The NIH recently implemented updates to research grant and career development award applications aimed at enhancing reproducibility through rigor and transparency with a focus on four areas: scientific premise, rigorous experimental design, consideration of relevant biological variables, and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources. This post is the first in a series addressing each of these four areas, starting with scientific premise. ….
We periodically need to update our application forms and instructions to accommodate changing policy, new business needs, and sometimes (not often enough) to reduce the amount of information we ask of you. Given our constraints, we have been working to provide systems support to make the mechanics of these transitions easier for you. This particular set of changes implements a number of policy changes impacting applications submitted in 2016, which we announced in a series of recent NIH Guide notices. We would like to give you a quick overview of what is happening. ….
Nothing could be more important to our enterprise than research rigor, assuring that the results of our work are reproducible. Our conversation with you on this topic began early last year with a commentary in Nature by Francis Collins and today’s guest blogger, Larry Tabak, on the importance of reproducibility and how NIH plans to enhance it. As described in a follow-up Rock Talk post, the topic of reproducibility is not new. Evidence has shown that too many biomedical-research publications are irreproducible. Thus this topic demanded our community’s immediate attention and we have had continued dialog with and participation by you over the course of the last 18 months to describe the issue, request information, launch pilots, and craft a way forward to enhance reproducibility.
I’m excited to tell you about a new option for submitting your R01 applications to NIH. Today, we made ASSIST (the Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking) available as an option for submitting your R01 applications, as well as most individual career development (K) award applications. ASSIST is a web-based system that was developed by NIH, in close partnership with Grants.gov, to address common application submission challenges identified by the community. We first launched ASSIST ….
Application and award summary data for fiscal year 2014 are now available in the NIH Data Book. These data are of particular interest for all of us this year, considering the historic low of the success rate last year, and the reduction of NIH’s budget in fiscal year 2013, due to sequestration. For this reason, in the table below, we include both FY2013 and FY 2012 data for comparison purposes. ….
Many people have been asking about the new NIH biosketch. As you may recall, in May 2014, NIH announced that we were piloting changes to the biosketch section of grant application forms. This modified format allows researchers to describe how their background and expertise relates to their proposed project. We will require this new format for most grant applications submitted for fiscal year 2016 funding, as described in a guide notice published today. This sounds like a long way off but remember that the first applications for FY 2016 funding begin with due dates of January 25, 2015. The new format is now available in the “additional format pages” section of the SF424 applications page. ….
We’re set for a major change in how you portray your body of work when applying for NIH funds. With strong support from NIH leadership, we will be rolling out a new biosketch format. The new NIH biosketch emphasizes your accomplishments instead of just a list of publications, which, as previously discussed, we questioned as the best way to showcase your scientific contributions. ….
You likely saw the recent Nature policy article, in which NIH Director Francis Collins and NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health Director Janine Clayton discussed ways that NIH is addressing sex differences in research. As our understanding of science evolves, so do our policies that govern research. This commentary cites several studies that highlight the need to further consider sex differences in preclinical research and describes how NIH will enact new policies to expand the consideration of sex differences in research studies using animal models and cells. The article generated quite a buzz in the community, and I wanted to take this opportunity to explain the roll out of our implementation plan. ….
I have seen the very recent report and follow-on discussions that NIH is considering asking institutions to limit grant applications as a way to control demand. Let me present the facts. You may remember the dialogue we had back in October 2011 on how NIH should manage science in fiscally challenging times. The option of limiting applications was raised at that time but was discarded at the outset and we are not pursuing it now. ….
Last August, I wrote on the number of investigators applying for NIH grants. Several readers correctly noted that the increase we showed in the number of applicants was based on the number of investigators submitting at least one application in a given year (rather than, say, all investigators “in the system”). ….