eRA Commons Frequently Asked Questions
What is eRA Commons?
The eRA Commons is an online interface where signing officials, principal investigators, trainees and post-docs at institutions/organizations can access and share administrative information relating to research grants. Users can shepherd their application in eRA Commons through the grants lifecycle from receipt to closeout..
Do I have to have my browser configured a certain way to use eRA Commons?
I seem to be experiencing a problem with the browser when using an eRA module.
How do I register my organization/institution with eRA Commons?
Only individuals with legal signing authority - the Signing Official - can register their organization in Commons. The Signing Official typically has a title such as: President, CEO, Executive Director, Dean, Chancellor, Provost, Owner, or Partner. Please note both the applicant organization and the Principal Investigator (through the Signing Official) need to register in eRA Commons.
Remember that the user's applicant organization MUST also be registered with the following before they can successfully submit an application to NIH:
- Grants.gov: ( http://www07.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html)
- the System for Award Management (SAM): https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/
- DUNS: http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/displayHomePage.do
Note — Small businesses also must register with the Small Business Administration (SBA): https://www.sbir.gov/registration
How does a Principal Investigator (PI) get registered in eRA Commons?
Once the applicant organization is registered in eRA Commons, the organization's Signing Official or Accounts Administrator/Business Official (AA/BO) can register the Principal Investigator by creating an account with the PI authority role. When a Signing Official creates an account for a PI, the PI will receive an email to go to the Commons to verify the PI's profile information. (This email is sent only when PI has prior NIH support, otherwise the account is created right away). See steps to ‘Create a New Commons Account for an Individual (e.g. PD/PI).’ Also watch a video tutorial on How Signing Officials Create Accounts in eRA Commons
If I am an individual Research Fellow, how do I register in the eRA Commons?
Please see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-07-003 Guidance to Applicant Organizations about Registering Research Fellows in the eRA Commons.
How long does the registration process take?
The Applicant organizations must start the registration process at least six weeks before the grant application submission deadline to allow plenty of time to address unforeseen issues along the way. Allow time for the PI to register once the organization has been registered in Commons. A PI must confirm eRA Commons registration before the application submission.
What is an IPF number?
The Institution Profile (IPF) number is an internal NIH identifier that uniquely identifies and associates institutional information within NIH electronic systems. You can find it via the IPF tab in eRA Commons. See Institutional Profile online help and the Manage Institutional Profile webpage. The NIH assigns an IPF number after the institution registration has been approved. The number is used by applicant organizations to search for grants and search for pending progress reports through the Quick Queries tools.
How do I find my organization's DUNS number?
You can contact your office of sponsored research to find the number. However, if you are registered in Commons, you can find your DUNS number by viewing your institutional profile. See steps and screenshots in Institution Basic information in the IPF online help.
Visit the Dun and Bradstreet website to see if your organization already has a DUNS number.
If I do not have a DUNS number, how do I obtain one?
To obtain a DUNS number, please visit the Dun & Bradstreet website
How do I select a user name for eRA Commons?
You can select any user name you would like as long as it is at least six characters and no more than 20 characters in length. It can be a combination of letters and numbers. Each user name must be unique within the eRA Commons community. Special characters, including spaces, may not be used.
Note that your Commons ID will stay with you for life, so choose a user name wisely. We suggest that you not make the ID institution-specific, in case the PI moves to another institution.
If I have forgotten my password, or have been locked out due to failed log-in attempts, what should I do?
You can reset your password by going to the Forgot Password/Unlock Account link on the eRA Commons home page below the Commons login. An institutional official (SO or AO) can also reset your password. After you reset the password, remember to clear your browser cache, so that the system does not try and log you in with the old password. If you still experience trouble, contact the eRA Service Desk for assistance. Note that all passwords should be kept private and secure. Also see Having Trouble Logging in to eRA Commons?.
I have switched institutions. Do I need a new Commons account?
If you are a Principal Investigator, or have a scientific role or are a trainee, no; if you are a Signing Official or have another administrative role, yes. PIs should maintain a single Commons account throughout their career, which will be affiliated with each new institution to which they move. PIs should work with the SO at the new institution to complete the affiliation process. A SO will need a new account with their new institution. Follow these steps for the SO to affiliate the PI. Also see ‘Switching Institutions? Stick with your existing eRA Commons Account.’
Where will Notice of Award (NoA) notices be sent?
Notices of Grant Awards (NoAs) are sent to the email address specified in the Institution Profile (IPF). The Signing Official (SO) can update the NoA email address via the Institutional Profile tab in the eRA Commons. See steps and screenshot for updating the Institution Contact Information. Additionally, the SO can provide a contact name and email address in the IPF for NIH to communicate general issues with the institution and associated data. This contact information is in addition to the NoA email address. The NoA can be found in the Other Relevant Documents section of the eRA Commons Status Information screen. See steps and screenshots for ‘Viewing the Notice of Award’ in the eRA Commons online help.
I am the Signing Official for my institution. Will I receive all the NIH eRA Commons e-mail messages?
The SO can assign a specific e-mail address to receive eRA Commons messages by updating the Institution Contact Information screen via the Institution Profile (IPF) tab of the Commons. The e-mail address entered for ‘Announcements and Notifications’ will receive all policy announcements and notifications that are sent to registered users of the eRA Commons. This address will not receive Notices of Award. See steps and screenshot for updating the Institution Contact Information. The SO can enter an email address for Notice of Award to receive NoAs.
If I do not see the module I need on the eRA Commons selection bar, what should I do?
Modules are visible to users according to the role they have been assigned for a particular module. These roles are largely assigned by the signing official or the accounts administrator, except for the IAR role that is enabled by a scientific review officer. Contact the Signing Official or Office of Sponsored Research or equivalent office at your institution. If you cannot locate the appropriate person at your institution, contact the eRA Service Desk by submitting a Web ticket at https://public.era.nih.gov/commonshelp or by calling them at 1-866-504-9552 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8.p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays).
- The list of signing officials can be found in the Institution Profile
- Log in to eRA Commons
- Select the Institution Profile tab, followed by the Basic Information tab
- You will see a row titled Signing Officials and TTO Administrators. Click the plus sign to view the name(s) of the signing official(s).
I am a Signing Official for my organization but I am not listed within the Institution Profile?
The signing official will need to update the Employment(s) field(s) in the Personal Profile section of eRA Commons to see their name displayed as a signing official within the Institution Profile. See steps and screenshots to View and Edit Employment.
How do I locate my grant if it does not appear in the Grants List within eRA Commons?
If your grant does not appear in the Grants List within eRA Commons, please contact the eRA Service Desk by submitting a Web ticket at https://public.era.nih.gov/commonshelp/ or by calling them at 1-866-504-9552 between the operating hours of 7 a.m. to 8.p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays). Your Service Desk contact will assist you and work with the appropriate NIH parties to correct this problem.
May I be affiliated with more than one institution in eRA Commons?
Yes, if you are a principal investigator or have a scientific role. SOs cannot be affiliated with more than one institution.
If I am a PI affiliated with more than one institution, is there a way I can toggle between institutions once I am logged in to eRA Commons?
Yes. If affiliated with multiple institutions, the name of the default institution displays as a link within the Welcome section located in the upper right corner of each Commons page. To change institutions:
- Click on the Institution name link located in the upper right corner of the Commons home page
- The Change Affiliation screen opens, listing all the institutions with which you are affiliated
- Select the institution you would like displayed and click Submit
- The Commons home page will be displayed with the affiliated institution you selected
For screenshots and steps, see ‘Changing the Displayed Affiliated Institution’ in the eRA Commons online help.
What is the Signing Official (SO) Role?
The signing official (SO) has institutional authority to legally bind the institution in grants administration matters. The individual fulfilling this role may have any number of titles in the grantee organization. The label ‘signing official’ is used in conjunction with the eRA Commons. The SO can register the institution and create and modify the institutional profile and user accounts. The SO also can view all grants within the institution, including status and award information. An SO can create additional SO accounts as well as accounts with any other role or combination of roles. See eRA Commons Roles & Privileges Matrix.
For most institutions, the signing official (SO) is in the Office of Sponsored Research or equivalent.
The list of signing officials can also be found in the Institution Profile
- Log in to eRA Commons
- Select the Institution Profile tab, followed by the Basic Information tab
- You will see a row titled Signing Officials and TTO Administrators. Click the plus sign to view the name(s) of the signing official(s).
If you are unable to identify your SO, contact the eRA Service Desk.
What is a Principal Investigator (PI) Role?
A Principal Investigator (PI) is designated by the grantee organization to direct the project or activity being supported by the grant. The PI is responsible and accountable to the grantee for the proper conduct of the project or activity. The role of the PI within the eRA Commons is to complete the grant process, either by completing the required forms via the eRA Commons or by delegating this responsibility to another individual. A PI can access information for any grant for which they are designated the PI. See eRA Commons Roles & Privileges Matrix.
What is an Account Administrator (AA) Role? Does a Signing Official (SO) need to assign an AA?
The account administrator role can create/edit all Commons accounts (except an SO account and IAR accounts). Note: The AA cannot create/modify an Institutional Profile or user's Personal Profile. The creation of an account administrator (AA) is at the SO's discretion and does not need to occur. See eRA Commons Roles & Privileges Matrix.
What are the other roles available in eRA Commons?
To view a list of roles available in eRA Commons, see eRA Commons Roles & Privileges Matrix .
I am the signing official for my institution. Can I assign administrative authority to another administrative account?
An SO can create accounts for others to help administer tasks in the eRA Commons. The SO can assign the appropriate roles for these users (SO, AO, AA), depending on their function. Note that if the SO delegates his/her role, he/she is effectively giving the SO role to that person.
How do I revoke submit progress report authority that was delegated to a non-SO account?
Only users in the SO role can revoke submit authority. The SO should follow these steps to revoke submit authority delegated to a non-SO account.
How do I search for an eRA Commons User ID?
Only SOs and Account Administrators (AAs) can look up a person’s eRA Commons User ID. They will access the Account Management System (AMS) by following these steps: Accessing AMS. Then they will look up the desired account by following the steps to Search for Commons User Account. The User ID will be listed in the first column of the search results.
How does the PI delegate Personal Profile (PPF) update authority?
The PI must follow these steps to delegate Personal Profile update authority.
How do I add the Financial Status Report (FSR) role?
Only an account holder with authority to edit accounts (SO, AO, AA) can add the Financial Status Report (FSR) role to a profile. Follow these steps for adding the FSR role to a profile.
Note that the FSR has been replaced by the Federal Financial Report, but the FSR role has not been renamed.
What is Grant Closeout and how do I close out my grant in eRA Commons?
Grants Closeout is a feature within eRA Commons that allows a grantee to electronically file the information necessary to complete grant closeout requirements. It interfaces with the Closeout system used by Agency staff to track and monitor this business process. The closeout documents include the final Federal Financial Report, the final Invention Statement and Certification and the final RPPR. The PI or SO should follow these steps to locate the Grants Closeout link in eRA Commons.
See Closeout Status for more information.
Note about Interim RPPR and Final RPPR
The Interim RPPR (IRPPR) is used when you are submitting a Competing Renewal application (Type 2). If you opt NOT to apply for a Competing Renewal, complete the Final RPPR as you normally would within 120 days of the project end date. If you are going to complete a Competing Renewal application (or have already submitted such an application), you will submit an Interim RPPR. This must be submitted within 120 days of the project end date.
If you are awarded the renewal, the Interim RPPR will be treated as your annual RPPR and no other progress reporting will be needed for that segment of the study. If the application is NOT awarded, then the Interim RPPR will be accepted as the Final RPPR.
How do I know when I should submit Just-in-Time information?
Applicants should not submit any JIT information until it is requested by the grantor agency. NIH issues just-in-time emails for all applications that receive an overall impact score of 30 or less.
Why does the Just-in-Time (JIT) link appear in eRA Common's Status section when I have not been asked to submit the information?
The Just-in-Time link appears for all grant applications within 24 hours after the score is released, to ensure its availability should the grantor agency request the Just-in-Time information. Applicants should not see this link as an indicator of the need to submit JIT information and should rely on a specific request from agency staff.
See Just-in-Time for more information.
How do I request a no cost extension?
No Cost Extensions may be performed automatically one-time only by the Signing Official (SO) no earlier than 90 days before the end of the project and no later than the end date. The SO should follow these steps to request a no cost extension.
See 'No Cost Extension' for more information.
Note: There can only be one no cost extension through Commons per grant. If you have applied previously for an extension for this grant, an Extension link will not be available.
If you are not eligible for an automatic no cost extension, you can request prior approval from NIH for a no cost extension when the grant meets certain conditions. Please see Prior Approval: request a No Cost Extension for details.
How does a referee submit reference letters for an applicant?
A referee does not need to log in to eRA Commons to submit a reference letter. The ‘Submit a Reference Letter’ link is on the eRA Commons landing page.
Go to ' How Do I Submit a Reference Letter' in the Commons online help. Also see the video tutorial on Submitting Reference Letters through eRA Commons. See frequently asked questions about Letters of Reference.
How long will it take for a reference letter to show in the system after someone has submitted one on your behalf?
Submitted reference letters post immediately. See instructions for ensuring reference letters have been submitted. If you do not see the list of letters in Personal Profile, the letters have not been submitted.
A reviewer did not upload critiques or scores and did not sign the pre-meeting COI certification. Will the reviewer be able to upload critiques and criterion scores (original or revised) and enter final scores?
No. The pre-meeting COI certification needs to be signed before the reviewer can upload critiques and criterion scores. IAR will not allow a reviewer to submit critiques or criterion scores without signing the pre-meeting COI certification.
A reviewer uploaded critiques and scores before the new COI certifications came online but did not sign the pre-meeting COI. Will the reviewer be able to enter final scores?
No, the reviewer will need to first sign the pre-meeting COI certification. The pre-meeting COI certification will remain available until the certification is signed. If the meeting has started, the link will appear for the reviewer to sign and then the pre-meeting COI link will convert to the post-meeting COI link.
What happens if an additional conflict is discovered before the meeting or under other scenarios (meeting date changes and certifications reflect the previous date, etc.)?
A recertification will be required if an additional conflict is discovered before the meeting. If the conflict is reported before the meeting starts, the pre-meeting COI certification will be available (even past the meeting start date and time) until the pre-meeting form is certified. Once certified the post form will appear until the end of the Edit phase.
What are the other scenarios under which a recertification of the pre-meeting COI is required?
These are the scenarios:
- If the meeting date changes
- If the SRO changes the reviewer’s Fed/Non-Fed status
- If the meeting agenda changes from grants to contracts or vice versa
A reviewer signed a pre-meeting certification on the old COI certification. Will there be a mix of old and new certifications in each meeting during the transition?
To avoid any confusion, if one reviewer signs an old COI certification, the remaining reviewers of the panel will be presented with the old COI certifications. The same goes for the new certifications.
A reviewer does not sign the post-meeting COI certification. Can the reviewer still upload revised critiques and scores?
Yes, if the pre-meeting COI certification is signed, the system will allow the reviewer to complete the meeting phases. There is no system block if the reviewer fails to sign the post-meeting certification. The post-meeting COI certification must be electronically signed at the time the reviewer completes participation in the study section meeting. Paper certifications will no longer be accepted.
A reviewer identifies a new conflict during the meeting. There is no option to sign the pre-meeting COI. Will the reviewer be able to enter final scores and revised critiques and criterion scores?
If the pre-meeting COI form is signed, and a conflict is entered after the meeting begins, the reviewer will be able to enter final scores and revised critiques. The new conflict will be covered by the post-meeting COI certification.
The Scientific Review Officer (SRO) has informed me that my personal information is not up to date. How do I update my reviewer information in eRA Commons?
Please see the instructions to fill out the 'Reviewer Information' section of the Personal Profile in eRA Commons.
I am a reviewer assigned to a study section, but when I log in to eRA Commons, I cannot find any meetings. What should I do?
- When asked to participate in a review meeting, you will receive an email from the SRO informing you that you can access IAR. If you do not have an eRA Commons account, the email directs you to create a new eRA Commons account. If you already have an eRA Commons account, you are directed to access the eRA Commons log in screen. In the latter case, follow the link in the email to access the eRA Commons, which includes IAR. See the steps in Creating an Account to Access IAR in the IAR online help. Note: If you do not have an email invitation, please contact the SRO
- You could also have logged into eRA Commons with the wrong account. Note that you should have only one account in eRA Commons. Make sure you are using the account listed on the invitation email.
I am a reviewer and have been asked to enter my banking information to receive payment for my participation in a review meeting. Where do go to enter that information?
Please complete all sections of the Reviewer Information page of the Personal Profile section. While in the edit mode, click on the Secure Payment Reimbursement System (SPRS) link to enter your banking information. See instructions for Updating the Reviewer Information section of Personal Profile and instructions for How Do I Register for Payments?
How do I access my Summary Statement?
Review outcomes are found in summary statements (PDF documents that combine reviewers’ written comments and the scientific review officer’s summary of the review discussion of your application). The summary statement is available on the eRA Commons’ Status Information screen, under Other Relevant Documents. Only the Principal Investigator (PI) can access the grant application's summary statement. The PI should follow these steps to view his/her application's summary statement.
When will changes that I make to my bibliography in My NCBI transfer to the eRA Commons?
All changes made in the My NCBI system will appear instantaneously in the eRA Commons.
Can I add a citation to an RPPR via My Bibliography?
You may propose a grant-paper association in My Bibliography, but to add a paper to an RPPR, you will have to do so in eRA Commons.
- Use the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) System to upload manuscripts or associate papers with your award. You will be automatically logged into the NIHMS with your NIH eRA Commons User ID. You can also submit manuscripts through the NIHMS via the NIH Public Access website.
What do each of the grant-paper association statuses mean?
Here is a list of possible status values and their associated action values for the My Bibliography grant-paper associations
Possible Status Values
Possible Action Values
The PI can either reject or confirm the proposed grant-paper association.
The PI can reject the confirmed grant-paper association.
The PI can confirm the rejected grant-paper associations.
The grant-paper association was confirmed by the PI, added to eSNAP and the eSNAP was submitted to the agency.
At what point can I use xTrain to make appointments for a new budget year?
The link for making a new appointment to a training grant, institutional career development award or research education award will be available as soon as the Notice of Award for the new budget period has been issued. Follow these steps to make appointments.
How do I make an appointment in the final year of a training grant when future year funding is not yet known?
xTrain allows appointments to extend beyond the project period end date when future year funding is unknown. When the appointment end date exceeds the project period end date, however, the submission of the appointment will be accompanied by the following warning message, "If continued funding is not provided through a competitive renewal, this grant will need to be extended to cover the full period of appointment." Follow these steps to make appointments.
How can Business Officials (BOs) keep track of the training grants for their institution?
BOs can log into the system at any time to see the status of all the appointments and terminations at their institution for which they are the Business Official by logging into eRA Commons, pressing the xTrain tab, and searching for the desired grants. Follow these steps to view training grants.
Why is my Personal Profile information not populating on the PHS 2271 Statement of Appointment form until the form is submitted?
For all trainees, the PDF form is populated with the role information at the time of submission. This is by design and is not an error. The PDF for trainees with new accounts will therefore have blank values until submission of the appointment. Trainees with existing accounts will see any previously entered information on the form until submission. Note: Personal Profile information is validated when the form is routed back to the PD/PI. The form cannot be routed until the information is complete and no error messages are received. Follow these steps to view the most recent Appointment or Termination form.
Who can initiate/submit a termination notice?
A principal investigator (PI), PI delegate (ASST with xTrain Delegation), sponsor (for fellowship), sponsor delegate and business official (BO) can initiate a termination notice. To see who can submit a termination notice, go to the xTrain online help topic ’Who can initiate/submit termination notices.’
Is an amendment necessary if a trainee terminates early?
No. When the termination notice is prepared, the new termination date should be included. The system will auto-amend the last appointment to reflect the new termination date.
Learn more about early terminations.
How should I terminate a fellow when there is a change of institutions?
The original institution should send verification of the stipend, period of support, and other necessary information both to the new institution and to NIH. This is done outside of the xTrain module. Please contact your grants management specialist or the awarding Institute/Center for more information. By accepting the fellowship transfer, the new institution also assumes responsibility for terminating the entire fellowship award in xTrain. See the xTrain online help to learn more about initiating termination notices for fellowships. See also the xTrain Termination of Fellowships Quick Reference Guide for Institution Users.
How can a Signing Official perform submit actions in xTrain?
For signing officials to perform submit actions in xTrain, they must also have the ‘business official’ role. For more information about the business official role and how to assign it to a user's eRA Commons account, see the xTrain External/Institutional User Guide. See also the xTrain online help for more information about setting up an account.
If a PD/PI delegates authority to an assistant (ASST), can that assistant perform all the same functions and receive the same notifications as the PD/PI?
If a PD/PI wants to delegate xTrain authority to an individual and that individual is not listed with the Current Institution Users, how does he/she have them added to the list?
The institution's Signing Official must add the ASST role to the individual's existing eRA Commons account or create an eRA Commons account with the ASST role for the individual if he/she does not already have an account. See the complete list of eRA Commons FAQs for more details and instructions. See also more information about xTrain external user roles, accessing xTrain as an ASST, and assigning and removing an ASST delegation.
What Commons Personal Profile fields are checked by xTrain?
The following fields on the Personal Information screen are checked by xTrain:
- Degree (If the appointment level is predoctoral or above, at least one degree must be entered)
- Birth Date
List of Degrees
xTrain will check Degree information as part of the Appointment process as follows:
- PRE-BACCALAUREATE: does not have a bachelor’s degree
- PRE-DOC: must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- POST-DOC: must have a PhD, MD, or equivalent
The Trainee Specific Information screen within a trainee's Personal Profile includes the question "Are you from a disadvantaged background?" What does "disadvantaged background" mean in this context?
Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are defined as those who:
- Come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size, published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels at http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/index.shtml.
- Come from an educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that has demonstrably and directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.
The two categories above are intended to refer to an individual’s situation while residing in the United States and particularly before graduating from high school.
What functions can a user with the Sponsor role perform in xTrain?
The Sponsor is a person who mentors Fellows and can initiate and facilitate the termination of a fellowship. The Sponsor can submit the Termination Notice for foreign and federal fellowships only.
What is the Sponsor Delegate role?
Users with this authority can perform actions similar to the Sponsor role but they are not able to submit the fellowship Termination Notice to the Agency.
I am attempting to view my appointments in xTrain, but I am unable to route appointments or enter information in the fields. What should I do?
If you are a PI affiliated with more than one institution, it is important to check which institution is displayed when you log into eRA Commons. You will only be able to access information pertaining to your selected institution. The institution is displayed on the upper right corner of the eRA Commons screen under your user ID information. See the eRA Commons online help for steps on ‘Changing the Displayed Affiliated Institution.’
Does anything need to be done in xTrain if a trainee takes parental leave?
If the parental leave is 60 calendar days or less and the leave has been approved by the PD/PI on the training grant, no steps need to be taken in xTrain. Trainees may receive stipends for up to 60 calendar days (equivalent to eight work weeks) of parental leave per year for the adoption or the birth of a child. Either parent is eligible for parental leave.
Does anything need to be done in xTrain if a trainee takes an unpaid leave of absence?
If a trainee requires an extended period of time away from research training (i.e., more than 15 calendar days of sick leave or more than 60 calendar days of parental leave per year), an authorized representative of the organization must seek approval from the agency for an unpaid leave of absence. Following approval of the leave of absence, and at the beginning of the leave, the organization should terminate the trainee's appointment to the training grant in xTrain. It is very important that termination is accepted by the agency before resumption of support for the trainee. Upon the trainee's resumption of Kirschstein-NRSA support, the organization must submit a new appointment via xTrain. Follow these steps for early terminations.
When appointing a trainee to a short-term training appointment or preparing a termination notice for a trainee who is terminating early, what should I do if the stipend amount computed by xTrain differs from the amount calculated by my institution?
NIH recognizes that institutional accounting systems may vary and may use different methods to calculate stipends for research training periods of less than one year. As a result, the xTrain system permits institutional users to overwrite the system-calculated stipend amounts for training appointments that are less than a full year. In such cases, the difference between the stipend amount provided by the institution and that calculated by xTrain must be reasonable and generally should not exceed $500.
Will using xTrain remove the need for signed paper forms?
Yes, with the following exceptions:
- Permanent U.S. residents must submit a notary's signed statement certifying that they have (1) a Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551), or (2) other legal verification of such status.
- A signed Payback Service Agreement is required for first-time postdoctoral trainees appointed to Kirschstein-NRSA research training grants.
Why am I getting this error message: "Stipend amount must be entered and be greater than zero."
Users will get this error message when they enter a comma in the stipend amount. The value of the stipend should be only numbers.
I've entered an advanced degree. Why isn't this degree appearing on the PDF form?
On the Personal Profile, under the Degrees/Residency Tab, users are asked to indicate their ‘Terminal Research Degree.’ If an individual indicates yes (‘Y’) for any of their degrees, xTrain understands that to mean that there are no further degrees to be entered or expected in the future. Users should enter ‘Y’ only after they have entered all their degrees, and only when their education is complete. If an xTrain user is pursuing an additional degree through an appointment to an institutional training, career development, or research education award, that degree should be entered as ‘in progress.’
List of Degrees
xTrain will check Degree information as part of the Appointment process as follows:
- PRE-BACCALAUREATE: does not have a bachelor’s degree
- PRE-DOC: must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- POST-DOC: must have a PhD, MD, or equivalent
Why cannot I see the trainees full list of previous NIH support on the appointment form?
xTrain populates the list of Kirschstein-NRSA support with grants associated with the trainee's eRA Commons account. The eRA Commons attempts to match existing support records to the trainee when the trainee's Commons account is created. Sometimes, multiple accounts are inadvertently created for a single trainee and the information associated with these accounts must be merged. Contact the eRA Service Desk for assistance with consolidating multiple eRA Commons accounts. In addition, appointments previously submitted on paper may not have been entered into xTrain. If this is the case, contact the Grants Management Specialist listed in the latest Notice of Award.
I am re-appointing a trainee. Why is the correct stipend amount not appearing in xTrain?
When re-appointing a trainee, you should enter the new start and end dates in the Period of Appointment for the re-appointment and then press the Save button. Once the dates are saved, the appropriate stipend amounts for the new time period will appear in the Stipend Level or Salary drop down menu. Select the appropriate stipend level from the list.
Follow these steps to make reappointments.
Note: If the re-appointment has already been accepted by NIH with the incorrect stipend amount, you should first contact your Grants Management Specialist so he or she can revert the re-appointment to its prior state and then route it back to you to make the required changes.
I do not see the "Initiate Termination Notice (TN)" link in xTrain. How can I initiate the termination notice for a fellow?
What should the Sponsor do if he or she is unable to certify the information contained in the termination notice?
In unusual cases, the Sponsor may not be available to certify the information on the termination notice. When such situations occur, and the institution has tried unsuccessfully to include the Sponsor in the termination process, the Business Official may assume responsibility for certification and submit the termination notice to the agency via xTrain.
See the xTrain online help for more information about processing termination notices.
Why is the grant for which I am a Sponsor not appearing on the My Grants screen?
After accessing xTrain, Sponsors are brought to the List for Grants screen. On occasion, the Sponsor's account is not automatically associated with the grant for which they are the official Sponsor. If this issue occurs, the Sponsor should contact the eRA Service Desk to troubleshoot the issue. Be sure to enter the Sponsor name on the fellowship application just as it appears in the Sponsor's Commons account. This will ensure that the fellowship will be associated with the correct Sponsor when awarded.
I am the BO/Sponsor/ASST and I am trying to edit the stipend amount in early termination, but the field is grayed out. How can I make this change?
For Training grants, only the Principal Investigator (PI) can edit the stipend amount on the termination notice when processing an early termination. For Fellowships, either the Fellow, or the Business Official may make the change.
I am processing a termination for a trainee who was appointed for 3 years. The first year is incorrect on the termination notice. How do I edit the stipend amount?
The stipend amount on the termination for a training grant is pulled from the accepted Statement of Appointment Form PHS 2271 for the trainee. To fix this issue, please delete the initiated termination, go back to the 1st year of the appointment and submit an amendment with the correct stipend amounts. Once the amendment is accepted by the institution, you can initiate the termination and it will display the correct stipend amount.
**Please note if you are terminating the trainee early (last year of support), you can modify the date and the stipend in the termination notice.
What do I do if the stipend amount for a fellowship is incorrect in the termination?
The stipend amount for a Fellowship pulls from the Notice of Award (NoA). If the previous support year has the incorrect stipend amount, you must contact the Grants Management Specialist (GMS) who can work with you in revising the NoA to the correct stipend.
**Please note if the fellowship is terminating early (last year of support), you can modify the date and the stipend in the termination notice to reflect the correct stipend amount.
Once the amendment is accepted by the agency, you can initiate the termination and it will display the correct stipend amount.
I am appointing a trainee for a new fiscal year, but the stipend dropdown menu is only providing me the old stipend amount.
The stipend level dropdown menu is based on the budget year of the grant period and not the appointment period of the trainee.
Example: If a trainee appointment start date is 02/01/2018 but the budget start date of the Grant is 06/01/2017, the stipend to be paid would reflect FY2017's stipend level.
I am trying to process a termination/appointment for a trainee, but an action link is not available.
If a trainee has an appointment or termination in progress, the action links will not be available to make any new changes. The existing appointment/termination must be accepted or deleted before the action links will be available.
Who can view the text one enters in My Scientific Text?
The text you enter in My Scientific Text remains confidential and is not available to other users of this site.
How is LikeThis different than RePORTER Matchmaker?
LikeThis gives users the ability to find awarded projects that are similar to their own submitted applications on file in eRA Commons (both unfunded and funded). RePORTER Matchmaker allows users to find awarded projects based on scientific text only, but does not require an eRA Commons login. See the LikeThis online help for steps to navigate LikeThis and view funded projects in RePORTER.
How can I provide feedback on LikeThis?
You can provide feedback via the eRA Commons Service Desk.
Why are some of my applications not appearing on the My Applications tab?
Are administrative supplements required to be submitted electronically?
Applicants have had the option of submitting a request for administrative supplements electronically through Grants.gov or directly through eRA Commons since 2012 [See NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-12-024]. Grantees can still submit on paper through the existing process.
Should I submit the administrative supplement request through the eRA Commons or Grants.gov?
Administrative supplement requests may be submitted through either process and each carries its own advantages. The benefit of submitting through eRA Commons is that the applicant can take advantage of the pre-population of data from the parent award. So, it greatly simplifies administrative supplements requests for adding personnel, replacing or upgrading equipment, or purchasing additional supplies.
Submitting through Grants.gov allows users to leverage the same process used for submitting competing grant applications. This is particularly useful for those applicants who make use of system-to-system submissions.
Note that NIH is requiring that all applications for (single and multi-project) diversity supplements must be submitted electronically as of January 25, 2018 (See NOT-OD-18-111)
Who has the authority to submit an administrative supplement?
Only the Signing Official can submit an administrative supplement request, although a Principal Investigator or a person with an 'Assistant' role in eRA Commons can prepare the request and fill out the necessary forms. Follow these steps for submitting an administrative supplement through the eRA Commons. Note that these steps are for NIH grantees and applicants only.
Who can view the supplement once it is submitted?
The status of the administrative supplement can be viewed by the Principal Investigator, the Signing Official and a person with the 'Assistant' role in eRA Commons. See the eRA Commons online help for more information about submitting an administrative supplement. Submissions made via Grants.gov can also be tracked in eRA Commons.
What does it mean if I see the "Initiate Request" option in the Administrative Supplements Status screen?
eRA Commons will display all grants that are potentially eligible for an administrative supplement request on the Administrative Supplements Status screen. This should not be considered an invitation to submit or a promise of award. We suggest contacting the Program Official before submitting a request to determine the likelihood of it being awarded. See the eRA Commons online help for more information about the Administrative Supplements Status screen.
I am working on a request in the eRA Commons. Why do I keep losing data that I am adding to various budget categories (Personnel, Equipment, Travel, etc.) on my request when I click to move to the next category?
You must click the Save button when it appears at the bottom of the page before moving to the next item. The Add button creates the data fields, but you must click Save to move the data to the form that is saved in Commons. See the eRA Commons online help for steps to navigate each of the budget categories.
I see the status of the request as "Accepted for Consideration." Does that mean the supplement request will be funded?
No, this status simply means that the request has been successfully passed along to the NIH Institute/Center (IC) for review. Another status option is Refused, which means the application has been sent back to the applicant. The grantee will receive an automatic notification with additional comments from the IC as to why the request is not moving forward. See the eRA Commons online help for more information on tracking the status of grant applications.
How do I electronically submit a Change of Institution for a grant?
Note that these steps are for NIH grantees and applicants only.
The Change of Institution application has two parts. The institution currently holding the grant must complete a Relinquishing Statement via eRA Commons that states it is giving up the grant and identifies the receiving institution. The receiving institution must submit an application via Grants.gov using the Parent Funding Opportunity Announcement. The application package associated with the activity code of the grant must be used for the submission. The Relinquishing Statement and application can be submitted in either order, but both must be received before the request can be considered.
Follow these steps to Search/View Relinquishing Statements.
What is a Relinquishing Statement?
A Relinquishing Statement is a declaration by the original grantee institution that it has agreed to relinquish responsibility for an active grant. This must occur before the expiration of the approved project period.
Which types of grants can be relinquished?
A Relinquishing Statement may be submitted for any activity code. All awarded and active grants are eligible to be relinquished except for the ones with the following statuses:
- 02 - Withdrawn
- 21 - Ineligible organization - application withdrawn
- 30 - Withdrawn by Institute/Center (IC)
- 34 - Administratively withdrawn by IC prior to review or council
Subprojects, Institutional Allowances, and Supplements are excluded from being eligible.
Who can initiate a Relinquishing Statement?
Only a signing official can initiate a Relinquishing Statement. A project director/principal investigator can view, edit, save, cancel changes, and route the Relinquishing Statement to the Signing Official to submit it through eRA Commons to the grantor agency.
Where do I go in eRA Commons to initiate a Change of Institution request?
A Change of Institution request is initiated by the signing official for the original grantee institution that has agreed to relinquish responsibility for an active grant. The process is initiated from the Status tab and the Change of Institution link along the left side of the screen.
Follow these steps to start, create, edit, and save a Relinquishing Statement.
Can I submit more than one Relinquishing Statement?
Only one Relinquishing Statement per active grant can be in progress at a time.
How will the receiving institution know that a Relinquishing Statement has been submitted?
eRA Commons will notify the receiving institution when a Relinquishing Statement has identified it as such. The receiving institution can view this Relinquishing Statement by logging into eRA Commons, clicking on Status and then the Change of Institution link to the left side of the window, and executing a query for the Relinquishing Statement in the Search for Relinquishing Statements window.
Follow these steps to start, create, edit, and save a Relinquishing Statement. See also these sample email notifications.
If the original grantee institution does not correctly identify the receiving institution when it sends the Relinquishing Statement, then eRA Commons will not send a notification. The receiving institution will need to contact the eRA Service Desk to link the document to view it in eRA Commons.
Does a Change of Institution need to be approved by anyone?
Yes. The NIH Institute that funded and is managing the grant must approve the change before the new institution will see it in eRA Commons. Contacting the funding institute prior to submitting any Change of Institution documents is highly recommended.
How do I change the email address for the new institution?
First, perform a search for the Relinquishing Statement. Click on the Manage Relinquishing Statement link on the Status Result - Change of Institution screen. Click the Edit link under the Action column and make the necessary changes. Click Save at the bottom of the form when done.
How do I assign my Change of Institution request to an institution that is not in eRA Commons?
From the Relinquishing Statement screen, click Search for a New Institution Name. The New Institution - Search screen will appear. At the bottom of the screen, type in the name of the institution and click Insert. Then complete the Relinquishing Statement as prompted.
Follow these steps to start, create, edit, and save a Relinquishing Statement.
What is xTRACT?
The Extramural Trainee Reporting and Career Tracking (xTRACT) system is a new module in the eRA Commons that allows applicants, grantees, and assistants to create research training data tables for progress reports and institutional training grant applications. Because xTRACT is integrated with eRA Commons, some training data will be prepopulated in the system, including trainee names, selected characteristics, institutions, grant numbers, and subsequent NIH and other HHS awards.
Who should use xTRACT?
xTRACT may be accessed by eRA Commons users with the following roles: Signing Officials (SO), Principal Investigators (PI), and Assistants (ASST) with the appropriate delegation. Individuals with these roles may use xTRACT to create data tables for T32, TL1, T90/R90, and T15 training grants for Research Performance Progress Reports and applications
Commons users holding these roles in conjunction with other types of predoctoral, postdoctoral, and career-level training, education, and career development activities that use training data tables (e.g., T35, R25, K12/KL2 awards) can also use xTRACT on a pilot basis, however, they may wish to wait for future editions of the system, which will include features tailored to their specific types of awards.
Are applicants or grantees required to use xTRACT?
Existing training grant recipients are required to use the xTRACT system to prepare the required data tables for Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPRs), beginning with progress reports due on or after October 1, 2019 (FY 2020). As described in NOT-OD-19-108, this requirement applies to NIH and AHRQ T15, T32, T90/R90, and TL1 RPPRs. System validations in the RPPR module will check to ensure that the data tables were created via xTRACT, and users will not be able to submit RPPRs that are not in compliance.
The use of xTRACT to prepare the data tables for new and renewal training grant applications is not mandatory at this time but may be required in future years. Applicants for new or renewal training grant awards are encouraged to take steps now to gain experience with the system prior to its required use.
Does the requirement to use xTRACT to create Training Data Table 8 for submission with RPPRs extend to Final RPPRs?
Yes, xTRACT must be used to create Table 8 for submission with a Final RPPR.
When preparing Training Data Table 8 in xTRACT, what do I do if I don't have information on the dates of a trainee's subsequent employment?
The xTRACT system requests information about the start date for a trainee’s subsequent employment in order to determine which position should appear in the ‘initial position’ column on Table 8 and which is the ‘current position.’ If the start date is not readily available, but enough information is known to determine which position was the initial one and which is the current one, users may enter estimated start dates such that the relevant position information will appear in the correct columns. The employment start dates entered into xTRACT will not appear on the completed table.
When preparing Training Data Table 8 in xTRACT, how do users designate which students and post-doctorates should appear in Part I or Part II of the Table?
After information about their sources of support during training is entered in xTRACT, students and post-doctorates who are identified as having support from ‘this training grant’ will automatically appear in Part I of Table 8, and those who are not supported by the training grant will appear in Part II, as “clearly associated” students or postdocs.
My institution already has a database for training-related data. Can data be submitted to xTRACT via an Excel spreadsheet or application programming interface (API)?
Institutions that wish to submit training-related data to the xTRACT system in batches may currently upload data on (a) non-NIH sources of support, (b) participating faculty and (c) participating trainees/students. Instructions for bulk uploads can be found in the Online Help for:Additional upload features are planned and are expected to be introduced gradually over time.
Can xTRACT be used to create data tables for undergraduate programs (e.g., T34s)?
Not at this time. Applicants for programs targeted to undergraduates (e.g., T34 awards) should not use the xTRACT system at all at this time but should instead use the fillable tables designed for undergraduate programs.
Will the PDF Watermark disappear once the xTRACT RTD is finalized?
Yes. Upon finalizing your Research Training Dataset (RTD), the PDF will be regenerated without watermarks. The watermarks only appear when previewing the PDF in its unfinalized/draft form.
I would like to add a department to my list of Participating Departments and Programs but do not see the department I am looking for, in the available list of selections. Am I able to enter a department that does not appear on this list?
Since the department selections that you see in xTRACT are taken directly from your organization's institutional profile in the Commons, xTRACT does not provide the ability to add departments to this list. To have a department added to your organization's profile (and thus available for selection in xTRACT), a Signing Official from your organization may contact the eRA Service Desk to request the change.
Am I able to view my awarded grant information within the xTRACT module?
Information on the grant itself is not directly available in xTRACT. However, this information can be accessed via the Status feature in Commons.
Are prior-submitted PDFs available for viewing, when working on a future submission of the same grant?
Previously submitted PDFs of training tables are not available in xTRACT but can be viewed by accessing the Status feature in Commons, and then clicking the corresponding e-Application link for the desired support year.
Is it possible to change the type for a Non-NIH Funding Source?
Yes, the type associated with any Non-NIH Funding Source may be edited using the Institution Data / Maintain Funding Sources feature.
Does the requirement for ORCID iDs for those appointed to research training grants, research education awards, and institutional career development awards apply to all types of appointments in xTrain?
No, it only applies to new appointments made through xTrain. Reappointments and amendments will receive a ‘warning message’ if they are submitted in xTrain without an ORCID iD, but will be allowed to proceed, as there are occasions when institutions need to submit such appointments after the trainee has left the institution and is no longer readily available.
Does the requirement for ORCID iDs apply to fellowship and mentored career development non-competing renewals (i.e., those submitting an RPPR)?
No, the requirement applies only to individuals submitting competitive applications for fellowships or mentored career development awards.
Does the requirement for ORCID iDs apply to individuals supported via administrative supplements to enhance diversity?
No, the requirement applies only to individuals supported by formal research training, research education, and career development awards.
Why are principal investigators being asked via email to log into eRA Commons and indicate a preferred eRA Commons account?
Scientists should have only one eRA Commons account that follows them throughout their research career. But sometimes PIs get a second or even a third eRA Commons account created for them.
There are a few reasons it is important not to have duplicate accounts in Commons. NIH needs accurate information to track the careers of NIH funded researchers; it helps in the proper association of committee service for a reviewer to determine Continuous Submission status; and it keeps their grant record history together instead of being split across multiple accounts.
Data Quality is sending targeted emails to PIs who are believed to have duplicate accounts. These PIs are instructed to log into eRA Commons and indicate their preferred Commons account. Once they indicate their preference, Data Quality will collapse their multiple accounts into the preferred account.
How does a PI indicate a preferred eRA Commons account?
eRA Commons has a new Account Verification screen for PIs to indicate their preference. Here are the instructions and screenshot. Those PIs who have current committee or grant involvement on a particular account are required to select that Commons account as preferred.
The data associated with the deactivated eRA Commons account will be merged with the PI’s preferred account. This data includes grant and application data, review history, trainee positions, etc.
Can a PI make changes after choosing the preferred Commons account and submitting the request?
The PI will need to contact the eRA Service Desk to make any changes after submitting their preferred account choice.
What does the Im not sure option in the drop-down menu under Account Ownership mean?
The PI should select the ‘I’m not sure’ option if he or she is unsure about their affiliation with the grants, or if some of the grants belong to the PI and some do not. The PI should explain the reason for choosing this option in the comments field of the Account Verification screen (Grant #1 is mine, but Grant #2 is not mine).
Data Quality will review these accounts manually and will not deactivate or collapse these accounts until they have enough information to decide.
How long does it take after the PI indicates a preferred eRA commons account for the multiple accounts to be merged? Will the PI be notified?
Data Quality will deactivate for a week any remaining account(s), after the PI indicates a preferred account and will merge the accounts by the end of the second week.
The PI will be notified via email when the PI’s account is deactivated and again when the PI’s multiple accounts are merged.
Once a PI has indicated a preferred account, will the PI still have access to the accounts that will be collapsed? Will any actions taken within those accounts in the interim be reflected in the merged account?
No. The accounts that are to be collapsed will be deactivated for a week. The PI can no longer take any action in eRA Commons at this stage via the accounts that will be collapsed until the collapse has occurred since the PI will not be able to log in to a deactivated account. The preferred account will still be available for transactions.
Will this effort also include merging administrative accounts (Signing Official, etc.)?
No, this effort is directed only at merging multiple scientific accounts for the same PI in eRA Commons into one. However, some accounts have a combination of scientific and administrative roles. Data Quality will split these roles, so the user will end up with 1 administrative and 1 scientific account. Data Quality will manually investigate and correct these accounts.
What is the impact on ongoing transactions in Commons (checking of scores, etc.) if the PIs accounts are pending a merger?
Those PIs who have current committee or grant involvement on a particular account are required to select that Commons account as preferred.
As a PI, I know I have more than 2 Commons accounts, but the Account Verification screen displays only 2 accounts.
This means that the account you do not see on the Account Verification screen is an administrative account (see Question 7) or that Data Quality was unable to identify additional duplicate accounts based on the available information. If you know you have more than one scientific account and cannot see all of them on the Account Verification screen, please contact the eRA Service Desk.
Why does the Human Subjects link not appear for my newly submitted grant application in eRA Commons?
The Human Subjects link will only appear after an application has been through peer review. If an application/award does not propose to use human subjects, the link will not be present.
When I click on the Human Subjects link in eRA Commons, why do I land in ASSIST?
HSS is leveraging ASSIST for its screens. Hence the HSS screens may look familiar to you.
Can a PI or SO delegate HSS tasks?
By default, only the PI or SO can carry out activities in HSS. However, if a user has been provided the Progress Report delegation by an SO or PI, they can edit both the Research Progress Performance Report (RPPR) and HSS data. However, they cannot route or submit to agency the RPPR.
Why cannot I edit Section 1 of the human subjects study record?
Section 1 of the study record can only be updated by NIH staff. Contact the NIH program official overseeing the grant for assistance with Section 1.
Why cannot I as a PI submit the study record with the enrollment data?
Only the SO can submit the application to NIH. The submission sends all updated study records associated with the application to NIH at one time. A future release will allow an SO to delegate the submit task to the PI.
How will an SO know that a study record is ready for submission?
The SO should log into the eRA Commons and click the Pending Human Subjects Action link on the Status page. The search screen in HSS is presented and allows SOs to search for post submission/human subjects studies that are ready for submission.
We are working on additional notification functionality for SOs to be implemented in early August.
What guidance do I follow for filling out the enrollment forms?
The HSS enrollment forms are essentially the same as the Human Subjects Clinical Trial (HSCT) form for a regular competing application. Therefore, please follow the instructions from the SF424 (R&R) application guide: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide/forms-e/general/g.500-phs-human-subjects-and-clinical-trials-information.htm#StudyRecord
How are NIH staff notified if a study record is changed?
Program officials and grant management specialists are notified automatically of study changes and can review those changes. Some changes may require prior approval (see NIH Grants Policy Statement Chapter 184.108.40.206).
I created an extra inclusion record in error. How do I delete it?
You can delete an inclusion enrollment report (IER) as long as it was not previously-submitted to NIH. Open the study record that contains the extra IER and click the ‘edit’ button under the Action column. Click the ‘edit’ button in the Action column of the IER that needs to be deleted, then click the ‘remove report’ button at the button of the screen, under the enrollment tables. Click ‘save and release lock’ to save the changes.
I. General Questions
II. eRA Commons Registration
III. Accounts Log In and Password
IV. Roles in eRA Commons
V. Creating Accounts; Delegating and Revoking Authority; Affiliating
VI. Personal Profile
VII. Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)
VIII. Federal Financial Report
IX. Grants Closeout
X. Just in Time
XI. No Cost Extension
XII. Reference Letters
XIII. Internet Assisted Review
XIV. View Review Outcome
XV. My NCBI
XVIII. Administrative Supplements (Type 3s)
XIX. Change of Institution/Relinquishing Statement (Type 7s)
XX. Extramural Trainee Reporting And Career Tracking (xTRACT)
XXI. ORCID iDs
XXII. PI Verification of Preferred eRA Commons Account
XXIII. Human Subjects System (HSS) FAQs (for PIs and SOs)