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last updated 04/28/11 has been designated by the Office of Management and Budget as the single access point for all grant programs offered by 26 Federal grant-making agencies. It provides a single interface for agencies to announce their grant opportunities and for all grant applicants to find and apply for those opportunities.

NIH Transition to the SF424(R&R) Application and Electronic Submission through

In August 2005, NIH announced a plan to: 1) transition from the PHS398 application to the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) application; and, 2) simultaneously transition to electronic submission via by the end of 2007. (view the Transition Timeline)

NIH will transition to the SF424 (R&R) form and electronic submission through by individual research program/funding mechanism. Funding Opportunity Announcements (also known as Request-for-Applications and Program Announcements) will be issued in the NIH Guide and posted in as mechanisms are transitioned. The transition by mechanism will include all active Funding Opportunity Announcements for that program/mechanism. Applications in response to these announcements will require electronic submission through (For more information, see NIH Electronic Submission of Grant Application Update)

Other Notable Agencies

National Science Foundation - Beginning in FY 2006, NSF began identifying specific programs that would either authorize or require use of to prepare and submit proposals to NSF (Click on Sponsor hyperlink for more info)

Department of Energy - Beginning in 10/1/05, DOE's Office of Science has required all financial assistance applications be submitted via (Click on Sponsor hyperlink for more info)

Proposal Submission Process (8 Step)

1. (NIH Submissions only) PI's must first register for an eRA Commons account. To register, please contact Mike Green, OSR Information/ERA Specialist.

2. Download the Adobe Reader. A free software package that will allow you to complete and submit applications electronically and securely on .

3. Find and Download the appropriate Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in (It is advised that you download application packages from the solicitation rather than from the website).

4. Complete the Application package. For step by step assistance, please see Adobe Reader interactive demo.

5. Notify your OSR Grant and Contract Officer of your intent to submit an application via Submit the OSR-1 and OSR-100 forms to OSR, along with a hard copy of your proposal.

6. Using instructions provided by OSR, Upload your application to the NUIT Depot WebFile server. Depot is a Northwestern web-based file sharing tool. Due to technical constraints, applications should not be forwarded to OSR via email. After uploading the file, the administrator or PI should follow up with a communication to OSR that it’s now present in Depot. indicates that file attachment names longer than approximately 50 characters can cause problems processing packages. Please limit file attachment names. Also, do not use any special characters (example: %, /, #) or spacing in the file and for word separation, use underscore (example: my_Attached_File.pdf) in naming the attachments. Please note that if these guidelines are not followed, your application may be rejected.--

* OSR requires the OSR-1, OSR-100 and application package with all administrative forms (including budget) on Depot five business days before the deadline. OSR must have the completed application package (including science) on Depot two business days before deadline to ensure complete review and allow adequate time for submission and correction of validation errors if necessary.

7. OSR reviews application package, requests any necessary revisions, and Submits final version to before deadline.

8. Application moves through the Validation and NIH Commons Verification process. If errors are found, application will be returned. Your OSR GCO will work with you to correct any errors and resubmit if necessary.

NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications

NIH expects that grant applications will be submitted on time. Standing dates are listed at:

  • For applications that are required to use paper format these are submission or postmark dates; applications are on time if they are sent on these dates.
  • For applications that are required to use electronic submission this requires successful submission to by 5 p.m. local time on the date indicated.
  • For both paper and electronic submissions, when these dates fall on a weekend or holiday, they are extended to the next business day. However, Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements with Special Referral Considerations (PARs) with special receipt dates always must be received (by for electronic applications and the Center for Scientific Review for paper applications) on the dates designated in the announcement to be on time. This is clearly noted in the website above and in the text of each RFA/PAR.

Additional detail may be found at:

Sample SF 424 (R&R)

Please see these examples below for each campus and follow the template where appropriate as you prepare your submission to assure correct data and sufficient processing time.

Sample for Evanston applications
Sample for Chicago applications

Sample for Non-NIH applications (Evanston-DOE)

Avoiding Common Errors

For a complete listing of NIH's most frequent errors in submissions, visit:

Quick Tips / Do's and Dont's

* DO NOT Register with Northwestern University is already registered as an Institution and PI's do not have to individually register.

* DO NOT obtain a DUNS number for All applications must use Northwestern University's assigned DUNS.

* DO submit your OSR forms and application materials in a timely manner to assure enough time for internal review and the Validation/Verification process of and NIH Commons.

* Do familiarize yourself with materials provided at and the NIH, as well as attending OSR training sessions to be announced this spring and fall.

Training Opportunities

Depot Training - Printable instructions on how to upload applications to Depot Complete Submission Process (Using Adobe Reader to Depot) - Powerpoint Presentation provided at the current training sessions in October '09. (Handouts in pdf format)

Adobe Forms Solution (Update)

*Compatible with both PC’s and Macs; Same look and feel, but more user friendly than Pure Edge

* Note - Adobe Reader (8.1.2, 8.1.3, 8.1.4, 9.0, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.4, 10.0.1) are now compatible with, although the 8.1.3, 8.1.4, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.4, and 10.0.1 are the most highly recommended versions since they resolve the `Broken Pipe' error. Different versions of Adobe Reader are not compatible with each other and this is creating problems for users. For example, if an applicant downloads and saves an Adobe application using Reader 8.1.1, and another person worked on that same proposal using an incompatible version, such as 8.0, the package will be corrupted without the proposer's knowledge. does not recommend using versions earlier than 8.1.2 and will test all future releases of Adobe Reader for compatibility. For ease of proposal review, all Northwestern research faculty and staff should consider upgrading to Adobe Professional 10.0.1, 9.4, 9.3, 9.2, 9.1, 9.0, 8.1.4, 8.1.3, or 8.1.2 to ensure that the application opens in the equivalent Adobe Reader 10.0.1, 9.4, 9.3, 9.2, 9.1, 9.0, 8.1.4, 8.1.3 or 8.1.2.

Try out an Adobe Test Package here to get a sense of the new look, feel, and difference from Pure Edge.

Is your Adobe Reader the CORRECT VERSION? Check here .


Additional Resources

PureEdge Interactive Demo Tutorial

Adobe Reader Interactive Demo Tutorial

Adobe/Pure Edge Transition FAQ's

NIH Electronic Submission of Grant Application Update

NIH Electronic Submission FAQ's

SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide and Forms

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Northwestern University

Research Home  |  Research Administrative Offices  |

Office for Research - 633 Clark Street, Evanston, IL 60208-1108

The Office for Research promotes, facilitates and enhances research at Northwestern University.

© 2007-2015 Northwestern University

Northwestern Home | World Wide Web Disclaimer | University Policy Statements