Applicant Guidance: Next Steps
"Your application was reviewed; what to do next..."
This site provides guidance on what to do after your application has been reviewed. (Visit our Peer Review Process page to learn more about our review process.)
Step 1: Wait for the summary statement to be available through your Commons account, which will include the reviewers’ critiques of your application and numerical scores for each of (at least) five review criteria. Even an application that was Not Discussed at the review meeting will receive a summary statement with critiques and criterion scores from each of the assigned reviewers.
The summary statement is usually available in your eRA Commons account within 30 days of the review of the application if the review of your application was managed by the Center for Scientific Review. If the review of your application was managed by another NIH Institute or Center, the summary statement should be available no later than 30 days before the Advisory Council meeting. You will receive an email notification when the summary statement is available. If the typical time-frame(s) for summary statement release mentioned above has elapsed and your summary statement is not available in your account, you may contact the Scientific Review Officer (SRO) listed for the application under the “Status” tab of your Commons account.
Step 2: After reading the summary statement, you are encouraged to discuss the critiques and your options with the Program Officer (PO) assigned to your application.
The PO may be able to provide guidance on the following issues:
The contact information for the PO is at the top of the face page of the summary statement. Most POs prefer that you contact them by email and schedule a time for a phone call, giving him/her time to read your summary statement. The PO may receive inquiries from hundreds of applicants, and may not be able to respond to yours immediately. If a reasonable amount of time has passed without a response, first check your commons account in case the assigned PO has changed since the summary statement was released. Then, check the website for the NIH Institute or Center (IC) where your application is assigned, and contact another PO in the same organizational unit (Branch, Division or Center).
Contacting the PO to “sell” your application or to express differences in scientific opinion related to the reviewers’ comments will not affect the likelihood of funding.
There are additional resources at NIH’s Grants and Funding web site that should prove useful as you consider the best strategy for obtaining a NIH grant. A few of these resources are outlined below.
For most, success comes from persistence and practice
Most investigators must submit multiple applications before they achieve success in obtaining support for their research. Feedback obtained from peer reviewers, and the experience gained from the peer review process are often cited as important experiences for learning to prepare a successful grant application. For example, investigators who received R01 awards in FY 2015 submitted an average of 5.1 R01 applications in the past five years.
Finding the best application strategy for your situation
Each Institute and Center (IC) balances many factors as its selects applications to consider for funding. Understanding these factors can help you prepare your application. Among the most important factors are the overall impact score and percentile score your application received, although other factors enter into the funding decision. Each IC has a unique funding policy and many ICs publish their current funding policy on their web site.
One important factor that every IC considers in making its funding decisions is the balance of short-term versus longer duration grants it supports. Historical information about the number of R21, R01 and other activities funded by each IC is also available in the NIH Success Rate tables.
Another important factor taken into account in making funding decisions is the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, whereby meritorious R01-equivalent applications with Early Stage Investigator PD/PIs and Early Established Investigator PD/PIs will be prioritized for funding.
Information about the scientific priorities of each of the ICs can be found in their strategic plans. In addition, your assigned program officer is available to help you understand the complexities of the NIH grants system as it is implemented in the IC assigned to your application.
Other resources for applicants
The NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Mike Lauer, posts new information about NIH grants, including information about peer review, success rates, and perspectives on NIH‐wide grants policies and much more on his blog, Open Mike, each week. The information is intended to help researchers and other members of the grants community better understand the NIH grants system. You can subscribe to Open Mike to receive the posts in real time or in digest form. In addition, many IC Directors blog on their IC web site to inform the scientific community about the activities and priorities of the IC.
We hope these resources will be useful to you as you work to obtain support for your research from the NIH!
This page last updated on
December 18, 2014
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