eRA Enhancements: Redesigned xTrain Module in eRA Commons Coming on March 30

A newly redesigned xTrain module in eRA Commons is scheduled to be rolled out on Thursday, March 30, following a collaboration with an external user group. The new xTrain, with revamped screens and streamlined processes, is designed to be more user-friendly and task oriented. In addition, xTrain will adopt the new visual appearance being adopted by other eRA modules, as part of a required technology upgrade.

As a reminder, xTrain is used by program directors/principal investigators (PD/PIs), university administrators, and trainees to electronically prepare and submit PHS 2271 Statement of Appointment Forms and PHS 416-7 Termination Notices associated with institutional research training grants, institutional career development awards, individual fellowships, and research education awards.

The release will accommodate a clarification on signatures for trainees (see section towards the end of the message below). Read details about this change and a clarification of organizational responsibilities for external users in NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-23-094.

Although the entire module will be updated, only a sampling of new screens is shown below. For complete screenshots and steps, see the xTrain online help following the release.

Awarded Grants Screen

The Awarded Grants screen is the first screen PIs, sponsors, and their delegates see upon login. Note that business officials, signing officials, and trainees see slightly different screens tailored for their task flows.  The Awarded Grants screen lists grants awarded to the current user as well as grants for which the current user is a sponsor. Users can use the Quick Filters section, a set of toggles that narrow down the grants shown. Actions that were formerly under the Action column, such as the option to go to the training roster, appear under the three-dot ellipsis menu; see Figure 1.

A set of new tools at the top of tables in xTrain lets you type text to quickly filter results, print or download results, choose results shown per page, and navigate through pages of results; see Figure 1. For information on using new table tools, see Standard Tools for Tables.


Figure 1: Awarded Grants screen showing Quick Filters to narrow down grants shown, the three-dot ellipsis menu displaying actions for a grant, and new table tools

Trainee Roster Screen – Overview Section

The top of the Trainee Roster screen shows grant information and trainee roster information by grant year and includes graphs of awarded and accepted months for pre-doc, post-doc, and short term. For a particular grant year, users can click an Appointments – Start New button to search for a trainee and start a new appointment form. All actions available for a grant reside under the three-dot ellipsis menu next to the grant number.

The See Slots link for each year will show slots awarded and accepted for each of the three categories of appointments (pre-doc, post-doc, and short term); see Figure 2. More complete slot data is available from the Appointment Form screen; see Figure 5.


Figure 2: Top part of the Trainee Roster screen, which graphically displays current trainee months, as well as a three-dot ellipsis for performing actions, number of Appointments and Terminations, a Start New appointment link, and a See Slots link for each grant

Trainee Roster Screen – List of Trainees Section

At the bottom of the Trainee Roster screen, which users can quickly access using the Jump to Roster Table button, users see the list of trainees. Users can click the three-dot ellipsis menu for a trainee to see available actions such as view the appointment form, view routing history, initiate or view a termination notice (not shown), amend an appointment, or create a service desk ticket that is automatically populated with the relevant information. Underlined and linked trainee names represent forms that are a work in progress by the trainee, but accessible to be recalled by the PI; see Figure 3.



Figure 3: Bottom of the Trainee Roster screen, which lists trainees as well as the three-dot ellipsis menu displaying action items

Appointment Form Screen

On the Appointment Form screen, accessible when creating or amending in-progress appointments, users can specify the details of a trainee as well as the trainee’s appointment, save the form as a draft, and eventually submit the form to the agency; see Figure 4.

Not shown is a similar screen for terminations, titled Termination Notice, which can be accessed for trainees who are eligible to have their appointments terminated.


Figure 4: Appointment Form screen, where users can specify the details of a trainee’s appointment, also displaying the Slot Data link and Save as Draft button

To quickly check how many slots are accepted, awarded, and remaining, the user can click the Slot Data link, shown outlined in red above, which expands the section; see Figure 5.


Figure 5: Slots and months for one grant year broken down into accepted, awarded, and remaining for pre-doc, post-doc, and short term

A Process Change for Deletion of Forms

Deletion of Forms

With this release, the process for deletion of forms will change. Agency staff will return the form to the organization to delete, instead of deleting the records on their own.

Clarifications on Signatures for Trainees and of Organizational Responsibilities for External Users

Trainee Signature to be Required on Reappointments and Amendments

Trainees will be required to sign Reappointments and Amendments, just as they do for Initial Appointments. In cases where this is not possible due to a trainee’s unavailability, the program director/principal investigator (PD/PI) will add a comment to explain why the trainee could not sign.

Clarification of Organizational Responsibilities for Type 6 and Type 7 Actions

NIH has issued a clarification of an organization’s responsibilities for Change of Recipient Organizations (Type 7) and Successor-in-Interest/Name Change (Type 6) actions (details in guide notice below).


Resources: Please see the xTrain Overview video tutorial (for external users). Also look for the xTrain online help (following the March 30 release).