Avoiding Common Errors when submitting to NIH

As we approach another filing deadline, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of the most common errors received by folks submitting applications to NIH:

1.            Does the DUNS number on the SF424 (R&R) cover form match the DUNS number used for Grants.gov and the Commons registration?

2.            Did you provide the correct Type of Submission (box #1), Federal Identifier (box #4) and Type of Application (box #8) information on the SF424 (R&R) cover form?

Keep mind that these three field all work together, so it’s important to follow the NIH application guide instructions carefully.)

3.            Did you include the eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the R&R Sr/Key Person Profile form for all PD/PIs?

This information is a requirement and is critical to the ability to post errors, warnings and the assembled application image in eRA Commons.  The Credential field is not required on the federal-wide form since not all agencies that use the form need it. NIH uses the Health and Human Services logo within the application guide to flag agency-specific instructions and clarifications for fields on federal-wide forms. As a consequence, pay special attention to the HHS “birdie” or you may miss key NIH requirements.

4.            If submitting a Multple-PD/PI application, did you give all PIs the PD/PI role on the Sr/Key Person Profile form?

There are several roles on the form drop-down that are similar – PD/PI, Co-PD/PI and Co-Investigator. Only the PD/PI role is recognized by NIH as the correct designation for all PIs on a Multiple-PD/PI application. Using the correct designation allows the system to flag the application as Multiple-PD/PI and facilitates appropriate handling of the application as it flows through review and other post-submission activities. Co-PD/PI or Co-Investigator roles hold no special meaning within NIH and should never be used with a multiple-PD/PI application. They are, however, valid roles on the form and you can use them for a single-PD/PI application. You may receive a Warning indicating the role is not appropriate for Multiple-PD/PI applications, but if Multiple-PD/PI was not your intent, then no action is necessary – simply ignore the Warning.

5.            Did you include Organization name for all Sr/Key Persons listed on the R&R Sr/Key Person Profile form?

The Organization name for each Sr/Key is one element used to determine potential conflicts for review. For this reason, NIH requires applicants to provide Organization information for ALL Sr/Key entries. This field is not marked required on the federal-wide forms. The Organization for the Contact PD/PI is pulled from the SF424 (R&R) cover, but you’re on your own for the other Sr/Key entries and will want to double-check to ensure Organization is included.

6.            Did you follow all special instructions noted in Section IV (Application and Submission Information) of the announcement?

The eRA validations will catch many, but not all, submission requirements. Program Announcement specific requirements are not typically system-enforced. Applications that do not comply with the instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.