Personal profiles: not just for online dating

Save yourself – and those with whom you collaborate – some valuable time: update your personal profile in eRA Commons.  When you’re submitting an application through ASSIST, your senior/key personnel fields can autopopulate from your profile, as your Commons ID is linked. Keeping your personal profile updated ensures that the contact and personal information sent with any application has already been sanctioned by you.  So where do you go to ensure you are up-to-date?  First, log in to eRA Commons, and find the “Personal Profile” link in the blue menu bar:

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This will take you to a menu that allows you to update all of your personal information.  Some of this populates to ASSIST, some of it does not:

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* note: “REVIEWER INFORMATION” is one place to find your Continuous Submission status 🙂 

 

Here are some key points to keep in mind as you consider your personal profile:

  • The “EMPLOYMENT” section populates your contact address, and NIH wants three years of history for PIs, and at least one entry for trainees and admins.  NIH states, “this information is vital to NIH and its SROs for determining any conflicts of interest with applications.”
  • Be sure your institutional affiliation is correct! Did you bring your Commons ID with you to Wayne State from a former institution?  You may have to change your affiliation. Go to the “Home” screen and check out your name and affiliation in the top right corner.  If the institution listed under your ID is static (no link), call SPA to have your affiliation switched. If your institution is incorrect and it is linked (blue underline), you may be able to change it yourself by clicking on it:

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As an aside, when filling out your ASSIST applications: two fields that will NOT autopopulate from your profile are “Division” and “Department.”  To be sure that you get proper credit for each:

 

Confused by what you need to include?  Never fear, RAS is here to help walk you through the steps!

Don’t fence me in!

The NIH modular budget format is attractive to PIs for a lovely, time-saving reason: the lack of a detailed budget justification.   Modular budgeting may be used for research grant applications requesting up to $250,000 direct costs per year; funds are requested as direct costs in modules of $25,000.  The logic behind modular budgeting is efficiency: less work for the PI, less work for the reviewers.  Modular budgets give PIs a degree of flexibility during the course of the award (i.e. fewer rebudgeting requests).

 

If you are close to the $250,000 mark, however, modular budgeting may not be for you.  Consider the following:

  • Your competing renewal must be modular.  This means, then, that you will be limited to $250,000 for the life AND future of the project.  If your current submission is part of a grander plan, this could lead to some serious research growth-stunting.  Additionally, if it is an NCI application, it generally cannot exceed an increase of 10% over the direct cost budget awarded for the last year of the prior project period. [NOT-CA-08-026]
  • There will be no future year escalations. Annual modular budgets are average budgets for the entire award period; salary escalations may result in a request for more modules than needed for costs in the beginning years to cover escalations in future years.
  • Underfunding is a reality.  You may not have a firm grasp of the project costs at the time of submission, especially if you don’t do an internal detailed budget for yourself and/or SPA. Are costs of materials expected to increase in the out years?  What about salaries?  Space costs?  Supply needs as the project grows? Without a full understanding of the totality of costs, the project could be faced with deficits as salaries and other costs increase annually. Increases in modules can be requested in exceptional circumstances, but the request must be thoroughly justified and acquiescence is rare.

 

Detailed budgets are nothing to be afraid of, and should be done internally anyway to ensure research is adequately funded.  Modular budgets are a great tool for smaller projects but if you’re close to the border, check your figures again: the extra effort of a detailed budget could save you from the pain of future paucity.  If you need help in auditing future needs or budget framework, RAS is here to help!