Open Mike

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Innovating to Make it Easier for You to Find the NIH Grants Information You Need

More isn’t always better, especially when it comes to wading through information on NIH grant policies and processes. We talk about burden frequently, usually in reference to policies and processes that add burden to our grantee community. But there is another source of burden: having to spend time digging through resources to find critical information you need to apply for or manage your grant award.

For the past year my staff have been strategizing how to improve upon the way we deliver information, with the goal of reducing the time it takes you to find the information you need. To do this, they embarked on a comprehensive, data-driven approach to understand how you use key resources, including our NIH’s grants and funding website and our application guides. They examined web analytics, looked at search term patterns, surveyed website visitors, asked you how you use — and would like to use — our application guides, and engaged usability experts to ensure we are following best practices.

We listened, we learned, and we’ve put these experiences into practice. If you’ve visited grants.nih.gov last week, you likely noticed a complete transformation. What you will find now is a simplified interface that streamlines how you find information and provides the context you need for understanding the information you find.

We reimagined the application guide to better serve your needs. We completely disaggregated the application guides and reassembled them in a way that addresses many of the needs expressed by the community. Some highlights of the changes include:

  • We have separated the details of the grants process information from the form instructions, providing both on a How to Apply – Application Guide page for at-a-glance access to key pieces of information.
  • We have provided the general instructions for the newest version of NIH application forms (known as FORMS-D), in an interactive HTML version for ease of on-line use, in addition to a pdf version for those of you who still feel compelled to print.
  • We consolidated instructions for all types of grant programs into the general instructions, and reorganized the information to make very clear how each instruction applies to each of the various grant programs (research, training, career development, etc.). These general instructions are a great option for those of you who submit applications for various types of grant programs.
  • For those of you who may only be applying to single type of grant program, we have a more personalized option for you. We have created filtered PDF versions of the form instructions that show only the instructions you need for the type of grant program to which you are applying, instructions specific to research, career development, training, fellowships, multi-project, or small business (SBIR/STTR) applications.

You will find a lot of changes across the site, all designed to simplify how you get to the information you need. You may want to try the new search interface for the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, and use the “save this search” feature to get notified of future postings that match your search. Check out the new forms library. Poke around. See what’s new!

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7 thoughts on “Innovating to Make it Easier for You to Find the NIH Grants Information You Need

    • Due to the wide range of applications received, we do not have examples of Authentication plans available for applicants at this time. We are encouraging scientific societies and the research community to develop standard approaches.

      You may find the FAQs and blog posts on our website useful.

      The Authentication plan is not scored, so if the application is meritorious, the applicant may work with the program officer to address any deficiencies prior to award.

  1. Overall, the changes are a great improvement. I’m surprised, however, to find in the table in “Compliance Requirements At a Glance” references to A-110, A-21 and A-133 instead of to the Uniform Guidance.

  2. I believe the larger issue is the burden that NIH continues to add when preparing a grant. From the ridiculous changes to the biosketch to new rules regarding what must be included. Why don’t you seriously ask the people writing and preparing grant applications about the burden. The administrative burden continues to grow. Why not reduce that burden??

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