Update of NIH Continuous Submission Policy: Change in Submission Deadlines and End of Recent Substantial Service Option

Notice Number: NOT-OD-20-060

Key Dates
Release Date: January 24, 2020

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This Notice alerts the scientific research community of plans to discontinue the practice of granting one-year continuous submission status to reviewers with recent substantial review service, which was earned by serving 6 times in an 18 month period. NIH is deeply appreciative of those who regularly serve on our advisory groups. However, prior policy had unintended consequences, among them encouraging excessive review service and thus disproportionate influence by some. NIH believes that diverse advisory groups with a range of familiar and fresh voices best identify high impact research. Limiting over-utilization of the same reviewers on advisory groups is one step NIH is taking to address this goal. Implementation of this change is being done so as to honor commitments to those who have already served under the prior policy:

  • Reviewers who are currently eligible for continuous submission through Recent Substantial Service will remain eligible through the end of their term on September 30, 2020.
  • Reviewers who earn eligibility for continuous submission through Recent Substantial Service during the period January 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020, will be eligible from August 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.
  • No reviewers will subsequently earn or be granted continuous submission eligibility due to Recent Substantial Service.

Effective February 8, 2020, the continuous submission deadlines for assignment to each council round have been moved back approximately one week (see Table 1). Moving the deadlines for assignment to each council round to a slightly earlier date will allow more of these applications to be assigned to study sections whenever scientifically reasonable.

Continuous submission eligibility for appointed members of NIH committees and other terms/requirements of the overall policy have not changed, with the exception that the deadlines for assignment to a given council round are as defined in Table 1.



Continuous submission eligibility covers appointed members of:

  • Chartered NIH Study Sections.
  • NIH Boards of Scientific Counselors.
  • NIH Advisory Boards or Councils.
  • NIH Program Advisory Committees.

Appointed regular members of NIH committees are appointed by the Director, NIH (or the Director, NCI); the Secretary, DHHS; or the President of the United States.

Eligibility begins on the date the appointment becomes active and continues for six weeks after the official date of retirement from appointed committee service. Thus, if retirement from appointed service occurs on June 30, continuous submission is permitted until August 16 of that year.

Continuous submission eligibility can be viewed in the reviewer's eRA Commons Personal Profile, in the Reviewer Information section.

eRA Commons users with account administration roles (e.g., SO Signing Official, AO Administrative Official, AA Account Administrator, BO Business Official) can check an investigator’s eligibility using the Advanced Search feature in the Admin module.

The list of currently eligible reviewers can be found on the NIH Continuous Submission page.

Continuous Submission applies to NIH applications that satisfy both criteria:

  • Submitted with continuous submission-eligible Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PI) including applications where one or more of the Multiple PD/PIs (MPIs) is eligible for continuous submission, and
  • Submitted to R01, R21, and R34 FOAs with standard due dates, including standard AIDS due dates. If a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) has a mix of standard and special receipt dates, continuous submission applications may only be submitted for the standard due dates on the FOA. It is important to note that these applications must also be compliant with policy in effect on the standard due date for which the application is submitted.

Continuous Submission does not apply to:

  • Applications in which the only eligible personnel have a role other than PD/PI or MPI.
  • Applications from temporary or ad hoc reviewers. Temporary or ad hoc reviewers who are not eligible for continuous submission may be eligible to use the late submission window as described in the NIH Late Policy.
  • Applications from individuals who serve as appointed advisors or ad hoc reviewers / advisors for other Federal agencies or for private organizations, or for NIH groups and committees other than those listed above.
  • Applications submitted in response to RFAs and PARs with non-standard receipt dates.
  • Applications for activity codes other than R01, R21, or R34. These applications may be submitted on time or following the general NIH Late Policy.

How does Continuous Submission relate to the NIH Late Policy?

  • Continuous Submission applies to R01, R21, and R34 applications submitted by continuous submission eligible PD/PIs and MPIs to FOAs with standard due dates, including standard AIDS due dates.
  • The NIH Late Policy applies to
    • All other types of applications submitted by continuous submission eligible PD/PIs and MPIs.
    • All applications submitted by all other PD/PIs and MPIs.

Processing and Review schedule:

  • Applications submitted under the continuous submission option must include a cover letter that identified the continuous submission-eligible PD/PI.
  • Applications for each council round are accepted no later than 5 PM local (applicant organization) time on the last day of the receipt period.
  • If the end of the application receipt period falls on a weekend or Federal Holiday, or during an official closure of Washington DC area Federal Offices, the date automatically moves forward to the next business day.
  • The NIH late policy described in NOT-OD-15-039 cannot be used to extend these receipt deadlines. No additional extensions of these Application Receipt Periods are possible.
  • Applications are required to comply with policy in effect on the standard due date for the council round in which applications are submitted.
  • Depending on the timing of the submission and the number of other similar applications received during the Application Receipt Period, NIH staff will decide if the application will be reviewed in a standing Study Section or in a Special Emphasis Panel (SEP).
  • Applications submitted under this option will be reviewed no later than 30 days before the corresponding Advisory Council.
  • To ensure timely second level (council) review, the Advisory Council dates and rounds in Table 1 will apply.

Schedule For Assignment to Advisory Council Rounds Under Continuous Submission Option

Submission is Continuous Council Deadlines are not

For example, a non-AIDS R01 application due October 5 for May Council review may be submitted by a continuous submission-eligible PD/PI through December 10. Applications received on or after December 11 will be assigned to October Council for second level review and funding consideration.

Table 1.

For the Advisory
Council Round:

Standard Application Due Dates

Continuous Submission Non-AIDS Application Receipt Period Ends


R21, R34

R01, R21, R34


October 5

November 5

October 16

November 16

December 10


February 5

March 5

February 16

March 16

April 10


June 5

July 5

June 16

July 16

August 10

For the Advisory
Council Round:

AIDS Application Due Dates

Continuous Submission AIDS
Application Receipt Period Ends

R01, R21, R34

R01, R21, R34


January 7

February 1


May 7

June 1


September 7

October 1

  • Direct any submission issues, including Grants.gov rejection messages indicating the opportunity is closed, to the eRA Service Desk.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Frequently Asked Questions and answers have been prepared (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/peer/faq_continuous_submission.htm).

Any remaining issues/appeals may be directed to a NIH Continuous Submission Committee by emailing CSR.cont.sub.comm@csr.nih.gov