Always Do This after You Press “Submit”

A recent bug in the NIH submission system replaced some PDF files with blank pages. It wasn’t because the applicants were people of few words, it was a problem with the portal’s software. So, all those blank proposals were the NIH’s problem to solve, right? Wrong.

Whenever you submit a funding proposal to any funder, it is incumbent upon you to adult-annoyed-anxiety-133021assure your proposal was received in its entirety and in good shape! Remember the Golden Rule of funding: S/he who has the gold makes the rules. If you want the funding, follow the rules and be completely responsive to the guidelines you are given, including those for tedious tasks like submission.

While guidelines and submission systems differ between funders, most provide a window of time after your submission in which you may view your submission to assure it is complete and appropriately rendered. The NIH gives applicants 2 days to review their submission in eRA Commons.

Although it may be tempting to relegate the task of reviewing the submitted grant to your sponsored projects office personnel (if you are at an academic institution) or in-house administrator (if you are a small business), it is important that PIs remember that the application is their responsibility. Many sponsored projects departments take no responsibility for “the science parts” of an application, and the professionals in that department often do not have the background specific to your application to identify a technical figure that has not rendered correctly or to your standards, for example.

So, even if you think your mind will implode if you have to look at that proposal one more time, set aside a few minutes within the post-submission application viewing window to assure your proposal looks great and reflects well on your team. That small investment of time may make the difference between a highly competitive proposal awarded funding and a partial application deemed unresponsive and removed from consideration.

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