Applicant Responsibilities in Maintaining the Integrity of NIH Peer Review

Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-106

Key Dates
Release Date:  June 18, 2015

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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 Statement

The NIH understands that professional interactions between applicants and reviewers often continue while an application is undergoing peer review. However, an official of an applicant institution, Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI), or individual named in an application, unless contacted by a government official:

  • should not contact reviewers on the study section evaluating his or her application to request or provide information about the review or to otherwise attempt to influence the outcome of the review or the reviewer(s). The only acceptable process for such communication is through the Scientific Review Officer (SRO) who is managing the study section.
  • should not send information or data directly to a reviewer on the study section evaluating his or her application.  The only acceptable processes for submitting post-submission materials are outlined in NOT-OD-10-115, NOT-OD-12-141, and related notices.
  • should not attempt to access information related to the review of that application in secure NIH computer systems.

An official of an applicant institution, PD/PI, or individual named in an application who is contacted by a reviewer for purposes of obtaining or exchanging information outside of the channels described above should contact the SRO who is managing the review of his or her application.

Possible Consequences

Consistent with applicable law, the NIH may defer an application for peer review or withdraw the application if it determines that a fair review is not feasible because of action(s) by an official of an applicant organization, a PD/PI, or other investigator named in an application.  Depending on the specific circumstances, the NIH may take additional steps to ensure the integrity of the peer review process, including but not limited to:

  • Notifying or requesting information from the applicant institution or the individual's institution.
  • Pursuing a referral for government-wide suspension or debarment.
  • Notifying the NIH Office of Management Assessment (OMA) with possible referral to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG).


Please direct all inquiries to:

Sally A. Amero, Ph.D.
NIH Review Policy Officer

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