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NEC Spotlight July 19th, 2024
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Subaward Participant Activity Survey: Simplifying and Standardizing Evaluation for Subawards

Posted by on June 28th, 2024 Posted in: Blog

Subawards are a key pillar of the NNLM’s outreach mission. As a result, it is essential to collect evaluative data on the impact of these subawards in order to convey the full value-add of the Network to decisionmakers. To support this goal, NEC created the Participant Activity Survey for Subawardees (PAS-SUB) in partnership with the Evaluation Working Group (EWG) and UEP. The purpose of the PAS-SUB is to evaluate subaward-funded activities in a rigorous and standard manner.

Below, we’ve outlined reasons why subawardees should use the PAS-SUB, how ROC staff can support subawardees when using the survey, and additional resources available to ROC staff and subawardees.

Both NEC and UEP request that all NNLM subawardees use the PAS-SUB. ROC staff should communicate with their Project Scientist, Martha Meacham, and NEC to explain how the funded activities will be properly evaluated if the PAS-SUB will not be used. Per UEP, the PAS-SUB may be used by subawardees even if their projects were already funded with a different evaluation approach.


  • It’s ready to use. The PAS-SUB was reviewed by the Northwestern University IRB and determined to be “non-human subjects research.” Also, NLM EP approved the survey for use by NNLM subawardees. Therefore, no additional IRB review is required, unless specifically mandated by the subawardee’s organization.
  • It’s easy to use. Using the PAS-SUB reduces the overall time needed for subawardees to develop a comprehensive, yet succinct survey based on evaluation best practices.
  • It’s adaptable. In addition to the core set of standardized questions in the survey, the PAS-SUB provides subawardees with the option for participants to rate how well the activity achieved specific learning objectives. This supports our shared goal of providing subawardees with meaningful and actionable survey feedback. These learning objective questions are optional.
  • It’s short, easy to complete, and inclusive. On average, respondents will complete the online survey in less than five minutes. The survey and support materials are available in English and Spanish.
  • It’s ready for impact. It is critical to collect impact data to convey the value-add of the NNLM to member organizations, NLM & NIH leadership, and Congress. The PAS-SUB is designed to collect NNLM impact data in a standardized manner.


Since ROC staff communicate directly with subawardees throughout the application and award implementation lifecycle, NEC relies on ROC staff to partner with subawardees when using the PAS-SUB survey. The following step-by-step guides outline the responsibilities of ROC staff.

Pre-Activity Step-by-Step Guide for ROC staff:

  1. Download PAS-SUB instructions for (a) ROC staff and (b) subawardee from Confluence
  2. Review PAS-SUB ROC staff instructions
  3. Provide PAS-SUB subawardee instructions to subawardee; discuss opportunity to provide activity-specific learning objectives
  4. Collect required information from subawardee
  5. Complete PAS-SUB URL Generator (learning objectives are optional) & copy URL
  6. Send URL and use instructions to NNLM subawardee via email

Post-Activity Step-by-Step Guide for ROC staff:

  1. After data collection period has ended, request survey responses from NEC using the online support request form (OR download from REDCap)
  2. Receive survey responses from NEC
  3. Share survey responses with subawardee


The following resources for ROC staff and subawardees are available on Confluence.

  • PAS-SUB Instructions for ROC staff
  • PAS-SUB Instructions for NNLM subawardees (English & Spanish)
  • SMART learning objectives guidance
    • Written resources (English & Spanish)
    • Recorded resources (English & Spanish)

Please reach out to NEC (nec@northwestern.edu) with any questions or feedback!

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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