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NIH eSubmission Items of Interest – September 1, 2015

Title: dogs in poolWhere did the summer go?! I no longer have small children in my house (except when my grandson visits). Yet, I can certainly tell it’s back to school time. Temperatures are dropping. Days are getting shorter. Stores are stripped clean of, well, just about everything except Christmas decorations. And, of course, NIH is in full swing planning for grant administration changes for next year.

PHS Form Use Beyond Expiration Date

Title: Dog and grant application forms
Have you ever noticed that potato rolls still taste fresh well after the date on the package? Well, perhaps we shouldn’t dwell on that thought. The point I actually want to make is that lots of things are still good after the date we stamp on them – even grant application forms. Some of you may have noticed our agency-specific (PHS) forms expired yesterday.
At least every three years, we are required to reassess our data collection needs, make any needed adjustments, and submit a data collection clearance request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We are currently working through that process. Once we have OMB approval, we’ll issue notices in the NIH Guide for Grants & Contracts to tell you more about our pending changes and our implementation plans. In the meantime, continue to use the  current forms - despite the August 31, 2015 expiration date (NOT-OD-15-146). We’ll get fresh forms out to you as soon as we can (yes, “FORMS-D” is in our future). For now, the PHS forms are fresh enough.


It’s Time to Simplify Our Instructions

Title: confused bassetRecently I was explaining to a new team member our hierarchy of instructions. The conversation went something like this…
We have three application guides (general, small business and individual fellowship) and a separate supplemental instruction document that applies to all three. The general application guide has basic instructions for research grants with special sections for specific programs (training, career development, and multi-project) that augment the basic instructions. Our funding opportunity announcements have additional opportunity-specific instructions that supersede the application guides. We issue notices in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts when we change policies or need to provide corrections to instructions. The guide notices supersede and/or clarify the funding opportunity announcement instructions.
…The expression on her face at the end of my explanation is hard to describe, but my basset hound looks at me the same way when I tell her not to bark at the cats. It’s an “are you serious right now?” look.
Our current application guide practices have worked for many years – they are functional, but certainly not optimal. If you’d like to help us improve our approach to instructions, we’d love to hear from you. Simply respond to our Request for Information: Strategies for Simplifying NIH’s Grant Application Instructions by September 25, 2015.

Same Great Service, Slightly Different Name

Title: dog help deskThe eRA Commons Help Desk has a new name – eRA Service Desk (NOT-OD-15-147).  The new name reflects the expansion of the team’s role to support additional eRA services likeASSIST.
The contact information, hours of operation, and friendly service remain the same. If you’d like to provide feedback on service you received, you can always email the support management team at Of course, we want to hear when you are unhappy so we have an opportunity to make things right. We also love to hear the happy stuff –that stuff makes our day!


Browsing eRA Systems

Title: dog at computerDid you know that eRA recommends Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers for use with eRA systems like eRA Commons, Internet Assisted Review and ASSIST? Many other popular browsers work just fine, but those are the two browsers the eRA team uses to develop and test our systems. If you use a different browser and your screen doesn’t look quite right, try Internet Explorer or Firefox and see if the issue is browser related. 

Also, be sure to upgrade your browser periodically. Internet Explorer version 6.0 users may run into issues following some maintenance over the weekend. Yes, there is already an Internet Explorer 11 and version 6 was released 14 years ago, but some of you (and you know who you are) don’t seem to believe in frequent updates. No judgement here, but if you were in front of me I’d be giving you my best “basset hound are you serious face” right now.

Some Other Stuff

Title: dogs*You may be interested in this SciENcv blog post.
* We’ve consolidated our listservs (NOT-OD-15-132). OK, so if you got this email, you are likely already subscribed, but you can still share the notice with your coworkers. And, if you just joined our listserv – welcome.
* There is still time to register for the 2015 NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration. Space in the pre-seminar workshops (including the half-day workshop on Grant Application Preparation & Submission given by yours truly and my good friend, Jessie) is nearly gone – so, act fast.
* August 26th was National Dog Day. I’m a bit late, but couldn’t resist the dog theme to mark the end of the dog days of summer. These are my two hound dogs, Dixie & Daisy. They bring such joy to my life. I hope you and your families (including the 4-legged members) had a great summer!
This page last updated on September 2, 2015
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