Is it acceptable to list 2 Principal Investigators (PI) for a DOD/DARPA SBIR proposal?
June 21, 2011 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Is it acceptable to list more than one Principal Investigator (PI) for a DOD SBIR proposal?

We are working on an SBIR proposal for DARPA. I am not the PI, but am doing about 90% of the work since the PI is swamped. I asked my manager if I can be listed as a co-PI so that I can list this on my resume/CV, but we cannot find any definitive information about this online. So my questions are:
(1) Is it permissible to have two PIs for a DOD/DARPA SBIR, or is it specifically prohibited?
(2) Even if it is permissible, is it frowned upon to list more than one PI?
posted by mojabunni to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My experience with these has been that the PI listed is usually the one with the excellent resume that will lend credibility to the program as a technical advisor, not really because they're the person doing the most work.

What is your role? Can you be the "lead engineer" or "chief researcher" or something like that? That's usually what I end up as on DoD proposals, even though I'm often doing the bulk of the technical proposal.
posted by olinerd at 5:45 PM on June 21, 2011

This should be noted in the grant guidelines in the eligibility section. If you can't find anything relevant, me-mail me and I'll look into it when I'm at work tomorrow.
posted by leesh at 7:48 PM on June 21, 2011

Sorry for the semi-hijack, but since the OP's purpose in becoming a coPI is to get some career credit for having done so much work on a grant, if it is in fact not possible to have coPIs, how does one handle getting credit? Is there a customary way to list such a situation on the cv or resume?
posted by Tandem Affinity at 10:11 PM on June 21, 2011

Best answer: If it's not specified in the eligibility section or in their general guidance for programs, you may have to contact the program officer - that's what they're there for. One tip - what does the form look like? Pardon me if this is really basic and you've already checked, but if you're using electronic forms, it may be impossible to list more than one of the research personnel as PI, which is a pretty good indicator.

OP could get CV credit by being named as part of the research personnel (as olinerd mentioned) - the PI runs the project, but other researchers/collaborators and their roles are commonly named in proposals. How the work on the grant is mentioned on CVs is partially field-specific, but I've seen someone in OP's position mention that as one of the bullet points under the grant position in their work history (if they're more of a staff member). For people that are on the academic track, if they have a Grants/Funding section of the CV, they may list it there, with their title from the grant and again, a note about their role.

But even getting co-PIship isn't a surefire indicator that OP did most of the grant writing (although as the junior member of a team, it's a strong indicator), so all credit for the grant writing (as opposed to the intellectual contribution or work on the project) ultimately depends on the good reference provided by the manager/PI. PI-ship is about who is the scientific head of a project and the one whose name on which it rests.

To put this another way, grantwriting is a skill in and of itself, but one that does not require (necessarily) the skills of a scientist. For-hire grantwriters can be brought in to put together a proposal based on the research concept of a scientist. They might be credited, but typically not. So demonstrating capability as a grantwriter can be useful as a scientist, but it is not necessarily implicit in PI status.

Ok, wow, sorry for the long answer.
posted by clerestory at 3:48 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: UPDATE: Actually, I found the online-generated cover sheet from a previous SBIR (DOD) proposal, and it listed 3 PIs. However, all were very accomplished people with PhDs. I'm the baby of the team with only a B.A. A further degree is not in progress at the moment but I intend to apply for next year, hence my desire to gain some type of recognition here! :)

My boss said today that he wants me to at least include my resume in the Key Personnel section of the proposal. As it is, we have 3 PIs, again all very accomplished PhDs. In this instance, would it hurt us to list me as a 4th PI, with only a B.A.? I suspect it may, but am I just paranoid? I don't want to lose out on a contract award over something like that - I'd rather the opportunity to actually do the work - that's more important to me than being listed as co-PI. Otherwise, I am content with a title such as "Chief Researcher."

posted by mojabunni at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2011

Coming back to this a bit late -- I was asking the question about how to get credit above. I just wanted to give you a little info about being a PI with no PhD. I can't talk about the ramifications of 3 PIs vs. 4 but I do believe that it's a bit of a requisite to have a PhD to be a PI on a grant. I couldn't say if it's an absolute hard requirement by the NIH, but I know that generally reviewers' eyebrows would be raised if a PI didn't have a PhD. Not sure what DARPA reviewers are like, but... Perhaps as part of a group like that, not as big a deal, but on your own, it would be a tough sell. (Now, if you had years of experience and piles of papers from over the years and whatnot, maybe not, but it doesn't sound like that's your situation -- sorry in advance if i'm wrong...)

By the way, it is very typical that anyone with a big role in the planned research (listed in Key Personnel) should be submitting their CV -- this is typically done even by people who have not done much work designing the grant, etc.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:57 PM on July 18, 2011

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