July 2006, Issue 6

Transitioning from Paper to Electronic NIH Grant Submissions

The NIH and other federal funding agencies are transitioning to electronic submissions. The Tufts Office of Research Administration is working to ease the transition for all researchers, and the following links should help you find the information you need for your particular situation.

Before selecting any of the links below, please ensure that you are using Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher, Netscape Communicator 4.5 – 4.8, or Netscape 6.1, 6.2, or 7. Critical components do not function properly with the Mozilla Firefox browser. 

NIH Transition
The Transition Plan shows how NIH proposes to phase in electronic submission by grant program. (More detail is given at the Electronic Submission Timeline.) Proposals under the R03, R21, R33, and R34 grant programs must be submitted electronically now.  According to the timeline, proposals for R01 research grants must be submitted electronically as of February 1, 2007. Electronic submission under all programs, including training grants, will be effective by October 2007. 

To keep abreast of the many changes that will have an impact on NIH funding of your research, please bookmark the electronic submission website at http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/ and visit it often.

All NIH electronic applications will be submitted, processed, and tracked through the NIH Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Commons system. Researchers must be registered with eRA Commons in order to submit an electronic application. Registration requirements for electronic submission are summarized at http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/preparing.htm#1 in a chart about a page down from the heading "Know Your Role." Note that Tufts University is registered with Grants.gov and with NIH to submit electronic proposal applications. Please contact the associate director of research administration responsible for your department for information about an eRA Commons account. (Contact information for the associate directors is at the end of this article.)

To ensure that your NIH electronic submission is done properly and is submitted by the due date, please give yourself extra time. Proposals need to be at the Office of Research Administration two weeks before the due date. Otherwise there is a chance that your proposal will not be accepted by the NIH in time for the deadline because of the NIH's own processing requirements. NIH can take 48 hours before notifying the Tufts Office of Research Administration whether a proposal has been accepted or is in need of correction. If corrections are required, the proposal must be resubmitted and the 48-hour window reopens. Thus it could take five days for a proposal to make it through the submission process on the NIH side.

In addition to a new submission form and a new submission process, many other changes are occurring at the NIH Office of Extramural Research. Effective May 10, 2006, PIs no longer sign their PHS 398, 2590, or SF424 submissions. Instead, PIs sign the Tufts Internal Sponsored Coordination Form (see Forms), which will be kept on file at the Tufts Office of Research Administration.

Finding Opportunities at Grants.gov
Grants.gov is the single access point for over 1000 grant programs offered by all Federal grant-making agencies.” Researchers can use Grants.gov to search for funding opportunities and begin the submission process. You can also sign up to receive grant opportunity emails.

Once you’ve found a funding opportunity, select it, then select “How to Apply.” Please note that the electronic application process requires the PureEdge Viewer* and Adobe Acrobat Writer. The PureEdge Viewer software is free to download to your computer. Once you’ve installed the software, download the opportunity’s application and instructions. (*Mac Note: PureEdge only works on the Windows platform. Macintosh users can download the Citrix server, through which they can download and complete PureEdge forms and submit applications. Please check http://www.grants.gov/MacSupport frequently for updates, as the NIH has experienced problems with applications submitted through Citrix.)

Grants.gov has a demo at http://atweb.grants.gov/CompleteApplication#demo and a help screen at
http://atweb.grants.gov/CustomerSupport# .

The Office of Research Administration plans to hold workshops starting this fall at dates to be announced. Please check the Office of the Vice Provost website for updates.

Tufts Business Processes
The Internal Sponsored Coordination Form and the Financial Interest Disclosure Form, which can be found on the Forms page of the website of the Office of the Vice Provost, are still required for proposal submissions. NIH and NSF require institutions to keep the forms with PI signatures on file with each submitted proposal.

When a PI completes an NIH electronic proposal, he or she should save a copy of the PureEdge file and email it as an attachment to the appropriate associate director (see below). Hard copy [1] Internal Sponsored Coordination and [2] Financial Interest Disclosure forms should be forwarded concurrently to the associate director. Research Administration will then review the email file and paper documents and, if all is in order, submit the proposal. Files that are too large to send as an attachment should be copied onto a disk or other device and brought to the office. So that the process can remain electronic, the Tufts Office of Information Technology is working toward providing a LAN or other server to which PIs can copy their proposals. However, until such a system is up and running, PIs need to deliver large files to the Research Administration Office on a disk or other device.

Please contact Susan Roudebush, (617) 636-6709, for all departments located on the Boston Health Sciences Campus and Grafton Campus. Please contact Christine Woodroffe, (617) 627-3696, for departments located on the Medford/Somerville campus.



Tufts University, Office of the Vice Provost
Health Sciences Campus: (617) 636-6550
Medford/Somerville Campus: (617) 627-3417
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