Find answers to frequently asked questions about CERES. This page will continue to be updated with new FAQs in the weeks post go-live. Find additional FAQs in CERES articles in the Northwestern Knowledge Base.
- General Questions (including navigation, notifcations, and (re-) assigning items)
- Funding Proposals
How do I get access to CERES or change my system access?
Are we able to only see the queue for proposals or queues for other items, such as agreements and awards and modifications as well?
The Tableau tab in the Grants-FP page shows everything as of the nightly refresh.
What should I do if I do NOT see expected actions so that I can take next steps (e.g., when working on an agreement, not being able to locate the “create amendment” tab)?
A good rule of thumb if you don’t see activities you expect you should see is to use the "Manage Access" and set yourself as the primary contact (Agreements) or Admin Contact (Grants).
Do I need to access different applications/systems (outside of CERES) to complete a proposal?
CERES has system-to-system submission capabilities to sponsors who use Grants.gov, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE), and Department of Defense DOD). Non-system to system submissions will continue to have an internal proposal record and budget routed in CERES for reviews and approvals, with submission occurring via the sponsor’s preferred method (Proposal Central, Research.gov, etc). Multi-project proposals such as NIH P-series proposals will continue to be submitted using ASSIST, with an internal proposal and budget in CERES for reviews and approvals.
How long does CERES take to timeout?
I see something in my inbox. How do I start to identify what is needed and why it got there?
The key to identifying what action is needed for items in your inbox is to look at the project type (proposal, award, agreement, etc.) and the project state. Things that are in draft need to be completed; a common thing you'll see in your inbox is a proposal in draft that you may have started but did not finish. It will remain in your inbox until you do. If the state indicates clarifications are requested, that signals that you need to take an action to look at reviewer comments and make changes. Items in your inbox will almost always be in draft or some level of clarifications requested. One exception to this rule award in in draft state, if you see one in your inbox that means that you need to complete the award budget reconciliation and complete the ancillary review on the award.
Can I see previous versions of uploaded documents or the history of a record?
Yes, you can see previous versions and the history of a record. Document history can generally be viewed by clicking the ellipses next to the document and choosing ‘View History’. However, if you replace documents instead of uploading a revision, there is no history to view. The full history of a record is on the History workspace tab both in Grants and Agreements. Grants also has an Activity Log that can be viewed by clicking ‘View More Details’ link to show specific property and document changes.
How can I compare versions of a SmartForm in CERES?
The History tab has records of who executed which activity. Within the View History tab, you can go to the SmartForm and find a compare button at the top left that will let you compare versions of SmartForms.
What do I do when I receive a Clarification Requested notification?
Navigate to the History tab in the item’s workspace to drill down into an activity and see more details. From there you can click on the “clarifications requested” activity header, in order to see what additional clarification or information has been requested from Sponsored Research.
Will CERES provide push notifications of action items or needs for approval to the RA on a record?
Do we still need to allow delegate access for items in workloads, for instance when someone is out of the office?
If a department (like DOM) has multiple divisions (with unique Dept. IDs), will the dashboard show all divisions?
What will transfer over to OnBase automatically vs what will have to be uploaded manually?
I have an Award Modification Request (AMR) submitted by a former department staff member; how can I reassign it to a current staff member?
The process will depend on the current workflow state of the AMR. In all cases, the person you would like to have assigned as the new Submitter must first be granted read or edit rights to the parent award using the Manage Access activity (on the parent award).
- If the AMR is in Review state: Use the ‘Log Comment’ activity to ask the Specialist in SR to execute the ‘Assign Submitter’ activity, and let them know who should be selected in place of the original Submitter. (Note: only CERES users listed ad administrative contact or having read or edit rights on the parent award will appear in the dropdown list for SR to reassign as the submitter.)
- If the AMR is in Clarifications Requested or Draft state: The AMR is editable by the department. The staff member currently assigned as Submitter should log in and run the ‘Assign Submitter’ activity, and reassign to the appropriate person in the department. If the original Submitter is no longer a Northwestern employee, then a department representative can email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org to reassign the Submitter; be sure to provide the AMR record number in CERES, and the name of the Submitter you would like the record reassigned to.
I need to grant read or edit rights to a parent award, or update the administrative contact on a parent award; how can I do that?
- Navigate to the workspace of the award in CERES and execute the Manage Access activity.
- In the relevant section - #1 administrative contact, #2 edit rights, or #3 read-only rights – select the user to add and click OK.
Why can't I or others in my department access and/or modify an SF424?
The set of people who are allowed to edit an SF424 are derived from the funding proposal from which it was created - those who can edit the proposal can edit the SF424. If someone else needs access to an SF424 after creation, it can be granted by following these steps:
- Add the person who needs access as an editor of the funding proposal by using the "Manage Access" activity on the funding proposal workspace.
- Run the "Create-Update SF424" activity on the funding proposal workspace (it is recommended that you uncheck all the boxes next to the forms in the activity window so you don't overwrite anything accidentally on your application), then click OK.
These two steps allow anyone who has access to the proposal to update who can edit the associated SF424 application. This method could even be done by the person who needs the access, it does not have to be done by someone who is already an editor.
How do I resubmit something that was in InfoEd but that didn’t transfer over to CERES?
The process for these cases is simple but a bit misleading. You make the proposal like it is new, but in the SF424 you mark it as a resubmission. The designation in CERES doesn’t matter for this - even though it will still say "new," it will get submitted as a resubmission.
I generated a PDF from the SF424 screen (before the SF424 is completed) but I’m not sure where to view the PDF version.
How can I see proposals that are not in my department but which my PIs are on?
Will we have to enter Person to be Contacted each time on the SF424 RR Cover?
It will default from the Specialist assigned to the Funding Proposal record.
Are the proposal, budget, and SF424 combined into a single area?
Is it possible to clone the funding proposal for resubmissions?
What if I receive the message "Error validating the project. Contract site administrator." while validating my budget?
The error message below is a known bug. If you receive it click OK and proceed forward with your funding proposal.
Who can edit an award or award modification outside of Sponsored Research?
Where do we attach IRB documents on an award?
In a situation where Northwestern is waiting for an official notice of award (award or subaward) to be sent and an award is not yet set up, how can I get the award set up so that I can pre-spend while waiting for the award/subaward document?
Is the term “pre-spend” going away and the term “Advance Account Request” the term going forward?
For existing awards, at-risk spending (to incur expenditures for necessary project activities when the next budget period has not yet been formally authorized by the sponsor or pass-through entity) can be requested via an Award Modification Request. For proposals that are still pending (the sponsor has not issued any award notifications yet), use the Request an Advance Account activity to ask Sponsored Research to set up an advance account. See Advance Accounts for additional guidance.
Once the advance account is approved, will there be a way in CERES to see the chart string?
Where can I locate the chart string # on my award for NCE request?
The Project ID will appear in the far-right column in the ‘Select One or More Financial Accounts’ selection list.
What is the difference between AMR vs AWD?
AMR = Award Modification Request and AWD = Award Record
An AMR is initiated from an AWD by executing the Request Award Modification activity.
Will RPPR’s/continuations have their own record number?
Who will be responsible for uploading the agreement draft – Research Administrators or Sponsored Research and when in the process does that happen?
What prompts the Subcontracts team that an outyear has been activated through the amendment?
How will the FP/AWD/SUBK # correlate to each other? How can you tell which award a SUBK agreement is attached to?
All of this information can be found on the related projects tab. There is a tab at the bottom that says Related Projects with a link.
How will the subaward get to the RA to process? How is that triggered when an award is made? How will this differ if we have a subaward that wasn’t part of the original proposal?
When should I use the Outgoing Subaward Modification Award Modification Request (AMR) type?
The Outgoing Subaward Modification Award Modification Request (AMR) type should be used to request changes to existing outgoing subcontracts that will affect (only) an outgoing subaward (not the parent award.) This AMR type should not be used to request the issuance of new subcontracts or amendments related to parent award modifications.
On the Outgoing Subaward Agreement Info page, which amounts are supposed to go in which fields (for #4,5,6)?
- #4 Cumulative Costs: This should be the cumulative amount authorized to the subrecipient once this amendment is executed.
- #5 & 6 Project Period Direct Costs and Project Period Indirect Costs: This should be the anticipated amount overall for the subrecipient, regardless of what’s been authorized.