NIH Biographical Sketch Format Changes & Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications
CHANGES to POLICIES, INSTRUCTIONS and FORMS (October 13, 2015)
Notice Number: NOT-OD-16-004
This notice informs the biomedical and health services research communities of planned changes to policies, forms and instructions for grant applications submitted in 2016.
The planned changes focus on the following areas:
- Rigor and transparency in research
- Vertebrate animals
- Inclusion reporting
- Data safety monitoring
- Research training
- Font requirements
- Biosketch clarifications
Some of the new policies require additional data collection and updates to application forms. NIH has received approval from the Office of Management and Budget to make the needed form updates and expects to have system support and guidance for these updates in place by March 25, 2016 (NOT-OD-15-146).
In order to move forward with the subset of policies which must remain consistent for all research applications in a funding year, NIH will implement the policy and guidance changes in two phases.
Phase 1: Implements a subset of the policy changes using existing (FORMS-C) forms and updated instructions and will impact due dates on or after January 25, 2016.
Phase 2: Completes the implementation with the introduction of new (FORMS-D) forms and instructions and will impact due dates on or after May 25, 2016.
BIOSKETCH FORMAT CHANGES (May 25, 2015)
NIH and AHRQ will require use of the new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.
Notable changes to the new format are:
- Page limit extended from 4 to 5 pages
- New Section C-Contribution to Science, requires researchers to describe their most significant contributions (not to exceed 5). Each description should be limited to one-half page or less and should include the following:
- Historical background framing the scientific problem
- Outlined findings of prior work and subsequent effect
- Description of Investigator's role(s) in the discoveries
- References--Up to 4 peer-reviewed publications or non-publication research products for each discovery
- Hyperlink to a full list of Investigator's publications in MyNCBI or SciENcv
Biosketch Templates and Instructions with samples are available at NIH's Application and Electronic Submission page. Those templates can also be downloaded here:
- Download a template for Senior/Key Personnel and Other Significant Contributors
- Download NIH Instructions and Sample for Senior/Key Personnel and Other Significant Contributors
- Download NYU Silver Sample for Senior/Key Personnel
- Download a template for Individual Pre/Post Doctoral Fellowships, Dissertation Research Grants (R36), and Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Administrative Supplement).
- Download Instructions and Sample for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships
- Download Instructions and Sample for Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships
SciENcv and My NCBI Tools
You can include a link to your complete list of publications in Science Experts Network (SciENcv) or myBibliography (from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). SciENcv enables you to link biographical information with publication records in PubMed or myBibliography. If you have an NIH eCommons account, you will be able to use SciENcv to create an NIH biosketch very quickly.
- Start Using SciENcv to Create and Maintain your Biosketch Profiles - Click on the green button on the SciENcv homepage to start creating your biosketch profiles
- SciENcv Instructional YouTube Video - This video focuses on special features in SciENcv that help users create, share, and maintain NIH Biosketch profiles for federal grant applications. Anyone with a My NCBI account can use SciENcv.
- SciENcv Overview - This page provides a general overview of SciENcv and future direction.
- My NCBI Help
- My NCBI YouTube Tutorials
- My NCBI Home Page - Tour the new, customizable My NCBI home page and functions.
- Save Searches and Set E-mail Alerts - Save searches and set up e-mail alerts for new results in many NCBI databases.
- My Bibliography: Public Access Compliance - Link funding to your citations and manage compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
- My Bibliography - How to use the My Bibliography component of My NCBI
- Save Search Results in Collections, including the Favorites collection - How to save your search results in Collections, including the Favorites collection.
Additional Guides and Instructions
NIH COMMUNITY NOTICES AND AGENCY UPDATES
TOGGLE OPEN TO VIEW THE LATEST NOTIFICATIONS FROM NIH
As you are aware, the Government Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 ends on September 30, 2015 and an Appropriation Act for FY2016 has not been passed. The Administration strongly believes that a lapse in appropriations should not occur, and that there is enough time for Congress to act to prevent a lapse. However, prudent management requires that we prepare for an orderly execution of contingency plans in the unfortunate event of a lapse. In the event a continuing resolution or a FY2016 budget is not passed and a lapse of funding occurs, NIH wanted to provide you with information related to our grant administration processes.
(Release Date: August 20, 2015)
The new budget limit, effective with publication of this Notice, will be: $400,000 in total (direct and indirect) costs per year. This budget limit is being implemented for all competing large research grant applications submitted to these two FOAs, including new, renewal, resubmission, and revision applications. The new grant budget limits for large research and demonstration grant applications will be in effect until further notice from AHRQ.
(Release Date: August 12, 2015)
Building on the most recent scientific progress and scientific opportunities to most likely contribute to ending the AIDS pandemic, developing a cure for HIV/AIDS, and achieving an AIDS-free generation, NIH has identified the highest HIV/AIDS research priorities for the next 3-5 years. NIH will use these guidelines to ensure that AIDS resources are supporting the highest HIV/AIDS research priorities. The overarching NIH HIV/AIDS research priorities are: 1) research to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS, including the development of safe and effective HIV/AIDS vaccines; 2) development of the next generation of HIV therapies with improved safety and ease of use; 3) research towards a cure for HIV/AIDS; and 4) HIV-associated comorbidities and co-infections. Basic research, health disparities, and training that cross-cut these priorities also will be supported. Implementation of these priorities will begin with fiscal year 2016 funding of HIV/AIDS research.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeks input on the restructuring of the NIH grant application instructions. We invite comments from any interested parties. We encourage feedback from PD/PIs, Administrative Offices, Offices of Sponsored Programs, Systems Administrators, and any other parties that rely on our application submission information.
The NIH is fully committed to maintaining public trust in the NIH research enterprise. Attempts to influence the outcome of the peer review process through inappropriate or unethical means result in needless expenditure of government funds and resources, and erode public trust in science. Thus, all participants in the process, including investigators named on an NIH grant application, and officials of institutions applying for NIH support, are expected to respect the integrity of NIH peer review.
This Guide Notice states the NIH position concerning the responsibilities of these participants in maintaining the integrity of the NIH peer review process, as well as potential consequences for any inappropriate or unethical attempt to influence the outcome of the NIH peer review process.
NIH first announced in the Interim Grant General Conditions released on February 5, 2015, that for projects ending on or after October 1, 2014, recipients must submit a Final Federal Financial Report (FFR), Final Progress Report (FPR), and Final Invention Statement and Certification (FIS) within 120 calendar days of the end of the period of performance. NIH will apply this policy change to all projects with a period of performance end date on or after October 1, 2014. For any grants with a period of performance (project period) end date prior to October 1, 2014, the reporting deadline will be 90 days from the project period end date.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Extramural Research (OER) plans to clarify and revise application instructions and review criteria to enhance reproducibility of research findings through increased scientific rigor and transparency. These updates, pending approval by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), will take effect for applications submitted for the January 25, 2016, due date and beyond.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is committed to improving the health outcomes of men and women through support of rigorous science that advances fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems. Sex and gender play a role in how health and disease processes differ across individuals1, and consideration of these factors in research studies informs the development and testing of preventive and therapeutic interventions in both sexes. This notice focuses on NIH's expectation that scientists will account for the possible role of sex as a biological variable in vertebrate animal and human studies. Clarification of these expectations is reflected in plans by NIH's Office of Extramural Research (OER) to update application instructions and review questions; once approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), these updates will take effect for applications submitted for the January 25, 2016, due date and thereafter.
NIH BIOSKETCH ALERT (Spring 2015)
NIH and AHRQ will require use of the new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.
Please visit the special NIH Biosketch section of the OFR Pre-Award Pages for a detailed explanation and resources that will help you quickly tailor your biosketch to the new specifications.
To read the official notification from NIH, visit their New Biographical Sketch Format Update page.
Organization Of NIH
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is a major source of funding for social work research. It consists of more than 27 Institutes and components. Read a description of the different Institutes and the organization of NIH. When submitting a grant proposal, you should strategize by keeping in mind an Institute within NIH who will fund or sponsor it. It is important to "know your institutes."
Most of the Institutes within NIH have web pages with extensive resources and advice for proposal preparation. We highly recommend you visit those web pages, which are accessible from the above resource.
NIH Grant Mechanisms
NIH has different grant mechanisms.
R-series grants are research grants. The most common R-series grants are R-03 grants (small grants restricted to $50,000 in direct costs), R-21 grants (exploratory projects restricted to two years and $275,000 in direct costs), R-34 grants (feasibility studies for clinical trials, restricted to 3 years and $375,000 in direct costs) and R-01 grants (major studies for up to five years and $2.5 million in direct costs).
K-series grants are mentoring grants. A K-01 (Mentored Research Scientist Development Award) grant provides support and “protected time” (three, four, or five years) for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. Some Institutes within NIH use the K-01 award for individuals who propose to train in a new field, but this is not true of all Institutes. Other Institutes use the K01 award to increase research workforce diversity by providing enhanced research career development opportunities. A K-08 (Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award) is similar to a K-01 but is focused on individuals.
P-Series grants are to develop centers. The P-20 grant supports planning for a new center, expansion or modification of existing center resources, and feasibility studies to explore center-based approaches to the development of interdisciplinary programs. P-30 grants support a center with shared resources and facilities for research by multiple investigators who represent a multidisciplinary team for joint research efforts. P-30 grants often follow from P-20 grants.
NIH Grant Submission Deadlines
NIH allows for unsolicited proposal submission three times a year, with each submission date referred to as a “cycle.” There are four month intervals between cycles. Different types of grants have different due dates. For example, R01 grant proposals are due at the beginning of a month and R21 grants are due in mid month. View a searchable chart of the NIH due dates by submission cycle.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a useful link discussing issues in the timing of application submissions. Although technically it applies only to that Institute, many of the issues apply to other Institutes in NIH. This is a web page worth studying.
NIH New Funding Opportunities
NIH issues requests for applications and proposals to encourage researchers to submit proposals on specific topics. The most common are RFAs (Request for Applications) and RFPs (Request for Proposals). Some RFAs and RFPs have set aside funds for their funding. Others simply represent pleas by NIH for research in areas critical to the NIH mission that have been understudied. The latter proposals are submitted as part of the normal review cycle. The former often have specialized review cycles. The announcement for an RFA or RFP will indicate if there are set aside monies for the program and how much money has been set aside.
NIH proposals are reviewed by panels of scientists called scientific review groups (also known as "study sections"). There are many scientific review panels, organized by area of expertise. They are housed within the Center for Scientific Review. You can request NIH to assign your proposal to a given review group in a cover letter when you submit a grant. It is smart to do your homework and to select a review panel to submit your proposal to rather than let it be assigned by a non-expert in the NIH routing office who bases assignment largely on the title, abstract, and a cursory reading of the specific aims section.
Members of a standing review panel are appointed for a fixed period of time. All review panels have an administrative officer assigned to them, called a scientific review officer (SRO). If you have questions about the panel and the formal processing of your proposal, contact this individual. Their email addresses are available on links to membership rosters provided below. The year a member rotates off a committee is indicated by a two digit designation in parentheses after their name on the committee roster (e.g., (14) means the person rotates off the committee in 2014).
View a list of standing review groups, descriptions of them, and their membership rosters.
In addition to the standing review groups in the Center for Scientific Review, many Institutes within NIH have their own review panels (called Awarding Institute Standing Committees). You also can request in your cover letter that your proposal be reviewed by one of these panels instead of a panel in the Center for Scientific Research. View a list of these more specialized review groups, descriptions of them, and their membership rosters.
SUB-INSTITUTE STANDING REVIEW PANELS
Within NIH, there are several sub-institutes that are of special interest to faculty at SSSW, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Aging. Each of these Institutes has review groups that are part of the Awarding Institute Standing Committees.
The National Institute of Mental Health has three review groups. They are:
- Interventions Committee for Adult Disorders (ITVA). See a description of this committee.
- Interventions Committee for Disorders Involving Children and Their Families (ITVC). See a description of this committee.
- Mental Health Services Research Committee (SERV). See a description of this committee. See a list of the members of the review panel of the committee.
The National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse has four review groups, two of which faculty at the SSSW often work with. See a description of the four committees. The two committees of most relevance to the SSSW faculty are:
- The Epidemiology, Prevention and Behavior Research Committee (AA-2). See a description of this committee and its membership roster.
- The Clinical, Treatment, and Health Services Research Committee (AA-3). See a description of this committee and its membership roster.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse previously had four review groups that were part of the Awarding Institute Standing Committees, but they have been eliminated. All reviews are conducted by the Standing Review Groups.
The National Institute of Child Health and Development has eight review groups. The three groups of most relevance to SSSW faculty are:
- The Biobehavioral and Behavioral Sciences Committee (CHHD H). See a description of this committee and its membership roster.
- The Health, Behavior, and Context Committee (CHHD M). See a description of this committee and its membership roster.
- The Population Sciences Committee (CHHD W). See a description of this committee and its membership roster.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has nine review groups. However, NCI is in the process of revising its review structure, with many of these committees now inactive. See a description of the review committees for NCI.
The National Institute on Aging has four review groups. The two groups of most relevance to SSSW faculty are:
- Clinical Aging Review Committee (NIA C) See the membership roster for this committee.
- Behavior and Social Science of Aging Committee (NIA S). See the membership roster of this committee.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND OF REVIEW PANEL MEMBERS
To assist you in gaining information about the research background and orientations of review panel members, we provide links below (created by our office) to selected review panels of interest to faculty in SSSW and the research backgrounds of their members. Click on a panel name to see a description of the panel, followed by a list of the current members of that panel. For the list of members on a panel, click on their name and you will automatically get the results of a PubMed search for that person so you can see the research the reviewer engages in. This will help you “know your audience.”
Note: Panel membership rotates annually in June and rosters listed on this website are updated in September. The current listings were updated as of September 2016.
NIH Review Criteria and Review Process
Proposals are evaluated by a panel in a face-to-face meeting of the panel (although reviews are occurring with greater frequency by phone or video conferencing to save money). Download a description of the formal process by which reviewers assign scores, how the scores of individual reviewers are combined during the reviewer meeting, and how decisions are made to discuss or not discuss proposals.
Download the formal review criteria used by reviewers for R-series grants, a copy of the rating scale that reviewers use to rate these grants, and the formal template the reviewers are asked to complete for each R grant.
Download a list of the most common reasons R grants are given poor ratings by reviewers.
Download the formal review criteria used by reviewers for K-series grants, a copy of the rating scale that reviewers use to rate these grants, and the formal template the reviewers are asked to complete for each K grant.
Download a list of the most common reasons K grants are given poor ratings by reviewers.
Grants receive scores on a 1 to 10 scale, with higher numbers reflecting a worse score. About 60% of the grants are scored as “Not Discussed,” which means that they are in the lower 60% of proposals reviewed. Such grants are not discussed at the face-to-face review meeting. You are provided a summary sheet of reviewer evaluations of the proposal, whether or not it was discussed in the reviewer meeting. These are made available about two to four weeks after the review panel meets. The summary sheets are made available on the government website called “eRAcommons.” Contact the Office for Research staff to obtain an account for eRAcommons (email@example.com).
Although it varies by Institute within NIH and budget cuts imposed on NIH by Congress, grants that receive scores in the top 10% are typically funded. If your grant is discussed, you will receive a percentile ranking of your proposal. Otherwise, you will receive a score of ND (not discussed).
You are allowed one re-submission of a proposal. Some researchers decide they should not bother resubmitting if their proposal was not discussed. The decision to resubmit should be based on the content of the summary sheet of reviews and whether you think the criticisms can be addressed. Sometimes the difference between being discussed and not being discussed is determined by a fraction of a point on the rating scale, so it is better to base resubmission decisions on the summary sheet comments rather than the ratings of the proposal per se.
When you submit a resubmission, you write a one page response to the reviews and physically flag changes in the main grant by italicizing or right-lining in the margin the new text. You should approach reviewer comments as constructive criticism. Do not fight with reviewers, but stand up for what you believe is right. Usually, fighting with reviewers is a losing battle.
_Only 8% of grants are funded on their first submission. Resubmissions are the norm.
As of April 2014, NIH now allows proposals that have gone through the submission and resubmission process without being funded to be submitted as a new grant that makes no reference to the original submission. Prior to April 2014, the mandated delay before submitting a previously submitted proposal as a new proposal was three years. There is no longer a waiting period.
NIH Successful Grant Examples
See a list of the titles of all grants recently funded by NIH.
The Office for Research in the SSSW has secured copies of successful grant proposals for our faculty to use as models for crafting their own proposals. Some of these proposals were written when the page limits at NIH were longer (but they are still useful for seeing how grants are structured) and others meet the current page limits. The documents should be treated as confidential and not circulated. They are for your personal use only. You are required to enter a password to access each document. These documents are password protected. If you require the password please contact the Office for Reseach at firstname.lastname@example.org. Example of a R03; _ Example of a R21; Example of a R34; Example 1 of a R01; Example 2 of a R01; Example 1 of a K; Example 2 of a K.
NIH Grant Proposal Development
R03 and R21 proposals include a Specific Aims page (1 page limit) followed by a 6 page Research Strategy section. R34 and R01 proposals include a Specific Aims page (1 page limit) followed by a 12 page Research Strategy section. For all re-submissions, there is a one page Introduction section where one responds to the prior reviews.
Download brief guidelines for structuring proposals with the 6 page limit for the Research Strategy section.
Download brief guidelines for structuring proposals with the 12 page limit for the Research Strategy section.
View the official NIH guidelines for completing the main form (called the SF424 form) for grant proposals.
Download a helpful guide to proposal writing written by Professor Stewart Tolnay at the University of Washington. Although this guide was written for sociologists and is a bit dated, it is very relevant for social work research.
A useful book for proposal development is How to Write a Successful Grant Application: A Guide for Behavioral and Social Scientists by Willo Pequegnat, Ellen Stover and Cheryl Anne Boyce (make sure to get the most recent edition), published by Springer. A copy of the book is available for loan from the Office for Research. Contact us at email@example.com.
The Associate Dean for Research will work closely with you to develop your research idea and put it in a form suitable for NIH submission. An internal review group will be created, if you so desire, to also provide you with feedback. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has written a useful resource page for investigators. Technically, it applies only to NIAID, but many of the principles discussed apply to other Institutes as well. It is worth checking out.
As noted above, most Institutes within NIH have extensive resource links for proposal development. Consult the Institute web pages, accordingly (see above for how to access these pages).