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Scoring Guidance



The NIH scoring system was designed to encourage reliable scoring of applications. Reviewers who assign high ratings to all applications diminish their ability to communicate the scientific impact of an individual application. Therefore, reviewers who carefully consider the rating guidance below can improve the reliability of their scores, as well as their ability to communicate the scientific impact of the applications reviewed.

The NIH grant application scoring system uses a 9-point rating scale (1 = exceptional; 9 = poor) in whole numbers (no decimals) for Overall Impact and Criterion scores for all applications. NIH expects that scores of 1 or 9 will be used less frequently than the other scores.  5 is for a good medium-impact application and considered an average score.  No formula is used to derive the overall impact score from the individual criterion scores, and reviewers are instructed to weigh the different criteria as they see fit in deriving their overall scores. Note that an application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact and thus, deserve a high impact score. Reviewers will score an application as presented in its entirety, and may not modify their scores on the assumption that a portion of the work proposed will be deleted or modified according to the SRG’s recommendations.

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This page last updated on June 30, 2016
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