Request for Information (RFI): Strategies for Simplifying NIH’s Grant Application Instructions

Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-134

Key Dates
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Response Date: September 25, 2015   

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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.


We currently maintain several application guides for electronic grant application submissions, including a general application guide, SBIR/STTR application guide, an individual fellowship application guide, and supplemental grant application instructions for all competing applications and progress reports. These guides can be found at We currently supplement information in the application guides with instructions in policy notices announced in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts and funding opportunity announcements.

Our goals for restructuring the application instructions include:

  • Keeping the information as current as possible;
  • Reducing administrative burden; and
  • Clarifying and simplifying information on what is required to submit application.

We are considering a number of approaches to present the applications instructions including:

  • a single, consolidated NIH application guide in PDF and in HTML, but include more interactive web-based content in the HTML version;
  • an HTML version that can filter instructions based on the funding mechanism or specific funding opportunity announcement (FOA), and other areas; and
  • an “instructions wizard” to tailor the instructions to needs of applicants—this could guide applicants through specific selections and application criteria, and show only the needed sections and instructions, etc.

Information Requested 

This Request for Information (RFI) seeks to obtain public comments focused specifically on developing new strategies in presenting this material to applicants in a more concise, helpful way.

Your comments can include but are not limited to the following areas:

1. The specific information most important to you in the current NIH application guides, missing information that would be helpful and information that could be eliminated.

2. Your current access to application instructions including sources used and how they are located (e.g., NIH Grants website, FAQs, NIH Application Guide, help desk, web searches, and others).

3. The most useful and most challenging aspects of the current application instructions.

4. Insights and suggestions on how the information in the NIH application instructions could be presented more effectively, including future updates to the instructions.

5. Feedback on what sections are the most important to use in printed copy, as well as suggestions on how to customize a print function for application instructions (i.e. one full version, individual sections, etc.). This can include ideas for either a PDF or web version.

6. Feedback on proposed approaches to presenting NIH application instructions (described in background) and other ideas that NIH should consider.

How to Submit a Response   

Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically on the submission website by September 25, 2015. We do not require you to provide your name with the response.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health, or individual NIH institutes or Centers. The NIH does not intend to make any type of award based on responses to this RFI or to pay for either the preparation of information submitted or the Government’s use of such information.

The NIH will use the information submitted in response to the RFI at its discretion. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and will not provide feedback to respondents. The information submitted will be analyzed and may be shared internally, incorporated into future changes to the NIH application guides, as appropriate and at the Government’s discretion. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration (OPERA)
Office of Extramural Research (OER)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)