Changes to NIH submissions

Aug 15 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

From time to time NIH makes changes in the process and rules for proposal submission. The most recent ones are changes to acceptable appendix material. Appendices used to be nearly mandatory, and now they are quickly becoming rare birds.

Change number one is the elimination of almost all appendix material.  


New Policy Eliminates Most Appendix Material for NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Applications Submitted for Due Dates On or After January 25, 2017

Purpose: This Notice alerts the scientific research community of plans to eliminate most appendix materials for applications submitted to the NIH, AHRQ or NIOSH for due dates on or after January 25, 2017.  Application instructions will be updated by November 25, 2016 to reflect this change. 

The Notice also clarifies:

·         Status of appendix materials in peer review

·         Allowable appendix materials

·         Consequences for submitting disallowed appendix materials

What I perceive from reading this is best summarized by the intro:

All information submitted with an application except the cover letter, assignment request form and appendix information are assembled into a single application image for funding consideration.

So, first the exceptions. The cover letter and assignment request are the things that inform NIH about your proposal, not things the reviewers need to see. This means the stuff reviewers see should be in one large package.

The next sentence:

The different sections within the application image are specified in the application instructions and correspond to the standard review criteria.

is the key justification for no appendices. What the reviewers need and get is in the main application. So:

All information required for the peer review process must be contained within those designated sections of the application image, unless the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) specifies otherwise. 

Bold this in your head. Everything reviewers need is in the designated section. And if you were unsure:

Information that expands upon or complements information provided in any section of the application -- even if it is not required for the review -- is not allowed in the appendix unless it is listed in the allowed appendix materials (below).  


Unless the FOA requires that certain information be included in the appendix, failure of reviewers to address appendix materials in their reviews is not an acceptable basis for an appeal of initial peer review (NOT-OD-11-064).

This means do it right or else. No special pleading. This is a recurrent NIH theme. If you are late, we don't care. If you need more space, we don't care. If you screw up, it is you that has screwed up.

Then comes the list of things that might be acceptable for appendices. A few have to do with clinical trials. Others have to do with surveys, informed consent, data collection instruments. There is the usual if FOA specifies things, then that is OK (you do read the FOA's for your submissions, don't you?).

Change 2 clarifies what you can send after NOT-OD-16-130fact, also known as Post-Submission Materials for Applications.


Changes to the NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Policy on Post-Submission Materials for Applications Submitted for Due Dates On or After January 25, 2017

Purpose:  This Notice simplifies and consolidates current NIH and AHRQ policy concerning post-submission materials, and extends this policy to NIOSH.  Post-submission application materials are those submitted after submission of the grant application but prior to the initial peer review.  The policy is based on the principle that, for the majority of applications, the only post-submission materials that these agencies will accept are those resulting from an unforeseen event.  The policy on post-submission application materials is not intended to correct oversights/errors discovered after submission of the application.

There is a list of what is acceptable. Mostly these are administrative things likes revised budget pages, bio sketches for changes in investigators, changes in institution, tenure decisions, and the occasional video. Often this is used for extra publications that support the proposal. Here is the rules on publications:

News of an article accepted for publication since submission of the application, which must include only:

  • List of authors and institutional affiliations
  • Title of the article
  • Journal or citation (if available)

Copies of articles, links to articles, or any other materials related to an article accepted for publication will not be accepted as post-submission materials, unless specified in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for which the application was submitted or a special Guide Notice.

Basically, it seems that you can let them know you got published, but you cannot put the article in, nor an active link to the article.

There are also other materials acceptable for various kinds of training grants and fellowships, as well as conference grant applications. Again, most of these are administrative and not changes to the substance of the proposal.

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