TTUHSC Research

NIH eSubmission Items of Interest - September 18, 2014

Systematic Application Compliance Checking – What It Is and What It’s Not


Title: Cat on computer saying 'Why won't you validate me?'Automated enforcement of business rules by NIH eRA systems plays an important role in the application submission process – it helps you and it helps NIH. Understanding what that role covers can be the difference between your application moving forward to review and not.

System-enforced application validations are what they are – nothing more, nothing less.

They ARE

  • a strategy for providing users with the opportunity to identify and fix many showstopper errors prior to submission deadlines.
    a mechanism to reduce the number of applications NIH staff have to turn back for noncompliance.
  • an efficient method of ensuring large numbers of applications follow the same general rules and that the rules are enforced with consistency and fairness.
  • a way to ensure application information is formatted appropriately for NIH systems and can be assembled into a consolidated application image for review.


  • a way to reduce the number of applications received to bump up our success rates.
  • a substitute for following the instructions provided in FOAs, application guides and notices in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.
  • helpful, unless you submit early enough (as in days, not hours or minutes) to have time to fix identified errors.
  • a guarantee your application will be accepted for review and funding consideration if you pass them.

That last point may be the most important of all. Although it is true that an application cannot move forward to review without first passing systematic compliance checks, the opposite is not necessarily true. Passing the system-enforced checks does not guarantee your application will be accepted for review and funding consideration.

NIH tries to catch as many showstopper conditions with automated validations as possible. However, there are a number of manual checks done by NIH staff after submission that can also prevent an application from moving forward.

Some examples:

  • Staff can reject an application for not following font, margin and page size requirements outlined in the application guide. Automated validations will give an error for a 15-page Research Strategy on an R01 application, but not for a 12-page Research Strategy with 9 pt font.
  • Programmatic or funding opportunity announcement specific requirements, especially those listed in FOA Section IV - Application and Submission Information, are typically highly specialized and manually validated.
  • Staff can reject an application for issues with application attachment content, like including additional Research Strategy information in other attachments not restricted by page limits (we internally call this 'overstuffing' an application).

As you submit your application, keep in mind what system-enforced application validations do and don’t provide, then accept them for what they are and use good submission practices to avoid potential problems they can’t and won’t guard against.

10 Good Submission Practices Every Submitter Should Know

Title: 10 Top TipsPsst…got a minute? How about 7 minutes and 40 seconds? That’s how long it will take to watch the new ‘Tips for Electronic Grant Submission Success’ video. If you follow all 10 tips in the video then you shouldn’t have any problems with the submission process. How many of the tips are you already following? Is following Tip #3 really harder than dealing with the potential consequences?


Important Reminder for Early Stage Investigators

Title: Don't ForgetIn order for eRA systems to identify a Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) on a R01 or DP2 application as having Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status, the PD/PI’s degree completion and/or the end of residency date must be correctly entered in their eRA Commons profile at the time of submission. If you have already submitted an application and it doesn't reflect the correct ESI status, you can open a ticket with the eRA Commons Help Desk to request a correction of the ESI status for the submitted application.