Principal Investigator Eligibility/Sabbatical Leave

Principal Investigator Eligibility


Tenured and tenure-track faculty, research faculty, and emeritus faculty are normally allowed to serve as principal investigators on funding proposals, contracts and research committee protocols, assurances, or registrations. Other university employees, including research associates and post doctoral fellows, may not act as principal unless granted a substantiated exception by their institute director or dean with the approval of the UAF Director of Sponsored Programs.


This policy updates and replaces the "UAF Principal Investigator Eligibility" policy issued by Chancellor Lind in August 2001.

Principal Investigators are leaders of sponsored research projects. Thus, Principal Investigators must have the technical competence and administrative capacity to assume responsibility for successfully accomplishing all aspects of the project. Sponsored projects and contracts are awarded to the University; therefore, it is in the University’s interest to ensure that Principal Investigators have a reasonable prospect of long-term employment at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Post Doctoral Fellows, Research Associates and Graduate Students are, in general, considered to be "researchers in training." This coupled with their relatively transitory association with the University makes them less suited to be a Principal Investigator. However, in recognition of the fact that proposal writing/development and demonstrating one’s ability to obtain, manage and successfully manage sponsored projects is critical to scientists’ professional development, UAF may allow individuals, who would not typically be eligible, to serve as a principal investigator on a one time basis or as a blanket exception to this policy.


  • Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is the office responsible for reviewing proposals to external funding agencies (sponsors), initiating and implementing pre-award policies and procedures, and serving as a liaison between sponsors and the University prior to award.
  • Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is the office responsible for ensuring compliance of University of Alaska Fairbanks personnel with internal policies and with local, state and federal regulations governing the conduct of research.
  • Principal Investigator is the person responsible for developing and submitting a research proposal and for managing all aspects (scientific, fiscal, compliance, etc) of a research project or program (regardless of funding).
  • Co-Investigator (Co-I) is a n individual involved with the principal investigator in the scientific development or execution of the project. A co-investigator typically devotes a specified percentage of time to the project and is considered "key personnel." The designation of a co-investigator, if applicable, does not affect the principal investigator's roles and responsibilities as specified in this policy statement. The university imposes no restrictions on the naming of Co-Investigators.
  • Research Committees are the groups established by the University to oversee particular types of research (and in some cases teaching and other activities). There are currently five research committees: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Review Board (IRB), Laboratory and Biosafety Committee (LBC), Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) and the Information Transfer and Security Committee (ITSC).
  • Substantiated Exception is a request for an individual who is not a tenured/tenure-track faculty, research faculty or emeritus faculty to be allowed to serve as a Principal Investigator. Such requests are made to the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and must be submitted on the "PI Policy Exemption Form."


  • Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs
    The Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs has final authority regarding whether or not an individual (other than tenured/tenure-track faculty, research faculty, or emeritus faculty) may serve as the principal investigator on a funding proposal.
  • Director Office of Research Integrity
    Unless granted an exception by the Director of the Office of Research Integrity, only tenured/tenure-track faculty, research faculty, or emeritus faculty may serve as the principal investigator on research compliance committee protocols, assurances or registrations (hereafter referred to as research committee protocols) related to unfunded research or other activities. For sponsored activities, the principal investigator on a research committee protocol must be the principal investigator on the sponsored project except in the following cases:
    • Program or Center Awards (i.e. where the director is the principal investigator, but which include multiple independent projects to be conducted by co-investigators). In this case the co-investigator responsible for each independent project may serve as the principal investigator on the research compliance committee submissions related to their project; and
    • Student Fellowships and Awards. Students may not serve as the principal investigator on a research committee protocol; their faculty advisor or graduate committee chair must serve as the principal investigator.
  • Deans and Institute Directors
    Deans and Institute Directors are responsible for ensuring that the principal investigator on any proposal submitted to the Office of Sponsored Programs is a tenured/tenure-track faculty, research faculty, or emeritus faculty from their unit; or, that a signed " PI Policy Exemption Form "is submitted with the proposal for those who are not tenured/tenure-track faculty, research faculty, or emeritus faculty.

Limited Exceptions for Students Regarding Funding Proposals

An exception to this policy is any application for a student fellowship or other application opportunities where the student is expected or required to be the applicant. A member of the student’s graduate committee must provide approval on those applications. Students submitting funding proposals shall:

  • fulfill all UAF requirements for new PIs prior to proposal submission;
  • submit a completed "PI Policy Exemption Form" signed by the dean or director of the unit responsible for financial management of the grant if awarded;
  • submit the signed " PI Policy Exemption Form" with their proposal to the unit appropriate unit business office; and
  • once awarded funding, comply with all UAF and sponsor requirements.


Failure to comply with this policy, associated procedures may result in missed submission deadlines. Fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in a funding proposal is considered to be research/scientific misconduct and is grounds for disciplinary action by the university and, if applicable, suspension or termination of research, referral for misconduct proceedings, and/or reporting to state and federal regulatory and/or funding agencies. Any disciplinary action taken by the university will follow the employment rules governing the individual’s employment category.

Failure to comply with research committee requirements and/or failure to maintain an active protocol will result in suspension of access to sponsored funds, return of funds to sponsor(s) and/or a negative report being sent to the sponsor and/or federal regulatory agencies.


There are no exclusions to this policy.

UA Board of Regents Policy - Part IV Human Resources, Chapter IV Faculty defines faculty appointments.

Sabbatical Leave

If a faculty member takes sabbatical leave and plans to receive salary from sponsored program funding while on sabbatical, the faculty member needs to disclose this information in the budget narrative of the proposal. Also, the faculty member should consult UAF and relevant union procedures regarding sabbatical leave and proceed accordingly. This will ensure that the sponsor is aware of the situation and that salary for the faculty member will be handled correctly during their sabbatical leave.

UAF Sabbatical Leave Applications/Info

UA Board of Regents Policy - P04.04.060.A. Sabbatical Leave

1. Policy. Sabbatical leaves for professional development may be made available to faculty with academic rank who meet the requirements set forth below. The objective of such leave is to increase the faculty member's value to the university and thereby improve and enrich its programs.

2. Purpose. Sabbatical leaves shall be granted for study, formal education, research and other scholarly and creative activity, or other experience of professional value and may include associated travel.

3. Eligibility. Faculty holding academic rank who will have completed at least five consecutive years of service within the university system shall be eligible for consideration to take sabbatical leave during the sixth or subsequent year of service. Applicants who will have completed at least five consecutive years of service within the university system from the date of return from any previous sabbatical leave shall be eligible to be granted another sabbatical leave to be taken during the sixth or subsequent year. In computing consecutive years of service for the purpose of this section, periods of vacation leave and periods of sick leave with salary shall be included.

A partial year of service which includes at least one semester of full-time faculty service may be included as a full year of service for the purposes of eligibility for sabbatical leave if also counted as time towards mandatory tenure review. The faculty member must apply for such inclusion in writing. Periods of leaves of absences, other than vacation and sick leave with salary, and periods of part-time service shall not be included but shall not be deemed an interruption of otherwise consecutive service. (06-08-90)

4. Terms and conditions. Sabbatical leaves may be granted for one academic year or an equivalent period at rates not to exceed six months salary or for one semester or an equivalent period at rates not to exceed one semester's salary. Faculty may, with the prior approval of the Chancellor, accept fellowships, grants-in-aid, or earned income to assist in accomplishing the purposes of their sabbatical leaves. In such cases, the Chancellor may adjust the sabbatical leave salaries to reflect such income provided that total earnings for the leave period are not less than full salary had the recipient not been on leave. A faculty member on a terminal appointment loses any rights to a sabbatical leave.

5. Applications. Applications for sabbatical leaves shall be submitted to the Chancellor through channels and procedures contained in approved policies and procedures. Each application shall include a statement outlining the program to be followed while on sabbatical leave and indicating any prospective income from outside of the university system.

6. The recipient is obligated to return to the university for further service of at least one appointment period. Failure of the recipient to fulfill this obligation will require the full and immediate repayment of salary and benefits received from the university while on leave, except in extenuating circumstances acceptable to the Chancellor.

7. A written report detailing the professional activities and accomplishments for which the leave was granted and specifying the sources and amounts of additional funds secured for this period shall be submitted by the recipient to the Chancellor within three months after returning from leave.

8. Approval. Consistent with provisions of Section 4 of this Title, the Chancellor may approve such sabbatical leave as the Chancellor deems appropriate. A record of such leaves shall be reported to the President annually.

9. Leave credits. Vacation and sick leave credits shall not be accrued or used during sabbatical leave.
(07-01-89; A.3 revised 06-08-90)