The Principal Investigator (PI) is ultimately responsible for the ethical conduct of the research and for compliance with applicable regulations and policies.


You may act as the PI if you are one of the following:


Full time CUNY faculty and staff and RF-CUNY staff


Adjunct faculty


Students and postdoctoral scholars

Note: You must have a faculty member listed on the project as an advisor/mentor



Basic Definitions

Research is systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

A human subject is a living individual about whom an investigator is obtaining data either through intervention or interaction with the individual OR by obtaining private identifiable information about the individual.

An intervention involves procedures by which data are gathered and manipulations of the subject or the subjects’ environment are performed for research purposes.

An interaction is a communication/interpersonal contact between investigator and subject.

 Not Human Subjects Research (NHSR) is research that does not involve human subjects as per the definition above. If you are conducting NHSR, no IRB review is required and no approval is necessary.

CUNY is considered engaged in a particular human subjects research project when CUNY employees or agents obtain, for the purposes of the research project, (1) data about the subjects of the research through intervention or interaction with them; (2) identifiable private information about the subjects of the research; or (3) the informed consent of human subjects for the research.

Employees or agents refers to individuals who: (1) act on behalf of CUNY; (2) exercise institutional authority or responsibility; or (3) perform institutionally designated activities.  This can include staff, students, contractors, and volunteers, among others, regardless of whether the individual is receiving compensation.

HSR Determination Checklist

What is Ethnography?