Sponsored Research Application Support

OASIS partners with the Office of the Vice President of Research, the Office of Research Administration (ORA), and the Office of Research Support (ORS) to design and deliver technology solutions that serve Duke's sponsored research community.

Grant Policy and Process Questions

If you have questions or comments about the grant submission process or other grant-related matters, please contact the appropriate pre-award office.

School of Medicine and School of Nursing pre-award office:
Office of Research Administration (ORA): 684-5175
Campus pre-award office:
Office of Research Support (ORS): 684-3030

SPS User Support

If you have questions or comments about SPS, please contact your department's SPS support person. Your SPS user or your Duke pre-award office can help identify your SPS support person. If you have questions or comments about a different grant-related application, please contact your Duke pre-award office.

Grants.Duke User Support

If you have questions or comments about Grants.Duke, please contact the appropriate Duke pre-award office (listed above).

Technical Support

If you have technical problems with any of the grant-related applications (e.g., Grants.Duke, SPS, Sponsored Effort, Subrecipients, REx), please check the guides below.  If you cannot resolve your technical issue, see OASIS Application Support.

Grants.Duke FAQ

What if I can’t login to Grants.Duke?

You’ll need your NetID and password in order to login to Grants.Duke. Call the DHTS Help Desk if you don’t know your NetID and/or your password. Currently, you must be part of the pilot user’s group to submit proposals in Grants.Duke.

I can login to Grants.Duke, but I can't see any proposals.  Why?

In order for your proposal to appear in Grants.Duke, your proposal must have the Grants.Duke indicator set to Yes, and the rich text fields must be replaced by PDF attachments in SPS.

At this time, PI assistants do not have access to Grants.Duke. Only PI’s and SPS department administrators have access.

My Grants.Duke proposal has errors – how do I fix them?

If Grants.Duke finds errors in your proposal, you must resolve them before you continue. Grants.Duke will not let you release any proposals with errors. The error message should give you sufficient information to resolve the error. Refer to the grants.duke Pilot Users’ Guide.

Warnings about your proposal do not stop it from being released for submission; however, they should be resolved.

If you continue to have questions about resolving errors and warnings in your proposal, call the DHTS Help Desk at 919-684-2243 and ask them to page the RAD analyst on call.

My proposal has a Grants.Gov status of “Rejected w/errors.” What should I do?

Call the Help Desk right away and ask them to page the RAD analyst on call.

My proposal has been received by Grants.Gov but it doesn’t seem to be progressing.  How should I follow up?

When you release a proposal for submission, the Grants.Gov status on the Grants.Duke S2S Tracking page is “Receiving . . .” as it is being sent to Grants.Gov. The status changes to “Received” when it is received by Grants.Gov. Next, the status becomes “Validated” after the proposal passes Grants.Gov’s error checks. Finally, the status changes to “Received by Agency” after the proposal is picked up by NIH.

Your proposal should reach the “Validated” status within 48 hours after it is released for submission in Grants.Duke. After it is validated, your proposal should reach the  “Received by Agency” status within an additional 48 hours, which would be 96 hours after it was submitted.

If your proposal does not progress to the “Validated” status within 48 hours and the “Received by Agency” status within 96 hours, you should contact RAD by calling the DHTS Help Desk and asking them to page the RAD analyst on call. You will need your proposal’s SPS ID and the Grants.Gov tracking number.

How can I learn more about Grants.Duke?

Read the grants.duke Pilot Users’ Guide.

How do I get an eRA Commons user name?

In order to submit an application electronically to the NIH, you will need an eRA Commons user name, and it must be validated with an employment record. Contact your department business office for more information.

I’m ready to release my proposal for submission, but the Grants.Gov site seems to be offline. What should I do?

If Grants.Duke can’t connect to Grants.Gov, you will see an error message indicating that Grants.Gov is not available. Use your web browser’s print functionality (such as the Print command on the file menu) to print the page with this error message. Also, please call the DHTS Help Desk and ask them to page the RAD analyst on call.

I am trying to attach a PDF file in Grants.Duke and it will not accept the file because it contains forms. What should I do?

Read Resolving Problems With PDF Files.

How do I reduce the size of a PDF attachment?

Read Resolving Problems With PDF Files.

I am getting an error message that says the PDF file that I am trying to attach was created by software that is not supported by Grants.Duke.  What should I do?

Read Resolving Problems With PDF Files.

What versions of Adobe Reader properly print the PHS 398/2590 form pages?

Adobe Reader 7.0.9 or greater is required for printing. Adobe Reader is not available for Windows Operating Systems prior to Windows 2000 SP2. If you are using an unsupported version of Windows, the SPS application works, but printing will need to be done on a workstation with a supported version of Adobe Reader.

What printing problems occur with Adobe Reader versions 7.0.8 and earlier?

Adobe Reader versions 7.0.8 and earlier use different line spacing than the newer versions. This may result in partial lines of text printing in the rich text areas. Here are example Summary of Work [Downloads pdf] and Summary Budget [Downloads pdf] form pages printed using SPS 5.18 with Adobe Reader version 7.0.3.

What if I am currently using Adobe Reader version 7.0.8 or earlier?

Contact your local IT support person and ask for their assistance in upgrading your version of Adobe Reader.

Am I required to upgrade to Adobe Reader version 7.0.9 or greater?

It is highly recommended. If you run SPS with an unsupported version of Adobe Reader, you assume responsibility for the validity of the SPS-generated forms.

How do I upgrade my version of Adobe Reader?

  1. Open Adobe Reader.
  2. Select Help -> Check for Updates
  3. When prompted, select all available updates.
  4. Select 'Install Now'.

What's the difference between Reader and Acrobat?

Reader is the free software from Adobe that lets you view and print PDF documents. Acrobat is the software that Adobe sells to allow creation and editing of PDF's.

If I have both Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat installed on my machine, how do I know which one SPS is using to display forms and if it is a supported version?

  1. Open SPS and generate a form page(s).
  2. From the resulting Adobe window, select Help -> About Adobe Reader. . . or Help -> About Adobe Acrobat. . .
  3. The resulting informational window displays both the name and version of the tool that SPS is using to open PDF documents.
  4. Now that you know which tool SPS is using, make sure that its version is 7.0.9 or greater. If you do not have a supported version, you will need to contact your local IT support person and ask for their assistance in upgrading the desired tool.
  5. Click anywhere in the informational window to close it.

What else should I know about the installation of Adobe Reader?

  • Important: If you have Acrobat installed, you may receive the following prompt during the installation:

Be sure to select Reader as the default application for viewing PDF's.

  • The first time you open a document with Reader, you will probably see the License Agreement screen:

You can Accept and continue on to view the document.

  • Before printing the first page, go to File -> Print and make sure you have:
    • Page scaling disabled (i.e., set to 'None')
    • Auto-Rotate and Center enabled (i.e., checked)

Your "Print" window should look like the "Print" window shown below:

If page scaling is enabled, you may end up with over sized margins and undersized text (violating NIH standards). If Auto-Rotate and Center is disabled, you will find forms meant to landscape may not look right.

Important: If you are using Reader 7.0.9 you will need to set the Page Scaling to 'None' each time you generate a form within SPS.

How do I request Citrix access to SPS?

Mac users running Mac OS X without VMWare or other virtualization server must use Citrix to access SPS Legacy.  Windows users who do not want to install SPS Legacy on their computer may optionally use Citrix. 

SPS is accessible from the Duke University Health System Citrix website. In order to run SPS from this website, you must have a DHE (Duke Health Enterprise) Active Directory account with rights to access Research Application Development Group applications from the Citrix web portal.

If you do not already have a DHE Active Directory Account, contact your LAN Administrator and request an account.  LAN administrators can request an account by filling out the web form at https://idms-web-netid.oit.duke.edu/affiliates/sponsor. The DHTS Service  Desk will contact you once your account request has been fulfilled.

Once you have a DHE account, contact the appropriate Service Desk (OIT or DHTS) and request that HS-CIS-ADG add your DHE account to the DHTS_ADG_SPS group in Active Directory.  OASIS will notify you once your DHE account has been added to the DHTS_ADG_SPS group.

See SPS Citrix Mac OS X Installation for more info.

I am using Safari and trying to generate form pages, but the resulting PDF files are not appearing on my desktop. What should I do?

A Mozilla-based browser must be used to generate form pages when accessing SPS from Citrix. If you are using Safari, a Java Citrix client launches instead of the native-Macintosh client, and the Java client does not support drive mapping.

I am using a Mozilla-based browser and trying to generate form pages, but the resulting PDF files are not appearing on my desktop. What should I do?

Assuming that the native-Macintosh Citrix client is launching, you may need to follow the steps below to setup/enable drive mapping for your Citrix client:

  1. Launch Citrix ICA Client Editor application. It is usually located in HD:Applications:Citrix ICA Client:Citrix ICA Client Editor, where HD is you local Macintosh hard drive.
  2. In the client editor, press Default Settings... button.
  3. In the Default Settings dialog box, select the Drives and Devices tab.
  4. For the C: drive, map it to HD:Users:username: folder, where username is your username. Check the Enable box, change the Read icon to eyeglasses, and the Write icon to a pencil; neither should be X'd out.
  5. Do the same for the V: drive.
  6. Press the Save button and exit from Citrix ICA Client Editor application.

After successfully generating form pages, I see two files on my desktop; a PDF file and an XFDF file. I selected the XFDF file and was told that the corresponding PDF file could not be found. What should I do?

Answer "Yes" to the informational dialog and a Finder window will appear.  Navigate to your Desktop, and select the PDF file with the same name as the XFDF.

It wasn't broken - why did you change it?

The forms used to be generated completely within SPS. However, every time NIH changed the forms, it required a major programming effort, spanning months of time, to get the forms updated, tested and ready for release. One set of NIH form changes also required the use of a new font, which would have made the programming effort even more difficult and time-consuming, with much greater potential for problems. It seemed like the time was right to take a new approach.

How does it work now?

SPS now gathers the data that belongs on the form and saves it in a special format called XFDF. The data for each page is created separately, and then an external process is used to combine the data together into one large XFDF file. The PDF forms for each page are also combined into one large PDF file. The final output for both is then saved to your hard drive. Adobe Reader knows how to open the XFDF file, find the PDF file that is associated with it and then merge the data onto the form.

Why can't I save my form packet to a new file after Reader opens it?

Reader has never been able to save changes made to a file. Reader merges the data onto the PDF for us, so to Reader it is similar to the user typing the data onto the form and trying to save it. Essentially, Reader will not let you save what it considers to be a changed copy.

Why can't I e-mail my forms anymore?

For the same reason that Reader will not save to a new file, it will also not allow you to send the merged document in an e-mail.

Isn't there any way around that problem?

You can buy Acrobat. Duke has a site license, so an individual copy of Acrobat can be obtained for a reasonable price from the Duke Computer Store. Acrobat will allow you to save a new copy of the form and e-mail it.

So everybody in my department has to buy Acrobat?

No, only the users who are generating and sending out the SPS forms need to have Acrobat. The recipients can continue to open the forms with Reader.

I don't want to buy Acrobat, but I need to send the files to somebody. Now what?

You will have to find the files that SPS generated and saved to your hard drive. In most cases, they will be in:


There are a million files in that directory, what gives?

As we mentioned above, SPS generates two files for each page in your packet. It then combines those files into the two files that you need. The files will be named with your dempo ID, an underscore, and then some random numbers and letters. For example, user BROOK006 might see:

BROOK006_ 7W617.xfdf
BROOK006_ 7W617.xfdf.pdf

Those names are ugly; I want to rename them to something else.

It is OK to rename the XFDF file. However, the XFDF refers to the PDF by its randomly generated name, so the name of the PDF must not be changed.

OK, I have my two files - how do I use them?

Double-click on the XFDF and Reader should find the associated PDF file and then merge its data onto the form.

Both files have the word XFDF in them - which one do you mean?

The XFDF file is the one that ends with XFDF. If you double-click on the PDF file you will see the form, but it will be empty with no data.

How can I send the files to somebody else?

You can attach both files to an e-mail and tell the recipient to save the attachments to his or her hard drive (they will not be able to double-click the XFDF file directly from the mail package). The files can be saved anywhere, but they must be together in the same directory. Once they have been saved, the recipient can double-click the XFDF file and see the data on the form.

I generated a form from SPS yesterday and now it's gone. Where did it go?

SPS periodically cleans up your output directory. If you want to save the output files indefinitely, then save the pair of files to a different directory.

I liked it a lot better before. What benefit do I get out of these changes?

The turnaround time to deliver support for new forms in SPS is much shorter now.

How do I generate legacy sponsor-specific forms from SPS-Web?

SPS Forms Generations Guides

Standard Departmental SPS DS Account Requests

  • Requests go directly to ORA (for the School of Medicine and School of Nursing) or to ORS (for Campus).  Note: If central level access (i.e., access to all proposal data) is needed, the request must go to both ORA and ORS for approval.
  • ORA/ORS determine if the person making the request is authorized to do so (usually the department’s SPS Security Officer or business manager).  If not, they touch base with the appropriate person to obtain departmental sign-off on the request.  They also ensure that the person for whom access is requested has the necessary expertise to understand the database structure and are skilled with using a query tool to manipulate the data.  Note: OASIS does not provide support for setting up ad hoc queries and/or customized reports.
  • For the School of Medicine and School of Nursing, ORA forwards the request to Rossi Evans in the School of Medicine Finance office for sign off.  The finance office offers a rich suite of Tableau reports and wants the opportunity to talk to the department to see if their needs can better be met by access to existing Tableau reports.
  • If necessary approvals have been obtained, ORA/ORS set up an SPS user record (if one does not already exist) and ensure that it is given rights to the appropriate BFR codes. If the user does have an SPS user account, they ensure that the user's access is restricted to the correct BFR codes; otherwise that account will be able to download SPS data for each department to which they have been given access.  ORA/ORS also turn on the decision support flag in the SPS user record and notify the department.

Non-Standard SPS DS Account Requests

  • If the request is for an SPS DS account that doesn’t fall within the existing SPS security framework (e.g., they are asking for access to data belonging to another department), then the request should go to OASIS since such requests require that customized views be created.
  • OASIS will forward a data request form to the departmental SPS security officer or business manager for completion.
  • Upon receipt of a completed data request form, OASIS clarifies the data being requested and forwards the request to ORA/ORS for approval.  If ORA/ORS authorize access to the data, OASIS does an initial analysis of the level of effort involved.
  • The request is presented at the next RAD stakeholders meeting to ensure that there is no concern about the data being provided.  If there are no concerns about granting access to the data, the stakeholders prioritize it along with other planned work for the upcoming quarter. 

Please note that these instructions apply to your password for the SPS Decision Support database (SPS DS), not the SPS application. The SPS application requires your institutional NetID/password combination. If you need to change your institutional NetID/password (used by SAP, Parking, Duke @ Work, etc.), please refer to the NetID FAQ [Opens in a new window].

If you know your current SPS DS password...

If you know your current SPS DS database password, then click here [Opens in a new window] to change it.

If you don't know your current SPS DS password...

If you don't know your current SPS-DS database password, then you will have to call the appropriate Service Desk and ask them to page ADG. Campus users should contact the OIT Service Desk at 919-684-2200. Duke Medicine users should contact the DHTS Service Desk at 919-684-2243. When the ADG representative calls you back, please explain that you have forgotten your SPS Decision Support password and need it reset.

SPS Registration

To Register for SPS, please contact your Pre-Award Office.

School of Medicine and School of Nursing:

Office of Research Administration
Phone: (919) 684-5175


Office of Research Support
Phone: (919) 684-3030

Grant & Space Information

Whom should I contact for help with REx?

You may call the DHTS Service Desk, at 919-684-2243.

Why can't I see my proposal or award in REx Grant & Space Information?

If any one of the following is true, you will not see your proposal or award:

  • The proposal does not have one of the following activity types (set in SPS): Clinical Trial, Research, Inst. Training Prgm., Fellowship
  • No portion of the current budget period (set in SPS) falls in the fiscal year you are looking at in REx.
  • You are using the 'by primary appointment' navigation in REx, and you are not looking in the PI's org (SPS proposal main notebook, Appt Duke Org).
  • You are using the 'by owning org' navigation in REx, and you are not looking in the award's owning org (SPS Award Info, space org).
  • The proposal has a status of 'Awarded-Inactive' and there is a Renewal. If a Renewal exists for something that is Awarded-Inactive, the out-year information for the Awarded-Inactive Award is replaced by the information from the Renewal.

Why can't I see my space in REx Grant & Space Information?

The space does not have one of the following functions (set in STAR):

  • 10 Departmental Training
  • 20 Sponsored Training
  • 21 Departmental Research
  • 22 Sponsored Research
  • 24 Clinical Trials
  • (function 25 was removed from this list in January 2005)

What room uses and functions are included in the REx Grant & Space Information?

You should refer to the REx hover tips for the most up-to-date information. This information is correct as of 5/15/2006.

  • Research Space: Room Use = any; Function = 20, 21, 22, 24
  • Lab/Office Space with Trans/Inactive Function (Sq Ft): Lab (Room Use = 2400, 25xx; Function = 81, 82) + 0.5 * Office (Room Use = 31xx; Function = 81, 82)
  • Lab Space with No Function (Sq Ft): No Function (Room Use = 2400, 25xx; Function not assigned) + No Division (Room Use = 2400, 25xx; Division not assigned)
  • Space with Shared Resource Function (Sq Ft): Room Use = any; Function = 26
  • Prorated Direct Funds Needed (by Owning Org): ((Research + Trans/Inactive Lab + No Function Lab) * $200) - Prorated Direct Costs
  • Prorated Direct Funds Needed (by Primary Appointment): (Research Space * $200) - Prorated Direct Costs

Grant Projections

Why can't I see my proposal or award in REx Grant Projections?

You may be looking at a cost center that does not have data for 2 complete fiscal years (e.g., if the current fiscal year is FY06 and a fairly new center got it's first award in FY05).

Year-to-Date Information

What SPS award data is included in the REx year-to-date data?

  • Status = Awarded, Awarded-Inactive
  • Proposal activity type = Clinical Trial, Research, Inst. Training Prgm., or Fellowship