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May 27 / RAS

Watch Your Asterisk

As the June 5 deadline approaches for NIH new R01s, take a moment to double-check your PDF file names (and make sure all of your attachments are PDFs, come to that). NIH systems can be touchy with unexpected character recognition, and no one wants an error at 4:58p next Friday. Remember: file names should be less than 50 characters, including punctuation and spaces. Names CAN contain any of the following characters:

  • A-Z
  • a-z
  • 0-9
  • underscore: _
  • hyphen: –
  • space
  • period
  • parenthesis
  • curly braces: { }
  • square brackets: [ ]
  • tilde: ~
  • exclamation point
  • comma
  • semicolon
  • at sign: @
  • number/pound sign: #
  • dollar sign
  • percent sign
  • plus sign
  • equal sign

 

Names CANNOT contain any of the following:

  • Two or more spaces in a row between words or characters
  • Ampersand: &
  • Apostrophe (note: the official NIH list of acceptable characters includes apostrophes, but we have encountered more than one error when using apostrophes so we recommend avoiding them)

 

Be safe: keep it simple!  For more tips on compliant file attachments, look over NIH’s PDF Guidelines.  Questions about what you’re reading? Drop us a note!

May 20 / RAS

O, What A Tangled Web

No one likes to admit defeat, and most are not particularly excited to shout a mistake from the rooftops.  Self-protection is human nature, but covering tracks in research can land you in some hot water.  HHS defines “research misconduct” as ” fabrication, falsification and plagiarism, and does not include honest error or differences of opinion.” NIH has procedures in place to handle research misconduct claims, but ultimately no power to investigate (except in the case of intramural research).  All research misconduct allegations involving NIH awards (or any agency under the umbrella of HHS) are forwarded to the HHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for their oversight.  Just to be clear:

 

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

 

If a PI is found to have engaged in research misconduct, HHS can take action by means of debarment from eligibility to receive Federal funds for grants and contracts; prohibition from PHS service; certification of information sources by the respondent that is forwarded by the institution; certification of data by the institution; imposition of supervision; submission of a correction of published articles by the respondent; submission of a retraction of published articles; and more, including recalled funds and withdrawal of support for associated PIs.

 

WSU PIs are full of integrity and honor, but panic can blur a bright line. In your moments of most overwhelming, results-driven disappointment, make sure the object you cling to is a life raft and not an anchor.  ORI sanction happens (and just recently did), and it can ruin a career.

May 13 / RAS

On-Again, Off-Again Relationship

Ah, the F&A rate portion of your awards: can’t live with them, can’t – quite literally – live without them.  The F&A rates here at WSU are variable as you well know (we’re in a 52.5% period on-campus right now), and that portion generated by awards is distributed according to the policies set forth in section 03-5 of the WSU Administrative Policy Manual.  Those funds pay the salaries, leases, capital projects, etc. etc. that keep our research infrastructure viable.  Many awards allow you to calculate and request F&A (or indirect costs) on top of a direct cost cap, but many do not.  When this is the case, that 52.5% can swiftly eat into your project budget.  That’s when the 26.0% off-campus rate sure starts to look good.  But when can you use it?

 

What is “Off-Campus” Research?

The definition of “off-campus” applicable to WSU is negotiated in our DHHS agreement. In our case, “off-campus” is agreed to mean:

 

For all activities performed in facilities not owned by the institution and to which rent is directly allocated to the project(s) the off-campus rate will apply.  Grants or contracts will not be subject to more than one F&A cost rate.  If more than 50% of a project is performed off-campus, the off-campus rate will apply to the entire project.

 

This is the standard for determining which rate you can use until our current agreement is renegotiated (in 2020, barring extenuating circumstances).

 

My research is done in a non-WSU facility; is it “off-campus”?

Whether your non-WSU facility research is considered “off-campus” is entirely dependent on the terms of your lease; the terms of your lease is the first place you should check.  If WSU is the responsible party for payment on your space, chances are you should be using the on-campus rate (as that cost is factored into the on-campus F&A rate).  If WSU is not the named responsible party, there is a possibility that the off-campus rate in effect at the time of submission could apply (be sure to build those costs into your proposal!).

 

Even after reading the contract, I’m not really sure who is responsible for my lease.  Who can help?

There are definitely murky circumstances, especially when it comes to leasing DMC space and our affiliation agreements. If you’re not sure,  be sure to contact SPA to find out how your space relates to certain existing blanket agreements. Once you’re sure, we can help you with any adjustments that may need to be made!

May 6 / RAS

Good Morning, How May We ASSIST You?

Last week, ASSIST became a submission option for R01s and U01s.  This means that ASSIST is now available for R01, U01, R03, all multi-project grant programs, and Individual Career Development Award (K, excluding KM1 and K12) applications.  Right now, you may choose to use ASSIST for its features (we like how you can validate for errors and warnings BEFORE submission), or you may continue to use the downloadable SF424 forms.  Keep in mind, however, that SF424 wasn’t always required either 😉  In order to use ASSIST, you must use or obtain an eRACommons ID.

 

We’ve used ASSIST a few times here at RAS and we thought we’d share a few things we’ve found:

  • Because ASSIST is cloud-based and directly populated to NIH, you can see errors and warnings before submission.
  • More than one person can be signed in and working on an ASSIST application, just not on the same component.
  • Only a person with recognized signing authority by NIH (according to their eRACommons credentials) can actually submit. You’ll need to add your GCO as a contributor.
  • All components of your application will need to be marked “Final” before you can mark your application as “Ready to Submit.” Conversely, if a component is not marked “Work in Progress,” you cannot edit.  As annoying as this will be when you are making last-minute changes, it does prevent accidental submission of unrefined applications.

 

Take a look around the system and see what you find.  ASSIST is nothing to fear: if you can do an SF424, you can use ASSIST.  In fact, we bet that you’ll like the administrative data carry-over population and pre-submission validation features.  We’ve stumbled through enough now that we’ve hit many of the hiccups; if you run into one, let us know and we’ll be happy to help you navigate.  Also check out the NIH ASSIST page,  where you can access FAQs, common errors and training resources on the left-side menu.

Apr 30 / RAS

Permission to Land Short

In the season of RPPRs and changing budgets, we thought it might be a nice time to once again mention effort reduction on NIH projects.

 

Remember, if you are reducing the effort of key personnel on a grant, you need the permission of your NIH program officer if the amount of effort reduced is 25% or more.  The amount reduced is cumulative; that is, the 25% threshold may be reached by the reduction of two or more efforts per individual in successive project periods.  To revisit an example, take Dr. Alpha: he devotes 25% effort to a project, or 3.0 person months. If he reduces his effort by more than 25% of 3.0 months (which is 0.75 months), he needs permission to reduce.

 

So, if Dr. Alpha reduces his effort in Year 2 by 20% (0.6 months) to 2.4 months, he does not need to request NIH permission. If he reduces his effort again in Year 3 by 10% (0.24 months), he DOES need special permission at that point, because his effort has been reduced from the last approved level by 28%. This is where the “cumulative” term comes into play: once NIH has approved a reduction, all subsequent reductions are measured at 25% of the MOST RECENT approval (as opposed to consistent measurement against the first-year effort levels, if subsequent changes were made). For further details on the 25% thresholds, be sure to read the Section 8 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement. If you need some guidance on calculating your own thresholds, we’re always happy to help!

Apr 22 / RAS

Built by Association

Managing your citations through MyNCBI can save you a lot of time and searching if you’re using it to build your bibliography.  You can easily associate publications in your constructed bibliography with your funded research, making progress reports and access compliance that much simpler.

 

To add a publication to your bibliography via PubMed, be sure you are signed in to MyNCBI before you begin your search.  Once you are signed in to MyNCBI and in the PubMed environment, run a search to find your article (“Author Search” is one of the quickest ways to find what you are looking for). Select the citations you want to add to My Bibliography and then click the “Send to” link to expand the drop-down menu. Select the destination “My Bibliography” (a message indicates the number of citations selected to be copied to your bibliography) and click “Add to My Bibliography:”

mybibliography-Image002a

click image for full view

 

 

You will have the option to save these to your “My Bibliography” or “Other Citations” list (or another list you have created).  Most choose to save their own publications to “My Bibliography.”  You’ll see them in your “My Bibliography” when you return to your MyNCBI home page.

mybibliography-Image007

click image for full view

 

If your added citation is not already associated with your award, you can do it manually.  To do so, be sure your “Display” settings are set to view by “Award:”

click image for full view

 

Choose the publication that needs assignment and the award to which it needs to be assigned; click “Assign Awards”:

click image for full view

 

You’ll be given the option to choose from more awards. Keep yours checked or choose more and click “Save:”

my awards_1

click image for full view

 

And you’re done!  If you have any questions on how to build yourself a usable bibliography through MyNCBI, feel free to reach out to RAS.  Having accurate bibliographies will help you if you’re using SciENcv, too!

Apr 16 / RAS

Proper eProp for RPPR

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

 

Some of us have been advised to submit an eProp for yearly NIH progress reports (RPPR), documenting the budget for the upcoming year and a screenshot of the RPPR submission.  Others of us have been advised not to do so.  Whatever is an admin to do with all of this conflicting information?  Never fear, it has been made clear (sort of)!  Straight from SPA:

 

NIH SNAP awards do not require an eProp when the RPPR is completed.
An eProp is required for all non-SNAP NIH awards.

 

So there you have it!  If you have questions or you’ve been told something different, the Senior Director of Administration or either Associate Director of Proposal and Grant Administration can set the record straight.  Happy reporting!

Apr 10 / RAS

The Core of the Matter

When you’re explaining your facilities and resources in your “Facilities and Resources,” you know your access for projects but may have a hard time articulating them for proposals.   Lucky for you, WSU-SOM keeps a link list of our core facility descriptions, which was recently updated to include those at Karmanos Cancer Institute.

 

If you need help figuring out which information to use, we’re here as always to help you sort through!

Apr 1 / RAS

Your Perspective is No Joke

We enjoy our role as an effective resource for WSU-SOM (and beyond), and we want to make sure it stays that way!  If we’ve partnered with you or lent a helping hand over the past six months, you should have received a request for survey participation via email yesterday afternoon.  If you do not see it and you should, please email us and we’ll be sure to send the link right away.

 

So tell us how we’re doing! We highly value your input and your anonymous answers will help us evolve with your ever-changing needs.  Minutes to give feedback now could help us to save you hours in the future!

 

thanks

Mar 25 / RAS

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!