CERES: Department Reviewer Activities


Department Reviewer Activities

Note: The attachments contain a job aid related to this article.

When a research team completes a funding proposal, they submit it for review. The system sends an email notification to the appropriate reviewer, and the funding proposal appears in their CERES inbox. The proposal initially goes through a department review process. Department reviewers can add reviewer notes on the proposal pages and request clarifications or changes from the PI and RA. There can be multiple stages of Department Review that occur sequentially. The final step of Department Review cannot be completed until the PI certifies the funding proposal.

When the proposal passes Department Review, it enters Specialist Review, which is performed by SR. SR reviewers can add comments and edit the proposal themselves.This topic shows the basic procedure for a department review. It is essentially the same for SR reviews. While RAs generally will not be reviewing proposals, unless they are also considered a Department Reviewer, it is helpful to understand the review process.

  1. Open the proposal by clicking its name from the email notification or your CERES inbox.
  2. From the funding proposal workspace, click Review Funding Proposal.
  3. Review the data in the funding proposal. You can scroll through the proposal sections or use the Left Navigator to jump to specific sections.
    • To see what changed between this and a previous version, click Compare on the Left Navigator and select the version to compare against.
    • If you find problems, you can add reviewer notes for the PI. 
  4. After reviewing each section, select the check box at the bottom to indicate you have reviewed it.
    • The section turns from blue to green, and the check mark for the section also turns green.
    • If someone edits the proposal later, the check mark turns gray and an Edit icon appears, indicating to review that section again.
    • Note: If you do not use this change tracking feature, or miss a check box, it does not prevent the funding proposal from moving forward in the review process. 
  5. When finished reviewing, click Exit to return to the funding proposal workspace.
  6. If you found problems in the proposal, you can request changes from the PI and RA.
  7. If you are satisfied with the proposal, submit it for the next review in its workflow. 

Request Changes or Additional Information

During both department and SR reviews of a funding proposal, the reviewer can request clarifications or changes. You do this by adding reviewer notes to specific fields and pages in the funding proposal, and then issuing a clarifications request to the project owner. This topic illustrates the procedure with a funding proposal in Department Review, though the procedure is essentially the same for all project types and review cycles. 

To add reviewer notes to the funding proposal

  1. Open the funding proposal SmartForm for viewing. 
  2. Navigate to an item you want to comment on and click the note icon.
    • To comment on an entire section, click the note icon at the upper right corner of the section.
    • To comment on a specific question, click the note icon next to it.
  3. Complete the reviewer note form:
    • Type your note in the text box.
    • To require the project owner to respond to this note before the workflow can complete, select Response Required.
    • Attach supporting documents, if appropriate.Click OK to save your entries, and then click Close.
    • The note icon turns orange and shows the number of notes on that item. If you selected the Response Required checkbox, then “Response Required” will appear in red text above your note.
  4. Repeat steps 2 – 3 for all the fields/sections you want to comment on.
  5. To view the notes on a section or field, click its orange icon. The bottom of the reviewer note form lists all current notes for that item.
  6. When done adding reviewer notes, exit the SmartForm. CERES automatically saves your notes.

To view, change, or resolve a reviewer note

  1. To view a note on a section or field, click its orange icon. The bottom of the reviewer note form lists all current notes for that item.
  2. To make changes in a note, click Edit.
  3. To remove a note, click Delete.
  4. When the project owner has adequately addressed a note, you can document this by clicking Resolve this thread.

Note: If a response is required, the project owner must respond to the note before you can resolve it.

To send a clarification request to the project owner

  1. On the funding proposal workspace, click Request Changes.
  2. Type your general instructions in the Request Changes form and click OK.

The project enters the Department Review: Response Pending from PI state and appears in the project RAs CERES inbox. The RA and PI will receive email notifications with a link to the funding proposal letting them know that they must respond to the reviewer’s request. The funding proposal will become editable so the RA can make any requested changes.


Department Reviewer FAQ's

Question Answer

QIn the event that a reviewer (e.g. the Specialist) is unavailable, is there a way for someone else to see what’s in their inbox/queue?

A: Yes – another central office staff member can see the assignments for any other reviewer using the Proposals, Award, Award Mod lists. Similarly for department administrative contacts, they can view the full list of items for their area and assign themselves as the administrative contact as needed of specific items.

Q: Can we still edit any sections on the proposal after it has been submitted for department review and if so, which sections?

A: Once you submit to department review, the proposal is not editable. If it is sent back to the RA for clarifications it will become editable again.

Q: Can PI certification occur while a funding proposal is in draft or department review?

A: Yes, the PI certification can occur while a funding proposal is in draft or department review. The only workflow requirement is that the PI must certify before the proposal will move forward to Sponsored Research for Specialist Review. A tile on the Department Administrator dashboard will display the number of proposals in need of PI certification; after clicking on the tile, the list of proposals appears and can be downloaded to Excel for further follow-up.

Q: After department review, will the proposal go back to the originator/department to continue editing or will it go directly to Sponsored Research for review?

A: The proposal record will go directly to Sponsored Research once all department steps are completed unless the department reviewer sends it back for clarifications/updates.

Q: Do non-funded agreements need departmental approval?

A: No, there is no departmental approval step. The non-funded agreement will route directly to Sponsored Research.


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Article ID: 2255
Wed 4/5/23 12:50 PM
Tue 5/16/23 12:34 PM