See the Glossary for more terms.
Table of Contents
Read the questions and answers below or see the Table of Contents above.
No. NIH will not accept a paper grant application package. Your authorized organizational representative must submit it electronically to Grants.gov.
Your application must get a Grants.gov timestamp by 5:00 p.m. your institution's local time on the due date. Follow these steps:
After your authorized organizational representative (AOR) gets confirmation of a successful submission, Grants.gov will send the AOR and the principal investigator a tracking number, e.g., GRANT12345678.
Each email Grants.gov sends you will include that number, and your AOR can use it to track your application's status. You will also need the tracking number if you need to call Grants.gov's Contact Center.
Grants.gov does a basic data check. Later the eRA Commons will check your application more thoroughly to see if it complies with NIH business rules.
If Grants.gov finds an error, it sends your authorized organizational representative an email that it rejected your application. You need to correct the problem before the deadline so your AOR can resubmit. Don't rely on this validation email. Your AOR can see the results by logging into Grants.gov.
For more information, go to Passing Validations and First Step: Grants.gov Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Grants.gov emails the outcome of your submission to your authorized organizational representative only. This may take only an hour, but may take up to two business days. If he or she didn't get the results by then, go to Grants.gov's Help page.
For a list of email notifications from Grants.gov and Commons, see the Chart of Email Notifications.
Always log in to your Commons account to verify your application's status. Do not depend on email notifications.
If your application went through validations and had warnings but no errors, it has been successfully submitted to NIH.
Talk to the eRA Help Desk for questions about the eRA Commons.
After Grants.gov validation, it transfers automatically to the Commons for NIH validation. See Next Step: eRA Commons Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
NIH accepts late applications under rare circumstances. See the Corrected or Late Electronic Applications questions and answers and Rules for Late Applications in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
For video, follow the rules in the September 27, 2012, Guide notice. You must wait until after you apply to send video, but you'll need to prepare before applying and include key information about your video in your cover letter and Research Strategy. Call your assigned scientific review officer after you apply for specifics on how to send your video files.
As described in that Guide notice, NIH no longer allows other non-traditional materials such as medical devices, prototypes, interactive multimedia, or PowerPoint presentations.
Also see May I send supplementary, missing, or corrected materials after a receipt date? in the General Application Information questions and answers.
Go to Grants.gov's Help page.
The Commons checks for NIH business rules. Know that validation does not check many items that may be wrong. It's your responsibility to ensure your application has no mistakes.
Here are some resources:
NIH's software performs a more thorough validation for NIH business rules, leading to one of three results:
Errors resulting from Commons validation render your application unacceptable. They include inaccuracies, inconsistencies, omissions, or incorrect formatting. You must correct them and have your authorized organizational representative submit a corrected application to Grants.gov.
Warnings indicate potential issues, but won't stop your application from moving forward.
Review warnings carefully because if left unfixed, some issues could result in NIH rejecting your application. Know that validation does not check many items that may be wrong. It's your responsibility to ensure your application has no mistakes.
Learn more about finding validation results and making corrections below.
Commons will email you and your signing official the results of validation: whether your application passed or has errors or warnings.
Don't rely on the email—regularly check the Commons for your application's status. You, your signing official, or whomever you designate in an assistant role can do this.
Read about the assistant role in eRA Commons Roles (PDF).
You, your signing official, or an assistant can take the following steps:
If you enter an invalid Commons user ID or forget to include it, your application's status will not appear in the Commons. This is a common problem!
Go to NIH's Avoiding Common Errors.
After your application is in the Commons, you, your assistant, or signing official may review it until midnight EST two business days after your application passes validations. Then the Commons sends it forward for administrative review by NIH staff.
This is a complicated subject and depends on whether you have time to correct before the deadline. See Correcting Content Problems After Commons Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Always look at the application to see that it meets your expectations. This is your last chance to make sure you have addressed any important warnings that could harm your application's chances in review.
It depends on what's wrong with the application and on the timing. Read more at Correcting Content Problems After Commons Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
If the issue concerns how the system generated the image, read What should I do if there is something wrong with the application image?
To get in by the same submission deadline and for your application to be accepted by NIH, you will need to have an error-free application image in the Commons before 5:00 p.m. local time on the day of the submission deadline. Take care not to miss the deadline. Read Correcting Content Problems After Commons Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Talk to the eRA Commons Help Desk for advice before rejecting an application image.
Commons technical staff will help you diagnose the issue and advise you what to do about it, including whether you have to send a corrected application. See View Your Application Image in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
NIH will not penalize you for system issues.
For details on the Commons Help Desk, go to Where can I find help for eRA Commons? in Signing Up to Apply Electronically.
See How much time do I get to submit a corrected application? in the Corrected or Late Electronic Applications questions and answers.
Contact the scientific review officer listed in the Commons to withdraw your application. Read more in the Investigator Withdrawal of an Application SOP.
Yes. After electronic validations, NIH staff in the Center for Scientific Review look over your application, as they traditionally have, and may contact you or return your application if there are problems.
They look for items such as font size that the electronic systems are not yet equipped to detect. NIH is strict about formatting and will likely return your application without a review if you do not comply with requirements.
They also check substantive items including information you are supposed to submit just-in-time when NIH requests it, e.g., other support and some human subjects requirements.
Call the Commons Help Desk for assistance.
The Commons provides a list of eRA Commons Statuses and a short definition, but you may still need help decoding system terminology.
For example, you may get excited if you see a "Pending Award" status for your application. But that doesn't mean an award is in process. Contact the Commons Help Desk for advice on interpreting the system.
See Corrected or Late Electronic Applications for the next set of questions and answers on electronic grant applications. Also go to Applying for a Grant, Writing a Great Grant Application, and other Application questions and answers.
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Last Updated October 25, 2012
Last Reviewed September 08, 2012