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NIH updates its Resubmission Policy

Background

In 2009, as part of an overall revamp of its peer review process, NIH reduced the number of times applicants could resubmit a grant application from two to one. As the policy was written, once an application had been submitted twice unsuccessfully (the original proposal and one resubmission), a new application presenting a substantially redesigned project was required (in contrast to a revised application specifically addressing reviewer comments).

New Policy

In response to concerns expressed by the research community since this change was implemented, NIH recently announced an update to this resubmission policy:

Applicants are still limited to one original and one resubmission application; however, applicants whose original and resubmission proposals are not funded may present their project ideas in a new grant application without having to substantially redesign the content and scope of the project.

As with all new NIH applications, no introduction responding to reviewer comments is provided. Reviewers will be instructed to review such applications as a new idea, even if they recall seeing it during prior cycles. Although major changes in research direction are no longer required for these applications, applicants should still take advantage of previous reviewers’ comment to strengthen their proposals.

What Has Not Changed

The NIH will not allow two applications with overlapping aims to be under review at the same time.
Therefore, the following rules still apply:

  • Resubmission applications may not be submitted prior to issuance of reviews from the original application.
  • Two applications with overlapping specific aims cannot be submitted simultaneously (even to different funding opportunities).
  • An application may not be submitted if it proposes specific aims that overlap with an application that is awaiting initial peer review.

The Division of Receipt and Referral at the Center for Scientific Review evaluates incoming applications to ensure that these policies are followed. Applications that do not adhere to these rules will be withdrawn from consideration.

Additional Information

More information about the change in policy are available on the Rock Talk blog, written by Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research. Additional detail on policies and procedures regarding scientific overlap and application review can be found on the Center for Scientific Review's website “Evaluation of Overlapping Applications” page.