Understanding eRA Commons Accounts*

Institutions and individuals working in a variety of roles on a grant application or award must have eRA Commons accounts in order to business with NIH. eRA Commons accounts fall into three basic categories: administrative, scientific, and other. Information on this page explains how these accounts are created, affiliated with an institution, and managed. 

Individual accounts are initially created for users, typically by personnel from the institution’s office of sponsored research, or equivalent, with the following eRA Commons roles:

  • signing official (SO)
  • account administrator (AA)
  • administrative official (AO)
  • business official (BO)

Individuals needing scientific roles (Program Directors, Principal Investigators, Scientist, Post-Doc, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Project Personnel) should only have one eRA Commons role for the life of their research career. If a person already has an eRA Commons scientific account and is switching institutions, an SO or an AA at the new institution can affiliate that account with the new institution.

If an individual is listed on an application as senior/key personnel, they will need to have a valid eRA Commons username (Commons ID). This requirement is being targeted for all grant application submissions for due dates on or after January 25, 2022.  Applicants will receive a warning starting in late April 2021 if the ‘Credential, e.g. agency login field’ for all Senior/Key Personnel is blank on the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) form or does not contain a valid Commons username. This warning is targeted to become an error for applications coming in for due dates on or after January 25, 2022 and will need to be corrected before the application is submitted to the agency.

The account can be assigned any of the roles listed above as needed. Before creating a new account, it is important for the person creating the account to first search to see if the user already has an existing eRA Commons username.

If you find that you have more than one account please contact the eRA Service Desk at https://public.era.nih.gov/submithelp/ or 1-866-504-9552.

For detailed instructions and screenshots, see the Create or Edit a New Commons Account section of the online help.

If a user wants to contact their signing official, and they have access to their eRA Commons account, they can go to the Institution Profile link on the navigation bar, click the View button for Signing Officials and TTO Administrators to see a list of users and their contact information who have the signing official role. If you have an eRA Commons account, but are unable to access it, please refer to our Having Trouble Logging in to eRA Commons? PDF.

If a user is still in unable to determine who to contact at their institution for assistance with their account, the can contact the eRA Service Desk. The service desk can provide the name and phone number of the institution's primary contact person, as provided on the Institution Profile.

Institutions/Research Organizations

How do they get an account?
Institutions and organizations register with eRA Commons, and at the time of registration, they assign a signing official (SO) and an account administrator (AA).
These people can create additional accounts after the registration process is complete.
Where can information be found?

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PI)

Where can an SO find information to create or affiliate a PI account?

If a PD/PI has never had an eRA Commons account, a signing official (SO) or an account administrator (AA) at their institution can create an account for them. If a PD/PI already has an eRA Commons account and is switching institutions, an SO or an AA at the new institution can affiliate that account with the new institution. Once an account has been created, or the PD/PI has moved to a new institution, they needs to complete or update their Personal Profile to make sure it is complete and accurate.

Where can information be found by the SO?


How do they get an account?

The supervising principal investigator (PI) can invite trainees to register in eRA Commons when initiating an xTrain appointment. If that is not convenient, a signing official (SO) or accounts administrator (AA) can create the account for the trainee on behalf of the PI.

Where can information be found?

Scientist, Post-Doc, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Project Personnel

How do they get an account?

These eRA Commons roles have no functional abilities within eRA Commons. They are required for reporting purposes in the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) in support of NIH's Biomedical Research Workforce initiative. Accounts for these users are created by a Signing Official (SO) or Accounts Administrator (AA).

Where can information be found?

Anyone entering data in ASSIST

How do they get an account?

Anyone with an eRA Commons account can initiate an application and enter data in ASSIST. Accounts are created by a signing official (SO) or accounts administrator (AA) in eRA Commons. Access to an application in ASSIST can be given (or revoked) to any eRA Commons user via the Manage Access feature. Only an SO can submit applications to the funding agency and there is only one eRA Commons role specific to ASSIST. That role is the ASSIST_ACCESS_MAINTAINER_ROLE, which provides the authority to manage access to applications in ASSIST on behalf of the organization. Only the SO has the authority to provide this role to a user.  

Where can information be found?



Questions or help with these instructions? 



Contact the eRA Service Desk at https://grants.nih.gov/support/index.html

*NIH typically awards grants to organizations, not individuals. In rare cases (e.g. Loan Repayment Program), an individual who is not affiliated with a research organization may need to register.  See Special Instructions for Unaffiliated/Independent Applicants and video on How Scholars Register in Commons.