NIH eRA eSubmission Items of Interest - February 2013

Our Help Needs Help

HelpWe are proud folks here at eRA, but not so proud as to not ask for your help. As many of you know, there is a wealth of information concerning eSubmission, grants and eRA Commons. We are looking at ways to improve your experience with Commons by making all the information easier to find and navigate.

One step of this initiative is the redesign of the eRA Commons home page. Currently the eRA Commons home page has a lot of information and links on it. The problem seems to be that no one knows that! Maybe it gets lost in the shuffle or is just not relevant to your needs. Regardless, your feedback is very helpful to us.

It is important to note that this is just not another web page. There are certain aspects to the page that are fixed or "hard coded" such as the Commons Log in on the left. This means there are some parts of the page we cannot change without significant effort (aka: costs). So with that in mind, if you have the time and are willing, I have posted some mock ups of alternative layouts (CommonsRedesign.ppt) we would ask you to review. The goal here is to make the page user-friendly and easier to navigate.

There are 9 slides total representing two different concepts (tabbed layout vs. icon or graphical layout). If you have a preference for any of these or suggestions on how to improve the Commons home page, please drop me a note.

SAM Help Is Coming!

 You can all set your Way-Back Machine to the August 2012 Items of Interest when we discussed some challenges with General Services Administration's (GSA) System for Award Management(SAM).  I am sure some of you have experienced your own challenges in the transfer of your Central Contractor Registration (CCR) information to SAM.  For those of you who have not yet made the move, we have good news for you (remember, a current SAM registration is required to apply for an NIH grant – and annual renewal of SAM is required).

To help both new and existing users, GSA will be hosting a series of instructional webinars in the next few months. The first webinar will take place Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 1 p.m. EST and will focus on users who were previously registered in CCR. 

Even if you have successfully transitioned your CCR information to SAM, it may be an hour well spent. and Adobe XI – Not Playing Nice Together wants to remind everyone that they have discovered issues with Adobe Reader XI. When submitting an application, you may get the following error:

"At least one required Field was empty. Please fill in the required field (highlighted) before continuing."

To determine if you will encounter this error, the folks at are providing a test application package.  

If an error message displays, the test application package was opened with an incompatible version of Adobe Reader. To download the compatible version required to complete and submit a grant application package please visit the download software page.

We would also urge you to check out the Compatibility Table to review all of your system requirements.

Continuous Submission Article Continues...

 Last month I wrote a piece attempting to answer a question about  Continuous Submission  (CS).  And much like my graphic here, compared to that article's picture, it is more complicated than I realized.

Other aspects of Continuous Submission outlined below were brought to my attention by a kind email from one of you.  I am grateful that so many of you read these articles and take the time to respond with questions, constructive suggestions, and notes of appreciation.

So there are two paths or methods for being eligible for Continuous Submission.  One method was discussed in last month's article.  Light heartedly called the "Frequent Flyer" program around here, it refers to  providing recent substantial service as a reviewer.  These are peer reviewers who have served as regular or temporary members of NIH peer review committees six (6) times in a specified 18 month period.

The second method to becoming eligible for CS is serving as a member of an advisory committee or permanent member of a study section.  These groups include chartered standing NIH Study Sections, NIH Boards of Scientific Counselors, NIH Advisory Boards or Councils, and NIH Program Advisory Committees.

Last month's article focused on how investigators could determine if they are eligible to take advantage of Continuous Submission.  I provided some instructions on how to retrieve this information through eRA Commons.  However, there is more…

The Commons method I described earlier works, but only for Frequent Flyers (recent substantial service) and does not apply to those of you serving on committees.  The other way to check on eligibility is to look at the Applicants Eligible for Continuous Submissionweb page.  This data applies to both committee members and recent substantial service and includes the date your CS eligibility expires (yep, it does expire). 

Here are some other points about CS you need to keep in mind:

  • CS only applies to the following activity codes: R01, R21, and R34
  • CS only applies to standard due dates (not RFAs or PARs with special dates)
  • It is not appropriate to make a request for a specific review assignment
  • Review will happen within 120 days in either a standing study section or Special Emphasis Panel
  • If the application has multiple PIs, only one of them needs to be eligible for CS.

And just so you know, a future enhancement on the books is to have the Commons interface show your CS eligibility regardless of how you earned it.  You can find great information as well on the FAQs page for Continuous Submission.