News and Media
by: NIH Staff
Two new “All About Grants” podcasts focus on topics related to submitting your application. In “A Look at NIH’s Appendix Policy” (Appendix Policy mp3, Appendix Policy transcript), Dr. Cathie Cooper, director of the Division of Receipt and Referral in the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, talks about what can be submitted in an application’s appendix. In “NIH’s Post Application Submission Policy” (Submission Policy mp3, Submission Policy transcript), Dr. Sally Amero, NIH’s Review Policy Officer provides insight into why NIH has such a policy, and what grant application information can be updated after submission of an application, but before peer review.
All About Grants podcast episodes are produced by the NIH Office of Extramural Research, and designed for investigators, fellows, students, research administrators, and others just curious about the application and award process. The podcast features NIH staff members who talk about the ins and outs of NIH funding, and provide insights on grant topics from those who live and breathe the information. Listen to more episodes via the All About Grants podcast page, through iTunes, or by using our RSS feed in your podcast app of choice.
Please review the new policy regarding appendix materials. This policy affects: NIH, AHRQ and NIOSH submissions.
This Notice alerts the scientific research community of plans to eliminate most appendix materials for applications submitted to the NIH, AHRQ or NIOSH for due dates on or after January 25, 2017. Application instructions will be updated by November 25, 2016 to reflect this change.
The Notice also clarifies:
- Status of appendix materials in peer review
- Allowable appendix materials
- Consequences for submitting disallowed appendix materials
The NIH, AHRQ, and NIOSH strive to ensure fairness in peer review for all grant applicants by specifying the types and amount of application material that are accepted for peer review. At the same time, these agencies appreciate both the need for applications to provide sufficient information to allow for an informed, expert review process and the importance of limiting the burden on peer reviewers.
Elimination of most appendix materials is intended to rectify inequities in the peer review process that can arise from submission of inappropriate or excessive appendix materials by some applicants and consideration of appendix materials in peer review by some, but not all reviewers.
New Policy for Appendix Materials in peer review:
Appendix materials in peer review
All information submitted with an application except the cover letter, assignment request form and appendix information are assembled into a single application image for funding consideration. The different sections within the application image are specified in the application instructions and correspond to the standard review criteria.
- All information required for the peer review process must be contained within those designated sections of the application image, unless the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) specifies otherwise.
- Information that expands upon or complements information provided in any section of the application — even if it is not required for the review — is not allowed in the appendix unless it is listed in the allowed appendix materials (below). (NOT-OD-11-080)
- Unless the FOA requires that certain information be included in the appendix, failure of reviewers to address appendix materials in their reviews is not an acceptable basis for an appeal of initial peer review (NOT-OD-11-064).
Allowable appendix materials
Beginning with applications submitted to the NIH, AHRQ, or NIOSH for due dates on or after January 25, 2017, the only allowable appendix materials are:
For applications proposing clinical trials (unless the FOA provides other instructions for these materials):
- Clinical trial protocols
- Investigator’s brochure from Investigational New Drug (IND), as appropriate
For all applications:
- Blank informed consent/assent forms
- Blank surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments
- FOA-specified items.
- If appendix materials are required in the FOA, review criteria for that FOA will address those materials, and applications submitted without those appendix materials will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
Consequences for submitting disallowed appendix materials
Applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2017 will be withdrawn and not reviewed if they are submitted with appendix materials that are not specifically listed in this Notice or the FOA as allowed or required.
Certificates of Confidentiality for NIH Grants, by Mike Lauer (NIH Extramural Nexus)
Earlier this year I wrote a post about the 21st Century Cures Act and its changes that directly affect the NIH. One part of this new legislation contains provisions to improve clinical research and privacy through certificates of confidentiality.
Currently, certificates of confidentiality (or “CoCs”) are provided upon request to researchers collecting sensitive information about research participants. Soon, CoCs will be automatically provided for NIH-supported research, as set forth in the 21st Century Cures Act.
CoCs are an important to both the researchers conducting the study, and to the patient volunteers who make the research possible through their participation. CoCs protect researchers and institutions from being compelled to disclose information that would identify their research participants. They also provide research participants with strong protections against involuntary disclosure of their sensitive health information.
NIH-funded research has evolved since CoCs were first introduced in the 1970s. It is now more common to have projects that involve large-scale data sets and genomic information, and likewise, many thoughts leaders have sought to have the CoC process provide privacy protections more broadly.
We will soon be publishing an NIH Guide notice announcing how and when NIH will begin including certificates of confidentiality in the terms and conditions of award. By automatically providing CoCs as part of the NIH award process, we can provide an additional measure of protection to research participants, through a streamlined process that does not add additional burden to researchers. Stay tuned to the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts for more detailed information.
Resubmitted from: Office of Sponsored Programs
April 2017 Issue of Research Development & Grant Writing News
By Pat Pyke on Apr 19, 2017 08:40 am
Research Development & Grant Writing News
The 46-page April 2017 issue of this valuable newsletter is now available via the Albertsons Library:
(Bookmark this page for future reference.)
- Heads Up: Changes to NSF CAREER Solicitation
- What is the Future of Broader Impacts at NSF?
- Competitive Proposals in a Skinny Budget
- Finding Your Big Data Funding Home
- Addressing Convergence in Your NSF Narrative
- Funding Rates: Actual and Real
- Topics of Interest URLs
- Research Grant Writing Web Resources
- Educational Grant Writing Web Resources
- Agency Research News
- Agency Reports, Workshops & Roadmaps
- New Funding Opportunities
- About Academic Research Funding Strategies
Research Development and Grant Writing Newsletter is available to faculty, staff, students and affiliates with log-in access to the Albertsons Library. For more information visit the newsletter information page on the OSP web site. This subscription is sponsored by the Division of Research and Economic Development with support from the Albertsons Library.
When President Trump proposed a cut of nearly 20 percent in support for the National Institutes of Health, many wondered how the administration would even attempt to find such reductions. The answer emerged in the congressional testimony last week of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who argued the government could save billions without hurting research by cutting back on the overhead reimbursements to colleges and universities.
Higher education associations said cutting those reimbursements would have a very real impact on the science conducted on campuses. For some institutions, eliminating support for administrative costs could mean they would find it difficult to continue that research at all, the groups said.
The Trump administration in its so-called skinny budget last month proposed cutting the funding of the National Institutes of Health, the largest backer of university-based research, by nearly 20 percent. Even the most conservative members of the GOP caucus expressed concern after the document’s release about cutting support for the agency that funds important developments in cancer and epidemiology science.
But in testimony in front of a House appropriations subcommittee last week, Price argued that the administration could make those cuts to the agency’s budget without harming any research by eliminating support for administrative costs. Eighty percent of NIH’s funding is directed to universities and medical centers throughout the country in the form of research grants. Price said about 30 percent of that grant funding is spent on what he called indirect expenses.
“We ought to be looking at that,” he told lawmakers. “That’s an amount that would cover much more than the reduction being proposed.”
Price suggested there were greater efficiencies to be found at institutions involved in research that would allow the government to actually increase direct support for research.
Higher ed groups said facilities and administrative expenses involved in supporting campus-based science are very much part of the costs of doing that work and such payments have been part of the financial support of research for decades. Ending that support would mean universities would face billions in additional expenses for staffing, utilities, facilities and more.
The NIH spent about $6.4 billion on such costs last year, on top of $16.9 billion in direct support of research.
“They are intrinsically part of the costs of doing research,” said Jennifer Poulakidas, vice president for Congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. “Indirect cost payments that institutions receive when they do research for the federal government do not even fully cover all the costs associated with doing research. Universities are definitely paying for some of that work already.”
And Poulakidis said colleges and universities have become more and more efficient over recent decades in how they support research enterprises as they grapple with declining support at the state level. At the same time, they’ve seen regulations associated with research increase at the federal level.
“The costs have increased, the state support has gone down and our institutions have become much more efficient,” she said. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room here.”
Universities individually negotiate the rates for overhead payments — shorthand for the reimbursements from the government for administrative costs. Those rates can vary significantly from campus to campus. But Tobin Smith, vice president for policy at the Association of American Universities, said there are already caps for such payments in many places. Congress in the 1990s adopted a 26 percent cap on administrative costs exclusively for universities.
That was part of the fallout from a scandal over how Stanford University used overhead payments on items like decorations for its then president’s house. Since then, the awarding of funding has been cleaned up and standardized by Congress and higher ed, Smith said. But reimbursement rates often don’t cover the entire amount of facilities and administrative costs.
“We often have to subsidize those costs with university money,” he said.
That means universities already have plenty of incentive to be as efficient as possible, Smith said.
“These costs are real. To say they aren’t is very wrongheaded and misrepresents the situation we will face at universities,” he said. “Frankly, some of our universities won’t be able to figure out a way to pay for those costs.”
(Note: This story originally misstated the title of Jennifer Poulakidas. It has been updated.)
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Time: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Student Union Brink Room
(You may RSVP to attend any or all of the presentation below)
- 1:30 – 2:10 p.m. Health Disparities research and funding opportunities at NIH;
Presenter: Dr. Ana Maria Lopez, Huntsman Cancer Institute, via WebEx video conference
- 2:15 – 3 p.m. NIH-funded University of Utah GMaP (Geographical Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program, see link) and how it may benefit your research program; Presenter: Anna Reineke, GMap Region 6 Coordinating Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute; in-person
- 3 – 3:30 p.m. PathMaker Summer Research Program for High School and Undergraduate Students, a program for underrepresented and disadvantaged students;
Presenter: Anna Reineke
This program is hosted by Dr. Cheryl Jorcyk, Director of Clinical Translational Research at Boise State, and the Division of Research and Economic Development.
May 2, 2017 8:00AM to
May 2, 2017 4:30PM
Boise State University, Hatch Ballroom, 1700 University Dr., Boise, ID 83725
The SBIR Road Tour is a national outreach effort to convey the non-dilutive technology funding opportunity provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) …
More at https://www.nsf.gov/events/event_summ.jsp?cntn_id=191500&WT.mc_id=USNSF_13&WT.mc_ev=click
It’s been about a year since we transformed our grants.nih.gov website and the NIH application guide to streamline information, and the time it takes you to locate it. Since the initial changes, we’ve continued to quietly evolve these pages based on your feedback. Our About Grants section is an orientation to NIH funding, grant programs, how the grants process works, and how to apply. We’ve made a number of improvements to this section, such as reimagining the grants process overview infographic, aligning the About Grants navigation to match the stages of the grants process overview, and improving the look and usability of our How to Apply page. You will find new video tutorials on How to Apply that walk you through the grant application submission process in the next week or two.
Thank you very much to those who have taken the on-site survey and provided us with actionable feedback on that helps us get you to the information you need. Please keep the suggestions coming, whether through the site survey or by email.
NIH continues to operate under a continuing resolution, meaning that we will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level), as we have in past years. See our March 17 Guide notice for details.
We have also issued interim guidance on salary limits for NIH grants and cooperative agreements. The direct salary limitation follows Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale, which was previously set at $185,100, and increased to $187,000 effective January 8, 2017. This means that for awards issued in previous years that were restricted to Executive Level II, including competing awards already issued in fiscal year 2017, grantees may rebudget to accommodate the current Executive Level II salary level as long as:
- adequate funds are available in active awards; and
- the salary cap increase is consistent with the institutional base salary.
However, no additional funds will be provided to these grant awards.
Note that we provide the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoctoral stipend levels and tuition/fees for FY 2017 in NOT-OD-17-003. Until further notice, the NRSA undergraduate and predoctoral stipends and tuition/fees will remain at the levels announced in NOT-OD-16-062.
Once the Department of Health and Human Services Appropriation for FY 2017 is enacted, additional guidance will be published in the NIH Guide.
Resubmitted from: NIH Extramural Nexus
by: Mike Lauer
The role of preprints — complete and public draft manuscripts which have not gone through the formal peer review, editing, or journal publishing process – continues to be a hot topic in the biological and medical sciences. In January, three major biomedical research funders – HHMI, the MRC, and the Wellcome Trust, changed their policies to allow preprints to be cited in their progress reports and applications.
Thinking about preprints also raises questions about the broader class of interim research products, and the role they should play in NIH processes. Other interim products include products like preregistration of protocols or research methods, to publicly declare key elements of a research project in advance. While, under current policy, NIH does not restrict items cited in the research plan of an application, applicants cannot claim preprints in biosketches or progress reports.
So, in October, we issued a call for comments to get a fuller understanding of how the NIH-supported research community uses and thinks about interim research products. Today I’d like to follow up with what we’ve learned from your input, and the policy changes this feedback suggests.
We received 351 responses, the majority (79%) submitted by scientists/authors. Twenty-two professional societies representing groups of scientists also submitted responses. Of the 351 respondents who commented on how use of preprints & interim research products might impact the advancement of science, the majority were supportive, and some predicted or noted specific benefits, such as improving scientific rigor, increasing collaboration, and accelerating the dissemination of research findings. (See Fig. 1)
When asked about the peer review impact of citing interim products in NIH applications, the majority of respondents predict positive impacts. Some specific benefits noted include speeding the dissemination of science, helping junior investigators, and providing authors with the chance to incorporate feedback into their drafts and even form new collaborations.
We also received some concerns about these materials not being peer-reviewed, and whether any potential benefit they may offer to the review process was offset by potential burden to reviewers and applicants. However, the overall response about review was favorable. Respondents felt reviewers should be able to tell the difference between a final and interim product and could draw their own conclusions about the validity of the information. Again, it’s worth noting that these findings inform a potential increase in the use of interim products in review; we already have no restrictions in what can be cited in the reference section of a research plan.
Based on this general feedback and many other thoughtful suggestions, we developed guidance on how NIH applicants will have the option, for applications submitted for due dates of May 25 and beyond, to cite interim research products in applications. As described in the NIH Guide Notice issued Friday (NOT-OD-17-050), citations of interim research products in biosketches should follow citation formats that include citation of the object type (e.g. preprint), a digital object identifier (DOI) in the citation, and information about the document version. This guidance is also incorporated into NIH application instructions, which were just updated last week. We also offer FAQs.
Example preprint citation:
Bar DZ, Atkatsh K, Tavarez U, Erdos MR, Gruenbaum Y, Collins FS. Biotinylation by antibody recognition- A novel method for proximity labeling. BioRxiv 069187 [Preprint]. 2016 [cited 2017 Jan 12]. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1101/069187.
The Guide Notice also outlines NIH’s expectations for what qualifies as a preprint, and suggests best practices to the many preprint repositories, including: open metadata; machine accessibility; transparent policies about plagiarism and other integrity issues; and an archival plan for content, versions and links to the published version.
For renewal applications submitted for the May 25, 2017 due date and thereafter, awardees can also claim these products on the progress report publication list (an attachment required specifically in renewal applications.) Awardees can also report these products on their research performance progress reports (RPPRs) as of May 25, 2017, and link them to their award in their My Bibliography account.
On behalf of NIH, I’d like to thank all of you who took the time to submit comments and share insightful and thoughtful viewpoints and experiences with us. There is a growing recognition that interim research products could speed the dissemination of science and enhance rigor
We see preprints and other interim products complementing the peer-reviewed literature. Our goal with this Guide notice is to offer clear guidance and suggested standards for those in the research community who are already using, or considering use of preprints and interim research products. Some scientific research communities may be more ready than others to use preprints –for example, there continue to be discussions and concerns specific to clinical research. We appreciate that different biomedical research disciplines are likely to adopt interim research products at varying paces; at the same time, with our new guidelines, we aim to make this option as viable as possible for all members of our community.