Fast Times at NSF

The National Science Foundation recently announced their transition of the “Notifications and Requests” function from FastLane to Research.gov. Starting April 27, 2015, recipients can create and submit three new types of budget-related requests on Research.gov: salaries of administrative or clerical staff, travel costs for dependents, and additional categories of participant support costs other than those described in 2 CFR § 200.75 (such as, incentives, gifts, souvenirs, t-shirts and/or memorabilia). All other existing notifications and requests will continue to reside in FastLane and will be migrated in the future. For more information, see the notifications and requests informational page.

 

This is just one piece of the NSF effort to “modernize FastLane.” It is NSF’s goal to eventually replace FastLane with Research.gov completely, but that is still years away.  For more information on the functionality of Research.gov and what you can expect to migrate, take some time with Research.gov’s FAQ page.  If you’re not sure if whether you should be using Research.gov or FastLane (or whether it should be you or your GCO), reach out and we’ll give you a hand!

You DO Need Permission to Make Your Own Decision

While it is your prerogative to choose your index when cost sharing is a necessity, you need verification from several sources that your chosen account will support your intention.  Whether your salary is over the cap or sharing is mandated by your announcement, your cost share form (available here, if you need it) needs to pass through a few hands during the preaward phase before it is valid. If you are in the School of Medicine, here are the approvals you need before it goes to SPA:

 

  1. Your department chair.  This is the signature that goes on the “Unit Head” line.  This ensures that your department is aware of the intent to cost share, should the funds get awarded, and is committed to your plan to do so.
  2. Fiscal Affairs. Though no line is present for the Fiscal Affairs signature, it has been made clear that they need to see and approve your cost share plan at both the pre- and post- stage.  This generally goes through the Grants & Contracts Officer in Fiscal Affairs (see their contacts page to make sure you are sending it to the right person).
  3. Vice Dean for Research.  One your cost share form has been returned to you from Fiscal Affairs, you’ll need to send it to the Vice Dean of Research through the Director of Research Administrative Services (that’s us!).  Once the intent to cost share has been recorded here, you’ll get it back with a signature (again, no line on the form for this but it IS necessary) and you can then upload into your eProp.

 

Please keep in mind that if/when your proposal is awarded, you will need approval from Fiscal Affairs a second time; they need to verify that the funds you intended to use for your cost share are still available.  We know this can be a confusing and lengthy process, so please feel free to contact us if you have any problems discerning where to go or projecting accurate figures for your form.  We’re always happy to help!

SciENcv: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The new NIH biosketch format will be in effect come May 25, but many PIs and administrators* are choosing to make the switch now to avoid crunch-time headaches.  We’ve mentioned SciENcv before, and don’t panic if new systems set your heart a-flutter: it’s not required.  We do, however, think you should consider the many benefits of using the SciENcv tool:

 

  1. Eliminates the need to repeatedly enter biosketch information.  The first time you enter your information into the system will likely be the most time you will have to have to spend with SciENcv. That said, did you know that you can automatically import your information from your eRACommons profile (or ORCID, if you have one) directly into SciENcv?  It’s true!  And it is editable! This will likely save a lot of time, and may even be faster than cutting and pasting text from your old .doc versions of your biosketch into a new template (see below).
  2. Reduces the administrative burden associated with federal grant submission and reporting requirements. Your biosketch information will always be right where you left it: in the cloud, in your MyNCBI account.  Because SciENcv generates and maintains multiple biosketches from your information (including those for NSF and other federal science agencies), you’ll be able to simply tweak any sections you have saved to align more closely with new applications, click a button, and voila! Your biosketch is generated in proper format, tailored to your specifications.  You can even keep multiple profile versions to correspond with different projects or research interests, and generate different biosketches from each one at a later time.  Additionally, SciENcv allows you to pull your publications directly from your MyNCBI.  Your pubs list is generated for you, and you can decide which ones you want to appear in your list.
  3. Provides access to a researcher-claimed data repository with information on expertise, employment, education, and professional accomplishments. Collaborations, anyone?  You can choose whether or which profiles/biosketches are made public to the research community. You will also be provided a unique link to use to direct people to your profile, for your use.
  4. Allows researchers to describe their scientific contributions in their own language. The new biosketch format includes a description of up to five of your most significant contributions to science; in other words, this is where you get to show off a little.  You don’t have to leave your impact open to reviewer interpretation anymore; tell ’em what you’ve done!  You also get to use publications in this section to support your affirmations of grandeur; just keep each description to half of a page.

 

Interested in the power of SciENcv but not sure where to start?  Read all about it, check out the YouTube tutorial provided by NIH, or sign yourself up for a free account (either through your eRACommons account or at the SciENcv portal page) and test it out.  For a little more one-on-one assistance, Dr. Katherine Akers in the Shiffman Medical Library is happy to come to your department for a presentation or individual assistance.  Already started and hit a snag?  RAS is always happy to help get you moving again!  If you would prefer not to use SciENcv, you can access an editable Word copy of the May25-required biosketch format, provided by the NIH HERE.

 

*Note: PIs can designate administrators, research assistants, etc. to have access to their biosketches (and publications) through SciENcv, if said PI does not normally assume responsibility for currency his/herself.

Guidance on Guidance for the Guidance

Greetings, research community!  As a follow-up to our Wednesday post, we’d like to draw your attention to a new resource on our homepage: Uniform Guidance Changes for 2015.  In this document, we’ve highlighted the major changes and how they might affect your proposals going forward.  Let us know if you have questions!

The Very Model of a Modern Major General Conditions Guideline

The NIH announced on February 5, 2015 their guide to NIH-specific implementation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)’s Uniform Guidelines (UG), in place since December 26, 2014.  The NIH Interim Grant General Conditions apply to all new and supplemental funding provided by Notices of Award issued on or after December 26, 2014; they contain no surprises if you’ve been keeping up with the road to implementation!  If you need a refresher on how we got here, take a look at some of our older posts, like Super Circular, Super Fun, which highlights some of the new provisions in the UG; and Ch-Ch-Changes, which also has a link to the NIH Administration Timeline.

 

To comb over the NIH Interim Guidelines yourself, the full document can be accessed here.  These will be in effect until an updated NIH Grants Policy Statement is published (which won’t be until after the HHS comment period closes).  NIH has provided a frequently asked questions page regarding the interim guidelines, on which you may be able to find an answer to any general questions you may have.  If your question is more specific than an FAQ page can handle, give us a try!  We’re always happy to help with interpretation and applicability!

 

Update: 03/05/15

Looking for some information on what, exactly, has changed? Check out our handy Uniform Guidance Changes: 2015 page!