User Roles

To log in to Commons and access its features, you must have a Commons account with assigned user role(s). User roles determine which features you can employ, the tasks you can perform, and the level of access you have to information. Commons roles range from trainee roles to scientific roles to administrative roles. User roles are mostly assigned to you by your signing official or account administrator, except for the IAR (peer reviewer) role, which is assigned by a scientific review officer.

Agency-Specific Instructions: Department of Commerce (DOC). The only roles applicable to awards from DOC are PI, SO, AO, AA, FSR, and IAR . A user might have roles beyond this list, but other roles have no effect and give no privileges on the user if they are administering DOC awards.

The following is a list of user roles which may be associated to your account. Refer to the help topic on that role for more information.

  • AA: Account Administrator at an organization, who facilitates the administration of Commons accounts.
  • AO: Administrative Official of an organization.
  • ASST: An assistant who may be delegated to perform tasks on behalf of the PD/PI.
  • BO: Business Official at an organization who manages trainee grants and uses the xTrain module.
  • FCOI: Those at an organization who manage the Financial Conflict of Interest module and report submission.
  • FSR: A person in an organization responsible for completing and submitting Federal Financial Reports (FFR).
  • Graduate: Role assigned to an individual who is a graduate student and is participating in an NIH-funded project for at least one person month. Refer to the following guide notice for more information:
  • IAR: A Reviewer selected by Scientific Review Officer (SRO*) assigned to critique and score applications in a review meeting. These Reviewers use the Internet Assisted Review (IAR) module.
  • PACR: Having this role provides access to the Public Access Compliance Report system via the Commons home page.
  • PI: Program Director/Principal Investigator (also called PD/PI), who directs a research project or program supported by the NIH.
  • POSTDOC: POSTDOC role exists in Commons for those at an institution serving in a postdoctoral role. This could be someone who is being mentored and not yet in a permanent position.
  • Project Personnel: Role assigned to an individual performing other project roles on a project. Refer to the following guide notice for more information:
  • SO:  Organization's Signing Official, who has the institutional authority to legally bind the institution in grant-administration matters.
  • SPONSOR: Sponsors supervise the research training experience of individual fellows supported by fellowship awards in the xTrain module.
  • TRAINEE: TRAINEE user manages the electronic appointments of their own awarded training grants.

  • Undergraduate: Role assigned to an individual who is in an undergraduate program and is participating in an NIH-funded project for at least one person month. Refer to the following guide notice for more information:
  • Diagram of user roles

TIP: *Other Transaction Authority (OTA) - Some screens and terminology may be different in order to accommodate review of OTA, a type of award that is neither a grant nor a contract but a different way of funding that is being used across NIH. These changes will typically not be visible to NIH or agency reviewers.