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Project guide for researchers: Research project quality assurance and risk assessment

Directing the project

The principal investigator, or PI, plays a central role in ensuring the quality and success of a project. The principal investigator is either hired for the project or adopts the role as a part of their other duties, depending on the financier’s terms and university practice. Research projects must be in line with Uniarts Helsinki’s strategy and the targets and measures of the academies and Research Hub. They must also follow the university’s internal operating guidelines (Uniarts Helsinki Quality Manual).

A researcher receiving personal funding, such as a postdoctoral researcher or academy research fellow from the Academy of Finland, directs and manages their own project in a role similar to a principal investigator. Some of the responsibilities outlined for the principal investigator in this guide also apply to a researcher financed by personal funding.

Project management

High-quality project management covers the research project’s entire life cycle from the planning stages through initiation, execution and completion.

In large projects, a project manager or coordinator works alongside the principal investigator in managing the project. The success of the project also requires that each participating researcher understand and fulfil their own role and responsibilities.

High-quality project management includes work distribution; monitoring and evaluating the meeting of deadlines and goals; financial planning and monitoring; documentation and reporting; planning and executing internal and external communications; and managing the risks related to results and finances.

The principal investigator should agree on regular meetings with the project manager or coordinator and financial services (budget monitoring).

The research project must adhere to relevant legislation and national and international principles for the conduct of research. These include ethically sustainable practices, research integrity, open communication of results and sustainable development.

Project risk assessment

The research project’s risks are assessed on a regular basis: during the planning stages of the project; when the project is initiated; annually or as a part of intermediate reports; and in the final report.

Recognising and assessing risks is the responsibility of the principal investigator and the advisory group, if one has been formed. Risk assessment should cover risks related to both the project contents and project management. In addition to recognising risks and their probability.

The role of the advisory group

In consortium or ERC projects, the principal investigator is advised to assemble an advisory group and coordinate its meetings. The advisory group is to be made up of people who are interested in the actualisation of the project. It is also recommended to invite a stakeholder or a representative of the project’s target demographic into the advisory group.

The advisory group will hold meetings as often as is necessary for the project. The first meeting will be held immediately following the funding decision. In this meeting, the advisory group will go over their duties, select a chairperson and secretary for the group and agree on meeting practices (i.e. invitations, memos, commission, travel expenses and other compensation).

Advisory group`s tasks

  • ensuring that the conditions for undertaking the project are met
  • ensuring that the financier’s terms and instructions are followed
  • monitoring and following the progress of the project
  • ensuring that content-related goals are met
  • approving specific plans of action
  • setting rules for teamwork
  • evaluating the progress of the project
  • processing any changes made to plans (both financial and research plans?)
  • monitoring finances
  • processing/approving intermediate and final reports
  • functioning as an intermediary for stakeholders
  • bearing their part of the responsibility for the project’s effects and results
  • going through results and feedback in their final meeting as well as agreeing on the distribution of the results

Take contact

Research Services
Tiia Saarinen
Kirsi Rinne
Johanna Rauhaniemi
Aino Alatalo

Financial Services
Miia Putkinen
Sanna Tossavainen


Spectrum, the refractions of the light.

Uniarts Helsinki guidelines