Author: Dr. Paul Sheehy

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Before transferring to NIH’s National Eye Institute in May 2016, Paul worked on various aspects of grants policy. One of his major interests was in IT systems for grant application and administration, including and the eRA Commons.

Posts by Dr. Paul Sheehy

Financial Conflict of Interest Webinar


In an earlier post, we outlined revised regulations on financial conflicts of interest. August 24, 2012, marks the deadline for institutions to implement the new policies. The changes are significant and will affect both investigators and administrators.

NIH recently held a Webinar on the new regulations, and you can view a recording or see the slide set. For more information, visit the NIH Financial Conflict of Interest Web site.

Resubmissions: More Time for New Investigators, General Clarification

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There is now a shortened review cycle for applications from new investigators. To give these applicants more time to prepare resubmissions (A1) between review cycles, NIH will accelerate the release of summary statements for the initial applications (A0). It has also pushed back the special submission date for new investigators to give them at least 30 days to prepare the revised application. Please refer to NOT-OD-11-057 for more details.

While we’re on this topic, I’d like to clear up confusion about when to submit a new application versus a resubmission. New applications and resubmissions typically differ in several important aspects (due date, introduction, etc.). For most funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), deciding whether to prepare a new submission (A0) or a resubmission (A1) is straightforward. But sometimes it’s not!

Here’s a little clarification. All applications in response to a request for applications (RFA) are considered new, unless the RFA says that applications to previous versions of the RFA may be submitted as resubmissions. For example, if NIGMS has issued an RFA and then decides to continue it via a non-RFA FOA, all applications to the FOA must be new the first time they are submitted. Similarly, if a PI continues an awarded U series application as an R series application (e.g., U01 to R01 after the original U01 FOA expired), then the R series application must be new.

Finally, applications to continue work started in a special Recovery Act activity code (RC1, RC2, RC3, RC4, etc.) should be submitted as new applications. Recovery Act competitive revision (S1) applications that were submitted to an existing FOA are an exception. They must be submitted as resubmissions (S1A1) and are subject to the NIH resubmission limit policy.

For those of you interested in a broader discussion of resubmissions, see the “Early Data on the A2 Sunset” blog post from OER director Sally Rockey.

New Blog from NIH Extramural Research Chief


Office of Extramural ResearchThe Feedback Loop has gotten attention for its contributions to increasing communication between the scientific community and NIGMS staff. Now, the NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Sally Rockey, has launched a new blog, called Rock Talk. It will be a forum for discussing NIH funding policies and processes and how they affect the extramural community. These posts will complement the NIH Extramural Nexus, which is more news-oriented. Both the blog and the Nexus offer subscription options.

The blog is off to a lively start with a discussion of NIH’s family-friendly policies. I hope you will check it out.

Important Application Reminders for January Submissions


NIH has issued a notice with important reminders affecting grant applications submitted on or after January 25.

The NIH policy on page limits means that reviewers need not consider text or materials that have been inappropriately placed in the Appendix or other sections without page limits, particularly when they circumvent page limitations for the Specific Aims and Research Strategy sections. In some instances, NIH may withdraw the application from review or funding consideration. For a reminder of what’s acceptable in the Appendix, see NOT-OD-10-077.

Also, post-submission application materials must adhere to new restrictions on timing and content; see NOT-OD-10-091.

As I previously posted on August 20 and October 8, other application policy changes also on the way for submissions on or after January 25 include:

  1. Elimination of the error correction window from the application process for electronic and paper-based submissions; see NOT-OD-10-123.
  2. Resubmission deadlines of no more than 37 months after the receipt date of the initial application; see NOT-OD-10-140.
  3. New application forms for F, K, T and D series applications, which will apply to all other applications as of May 7, 2011; see NOT-OD-11-007 and NOT-OD-11-008.

Changes in NIH Application Policies


Here are several new NIH Guide notices regarding applications:

New Time Limit for NIH Resubmission Applications
Revised applications must be submitted no later than 37 months after submission of the preceding version. In most cases, the clock will start at the original receipt date. For special cases, please refer to NOT-OD-10-140.

NIH to Require Use of Updated Electronic Application Forms in 2011
Submissions for deadlines after May 7, 2011, must use an updated forms package (ADOBE-FORMS-B1). For deadlines before then, applicants may use either the new forms package or the current one, ADOBE-FORMS-B. There are some exceptions: K, T, D or F series applications submitted for deadlines on or after January 25, 2011, must use the new forms package. For more information, see NOT-OD-11-008 and NOT-OD-11-007.

Elimination of Electronic Submission Error Correction Window


NIH announced this week that the 2-day “error correction window” to fix NIH system-identified errors or warnings after the submission deadline is being eliminated (see NOT-OD-10-123). This change will take effect for submission deadlines on or after January 25, 2011. You will still have up to 2 business days to view the application image and submit a corrected/changed application, as long as you do so before the deadline.

The error correction window was instituted by NIH as a temporary measure to facilitate the transition from paper to electronic applications.

In light of this change and another related to post-submission materials, it is really important to make sure that you submit an application early (before the submission deadline) so that you and your signing official have an opportunity to address any errors or warnings.

NIH’s Applying Electronically Web site includes many helpful resources, such as tips for avoiding common errors.

Electronic Awards Administration

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As with the transition to electronic grant applications, NIH is now transitioning to electronic award administration. Here are some important upcoming changes.

Progress Reports

Beginning August 1, 2010, you must use the eRA Commons eSNAP (Electronic Streamlined Non-competing Award Process) feature to submit all eligible progress reports. Also, SNAP progress reports will be due 45 days prior to the next budget start date (instead of 60 days), and IRB and IACUC approval dates will not be required as part of the progress report.

You can refer to the Notice of Award to determine whether these new requirements apply to your grant. For detailed instructions, see the eSNAP User Guide.

Appointments and Terminations

Beginning January 1, 2011, you must use the xTrain feature in eRA Commons to electronically submit appointment forms and termination notices for research training, fellowship, education and career development awards. After this date, paper documents will not be accepted.

My NCBI Tool to Replace eRA Commons for Bibliography Management


My NCBI screenshotNIH has announced a significant upgrade to the citation management capability of investigators’ personal profiles in the eRA Commons.

With the integration of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) “My Bibliography” portal, direct database queries will replace manual citation entry in the Commons. This will have many benefits, most immediately for your eSNAP progress reports due to more accurate data and automated evaluation of each citation’s Public Access Policy compliance status.

You must now enter citations via My Bibliography accounts. Users (investigators or delegates) will need to have a My NCBI account and link it to their Commons account. Instructions are available on the Commons Web site at

Please note that beginning July 23, you will not be able to manually enter a citation directly into the Commons. You will still be able to manually enter citations of publications and other items not indexed in PubMed (book chapters, meeting abstracts, etc.), but this must be done using My Bibliography. Also note that beginning on October 22, all citations that had been manually entered into the Commons will no longer be displayed. Publications abstracted in PubMed will automatically appear in My Bibliography; other citations must be added to My Bibliography to appear.

Most NIGMS Recovery Act Funds Now Committed


Recovery Act Logo - Recovery.govAt this point in Fiscal Year 2010, we have committed nearly all of our Recovery Act funds. If you have not yet heard about the status of a supplement request, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to fund it.

As Jeremy Berg noted in an earlier post, we set a high priority on getting the funds out quickly, obligating approximately 90% of our allocation by the end of September 2009. We were able to fund about 40%
of the administrative supplement requests we received.