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eRA Commons & eSubmission Items of Interest

eRA Commons Items of Interest - September 29, 2008

It is hard to believe it is the end of September already. It has been a while since Scarlett and I sent out Items of Interest and we thought it was about time we touched base again on our eSubmission progress.

Transition to Adobe Forms
Did you catch the long awaited notice in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts regarding our schedule to transition to’s new Adobe-based electronic application forms ( Anyone that will be submitting an electronic grant application to NIH in the coming months should track this one closely.

You may recall that, in order to reduce impact on the research community, NIH and many of the other Agencies using the SF424 (R&R) data set have waited to move forward with’s new Adobe forms until the changes from concurrent initiatives could be combined into a single transition ( We are poised to move full speed ahead as soon as the final set of form changes are delivered from and incorporated into our system.

In the meantime, our technical team is working with the existing forms to test them and confirm appropriate NIH business rule processing (i.e. validations) for different scenarios. We haven’t uncovered any earth-shattering problems and we’re gaining some experience that will go a long way towards executing the transition as seamlessly as possible.

We have found some differences in the look and size of the assembled application images resulting from submissions processed through the new 2007 system. In our testing, we have consistently found the completed applications and their resulting images to be much larger than their comparable PureEdge/2006 system counterparts – something you may want to keep an eye on and consider as you think about how you will share, store and upload your application files. The assembled application images in the Commons have the same familiar bookmarking and content – just a slightly different presentation. The Adobe forms appear in the application image just as they appear on the screen when you fill them out. Having the actual text box around field entries makes it easy to distinguish form text from applicant supplied information – a feature we expect our reviewers will appreciate. Unfortunately, the images do contain some of the navigation and attachment buttons used to prepare the forms, which can be confusing since the buttons aren’t actually functional. We’ve addressed this issue through communications to our Reviewers.

We are still a few weeks away from the receipt deadlines for the three Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) posted to gain production experience with the Adobe forms ( and we are anxiously awaiting our first submissions to these announcements. Some applicants that use system-to-system solutions, rather than’s forms, have already switched over to’s 2007 system (the same system used to process submissions from Adobe-form packages). We have processed the applications from the 2007 system without any problems and don’t expect any technical issues with the pilot FOAs. If you are submitting to the pilot FOAs, either using system-to-system or the Adobe forms, we’d love to hear about your experience.

Our communications team has started posting Adobe Transition information on the Electronic Submission Web site (, including:

Remember, owns, maintains, and supports the new application forms and they also have applicant resources worth exploring.

If you have experience working with Adobe forms through and have tips that you think might be useful for others just getting started or experiences that might be helpful for us to know about, please drop the communications team a note at We would love to share your advice.

Career Development (K) Program Moves to Electronic Application Submission
Work to transition the Career Development (all Ks except K12) grant program from paper to electronic applications has resumed. We are on target to require electronic application submission through beginning with the February 12, 2009 standard submission deadline. If you are planning on submitting to this program in 2009, you will want to start becoming familiar with the process and preparing now. Don’t forget to make sure your registrations are in place (organizations register with and eRA Commons; Principal Investigators register in eRA Commons only).

Upcoming Changes in eRA Commons
We will be releasing our next set of Commons changes on October 9. Specifics on new features, functions, fixes and the required service interruption to make them available to you will be sent in a separate email soon.

This will be an interesting few months for all of us. If there is a specific topic, question or concern you’d like Scarlett and I to cover in future Items of Interest – let us know (

Take care,

Sheri & Scarlett

Sheri Cummins & Scarlett Gibb
Customer Relationship Managers
eRA Commons and eSubmisssion
NIH Office of Extramural Research

This page last reviewed: September 29, 2008