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NIH eRA eSubmission Items of Interest
October 2013

Working Hard to Support You

As a former educator who spent 15 years teaching folks about various technology solutions, I am a firm believer that training and education are keys to success.  To help you achieve success, we have developed a new eRA Training page.  The eRA Training page consolidates resources from various locations across the eRA website into one unified page that provides access to resources for eRA Commons, Internet Assisted Review (IAR), and xTrain for starters

eRA Training page screen shot

Clicking on each icon gives you access to PowerPoint presentations, Web-based tutorials, Quick Reference Sheets, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and other information that was previously located throughout the eRA website. You can also get to the training page directly from the right navigation panel of the eRA website.

These changes are designed to get you to these resources quickly and easily.  Please check out the pages. Who knows, maybe you will find something helpful you haven’t seen before!

“When you know better, you do better.”
― Maya Angelou


(Getting out from under) The 800 Pound Gorilla

800 pound gorilla You all know the joke… Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants!

We have an 800 pound gorilla.  Its name is Multi-Project Application.  The multi-project application can be huge, with thousands of pages involving many institutions and potentially hundreds of researchers and staff. For that reason, it sits on the paper submission process. Sure, we provide electronic forms completed by applicants on computers, shared with colleagues over high speed computer networks and across the world via the Internet.  And when all that work is done, the applicant hits “PRINT.” 
So anti-climactic.

Back in 2005, the Office of Extramural Research (OER) started the process of accepting grant applications electronically. Today, nearly all aspects of grant application and grant management happen electronically through Grants.gov and eRA Commons.  The final major pieces of the submission puzzle are these complex or multi-project applications, which are still submitted by paper.

Later this fall, eRA will be piloting a new system called ASSIST, which stands for (deep breath)... Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking.  ASSIST is a web-based system that allows applicants to initiate an application; set access controls for various parts of the application; run a complete check against NIH business rules to figure out errors before submission; and view an application image before submitting to Grants.gov. Pretty awesome!

So the goal is to transition all activity codes to electronic submission by January of 2014 – thus granting (pun intended) the 800 pound gorilla a much deserved rest in the nice, new, electronic Barcalounger. For more details on the transition to electronic submission of multi-project applications, check out Guide Notice NOT-OD-12-161.


User Guides – Under Used, Under Appreciated (and Under Cover?)

SpockI have the distinct honor of getting to collaborate with some wonderful people.  Two of whom dedicate each and every working day to documenting the many and varied functionalities and features of eRA Commons.   They meet about them, write about them, post information on them, link to them, and sometimes teach others about them. However, what we don’t have is the technology to beam the information right into your brains (although I think there might be a grant available for that).

Unfortunately, we sometimes hear people comment that they can’t find the user guides, or maybe they just don’t take the time to really read them, or maybe they don’t look very hard. Regardless, the information is out there. It is good. It is well written and it is ready to be used. 

So while it is not quite the spiny skull cap Bones uses to learn all the medical mysteries of the galaxy, I have put together a list of our most popular user guides for you.

(NOTE: There is no user guide to re-insert Spock’s brain back into his body… maybe next year).


Joe Schumaker
eRA Communications
Division of Communications and Outreach
NIH Office of Extramural Research









This page last updated on November 21, 2013
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