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SBIR/STTR Top eRA Commons Submission Errors


Please use the Annotated SF424 Form set for SBIR/STTR applications along with these tips to guide you during the electronic submission process. The annotated form set provides step-by-step instructions of which fields to complete and aligns with the information below.


Top 5 eRA Commons Submission Errors:

Error #1: Each Senior/Key Person listed must include effort of value > 0 in calendar months, or academic and summer months

  • It’s okay to put 0 dollars (no salary), but NOT 0 effort.
  • Be sure to describe the source of key personnel funding in the Budget Justification if $0 salary is listed.


Error #2: All application attachments must be in PDF formate.

  • Use simple PDF-formatted files (no Word files)
    • Do not use Portfolio or similar feature to bundle multiple files into a single PDF
    • Disable security features such as password protection  
  • Keep file names to 50 characters or less and use only letters, numbers, underscore, hyphen, space and period
  • Use meaningful filenames and follow guidelines for fonts and margins
  • Do not include headers or footers


Error #3: eRA Commons username must be supplied in the Credential field of Senior/Key Person Page

  • For multiple PD/PI applications, select the PD/PI role for each PI and provide their eRA Commons username in the Credential field of Senior/Key Person Page
  • This field is required for NIH grant submissions.


Error #4: NIH requires the Organization name for all Senior/Key listed

  • The application pre-populates for PI, but NOT other key personnel


Error #5: The Federal Identifier on the Cover Page should include only the IC and serial number of the prior grant number

  • Federal Identifier: If box 1=Application and box 8=New, then leave blank
  • If box 1=Changed/Corrected and box 8=New, then enter previous Grants.gov tracking number
  • Otherwise, use Institute and serial # of previous NIH grant/app (e.g., use CA987654 from 1R01CA987654-01)


Other helpful tips to remember:

  • Corrective submissions must be made BEFORE the submission deadline and overwrite previous submissions.
    • Errors stop application processing and must be corrected
    • Warnings do not stop application processing and are corrected at the discretion of the applicant
  • Talk to an NIH Program Officer about your application and SUBMIT EARLY (days not hours and minutes).
  • If you have questions, please contact the eRA Commons Help Desk:
    • Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552
    • Phone: 301-402-7469
    • Hours : Mon-Fri, 7a.m. to 8 p.m. ET

Do not wait until the last minute to try and submit your application electronically. Registration itself can take between 6-8 weeks, and any application submission error can keep your application from processing. Plan ahead to ensure your application moves forward successfully and reduce last minute submission stress.

Last updated March 11, 2014