If a group of researchers collaborating on a grant proposal, how the principal investigator can be selected? The researcher with the idea, the one who invited other researchers, the most well-known researcher in the group, the researcher with highest academic rank (e.g., full professor), etc? Should the group decide? What if the first researcher would like to be the PI?

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    In my experience, the only one who is enough qualified but not fast enough to make up an excuse to avoid being the PI :-) Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 20:05
  • @MassimoOrtolano. Brilliant.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 20:08
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    @MassimoOrtolano, or play a round of poker with the loser becoming the PI. Something like that.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 20:16
  • @Buffy: There should at least be a punishment of some type for everyone trying to get out of it. Perhaps Russian Roulette with a toy cap pistol -- the "winner" (actually the loser) becomes PI, but "losers" (actually the winners) get a very loud bang in their ear.
    – tonysdg
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure why you are asking. But if it is because there are disputes within the group it might be best, overall, to find a different group. Clashes at that level don't portend success, but rather a lot of frustration.

But all of your suggestions are valid (as is that of user Massimo Ortolano). If it is obvious that one of you would give the work an advantage for publication, do that. If one of your junior members needs a boost in reputation, do that (sorry Massimo). Anything can work as long as there is buy in from the group. If someone has a strong inclination to do it and no one else objects, he or she would be a good choice as they will likely commit to getting things done and organized. If someone has a history of successful grant writing, another good choice, unless the granting institution has rules limiting repeat grants.

But the most important quality is agreement.

  • I was thinking if there is a common way of doing it. How much would being a PI help a junior member compare to being a Co-PI?
    – Thomas Lee
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 23:34
  • @ThomasLee, it's impossible to say. But you have to start somewhere and it is good to do it with mentorship.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 23:40

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