Managing the research
The Principal Investigator (PI) has overall responsibility for the scientific and financial management of their research award which includes ensuring the project fulfils the terms and conditions of funding, adheres to reporting requirements and that significant project changes are promptly communicated to the funder.
The following outlines the key areas of PI responsibility, providing further guidance, advice and management tools to support research project activity:
Managing the research
Managing Your Research Expenditure
Accountability for financial compliance with College policy and Funder requirements ultimately rests with the Principal Investigator although responsibility for the day-to-day management of project finances may be delegated to administrative staff as governed by the Post Award Management Policy [pdf].
- Should be charged directly to the account for which the purchase is intended
- Must be in line with the awarded budget
- Must be in accordance with the funder’s terms and conditions
- Should only be incurred between the actual project start and end dates
Any deviation from the original budget (outside of the terms and conditions of award) should be flagged to, and approved by, the funder prior to the commitment of expenditure.
Ineligible expenditure charged to the research project account, which is not paid by the funder, will need to be borne by the Principal Investigator and the department.
Budget Management Tools
There are a number of reporting tools available to assist with the financial management of awards explored in further detail on the Research Management Information pages. Two key sources of financial information include:
- Report2Web - spend reports distributed to PIs, departmental administrators and Research Services by email each month taken from data in Oracle Grants.
- The OBIEE / ICA Operational Dashboard offers daily budget and expenditure reporting for nominated departmental staff with system access. Specialist reports available within the system include a Balance Management Report at project level as well as Exception Reports which should be generated regularly by departmental administration.
The Principal Investigator is responsible for meeting any legal and ethical requirements of their research in the UK and (if different) the location of study. Where necessary, an independent ethical review should be undertaken at the most suitable point in the project and depending on the nature of the work this could be Pre- or Post-Award.
Any health-related research project which involves humans, their tissue and/or data must be reviewed and approved. For an overview of which Ethics Committee(s) to apply to, please visit our Routes to Ethics Approval pages.
Working with Research Partners
When a project is undertaken in collaboration with other organisations with Imperial acting as the lead, the other institutions are defined as research partners. Where the College contracts-out specific elements or project services to a Third Party this is known as Professional Fees.
When working with Research Partners, the Principle Investigator is responsible for managing the overall project, ensuring the scientific delivery of the research and for managing project relationships with Co-Investigators and research teams at partner organisations through regular meetings and progress reviews.
Faculty Research Services teams are responsible for administering the financial and contractual relationship including liaison with the partner about:
- Budget details
- Obligations to the main funder
- Financial reporting
- Contractual terms (if applicable)
Please see the Research Partner and Professional Fees Guidance for further information.
Extensions and Supplements
If unforeseen circumstances prevent completion of the research in the original timeframe, some funders may offer one of these options:
- No Cost Extensions - When the funder extends the end date of the project, but no additional funding is provided. The Principal Investigator should inform their departmental administrator and Faculty Research Services team when the funder has given formal confirmation that the end date of the project can be extended.
- Costed Extensions - When a funder extends the end date of the project and provides additional funding. An extension record must be created, costed and approved in the Pre-Award system.
- Supplements - When a funder provides supplementary funding to an existing project but the end date remains the same. A supplement record needs to be created, costed and approved in the Pre-Award system.
Further information is available in the Research Office user guides for Extensions and Supplements
In-Project Scientific Reporting
Scientific reporting requirements will depend on the funder’s terms and conditions. Most funders will set clear deadlines for the submission of scientific reports. The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for ensuring that reports align with funder templates and are submitted on time.
Some Funders impose financial or other penalties that will be borne by the PI's department and, in some cases, can affect all grants from that funder held by the College.
Many funders now use Researchfish to manage annual scientific reporting, please visit the Researchfish pages for further information on compliance expectations and submission periods.