Electronic Proposal Submission

Many funding agencies, federal and private, accept and even require you to submit applications through their online submission system. The most common systems are listed below.

  • NSF FastLane — The National Science Foundation has designed an online system to support all functions of the proposal process--proposal submission, review, award, and reporting, this system is known as FastLane.  Fastlane will be transiting to Research.gov

  • Grants.gov — Grants.gov is the official grant announcement and proposal submission system for the federal government.

  • NASA NSPIRES - NASA utilizes this online system to announce NASA funding opportunities. In some instances, pre-proposals and/or full proposals are accepted via NSPIRES.

  • NIH ERA Commons — ERA Commons is an investigator registration system that works in conjunction with Grants.gov to insure receipt of applications by the National Institutes of Health. All investigators must be registered in the Commons prior to submission of proposals to NIH and other Public Health Service agencies.

  • About ERA Commons — RA systems provide applicants, grantees, and federal staff the tools necessary for electronic processing of grants.

  • Proposal Central — Proposal Central supports a variety of non-profit funding agencies in terms of proposal submission. Agencies that utilize this system include the American Cancer Society, the Arthritis Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

SeRA

The Stanford Electronic Research Administration System (SeRA) is an enterprise-wide system that supports research administration. SeRA modules support the various stages of the sponsored project lifecycle and are the institutional system of record for sponsored projects.

The submission of all proposals for external sponsorship must be routed to the designed Stanford central office for endorsement and submission [see RPH 14.1].  In the School of Medicine, the Research Management Group endorses and submits proposals.  For all other schools, proposals will be endorsed and submitted by the Office of Sponsored Research.  Proposals are routed to the appropriate central office via the SeRA system using the Proposal Development Routing Form (PDRF).  The PDRF, a required form, allows for the attachment of the completed proposal and is routes the proposal for institutional review in the SeRA system.

PDRF Resources

Find information on  PTA Manager Resources (PTA Setup)

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eSubmit

eSubmit Functions

eSubmit is Stanford's drop box for electronic research proposals and provides storage, routing, and tracking features. Potential users include faculty, departmental staff, and central office staff who participate in the creation, approval, and submission of these electronic proposals.

eSubmit is used to

  • Share files between multiple people for editing and reviewing

  • Allow multiple people access Grants.gov application packages for editing and reviewing

  • Create consistent naming and version control of files

  • Notifying and routing the completed grant application package to an Institutional Official for review and submission to Grants.gov

eSubmit Features and Attributes

eSubmit allows multiple users to share and access an application package for editing. Each time someone uploads or downloads a version of the proposal during development, a date and time stamp are recorded in the eSubmit record, which will help mitigate overwriting of files. Each person who logs in (using their SUNet ID and Password) will see all proposals for which they have authority (files they have uploaded as well as other people's files they have been given access to).

First-time users are asked to complete a six-minute online tutorial before using the application. Written instructions for using eSubmit are available as well.

eSubmit Additional Information and Best Practices

  • eSubmit automatic Naming Convention: "PI Name_Sponsor_FOA_Version" 

Downloading files from eSubmit for editing

Problem

The Internet browser will cache the file in a temp folder and it will be difficult to locate.

Solution

Navigate to a known location on your computer (such as your desktop or a proposal development folder).

"Checked Out" Grants.gov application files

Problem

If someone is absent from the office and has a file checked out, no one else can edit or route it.

Tip

At the end of each day, upload all checked out Grants.gov application files. (To enable others to access them.)

eSubmit Login Problems and Solutions

  1. Incorrect SUNet ID:  Everyone has one SUNet ID.  Some people set up aliases and they won't work for the eSubmit login. If you cannot remember your correct SUNet ID, please check your Stanford You record.

  2. Multiple Employee IDs: Many faculty and staff have more than one Employee ID in the system. If you receive this message when logging into eSubmit: "Your SUNet ID and password are valid, but your user information is not available," please do the following:

  • Check your Stanford ID Card for your current Employee ID number

  • Submit a HelpSU ticket

  • Request Type: E-Submit

  • Request Category: Administrative Applications

  • In the Request Description section, please enter the following information: Prevented from logging into eSubmit because of duplicate Empl ID, current ID is XXXXXX [enter number].

  • We'll include this information to a login script that will allow you to get into eSubmit

  • You receive a message that your SUNet ID and Password are invalid: This can usually be resolved by resetting your password in Stanford You.  You can "update" your password to the same value as it is currently. Once this is done, you should be able to log in.

 

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Grants.gov

Grants.gov is where to find and apply for most Federal grants. Grants.gov replaces paper applications with electronic portable document format (.pdf) forms and requires electronic submission of all applications.

Getting Started

View the Grants.gov overview

View a narrated tutorial on how to download and complete a grant application using Grants.gov.

  • There is no logon for Grants.gov, and only Stanford Institutional Officials (IO) within the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) and the Research Management Group (RMG) are allowed to submit applications through Grants.gov.

  • Do not create an account with Grants.gov. The Institution (Stanford) submits on your behalf and is the only account holder.

  • Do not re-register Stanford in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR); Stanford has already been registered.

  • Use the specific application package and instructions linked to each Funding Opportunity Announcement (“FOA”). Note that an FOA might have multiple sets of instructions and forms.

  • If you need to share the file, the best practice is to either use a flash drive, eSubmit, department server, or attach to the PDRF in SeRA.

  • Each solicitation must have a Funding Opportunity Number (FON) - check your agency website for general numbers for investigator-initiated or "unsolicited" or "investigator-initiated" proposals.

  • Review the FOA (solicitation), instructions, and the application package. Note that many large sponsors have "general Grants.gov" instructions, and some sponsors create special instructions for each application. Be familiar with the instructions of the sponsors to whom you submit so your application will be completed properly. Crucial information can be buried in the FOA or instructions!

  • Never copy or reuse an old package on resubmissions, even if all the information is the same! The proposal package file can only be submitted once! (Note: any PDF attachments that have not changed may be reused for other applications).

Download Applications & Instructions

After you click the Apply for Grant Electronically button within the FOA, you will be prompted by an “Important Note to All Applicants”; note Stanford registration in the System for Award Management (SAM)  is active and managed on an Institutional level.. To download the application package and instructions, click the Proceed to Grants.gov to Download Application button under the notice.

This will open the Download Application Package page. After confirming you have selected the correct opportunity, click on the Download link:

  1. Enter email addresses into the field provided. This is used to notify you of any changes to the package that might require you to download a new application package, not to add your email to any SPAM or unwanted distribution lists. Multiple addresses can be added, should be added for every application as the notifications are application-specific.

  2. Download BOTH the application instructions and the application package

Please note

  • When you download the application package, save the file onto your computer. 

  • The “package” is one electronic file – it cannot be broken up or merged.

  • Only one person can work on the application package at a time; changes cannot be merged.

  • Additionally – do not discount information contained within the program announcement, assome sponsors use generic instructions for all of their applications. The program announcements may have different instructions for each individual FOA which will override any general instructions.

  • Each solicitation will have a unique Funding Opportunity Number (FON) - check your agency website for general numbers for investigator-initiated or "unsolicited" proposals.Resubmissions: Always download a new application package as they can only be submitted once. Never reuse grant application packages on resubmissions, even if you believe all the information is the same. You can reuse PDF attachments that have not changed if they are still relevant to your proposal.

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Grants.Gov SF424

Every grant application will contain some version of the standardized SF424 form.  This form should be completed first, as information entered here feeds into some of theother form pages within the application package. The SF424 provides specific information about the application (type, title, etc.), the Institution (Stanford), the PI, and the IO..

The following sample information is not a substitute for reviewing the application instructions. Always review both the instructions and the solicitation for the correct information.


Completing the SF424 R&R

General Stanford information is entered on the SF424 form:

  • Applicant Organization Name: Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

  • Stanford’s DUNS number: Stanford has an assigned Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number:  009214214

  • Tax ID Number:: 941156365 for all applications except those for DHHS agencies (NIH, CDC, FDA, etc. which use 1941156365A1)

  • Additionally, you can find Stanford Institutional Information on the "Institutional Facts" page.

  • Additionally, you can find Stanford Institutional Information on the "Institutional Facts" page.

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Grants.Gov - Route

Notify your IO when your application is ready for institutional review.

Notify your IO when your application is ready for institutional review.

  • By 9:00 am at least 5 business days before the deadline, the final completed application must be routed to your IO via eSubmit (in the School of Medicine) or as an attachment to the PDRF (in all other schools).

  • Be sure to route your PDRF and ensure any other required forms have been completed.

  • Your IO will review the application, notify you if errors are found, and submit the application to Grants.gov once errors are corrected.

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Grants.Gov - Receipt

Grants.gov will send three email notifications to the IO to indicate application status:

  • "Received" indicates that Grants.gov has received the application, but the application is awaiting validation (sent to IO).

  • "Validated" indicates that Grants.gov has validated the application and it is available for the agency to retrieve,

  • "Rejected with Errors" indicates that Grants.gov was unable to process your application because of error(s) and cannot accept the application until you correct the errors and successfully resubmit the application. You will receive email notification with information on how to address the error(s).  

Once your application is successfully validated, Grants.gov notifies the sponsor and once the sponsor retrieves the package, Grants.gov sends the "Received by Agency" email.

Once the application is retrieved by the sponsor, all further communication is with the sponsor.

Each granting agency has a unique process for notifying you when your application has errors or is accepted.

  • Some granting agencies send email notifications to the IOand possibly the PI to verify receipt and report errors that must be corrected.
  • Keep in close contact with your IO to monitor your application.
  • Be proactive! Agencies will accept corrected applications up until the formal deadline listed in the FOA. If you wait too long to check on your application, you might miss your opportunity to submit a corrected application. 
  •  Best Practice: If you have not heard from the funding agency within three days of submitting your application, contact your IO to check the status. 
  •  If your application is an NSF application submitted via  FastLane,  the system has a built in validation process that detect most errors prior to submission.
  •  If your application is an NIH application, the PI will receive a notice from NIH; go to eRA Commons to view and/or print your application. Warnings should be reviewed, but will likely not prevent your proposal from being assigned for review; errors must be corrected.

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