Office of Sponsored Programs
The Ohio State University


Directions for Accessing e-Cert

Principal Investigators

  • Log onto the PI Portal using your Ohio State Internet user name and password
  • Select the “Profile” tab, then e-Cert.
  • Acknowledge that you have read the information about the effort certification process and your responsibilities as a certifier by clicking the Accept button at the bottom of the user Agreement (you will be asked to provide this acknowledgement the first time you access the system and at the first effort reporting cycle of each subsequent academic year).
  • Review the effort reports on your list.  You will see reports for yourself and any employees whose effort you certify.  For each correct report, click the check box to the right, then hit the Submit button at the bottom of the page.  The certified reports are removed from your list.  If the sponsored project effort on any report is not correct, do not click the check box but contact your department Human Resources Professional to initiate the necessary corrections.  Once the correction is made the report will be regenerated and will be available for certification.  Additional information on how to reallocate non-sponsored effort across instruction/ administration/sabbatical, etc., is included at the Help button.
  • For additional information on project appointments by month, click the E-Scan button on the Profile tab.  This tool will assist you in monitoring project appointments each month.

Research Staff
Individuals who do not have a PI Portal Profile but are required to certify their own effort can access e-Cert at

  • Log on using your Ohio State Internet user name and password.
  • Review the Agreement, which provides some information about the effort certification process and your responsibilities as a certifier, and click Accept  (this is an annual requirement).
  • Review and certify your reports as described above.

While the e-Cert system is straightforward and easy to use, you can send specific questions to the ORIS Help Desk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whose effort needs to be certified?
Effort has to be certified for all individuals who, during the subject quarter, receive some portion of their compensation from, or who contribute effort to, a sponsored project.

What effort needs to be certified?
A key concept is that hours are not certified, effort is.

  • 100% effort encompasses the total amount of time spent by a faculty or staff member to perform all of the activities required by his or her job with the university.
  • Effort is not based on a 40-hour week.

Individuals are required to certify 100% of their compensated effort.

  • Faculty members must account not only for their sponsored research and training effort (whether sponsor paid or cost shared), but also their instruction effort (including non-sponsored personal research, scholarship, and artistic endeavors as well as classroom teaching) and their service to the university on committees, etc.
  • Faculty members with patient care responsibilities must account for the clinical effort that is part of their university appointment.
  • Typically, graduate assistants have only 50% appointments.  However, that 50% appointment constitutes their entire “job” with the university and therefore represents 100% of their compensated effort.  Hence, their effort reports will show 100%.

What is the overall effort certification process?
In a proposal a specific level of effort is offered, an award is made with the expectation that the offered level of effort will be delivered, and a project is set up in the university accounting system.  The PI initiates personnel appointments on the project, and payroll costs are distributed based on these appointments.  Effort reports are generated from payroll information, and investigators are asked to certify that the effort reports reasonably represent how effort was actually expended.

A graduate student works on my grant and that of another PI but I am being asked to certify all of the effort.  Why am I being asked to do this?
When a student’s effort is spread over more than one project the PI responsible for the preponderance of the effort receives the effort report.  In the rare cases in which the student’s effort is split equally, one of the PIs is designated.  In such cases, please discuss the certification with the other PI so that you meet the first hand knowledge requirement before certifying the effort.

How can I certify something as nebulous as “effort”?
While the effort certification process suggests a high degree of precision, there is an acknowledgement that this is not usually the case and that the process is based on estimates.  The federal regulation states:

“It is recognized that, in an academic setting, teaching, research, service, and administration are often inextricably intermingled.  A precise assessment of factors that contribute to costs is not always feasible, nor is it expected.  Reliance, therefore, is placed on estimates in which a degree of tolerance is appropriate.”