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					NIH Support Contact Information
If you encounter problems or have any questions while using the Commons, NIH provides multiple options for resolving your questions: NIH Commons User Support Branch Help Desk (866) 504-9552 (Toll Free) (301) 402-7469 (Voice) (301) 451-5675 (Fax) (301) 451-5939 (TTY) NIH Commons Support Page NIH Commons User Guide NIH Commons Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ)



Principal Investigators

Revised 4/26/04

What is the Commons?
The Commons is a Web interface where NIH and the grantee community are able conduct their research administration business electronically. In other words, the Commons currently allows PI’s and Research Administrators to expedite the post-award management of NIH grants. Eventually, the Commons will enable PI’s and Administrators to perform the entire spectrum of proposal and award activities.

Using the NIH eRA Commons Demo
Use the training/demo facility to familiarize yourself with the NIH eRA Commons and practice creating sample institutions, accounts, and grant applications. The demo lets you run the major functions of the system in a training/demonstration mode that functions exactly like the production version, with the major exception that only sample data is altered.

What can you do with the Commons?
Currently, the Commons enables users to conduct the following business:  Provides the PI with “real-time” status information, including items such as review committee personnel and dates, score and percentile, and anticipated funding dates.  Provides the PI with current copies of NGA’s, pre-populated face pages for Progress Reports, and other relevant documents.  Allows the PI to keep their Personal Profile current.  Allows the PI to delegate certain privileges to an assistant that can perform the action on the PI’s behalf, such as updating the personal profile.  Enables central administration to perform some reporting and post-award management functions over the Commons for currently registered PI’s, such as FSR submission, No-Cost Extension notices, Just-In-Time submission. Eventually, the Commons will enable users to conduct all or most sponsored research administration, such as:  Proposal submission  SNAP submission  Various requests and notices.

 Use the form on the Create a New Demo Account page to create a
sample institution and user accounts.

 The creation of a Signing Official (SO) account is required and grant
applications are assigned to the created institution.

 If you create a Principal Investigator (PI) account, a number of the
created grant applications are assigned to the created PI account. Once the institution and initial accounts are assigned, use the training/demo mode to perform all functions on the sample data connected to these accounts (such as creating new accounts, submitting an eSNAP or FSR, reviewing application status, and affiliating other demo users to your demo institution).

What do you need?
In order to access the NIH Commons, you need the following items:  Internet Browser: Internet Explorer 5.01 (or later) or Netscape Navigator 4.7  Valid Email Address  User Name & Password: These need to be set up in advance by your department Account Administrator. If you have any browser configuration problems when attempting to access the Commons, contact your department’s IT Support or help desk.

Understanding Other Relevant Documents
This table lists various documents that are hyperlinked in the Summary Links section of the Proposal Search Results page and in the Other Relevant Documents section of the Status Information page (see Viewing Grant Status Information and Other Related Documentation for details). The Types of Documents Available on the Status Information Page Document Description Hyperlink
All users can access this hyperlink. It is displayed whenever the application status is "Awarded" and an abstract exists. Application If the grant application has been scanned PIs and SOs can access this into the system, this hyperlink opens the hyperlink. It is displayed scanned application submitted for the grant. whenever the scanned If an eSNAP has been submitted, the application or eSNAP exists. hyperlink opens a PDF version of the electronic Streamlined Non-competing Award Process (eSNAP) Type 5 (noncompetitive) progress report. Fellowship When the proposal is a non-competing All users can access this Proposal progress report, this hyperlink opens a PDF hyperlink. It is displayed Face Page version of the first page of the fellowship whenever the application proposal with due date information. status is "Pending," the application is a Type 5 or Type 8, and the activity code is "F." Financial If an FSR exists, this hyperlink opens the PIs and SOs can access this Status Report PDF version of the FSR submitted for the hyperlink. It is displayed (FSR) grant. If more than one FSR exists, the most whenever an FSR exists. recent revision is displayed. Notice of If an award has been made, this hyperlink All users can access this Grant Award opens the document that notifies the hyperlink. It is displayed (NGA) grantee that an award has been made and whenever the application or that funds may be requested from the fellowship has a status of Department of Health and Human Services "Awarded." (DHHS) payment system. Progress This hyperlink opens the PDF version of the All users can access this Report Face first page of the grant progress report. hyperlink. It is displayed Page whenever the application status is "Pending," the application is a Type 5 or Type 8, and the activity code is not "F." Summary This hyperlink opens the PDF version of the PIs are able to access this Statement summary statement, which provides a hyperlink. It is displayed combination of the reviewers’ written whenever a summary comments and the SRA’s summary of the statement exists and has members’ discussion during the study been released. section meeting. It includes the recommendations of the study section, a recommended budget, and administrative notes of special considerations.


This hyperlink opens the grant abstract, which provides a brief description of the proposal, covering every aspect of the project except for budget.

Getting Started

User Name & Password
Individuals cannot register themselves in the Commons. Instead, they need to contact the department Account Administrator and request a user account. When an account is created, a user name and temporary password are assigned:  The user name must be a minimum of 6 characters and must not already be in use.  The password must be at least eight characters and must contain a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters. It must not contain the username and the first and last characters cannot be numbers. Finally, it cannot be reused within one year.

Viewing Proposal and Grant Status
Only PI, SO, and AO users can access this function. However, this feature may eventaully be available to the department administrator role. You can view a summary list of the status for all current grants and proposals. 1. Select Status to access the Status Result page. A list of all grant and proposal information is presented in table format.

Logging In
1. Go to website:

The following information if included on the summary page.  A hyperlinked grant number is provided next to each proposal.  Administrative information for the grant or proposal is identified, such as assignment number, project title, etc.  A Summary Links column may display hyperlinks to various related documents, depending on the status of the grant and your user role. See Understanding Other Relevant Documents for information about what can be viewed using these hyperlinks. 2. Type in your username and password. Press Enter or click Login. Note: If this is the first time you are logging in, the Change Password page will open. 2. To view grant or proposal status information, select the hyperlink for the desired grant/assignment number to open the Status Information page. This page contains different sections of information:  General Grant Information. Lists various administrative information such as institution, dates, etc.  Other Relevant Documents. Provides hyperlinks to related documentation for the grant.  Status History. Indicates the primary institute or center assignment and provides a history of status messages with their effective dates.  Application Information. Provides Study Section and Advisory Council information. This section also provides a hyperlink to view roster member details.  Contacts. Lists the name and contact information for the Scientific Review Administrator (SRA) and the Program Official (PO).  Awards. Lists the history and amounts of awards made on the project.

a. b.

Enter your temporary password, and then enter and retype a new password. Click Submit to update the new password information.

To view related documentation (when available), click the desired hyperlink in the Other Relevant Documents section of the page. See Understanding Other Relevant Documents to see a list of the various documents that are available for viewing.


Who Can See What?
NIH has tried to simplify the Commons for the PI, so that it as easy to use as possible. As it stands there are some items of information that only the PI can see, regardless of any authority they delegate to other administrators. The NIH Commons Staff is aware of the need for a role that allows the department administrator to do almost everything for the PI, and has indicated they might make a new role to fit that need. In the meantime, the following roles can see different levels of information: AA. The AA can view the most basic level of status information for a PI by following the instructions in Viewing NIH Support Information. This information includes the assignment number, project title, and basic status label of the proposal. ASST. Currently, the Assistant cannot see any status information on behalf of the PI. PI. The PI can see both summary information of all current grants and proposals (see Viewing Support Status Summary), as well as status information for a specific proposal or grant (see Viewing Grant and Proposal Status). This information includes the score and percentile award to the proposal and the meeting dates and times of the review committee or council meetings.

The system returns you to the Home page with your login information displayed in the upper right corner of the page.

Logging Out
Logging out of the NIH eRA Commons ends your current session. The top of each page contains a Logout hyperlink located directly beneath your login information.



Navigating in the NIH Commons
The menus in the Commons are easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. The first menu appears in light as soon as you log in to the Commons. You can select any of the menu options listed in this row.

If there are submenus that follows the first submenu will appear in a medium blue bar immediately underneath the first menu.

Support Status
The second submenu will appear as a dark blue bar underneath the first submenu.

If you select a menu option and do not see anything different on the screen, look first to see if there is a submenu displayed before assuming that the system is not working.



To revoke personal profile edit authority: a. From the list of Current Institution Users, select the desired user. Multiple users can be selected by pressing and holding the Ctrl key and clicking all the desired names.

b. c.

Click Revoke. The Revoke PPF Edit Confirmation page opens. Click Save to confirm the removal. A confirmation message is displayed and the selected names are removed from the Current PPF Edit Delegates column.

Emails are sent to both the individuals and your registered email address to confirm assigning or revoking them PPF Edit authority.

User Accounts


Available Roles for Accounts
Account Administrators (AA) are designated by SOs to facilitate the administration of the NIH eRA Commons accounts for their institution. The AA can create, delete, and modify accounts as necessary. Administrative Officials (AO) review grant applications before the final application is submitted to the NIH by the SO. Depending on the institution workflow process, it is possible for the SO and AO to be the same person (in this case the institution only needs an SO account). An AO also can create additional AO and PI accounts. Assistants (ASST) are basic NIH eRA Commons user who can be assigned as a PI delegate for eSNAP/ X-Train. Users with this role initially have no access other than updating their own personal profile but can be delegated PI authority to selected accounts to aid in administrative tasks. Financial Status Report (FSR) indicates an FSR user. Internet-Assisted Review (IAR) indicates an IAR user. Principal Investigators (PI) are designated by the institution to direct the project or activity being supported by the grant. The PI is responsible and accountable for the proper conduct of the project or activity. The role of the PI within the NIH eRA Commons is to complete the electronic grant process. Signing Officials (SO) for the institution have the authority to perform legally binding grant administration actions. This includes serving as an authority responsible for submission of grant applications to the NIH. The individual fulfilling this role can have any number of titles in the institution. The SO can create and modify accounts, and modify institution profile information.

Delegating/Revoking Personal Profile Edit Authority
You can delegate to and revoke authority from other NIH eRA Commons users to update your personal profile information. 1. Select Administration | Accounts | Delegate PPF Edit to open the Delegate PPF Edit Access page.


To delegate personal profile edit authority: a. From the list of Current Institution Users, select the desired user. Multiple users can be selected by pressing and holding the Ctrl key and clicking all the desired names. b. Click Assign. The Delegate PPF Edit Confirmation page opens.

Roles for Your Account
The two most common roles assigned to faculty members are the Prinicipal Investigator (PI) and Internet-Assisted Review (IAR) roles.


Click Save to confirm the delegation. A confirmation message is displayed and the selected names are listed in the Current PPF Edit Delegates column.



Editing Personal Profile Information
The Personal Information page provides fields for editing identifying information. Having current information loaded into the profile will reduce the amount of information that will be needed in future proposals and progress reports.
Note: The System Notifications field will be used with a future release of the NIH eRA Commons for the receipt of relevant system messages. This field is not currently active.


Select Personal Profile from the main menu bar. A submenu bar will appear that allows you to select Personal Information, Race/Ethnicity, Employments, Reviewer Address, Residential Address, Degreees, or Publications.


You can view and/or edit the information as needed by selecting the appropriate submenu option. See the NIH Commons User Guide for detailed editing instructions for specific areas of personal profile information.

Personal Profiles

3. 4.

Click Submit to enter the information. A confirmation message is displayed. As required, select additional personal profile options to continue viewing or editing the information.


Why is Personal Profile Information Important?
It is important to keep the personal profile information current for the PI’s account for the following reasons:

Personal Profile Information
Users with NIH eRA Commons accounts can view and update their personal profile (PPF) information. Users can also delegate the authority to update personal profile information to other users. The personal profile information is divided into several sections:

 The personal profile provides the same information to NIH as a biographical
sketch submitted with a proposal.

 A current profile will eventually eliminate the need to submit a biographical
sketch with other documents. As submission capabilties are brought on-line in the Commons, the profile for a PI would be available to NIH personnel. You would not need to track down a current biographical sketch for any PI involved in a project that had a current profile.

 Personal Information. Includes name, residential contact information, date
of birth, Social Security number, citizenship, and disabilities.

 Race/Ethnicity. Lists five race categories and an option to select Hispanic or
non-Hispanic ethnicity. Options are also provided to intentionally withhold race and ethnicity information.

 Having current information in the profile will enable NIH personnel to find the
appropriate contact information for the PI.

 Employment. Lists employment history.  Reviewer Address. Lists work contact information. The reviewer address is
used only when the user is a reviewer.

 Residential Address. Lists residential contact information.  Degrees. Lists awarded and expected academic degrees.  Publications. Lists peer-reviewed publications directly relevant to the
proposed project, with full citation text and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) accession number.
Note: There are three sections that ask for address information. There are situations where three different addresses may be required:  The employment address is used by the grants management community to associate the user with grant applications.  The reviewer address is used only when the user is a reviewer.  The residential address is the home address of the user.