May 31, 2012

File-Type Issue in Applications

Please take note of the following file-type issue that has the potential to cause an error upon application submission via Errors prevent an application from full submission and must be corrected with successful resubmission prior to the application deadline.*

ERROR: Attachment contains formatting or features not currently supported by NIH: 

Though the cause of the error is not fully understood (including by the eRA Help Desk), it seems that “hidden” content in a PDF file is the problem. Please note that in the recent instance, even printing and scanning the pages from the document in question did not alleviate the problem; sophisticated printers and scanners detected and reincorporated the hidden content.  

To confirm whether or not your PDF file has hidden content:

From the Tool Bar, select Document and then Examine Document

In the recent instance, Selecting “Remove all checked items” did not change the physical appearance of the document. All content, including signatures on letters, was maintained.

With this modification, the application was allowed through to full submission with no additional errors.

(1) Please be aware of the distinction between errors and warnings. The word error is used to characterize any condition which causes the application to be deemed unacceptable for further consideration. Generally, errors will indicate significant inaccuracies, inconsistencies, omissions, or incorrect formatting that have been identified in the body of the application. Conversely, the word warning characterizes any condition that is acceptable, at least for the time being, but worthy of bringing to the applicant’s attention. It is at the applicant’s discretion whether a warning condition requires any action, but some warnings may need to be addressed later in the process.  
(2) Applicants should be aware that on-time submission means that an application is submitted error free (of both and eRA Commons errors) before 5 p.m. on the receipt date, local time of the applicant organization. Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications to several days early to ensure enough time to correct any errors and to comply with the deadline.