The Northwestern research community can learn more about CERES via the CERES 101 Computer-Based Learning course. CERES 101 includes an overview of what the system is, how it is used, and how CERES benefits all users. This 65-minute, on-demand course takes learners on a tour the system and teaches you where and how to find records in the system and related information. CERES 101 is available via MyHR Learn.
- CERES Page: View the Office Hours schedule and go-live information
- CERES Training Folder: Access training materials, including
- CERES Job Aids: Locate CERES-related job aids in the Northwestern Knowledge Base
- CERES Training Videos: Watch short instructional videos about CERES functionality
- CERES Cognos Reports: Learn about new Cognos reports in CERES
Before viewing CERES 101, step through the following overviews of the key CERES concepts and workspaces: the funding proposal, agreements, awards, and subawards. Workspace-related FAQs are included as well.
A funding proposal is made up of three components:
First, the funding proposal itself. This contains overall project information such as project dates, sponsor, and personnel which is collected through a series of pages referred to as a SmartForm.
Second, the budgets. These include at least one sponsor budget as well as cost share and subaward budgets, when needed.
Third, the SF424 application. This will only be used when the proposal is to be submitted system-to-system directly from CERES to Grants.gov.
The funding proposal, along with its budgets and SF424, if appropriate, go through a single workflow and can be collectively thought of as the proposal.
Above, you can see the Funding Proposal Workspace. Each project in CERES will have a corresponding Workspace where you can find a summary of information about that item such as key dates and related projects. From the Workspace, you can also perform various activities for that item like add attachments or submit for review. Below you will find an explanation of the key components found on the CERES Funding Proposal Workspace.
- Navigate to Funding Proposal SmartForm: The “View Funding Proposal” button will open the Funding Proposal SmartForm where data about the proposal is entered. Everything in CERES, from funding proposals to award modification requests, has a workspace and a SmartForm.
- Navigate to SF424: The SF424 document will be linked conveniently in the workspace. Information from the funding proposal and budgets autofill into the SF424 to prevent duplication of entry.
- Navigate to Budget: The funding proposal includes one or more budgets which must be completed prior to submitting the proposal for review. Remember that budget information entered here will be pulled into the correct fields on the SF424.
How do I include TBD personnel on my proposal?
There is no need to include them on the Funding Proposal SmartForm as the lines are only in the budget.
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.
Is there a way to run reports on pending proposals?
From the Grants module Funding Proposals page, navigate to the ‘Sponsor Review’ tab to see all the pending proposals. That tab is sortable by column headers, filterable, and can be exported to Excel.
How do I budget investigators with 9-month appointments? How can I list more than one responsible department?
There is only one responsible department. Additional individual RAs can be given access to proposals outside of their departments in the SmartForm by the submitting RA. You can select people in the "administrative personnel" section for that purpose.
Is it typical to be asked for HERD information for a non-NSF proposal?
Yes, classification information to support Northwestern’s annual HERD survey research expenditure submission will now be captured for all proposals. The Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey is the primary source of information on research and development expenditures at U.S. colleges and universities. The survey collects information on R&D expenditures by field of research and source of funds and also gathers information on types of research, expenses, and headcounts of R&D personnel. The survey is an annual census of institutions that expended at least $150,000 in separately accounted for R&D in the fiscal year. The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) at the National Science Foundation conducts the annual survey, which ranks research institutions by their annual research expenditures. For research type and specific field classifications, your principal investigator will need to provide you with this information. For more information about the HERD survey, visit the NSF HERD page. Northwestern’s expenditure data is submitted annually by Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs.
Where should I list subawards on proposals?
Subaward personnel are added on the " Personnel" funding proposal page. The subaward itself is added as a budget -- once the funding proposal's SmartFormsare complete, navigate to the primary sponsor budget workspace by clicking the budget name in the "Working Budgets" section, then click the "Create Subaward" button. Note: although you can add the subaward personnel on the subaward budget as well, they will only be mapped to the SF424 if they are entered on the funding proposal.
Below, you can see the Agreement Workspace. Each project in CERES will have a corresponding workspace where you can find a summary of information about that item such as key dates and related projects.
Non-funded agreements can be created as stand-alone agreements in the Agreements module, or they can be linked to a related award. Sponsored Research will create agreements records to track negotiations for incoming awards and link them to their related Funding Proposal.
You can search for the Agreement and find the link to the workspace using the Unique ID like the highlighted example below shows. The ID prefix for Agreements changes based on the Agreement type. Continue reading for an explanation of the key components found on the CERES Agreement Workspace.
- Final Agreement PDF: Once an agreement is fully executed, click the document link to open the final agreement with all required signatures.
- Navigate to Agreement SmartForm: The “View Agreement” button will open the agreement SmartForm where data about the agreement is entered. Everything in CERES, from funding proposals to award modification requests, has a workspace and a SmartForm.
- Find related FP, AWD & Agreements: The Related Projects tab shows all agreements, funding proposals, and awards linked to this agreement. Additionally, IRB and IACUC protocols linked to the related funding proposals and awards show here. You can link an agreement to another agreement, a funding proposal, or an award using the Manage Relationships activity.
Below you can see the CERES Award Workspace. Each project in CERES will have a corresponding workspace where you can find a summary of information about that item such as key dates and related projects. From the workspace, you can also perform various activities for that item like add attachments or submit for review.
You can search for the Award and find the link to the workspace using the Unique ID highlighted below. All IDs for Awards have the prefix AWD. Continue reading for an explanation of the key components found on the CERES Award Workspace.
- Navigate to Award SmartForm: The “View Award” button will open the award SmartForm where data about the award is entered. Everything in CERES, from funding proposals to award modification requests, has a workspace and a SmartForm.
- Navigate to Linked Funding Proposals: Related funding proposals are linked conveniently in the award workspace. To navigate to a funding proposal, click the proposal name link. From the funding proposal workspace, navigate back to the award by clicking the award name link in the Funding Awards area.
- Navigate to Linked OnBase Documents: After the award is set up, the system sends the award documents to OnBase and ents to OnBase when proposals, awards, and agreements have reached key workflow milestones including the award activation.
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
Yes, once the advance account is set up, the NUFinancials/PeopleSoft Project ID will be stored in CERES. This will be the same with regular awards.
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.
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?
You will use an Advance Account request that you would make on the proposal record in this specific instance. See the question above on at-risk spending and advance accounts for more details.
CERES Subaward Overview
Below, you can see the Subaward Workspace. Each project in CERES will have a corresponding Workspace where you can find a summary of information about that item such as key dates and related projects. From the Workspace, you can also perform various activities for that item like add attachments or submit for review.
You can search for the Subaward and find the link to the Workspace using the Unique Searchable ID as shown in the highlighted example below. The ID prefix for Subawards is always SUB. Continue reading for an explanation of the key components found on the CERES Subaward Workspace.
The subaward record is part of the parent AWD record. It represents the overall engagement with each sub recipient on an award. In the following section, you can find an overview of the subaward agreement, which is related to both the subaward and parent award. The corresponding subaward agreement contains the details on the individual contractual activities with that sub recipient, beginning with the initial subcontract and followed by subsequent amendments.
- Navigate to Subaward SmartForm: The “Edit Subaward” button will open the subaward SmartForm where data about the subaward is entered. Everything in CERES, from funding proposals to award modification requests, has a workspace and a SmartForm (where data is entered).
- Navigate to Parent Award: Find the parent award workspace conveniently linked in the summary view area of the subaward workspace. The subaward record is part of the parent AWD record. The parent award workspace has a “Subawards” tab for easy navigation to subaward records.
CERES Subaward Agreement Overview
Below, you can see the Subaward Agreement Workspace and key components of Subaward Agreements. The unique ID prefix for Subaward Agreements is always SUBK.
- Navigate to Subaward Agreement SmartForm: A subaward agreement can be accessed from the parent award workspace on the “Related Projects” tab. Click the ID link to open the subaward agreement workspace. A subaward agreement can also be accessed through the subaward SmartForm on the Subaward Additional Information page. Under Question 3, click the ID link to open the linked subaward agreement workspace. The “View Agreement” button on the agreement workspace will open the subaward agreement SmartForm where data about the subaward agreement is entered.
- Navigate to Parent Award: Find the parent award workspace conveniently linked in the related projects area of the subaward agreement workspace.
- From the Parent Award Workspace you can easily navigate back to related subawards and subaward agreements through the Subawards and Related Projects tabs.
Navigate to Related Subaward Agreements and Subawards: From the parent award workspace, click the Related Projects tab and click the agreement name to go to the workspace. To find related subawards, click the Subawards tab from the parent award, and click the linked subaward.
Who will be responsible for uploading the agreement draft – Research Administrators or Sponsored Research and when in the process does that happen?
Sponsored Research will complete the upload of the subcontract agreement draft. In many cases, it will be generated from a template in the system. You should notice a check mark beside the subcontract agreement SmartForm question, “First draft to be generated internally?” indicating that this process will be completed by SR.
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.
Will any of the budget information feed from the proposal/award to the outgoing subaward?
No, the budget information will need to be entered into the SUBK agreement.
Will there be an error message tripped if numbers do not all add up in a subaward budget?
The system will require accurate calculations as there will not be an error message if calculations do not add up correctly. You will need to check your calculations before submitting.
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 the award setup is complete, Sponsored Research will start the agreement process. Whatever was in the proposal will trigger Sponsored Research to set up the corresponding subagreement records. As the award setups are finalized, a report will be run to ensure everything has been caught. If you need to change a setup later, Sponsored Research will take updates to the award via award modification requests.