Project Formation and the Motivations and Challenges of the Principal Investigator Role in Publicly Funded Research
Document Type Conference Paper
Technology Transfer Society Annual Conference, Washington DC, USA, November 12-13, 2010
The principal investigators (PI) of publicly funded research projects are the key actors charged with direct responsibility for directing the research, reporting to the funding agency, and completing the project. Since the beginning of the 1990s the requirements for academic research and the management of academic research have undergone important changes, with the principal investigator now operating in a more complex environment and moved onto centre stage of industrial policy. Despite this shift, we continue to have a poor understanding of the PI role at a micro level. Set in an Irish context, this research employs thirty in-depth interviews with PIs from a range of cross disciplines, involving both national and European research projects and funding agencies, all of which were collaborative in nature. Together with offering recommendations for policy makers in the area, the findings of this research provide unique insights into how PIs can be categorized with respect to the distinguishable push and pull factors which underpin their decision to take on the role; how they strategically position their projects in their respective fields; and the nature of challenges they encounter when holding the position.