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Spotlight on the NIH eRA Commons

June 2013

Just twelve months ago we described in our spotlight on electronic Research Administration (eRA) resources the evolution of the NIH eRA Commons into an indispensable part of our working life. With a rising number of enhancements in the past year, most coupled with new and/or revised regulatory and other requirements, the eRA Commons has been a tremendous engine in the electronic universe of sponsored research, directly driven by and shaping the entire process and experience of seeking, writing, managing and evaluating the impact of NIH funding and beyond.  The Commons’ frequent updates and expansions have led to a range of immediate and longer term outcomes designed to benefit the sponsor, the investigators and their institutions, and the public.  More effective sharing of information, increased communication between the NIH and their grantees, a higher visibility of NIH-funded research accomplishments, a more transparent review process, more efficient retrieval of data throughout the grant life cycle, quick feedback capabilities, are all enabling a true transformation of the grantee-grantor partnership. This continuing transition to a user-centric environment improves responsiveness to grantees and their voice is better heard. More>>

Selected enhancements that have made a significant difference over the past year include:

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)
‘A federal-wide research performance progress report (RPPR) for submission of required annual or other interim performance reporting on research grant and cooperative agreement awards to standardize recipient reporting on federally-funded research projects.’

Revised Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Regulations
The revised policy promotes objectivity in research by establishing standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct, and reporting of research funded under NIH grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts will be free from bias resulting from investigator financial conflicts of interest. More>>
Public Access Compliance Monitor
‘The Monitor provides the current compliance status of all journal articles that NIH believes a particular grantee institution is responsible for under the terms of the Public Access Policy.’

NIH Communications with Applicants
‘Communications from the Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) will be accessible to applicants and applicant organizations in the eRA Commons in a new ‘Correspondence’ section of the Commons detailed status screen for the application.’

‘LikeThis is a new search tool to aid Principal Investigators in finding and learning about other research projects that have similar goals and objectives as their own.’

Principal Investigator (PI) Submission Status Screen
This feature enables PIs to learn of errors and warnings associated with their submissions even after an application has moved forward in the review process.

More eRA enhancements >>

Selected major enhancements around the corner include:

‘The Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) is used to prepare and submit multi-project grant applications electronically to NIH.’

New Electronic Application Forms
The NIH is transitioning to updated electronic application forms packages. For most applications due on or after September 25, 2013, applicants will be required to use FORMS-C packages. These new forms are being integrated into InfoEd, our electronic submission platform.

The eRA Strategic Plan FY 2011 – FY 2015 outlines the eRA vision and its translation into operational plans.

While we appreciate that the goals and needs of the NIH necessitate the frequent modification and creation of electronic research administration processes and procedures, we recognize how hard and time-consuming the adoption of new solutions and requirements may be for the research community, and how the constantly shifting technology and environment of submitting NIH funding applications and managing awards have become an ongoing challenge, compelling all of us to continually anticipate, learn, adapt to, and live with constant changes.

SR-PD is, as always, committed to forge ahead with you and support you and our institution to successfully obtain NIH and other external funding, while adopting cost-effective tools and preparing to take advantage of new solutions.

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