflict of Interest  Policy.

Mentee/Trainee/Fellow/Applicant PI

Mentored fellow or candidate for career development:
This individual is listed as a PI on the application and as an Application PI on the eGC1 in SAGE. Review the PI section within this page for more information.

Trainees on institutional training grants are not specifically listed as Key Personnel. Trainees can have their appointments added or terminated throughout the life of the training grant.

Review: Who is an investigator and needs to disclose Significant Financial Interest (SFI)?


The term collaborator in research has often meant an equal partnership between two (or more) researchers. They can be in the same field or vary widely. However, collaborations frequently involve several other people including post-doctoral fellows and even undergraduate students.

The collaborator title is sometimes defined interchangeably with the term Co-Investigator. Collaborators are typically scientists with unique and often complementary expertise, while a Co-Investigator often shares the PI’s area of expertise and contributes in guiding the project’s scientific direction.

Collaborators are typically listed as Key Personnel.

Various agreement types formalize these collaborative relationships. Review Agreement Types

If you are procuring services from an entity outside of the UW, review the consultants section of this page.

For collaboration with other institutions or entities, review the subrecipients section of this page.


Consultants are often hired for their professional services to help inform a research project, such as a statistician. Typically, these individuals would not be considered an Investigator at the UW.

UW researchers who wish to act as a consultant do so as individual contractors and must first secure approval through the Outside Professional Work process.


Subrecipient entities are responsible for a programmatic portion of the project. A subrecipient PI oversees activity performed at the subrecipient entity.

More  information:

Department Administrators

Departmental administrators can assist by consulting with Academic Human Resources or HR to determine eligibility of identified faculty and staff, determine the appropriate pay structure/classification and percentages, calculate benefits rates and salaries over the lifetime of the proposed budget.

The budget preparer can help to anticipate changing personnel needs by asking questions of the research team regarding possible or known personnel events such as employee contract periods, projected student graduation dates, and personnel needs for related projects throughout the project to limit frequency and impact of unexpected changes that could potentially harm deliverables