As we continue to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency on NIH-supported research, we are aware of applicant concerns about the potential impact of this temporary emergency situation on the outcome of peer review. We want to reassure applicants that we released guidance for reviewers that makes it clear that, when reviewing applications during the coronavirus pandemic national emergency, reviewers should assume that issues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, such as the following, should not affect scores.
- Some key personnel on grant applications may be called up to serve in patient testing or patient care roles, diverting effort from the proposed research
- Feasibility of the proposed approach may be affected, for example if direct patient contact is required
- The environment may not be functional or accessible
- Additional human subjects protections may be in order, for example if the application was submitted prior to the viral outbreak
- Animal welfare may be affected, if institutions are closed temporarily
- Biohazards may include insufficient protections for research personnel
- Recruitment plans and inclusion plans may be delayed, if certain patient populations are affected by the viral outbreak
- Travel for key personnel or trainees to attend scientific conferences, meetings of consortium leadership, etc., may be postponed temporarily
- Curricula proposed in training grant applications may have to be converted to online formats temporarily
- Conferences proposed in R13/U13 applications may be cancelled or postponed.
NIH will work with the applicant to resolve issues related to temporary, emergency conditions prior to award.
We have also had many questions from applicants asking what they should do if they don’t have enough preliminary data for the application they had planned to submit. While it may not be the most popular answer, we always recommend that applicants submit the best application possible. If preliminary data is lacking, consider waiting to submit a stronger application for a later due date.
The COVID-19 reviewer guidance, along with FAQs for applicants and awardees can be found in our central repository of resources, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding.