InfoEd Proposal Development FAQs and Tips

This page answers common questions and provides tips for using InfoEd's PD (Proposal Development) module.


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Are You Done with That Proposal?

When you finish working in a proposal, make sure you click the "Done" icon in the upper left corner to exit the proposal. This will allow others to go in and edit the proposal.

How do I view my NIH Grant Number in Infoed?

You can look up on NIH Grant Number (e.g. R01CA12345) from the InfoED PD record once it has been assigned in Commons.

  1. Open the record in Proposal Development, go to the Finalize tab, then scroll to the Submission section.
  2. Click the latest Receipt Status:

3. Click the Refresh button on the pop-up window:


InfoEd retrieves the assigned Grant Number and any other available information from NIH eRA Commons:

I Can't Edit My Proposal

View Mode

Did you accidentally open your proposal in View Mode? Be sure to choose Edit instead of View when you open the record from the Search page.

Also, if you search for the proposal and see "In Use" with a yellow attention icon, that means someone else is in the record. This could even be you, if you didn't use the "Done" icon last time you exited the proposal - it will take 60 minutes for your old login to expire.

The first person to access a tab wins editing rights on that tab until they leave. If you navigate to that tab while they're still there, you will not be able to make any edits.

To resolve this issue, you can either wait for the person to move off or contact Sponsored Research to request that they remove any other users and unexpired logins from the record.

Cost Sharing

Important: Cost sharing can be entered on any view, but to edit any part of the budget after cost sharing has been entered, you must use a view other than Project.

What is XML Validation for?

The XML is the data sent by InfoEd to (and then on to the sponsor system, such as NIH Commons).

Clicking the validation button for XML will make InfoEd look at all the data entered to ensure it meets the required data elements, including if special characters are in addresses, title field, etc. It is a good idea to do this because then any errors can be fixed before clicking submit, which will make for a smoother submission process.
You can validate the application by clicking this orange button  on the Finalize tab. You don't need to build or assemble the application first.

There are two sections to the XML validation. The top section checks to see if all the required forms are present and looks something like this:

If any of the forms there are missing or give you a warning sign, let Sponsored Research know right away.

For sponsors NU doesn't apply to often, there may be an update we need to make to InfoEd to get the right form. This will cause submission errors and could make the proposal late if Sponsored Research doesn't have enough time to fix it.

The second section of the validation looks at the content in the forms for bad characters, missing data, etc. If any section doesn't say , go back to those tabs/forms and review until you find the problem. Contact your GO if you need help.

Job Aid: InfoEd Validations

Proposal Setup

Is This an Unsolicited Application?

Here's a little question that can cause big problems. The guiding rule is, if there is an opportunity number (RFA, BAA, PA, etc.), it is solicited.

If you answer this question yes, it is unsolicited, the funding opportunity number is removed from the application package. When InfoEd tries to validate the package against the rules of the opportunity, it errors out.

If you find yourself in this situation, the solution is simple (but time consuming). Go back to the Setup Questions page. Change the answer to "No." Re-select your opportunity number using the link provided. Complete the page. When you uncomplete your Setup Questions page, all of your pages will uncomplete. You will have to re-complete all of them that you have finished. That's the time consuming part!

Applying for Subcontracts in PD

Subcontracts are not submitted system-to-system, even if their prime proposals are.

When inputting a subcontract proposal in PD, always use the "Setup Manually" option on the proposal questionnaire. The non-S2S template was designed to be streamlined, so think small!

For example, you will have to create a detailed budget for the sponsor and attach it. There is no reason to recreate that wheel in PD. Just enter the people, a direct cost lump sum that incurs F&A, and a direct cost lump sum that is exempt from F&A.

Don't skip the proposal routing form on the Internal Documents tab; that's the key document most of your department reviewers will use to evaluate your proposal.

Job Aid: Proposal Development for non System-to-System Proposals

Change Titles in the Non-S2S Template

Changing a title in an S2S proposal is easy after you have built the proposal, you can change it on the face page at any time.
SF424 Page

However, the non-S2S template used for proposals to NSF, Foundations, Industry sponsors, etc. does not have a face page. The title on non-S2S proposals can be modified from the Proposal Routing Form once you have added it to the Internal Documents tab.

Change Titles for a Non-S2S LOI or Preliminary Proposal

When completing the Proposal Routing Form, selecting "Letter of Intent" or "Preliminary Proposal" prevents the rest of the fields from opening, including the title entry field that is used to change a non-S2S title after the record is created.

If you need to change the title in this case, first select "None of the Above" on the Proposal Routing Form, enter your title, then switch back to the appropriate proposal type. The title field will become hidden, but when you Complete the form it will save and populate the updated title on the proposal record.

My Sponsor or Subcontractor Isn't Listed in InfoEd

If a proposal sponsor or subaward institution is not yet listed in InfoEd, submit a request to add the entity by submitting a New Sponsor/Subcontractor Change Request in InfoEd.

For more information about requesting new sponsors or subcontractors, please see the Sponsored Research website: New Sponsor and Subcontractor Requests.
While you are waiting for a new sponsor or subcontractor to be added, do not choose a different entity to serve as a temporary placeholder. However, for sponsors (only) you may select option "zzz" as the sponsor while you wait for the new sponsor to be set up.


My Person Is Not Listed in InfoEd

If your person is an NU employee or student they should be selected from the official dropdown. This ensures that the proposal and award data work correctly for COI, effort reporting, various Cognos reports, NUFinancials award chartstring setup, and other key systems in use at NU.

Please contact Sponsored Research to get someone who is not listed added to the record.

If your person is listed but not with the departmental appointment you need to use on your proposal, you should also submit a request for InfoEd help on the Sponsored Research website.

If your person is key personnel but is not a Northwestern employee, make sure to add them on the subaward budget, or as an external person on the Personnel page.

See Budget Preparation: Adding External Other Significant Contributors and External Personnel

If your person is non-key, and/or does not need to be listed by name, you should add them as TBD.

See Budget Preparation: Additional Personnel-TBD and non-NU Personnel

What's My Role on This Project?

In case you need a cheat sheet as to what roles to use when creating proposals in PD's:


When to use


Use for NIH proposals with multiple PIs


Use for NSF proposals with multiple Co-Investigators


Use for Co-Investigators on S2S and non-S2S (NIH, foundations, subcontracts)


Use for faculty personnel

Post Doctoral

Use for post doctoral personnel

Post Doctoral Associate

Use for post doctoral associate personnel

Post Doctoral Scholar

Use for post doctoral scholar personnel

Other Professional

Use for other personnel not captured in other roles

Graduate Student

Use for graduate students

Undergraduate Student

Use for undergraduate students


Use for technicians


Use for consultants and contractors

Other (Specify)

Use for other personnel not captured in other roles. "Sponsor" is the approved F-series training grant faculty role.

SubAward PI

Use for Subcontracts. The system will default this for you. Do not change!

*Use appropriate role for TBD personnel

How to Change the PI

There are two ways to change the PI for a proposal: via the Personnel tab or the Budget tab.
From Personnel tab:

  1. Select the radio button for the PI.
  2. Click Save. (in the pop-up window)

Click Save when prompted:

From the Budget tab > Setup > Change PI tab:

Select the Change PI tab.

  1. If the PI is not already listed on the proposal, in the Name field, type the last name of the PI.
  2. In the Change the PI drop-down menu, select as applicable:
    1. Replace PI and Leave the Current PI on the Proposal
    2. Replace and Remove the Current PI
  3. Click Save.

Job Aid: Budget Preparation: Change PI and Budget Periods

Missing Phone Numbers on the Personnel Page

The Personnel you add to your budgets have contact information in InfoEd that is pulled directly from the myHR directory. If one of those people does not have a phone number listed in the directory, it won't be in your proposal, either. This will prevent you from completing your Personnel Page and, by extension, your proposal.

The implementation team has consulted with process owners from every school to develop a list of individuals who have the ability to change profile information in InfoEd. These "Genius Administrators" (InfoEd's term) or "Profile Administrators" (NU's term) are able to make those on-the-fly updates you need in your proposal to complete the page.

Job Aid: InfoEd Profile Administrator

If you do not have a Profile Administrator in your area and have a missing phone number or email in the profile of one of your key personnel, contact Sponsored Research.

If one of your key personnel members FROM NU is missing their NIH sponsor credentials, please submit a request to Sponsored Research, immediately. It's possible that the individual does not have a Commons ID yet, and will have to have one assigned.

Adding a Consultant into the Budget

  1. Go into the "Personnel" tab and add a person:
    See Budget Preparation: Adding External Other Significant Contributors and External Personnel
  2. Make sure to select External Consultant as the personnel type, and then select the other institution where they work.
  3. Return back to the Budget Items tab and add in their costs under the category of "Non-Personnel" Costs.
  4. Go back to the Personnel tab and upload their biosketch.
  5. Click on the consultant's name.
  6. While you can't change information for NU employees, you CAN for people you add to the system (don't get crazy and add NU employees this way, however, or it will destroy reporting!)
  7. Add the consultant's institution and any other contact information you need in the proposal.

Key Personnel vs. Non-key Personnel

When adding personnel to a proposal as Non-Key Personnel, it is simplest to select the Personnel Type of 'Non-Key' from the drop-down on the Personnel or Budget tab and then click Add.

However, if you select Key by accident, you can change this selection by clicking on the person's name from the Personnel tab and using the Personnel Type drop-down on the pop-up.


Limits on Non-key People/Budget Categories for S2S Proposals

Budget categories that are not standard to the SF 424 Budget forms are marked with an asterisk:


The forms can only accommodate ten non-standard ("extra") categories per budget period. Submitting with more extra categories would cause a submission error. If you try to include more, you will get this message from InfoEd:

Likewise, the SF 424 can only accommodate six "Other" non-key personnel roles with effort:

You can work around this limitation by grouping extra line items into broader categories, e.g. "Other Direct Costs" or "Other Research Personnel", then including details in your budget justification.

NIH $500,000 Cap

If one of your budget periods rounds up to $500,000, you will receive a warning when trying to complete the Cost Sharing page. In other words, PD is really validating to ensure that your budgets are BELOW $500,000. If you reduce one of the budget items by $1 to bring your direct costs for the period to $499,999, you will pass the validation.

But what happens, you ask, when the solicitation allows you to exceed $500,000 direct costs per budget period? Well, you can't simply ignore the warning, as you won't be able to complete your budget. What you can do is opt out of the $500,000 validation.

To do so, click the Mechanism opt in/out link on the Setup Questions Page or go to the Setup section of the Budget and find the Mechanism opt in/out tab. On the resulting pop-up list, you can choose to opt out of a variety of standard NIH validations, including the $500,000 dc cap.

But please, be careful. With this great power comes great responsibility. If you opt out of a validation unnecessarily, you are taking away one of InfoEd's most beneficial tools. The proposal you save may be your own.


Fixing Non-Standard Sized Scanned Documents

If you are trying to upload a PDF file that is not exactly 8.5 x 11 inches, you will get an error message similar to the following. "Your uploaded document contained 2 pages that are 8.499 x 11.7 inches in size. All uploaded documents must be exactly 8.5 x 11 inches."

Don't worry. The fix is simple. Use Adobe Acrobat Professional or Adobe Acrobat Standard to re-PDF the document. This will adjust the page size to exactly 8.5 x 11 inches. If you don't have this software available in your department, contact your local IT support personnel for assistance.

Follow these steps to change the page size.

  1. Look at Document Properties to see file size
  2. Verify that file size is not 8.5 x 11.0 inches
  3. Click Print icon
  4. Change Printer Name to Adobe PDF
  5. Make sure the "Choose Paper Source" and "Print to File" boxes are not clicked
  6. Click OK to print and then re-name new file.
  7. You should now be able to upload the document without difficulty.

I Got an Error about Bookmarks, Should I Ignore That?

No. InfoEd has a bookmark warning when you upload a PDF. This is important to pay attention to, because documents with bookmarks in them have caused submission errors in the past (both at and also at final systems, such as NIH Commons).

Even if you don't think you created any bookmarks in your PDF, it is important to check over the file; they may have been created when you combined two files into one PDF, for example, as this is often a default setting in PDF programs

Routing and Workflow

My PI  or Approver Deleted the Email. How Do They Approve?

Your PI can log into InfoEd directly and look at their action items to see any items where signoff is needed.
InfoEd Approvals
If your PI does not have the item in their action item list, check over the routing history carefully to make sure the item should be there (see My Proposal is "Stuck" in Route).

My Proposal is "Stuck" in Route

There are several reasons your proposal may not move forward in the route the way you expect it to. It's important to figure out which is the culprit so you can resolve the right problem.

  1. Someone who is supposed to approve has not approved.

    X marks the spot! Click on this adorable treasure map icon at the top of the Internal Documents tab to open the Route History.

    The "Notified" column shows the timestamp for the email notification/request:

    If the "Notified" column has a timestamp but the "Decision" column is blank, that means the person (or someone from their approval group) still needs to act on the request. Each routing step must complete before the next step's notifications are generated.

  2. Someone who was supposed to approve cannot approve.

    If the person cannot approve because they are not available (for example, they will be away from the office with no internet access until after the deadline), email your Sponsored Research Assistant SRO to request permission to bypass this person in the route. If approved, the SRO will contact someone on the Sponsored Research Info Team to complete the bypass.
    If the person who is supposed to approve is having a technical issue of some kind, please have them contact the Northwestern IT Support Center with a detailed description of the error: or 847-491-4357 (1-HELP), option 2.

PD Routing and Alternate Approvers

Most departments have multiple approvers, to accommodate absences, etc. The problem occurs when you follow the link in your approval email after someone else in your department* has already signed off. When this happens, you will see the standard Reviewer Dashboard, but it will not allow you to leave comments or take any action.

You can then view completed approvals using the "Route" tab to confirm that your approval is no longer required:

*The term "Department" is used loosely here. Approvers are set up at various levels of the organization to accommodate different routing needs. That may include divisions and dean's offices as well as departments.

If approvers are set up at your tier of the organization, one of those approvers must sign off on the proposal for that tier. We recommend that approvers have a plan beforehand for how the alternate approvers will know when their action is required (e.g. an agreement to disregard all notifications unless the RA sends an email directly).

I Got a Workflow or Approval Notification That's Not Mine

The most likely explanation is that your security is set up incorrectly. This most often happens if you switch to a new position and your previous department does not process security forms to terminate your old access.

If your access is incorrect, contact the person who processes security forms in your current area for assistance.

Users with the Profile Administrator role can verify someone's access using Module Admin > Investigator Administration, under the section, Roles and Responsibilities in Portal.

It's also possible that the person creating the proposal made a mistake, e.g. assigning it to the wrong department. If your access is correct, contact the proposal creator or other unit administrator to ask for assistance.

If your access is correct and the proposal is correctly assigned, but you simply to not wish to receive any notifications about proposals assigned to this unit, you can turn off your notifications:
Edit Email Notifications

I'm Missing a Workflow or Approval Notification

This often means that the proposal has not completed previous steps, and is not ready for your approval or action. See My Proposal is "Stuck" in Route for help determining which approvals are complete or pending.

You can also review your My Open Action Items (see My PI/Approver Deleted the Email... ) in case you accidentally deleted the message or do not have email notifications turned on.

You can check your notification settings and turn on emails as shown here:
Edit Email Notifications


Keywords: PD grants
Created: 2022-03-23 20:19:39
Updated: 2022-03-24 18:39:29

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Article ID: 1323
Thu 5/12/22 12:39 PM
Fri 1/13/23 10:05 AM