February 28, 2022
NIH Formatting Attachments, PDFs, and Electronic Signatures
NIH provides guidance on a variety of formatting topics. Their guidance addresses items such as PDFs, electronic signatures, hyperlinks or URLs, and more… Review these highlights from the NIH guidance along with UW specific information.
Hyperlinks and URLs in Applications
Hyperlinks and URLs are generally not allowed unless specifically noted in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and form field instructions. When allowed, you must hyperlink the actual URL text and not some other word or phrase. In these cases, the url text should appear on the page as the hyperlink.
The NIH FAQ about electronic signatures states that they do not require specific software, however, they do require some type of esignature software when most signatures are required. Letters of Support do not require esignatures.
“Recipients and applicants may use the electronic signature software of their choice, and in alignment with their institutional practices.”
UW-IT provides support for electronic signatures using Docusign at no cost to departments for research, education, or administration purposes. UW-IT requires units to complete their esignature onboarding and training to use this service.
Flatten Your PDFs
Flatten your PDFs before upload to eRA Commons, otherwise they will result in a submission error.
Review the eRA Commons instructions to flatten a PDF. NIH also recommends: File>Print, select the printer option from the menu that has a PDF option. Click the Print button and name the file.
Retain Digitally Signed Originals
Campus units who flatten digitally signed PDFs must retain the original signed and unflattened document within their unit files.