History of NIH’s Policy on Resubmission Applications

NIH policies on resubmission applications have evolved over the past two decades.

In 1996, NIH adopted policies limiting the number of application amendments to two, and restricting the time to submit the amended applications to two years beyond the date of the receipt of the initial new application (as described in NIH Guide Notices NOT-96-161 and NOT-97-011.)

In 2003, the NIH eliminated the two-year restriction on the receipt of those applications (as described in NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-03-041).

A 2009 policy change, resulting from NIH’s Enhancing Peer Review initiative, reduced the number of allowable resubmission applications from two to one, and stipulated that any subsequent submission of that project must demonstrate significant changes in scientific direction compared to the previous submissions. (These changes are described in NIH Guide Notices NOT-OD-09-003, NOT-OD-09-016 and NOT-OD-10-080.)

These changes were implemented to address the growing trend for resubmission applications to be scored more favorably, which in essence created a queue for meritorious applications before success in funding. The policy was revised to facilitate funding of high quality applications earlier, with fewer resubmissions.

In 2010, NIH reinstated a new time limit for resubmission applications of 37 months from submission of the new application (as described in NIH Guide Notices NOT-OD-10-140 and NOT-OD-12-128).

In 2014, NIH released the current policy NOT-OD-14-074 acknowledging that in this extended period of tight funding, the existing approach -- requiring an application to be scientifically distinct from an application NIH has already reviewed -- resulted in meritorious research ideas being deemed ineligible for additional submissions. Many investigators expressed concerns that the existing approach required productive labs to redirect their focus in order to submit future NIH applications, and would be particularly difficult for New Investigators as new research directions may not be feasible early in their career.