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Frequently Asked Questions

    • A minimum of two quarters of data is necessary to generate information about change. Institutions should provide consistent data as far back as they are able; the longer the data series, the greater the documented base of evidence for impact. The STAR METRICS® team can provide guidance with large data sets. Please contact them when sending multi-year historical data. Please note that the greater the level of granularity (i.e. transaction data), the more accurate the reports will be.
    • Once the initial data upload is completed, data should be sent on a quarterly basis at the end of each calendar quarter. Baseline information will be maintained in the institution's profile. The Overhead Ratio does not need to be reentered each quarter but can be updated as often as the indirect cost proposal is updated - which is often yearly.
    • Most institutions have financial and human resources transaction periods that are weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Data should be sent at the frequency that they are generated. The "Period Start Date" and "Period End Date" refer to the start and end period associated with each data record. For example, if an institution's payroll records are bi-weekly, the data provided would reflect the bi-weekly pay period and would be the start and end dates of that pay period.
    • The STAR METRICS® team will convert the data to a calendar quarter.
    • Quarters are calendar quarters consistent with ARRA and other federal reporting as identified below:
      Q1: 1/1 to 3/31
      Q2: 4/1 to 6/30
      Q3: 7/1 to 9/30
      Q4: 10/1 to 12/31
    • An important goal of STAR METRICS® is to reduce institutions' reporting burden, so we would prefer to receive raw transaction level data rather than requiring institutions to create quarterly summary files. Transaction level data also improves data quality by enabling the team to handle changes within a given quarter, such as an individual changing status during a quarter (e.g. part-time to full-time, or occupational classification).

      We strongly urge institutions to send transaction level data so that the STAR METRICS® team can calculate consistent quarterly summaries. However, if an institution provides data to STAR METRICS® in a quarterly summary, the team will use the calculated summaries. In addition, transaction level data will allow for more detailed analyses and reports beyond the initial jobs reports.
    • Yes. Please submit a report with an indication that there are no data to be reported.
    • Data will be accepted in CSV or XML format. Further details can be found in the Technical Specification Guide ( pdf | doc ).
    • The STAR METRICS® team is very conscious of the need to minimize burden, and so asks institutions only to provide data that are readily available in existing systems. Please contact the STAR METRICS® team if guidance is needed.
    • The STAR METRICS® team plans to eventually have de-identified information available to authorized researchers for statistical purposes in order to assess the impact of science investments. However, we will work with participating institutions to determine the best approach. One possible approach is that authorized researchers, with written approval from the participating institutions, would be able to access the data in order to develop different types of metrics.
    • The Most Common Data Challenges "tips" sheet ( pdf | doc ) describes frequent challenges faced when preparing data submissions for Level I.
    • Other Funding Source (OFS) codes represent a coding scheme that allows STAR METRICS® participants to categorize non-federal and "other" special award funding sources (in addition to their federal award funding sources) for reporting purposes. These codes may be used in lieu of CFDA codes within the "Unique Award Number" data element, as defined in the STAR METRICS® Data Dictionary, for awards that do not have a CFDA code. Please note that OFS codes are specifically designed for STAR METRICS® reporting purposes and do not constitute a federal standard.

      A list of OFS codes is available here: ( pdf | xls )
    • The STAR METRICS® team would like data on all federal awards (ARRA and non-ARRA). However, at the present time institutions should not include federal loan funds, non-federal sponsored projects, university funds, or gifts.
    • The Unique Award Number identifies the award and contains both the funding source and the award ID. For federal awards with CFDA numbers, it is defined by concatenating the 6-position CFDA code with the Federal Award ID assigned by the federal agency. For non-federal awards or federal awards with no CFDA number, the format is the same, but a 6-position Other Funding Source (OFS) code ( pdf | xls) replaces the CFDA code.

      An example might be:
      "47.074 AGS-0120950" where "47.074" is the CFDA code and "AGS-0120950" is the Federal Award ID. When concatenating the CFDA code and the Federal Award ID to create the Unique Award Number, a space should be left between the CFDA code and Federal Award ID as shown in the example above (i.e. no commas or dashes between the two fields).
    • The Recipient Account Number is the internal systems identifier that uniquely tracks each federal award received by your institution. The STAR METRICS® team uses this number as a key to link institutions' data records. If an institution does not have a consistent Recipient Account Number across awards, they should discuss this with the STAR METRICS® Team so that another method may be employed.
    • The Overhead Charged by award is the actual F&A or indirect dollars charged to the award in the specific period. This may include charges from multiple accounts depending on how a university's accounting system works.
    • Information on overhead comes from your Indirect Cost Proposal. This requires the calculation of one number that should be provided initially and updated when there is a change. A subset of the STAR METRICS® FDP working group has determined that the least burdensome approach is as follows:
      Retrieve your adjusted cost by cost pool. Then, calculate the total salaries and fringe benefits, as well as the total non-labor costs. Sum each across cost pools, and calculate the proportion as (salaries and fringe benefits)/(salaries and fringe benefits plus non labor costs).
      This number should be provided to the STAR METRICS® team during the initial data submission process by updating the Institutional Profile, Data Analysis Detail section within the Management function. In the Data Analysis Detail section of the Institutional Profile, you may also enter the "Average Quarterly Salary" for your institution. If provided, this value is used when calculating institutional support jobs instead of salary numbers derived from census data based upon the institution's DUNS number.
      Note that these are intended to produce estimates of jobs in a statistical context, not an accounting context. So, you can also provide us with a range of proportions, and we will generate separate estimates for each proportion you provide.
    • This is a unique identifier, typically an existing University ID, which does not contain a Social Security number or any other personally identifiable information (PII). In situations where an institution uses personally identifiable information to identify employees, the STAR METRICS® team will work with the institution to develop an acceptable solution.
    • Each university has different occupational categories in their Human Resource system. The pilot universities agreed to map the occupational classifications to eight aggregate categories: Technician/Staff Scientist, Clinicians, Research Support, Research Analyst/Coordinator, Faculty, Undergraduate Student, Graduate Student, and Post Graduate Researcher.

      Institutions do not need to remap their data to these aggregate categories and may provide their own job classifications in this requested field. The STAR METRICS® team maps institutions' job classes to the aggregates. Those mappings are then returned to the institution for verification and validation.
    • Job classifications are mapped once a research institution has submitted an employee file to the STAR METRICS® team. The team maps each unique research institution job classification from the employee file(s) to a standardized STAR METRICS® job classification. Each job classification map is hand processed and then sent to the research institution for confirmation along with the job reports that are generated. In cases where job classifications need clarification, the STAR METRICS® team consults the university POC and the research institution HR website to clarify job titles and responsibilities. The table below provides a template for how jobs are mapped.
      STAR METRICS® Job Classification Examples of Research Institution Job Classifications
      Technician/Staff Scientist
      • Lab Technicians
      • Animal Technicians
      • Engineers
      • Statisticians (i.e. SAS Programmers)
      • Research Scientists
      • Professors (all ranks)
      • Lecturers
      • Chaired Positions
      • Deans (academic)
      • Scholars
      Research Analyst/Coordinator
      • Analysts
      • Research Associates
      • Research Study Coordinators
      Post Graduate Researcher
      • Medical Residents/Interns
      • Post Doctoral Fellows
      • Undergraduates
      • Summer Research Assistants
      • Summer Volunteers
      • Work Study
      Grad Student
      • Medical Students
      • Graduate Teaching Assistants
      • Graduate Research Assistants
      • Doctors
      • Dieticians
      • Psychologists
      • Nurses
      • Medical Technicians
      Research Support
      • Assistants (non-technicians)
      • IT Professionals
      • Secretaries
      • Non-Faculty Administrators
      • Unknown/Unclear Job Classifications
    • The data elements that are provided do not permit identification of such personal characteristics.
    • "FTE Status" is the institution's own designation of the status of the funded personnel. For example, full time = 1.0, half time = 0.5.
      In some cases when the actual percentage of time is not available, the university can choose an allocation based on the type of job held – for example:
      All student positions count as 0.5 FTE
      Other positions count as 1.0 FTE
    • Proportion of Earnings Allocated to Award represents the earnings charged by the employee to the award divided by total employee earnings in the time period.
    • Yes, this is the best source for this information.
    • Institutions should include any retroactively adjusted payroll information that is part of regularly generated HR system reports. A revised copy of the data that has been previously submitted will then be uploaded. For quarterly updates, revised data from no more than two (2) quarters after the original data submission will be accepted. Institutions should resubmit a whole replacement file, which will be used to overwrite the previously-submitted data file(s).
    • The team will normally only track direct charges to the HR system. However, if an institution wishes to provide data on cost-sharing, these data can be noted on the institution's profile.
    • The STAR METRICS® data is housed at the NIH Data Center and adheres to Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) guidelines. The NIH Data Center provides a secure computing environment suitable for applications and data categorized at the low or moderate security level per FIPS Publication 199, Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information System. The NIH Data Center will be able to provide a secure computing environment suitable for applications and data categorized at the high security level soon.
      NIH CIT has implemented appropriate security controls conforming to the FISMA to protect your systems. CIT maintains physical and host system security controls and procedures to protect the computer hardware, applications, and data from improper access by unauthorized individuals and to ensure continued availability.
    • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption is used.
    • Data can be submitted either through NIH's Secure Email Procedure or through the web upload feature. Details on each process can be found in the Technical Specifications Guide.
    • The data are transmitted to and housed at NIH Central IT. Access is limited to a few members of the STAR METRICS® team, and is for analytical purposes only. Individual institution-level data will not be released to any party other than the institution itself, except to the extent required by law.
    • The STAR METRICS® team will generate the reports once the data files have been validated. The reports will provide institutions with auditable and standardized measures of the initial impact of university awards on job creation.
    • Yes, the STAR METRICS® approach can be used to help inform future quarterly ARRA reporting. However, submitting data to the STAR METRICS® project does not constitute fulfillment of an institution's ARRA reporting requirements.
    • Upon receipt of an institution's data, the STAR METRICS® team will validate the data and perform any necessary adjustments to the data files (e.g., mapping job classifications). Once this process is complete, the data will be analyzed and the reports will be created.
    • Individual institutions' reports will be made available to only designated institution personnel and federal grant supporting agencies.
    • The STAR METRICS® team will aggregate the data so that individual institutions cannot be identified. However, institutions will be able to download and view their own data.
    • If the institution identifies errors in reports that have been generated, the STAR METRICS® team will work with the institution to identify and resolve the source(s) of the errors. Once the problems have been resolved, new reports will be generated.
  • If your institution participates in InCommon and is federated with the NIH, please log on to STAR METRICS® using the same user ID and password that you use for your institutional systems. When you click Log On, select the "Research Organization" option then select your institution from the list. You will be redirected to your institution's log on system, then returned to STAR METRICS® after authenticating.

    If your institution is not part of InCommon and/or not federated with the NIH, please use the "NIH Staff" option on the Log On page with the user ID provided to you by the STAR METRICS® team and the password you created.

    • If you are logging on for the first time using a user ID provided by the STAR METRICS® team, use the initial password that you received along with the user ID. Upon successful authentication, you will be prompted to change your password.

      Note: It is strongly recommended that you visit https://IForgotMyPassWord.nih.gov after you log on for the first time. This site will allow you to register your account and set security questions/answers that may be used to reset your password or unlock your account if you forget your password. When registering, be sure to select "NIHEXT" as the Domain.

    • Since users may only log into STAR METRICS® once per quarter, it can be very easy to forget your password. Additionally, your account may become locked if you attempt to log on three (3) times unsuccessfully. If you've registered your account at https://IForgotMyPassWord.nih.gov, you can quickly and easily reset your password or unlock your account.

      If you don’t use the above facility and have difficulty logging onto STAR METRICS®, please contact starmetrics@nih.gov.

    • If you wish to avoid having to remember a new user ID and password to log on to the STAR METRICS® website, your institution may consider joining InCommon and becoming federated with the NIH. By doing so, you can use your existing institutional user ID and password to access STAR METRICS®!

      To learn more, please refer to the following resources:

      Once you have joined InCommon, you can become federated with NIH by sending an email request to nihfederationrequest@mail.nih.gov.

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