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Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding. Link to Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding. Link to Part 2. Pick and Design a Project. Link to Part 3. Write Your Application. Link to Part 4. Submit Your Application. Link to Part 5. Assignment and Review. Link to Part 6. If Not Funded. Link to Part 7. Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Strategy for a Successful Submission   ·   Assess Your Application After You SubmitNext page in Strategy.

Passing Validations

After submitting, be on the lookout for incoming notifications about your application's status as it moves through both systems. Your application will need to pass both Grants.gov and Commons validations, so know what validations do and do not do. If your application has problems that stop it from going forward, you will need to correct them before the deadline.

Find details about the viewing window: when it takes place, and what you may and may not do during that period.

This page applies to any application using electronic submission.

Table of Contents

Just the Facts

(This section has factual information only; for advice on this topic, go to Our Advice below.)

About Validations

Your application must pass two validations. If it fails either one, you must go through the entire submission process again.

Validations are automated checks of an application's form data and attachments. They do not spot content issues, for example, a missing data table from your Research Plan.

Your application must pass two validations: Grants.gov and eRA Commons. If it fails either one, you must go through the entire submission process again.

When validations reveal problems or you spot other issues, you need to decide whether to submit a corrected application. Read more under the Our Advice header below.

First Step: Grants.gov Validation

After submitting, your authorized organizational representative (AOR) should receive a Grants.gov submission receipt with a timestamp, which determines whether your application is on time or late.

To be on time your application must get the timestamp by 5:00 p.m. your institution's local time on the receipt date listed in the funding opportunity announcement.

Next, your AOR should receive a validation confirmation or rejection email message from Grants.gov. For a sample, see Email notifications from Grants.gov. This confirmation usually arrives within minutes, but it can take 48 hours or more during busy periods.

Grants.gov validation checks for very basic items. The "Check Package for Errors" button at the top of the form alerts your AOR of errors you need to correct.

Your application must pass Grants.gov validation to move on to the next step, eRA Commons validation.

Find advice at Validation 1: Grants.gov below and more information on these pages:

Next Step: eRA Commons Validation

Validation does not spot content issues, for example, a missing data table from your Research Plan.

After passing Grants.gov validation, your application data move to NIH for the more thorough Commons validation, which can take up to 24 hours.

The Commons check may result in errors, warnings, or both. Your application will pass validation if it receives warnings only.

  • Errors—inaccuracies, inconsistencies, omissions, and some formatting problems that cause your application to be unacceptable.
  • Warnings—potential issues that won't stop your application from moving forward but can reflect serious problems you should correct.

To learn more about making corrections, read our advice below at Validation 2: eRA Commons and find more information online:

View Your Application Image

After your application passes Commons validation, the system generates an application image for you to view.

NIH gives you until midnight EST two business days after your application passes validations as a "viewing window" during which you make sure the application image rendered properly.

The viewing window is separate from the correction process and does not affect the deadline. Even if your viewing window extends beyond the deadline, you can't make corrections after the deadline—you can only address technical problems.

If the image did not render properly, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk immediately for help.

To view the image, use the Status module in the eRA Commons.

If you take no action at this point, your application continues to peer review.

Consider Withdrawing

To meet the deadline, plan ahead. If you miss it, you'll need to wait for the next receipt date.

After the viewing window closes, you may withdraw your application at any time before peer review without it counting against your submission limit.

You could use this option if your application passes validations, but you spot an issue so critical that you don't want the application to be reviewed.

Our advice in Assess Your Application After You Submit in Part 4 can help you decide whether to withdraw your application.

Our Advice

(This section has advice only; you should also read the factual information above at Just the Facts.)

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of passing validations, it's important to understand what they do and don't do.

  • Do an automated check against some parameters of the SF 424 Application Guide and funding opportunity announcement.
  • Do not spot content issues, for example, a missing data table from your Research Plan.

Your application must pass two validations: Grants.gov and eRA Commons. If it fails either one and you miss the deadline, you either will (very rarely) qualify for a late application or have to apply for the next receipt date. (See Rules for Late Applications in Part 4 for more information.)

To bypass problems, plan ahead. And be prepared to work closely with your business office at each step of the submission process.

We strongly recommend that you not wait for the email confirmation from the Commons after validation.

Validation 1: Grants.gov

If your application doesn't pass Grants.gov validation, there's good news and not-so-good news, depending on whether the deadline has passed.

  • Good news, before deadline—fix the issues and have your AOR submit a corrected application.
  • Not-so-good news, after deadline—if your corrected application does not get a Grants.gov timestamp by the deadline, it will be late.

Validation 2: eRA Commons

Your application can pass Commons validation with either 1) no errors or warnings, or 2) no errors, with warnings. If it has errors, it will fail.

Whether you should correct hinges on whether you have enough time to get your application through Grants.gov again.

We strongly recommend that you not wait for the email confirmation from the Commons after validation. Instead, check the eRA Commons Status module frequently for its arrival.

In case of "error." If Commons flags errors, you'll need to correct them since they stop your application from moving forward. The only way to correct errors is to submit a corrected application to Grants.gov, which means going through the entire submission process again.

Should you correct? Whether you should submit a corrected application hinges on whether you have enough time to get the application through Grants.gov again.

  • Before the deadline, ask your organization to submit the corrected application.
  • Keep in mind that for your corrected application to be on time, it must get through Grants.gov by 5:00 p.m. on the deadline.
  • If it doesn't get a timestamp by then, it is late.

Check the Image During the Viewing Window

Once your application passes Commons validation, the system generates an application image for your review. A word to the wise: do not skip this step by assuming your application is in good shape. Only you can check that your finished pages are loaded correctly.

During the viewing window, check whether the image rendered properly. If it's before the deadline and you have time to correct, you may also want to consider making changes as a result of validation warnings. Then choose your next step:

  • If you're happy with the application image, do nothing and your application will continue to peer review.
  • If you spot technical problems with the image, don't reject it. Instead, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk immediately for help.
  • If it's before the deadline and you want to correct content, read the next section.

Correcting Content Problems After Commons Validation

Decide whether to send a corrected application by balancing two factors: timing and the severity of the problem.

If you want to fix problems not resulting from validations, consider the timing and severity of the issue. As we describe below, you can submit a corrected application only before the receipt date.

During two-day viewing window, with plenty of time before the deadline

Have your signing official reject the application image before the two-day viewing window expires, making sure there is enough time to get the corrected application through Grants.gov.

Then ask your organization to submit your corrected application.

Just before the deadline

If you're not sure whether you have enough time to get a corrected application timestamped before the deadline, you have a tricky decision to make. Decide whether to send a corrected application by balancing two factors.

  • Timing. A corrected version might miss the deadline. So if the application has only minor flaws, you may choose to go with the original application.
  • Severity of the problem. If you allow a severely compromised application to proceed, you may waste one of your two allowed application attempts. To decide, read Assess Your Application After You Submit in Part 4.

If your application misses the deadline, you will probably have to correct and try again for the next receipt date (if any). See Rules for Late Applications in Part 4.

After the deadline

No corrections are allowed. If there are technical issues with the image, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk immediately for help.

Your application will move to NIH's Center for Scientific Review where it will be reviewed as is unless you withdraw it. For more on that decision, read Withdrawing Is An Option in Part 4.

Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Strategy for a Successful Submission   ·   Assess Your Application After You SubmitNext page in Strategy.

See the other sections of
Part 4. Submit Your Application

Table of Contents for the Strategy

We welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions. Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

Last Updated November 03, 2011

Last Reviewed September 30, 2011