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Checklist for New Investigators

This checklist is based on NIAID's New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding tutorial. Throughout, we provide links to the tutorial for more complete information.

Table of Contents

Starting Out: The Basics

Shaping Your Strategy

  • Have I looked into writing my application toward the end of my postdoc? Read Shaping Your Strategy .
  • Do I have a solid strategy to identify and plan a research project? Learn more in Shaping Your Strategy ?
  • Did I allow enough time from planning to funding: 8 to 23 months (longer if I don't succeed on the first try)? Go to How Long Will It Take?
  • Have I prepared for electronic application? See Plan Ahead for Electronic Application.
    • Have I contacted my organization's business office to find out its procedures and timelines?
    • About a month before I want to apply, did I ask my Commons signing official (SO) to register me and associate my profile with my organization?
    • Did I find out who is my organization's authorized organizational representative (AOR) for, whom I will work with (as well as my SO) to apply?
    • Do I know my organization's systems for applying, i.e., directly to or through a proprietary system?
  • Do I know where to find funding opportunity announcements that have the instructions and forms to fill out? See How Funding Opportunities Work.
  • Am I aware that I will most likely pick my own topic, called investigator-initiated research, rather than respond to an initiative (Institute program announcement or request for applications)? Read Choosing an Approach.
  • Have I considered looking into Institute initiatives as indicators of high-priority areas in which I could submit an investigator-initiated application? Learn more in Choosing an Approach.
  • Do I know my application "must haves"—important topic, ability to do the work, organized and well-written application. View Application Essentials.
  • Will I be able to show the high impact of my research question and the ability of my approach to answer it? Read Application Essentials.
  • Did I read Know Your Audience in the Strategy for NIH Funding to see how to assess potential review committees and reviewers? Go to Perspective on Peer Review.
  • Have I devised a solid strategy to plan my project effectively? Read Think Strategically to learn our iterative process.
    • Will my research test my hypothesis (or hypotheses)?
    • Do I understand innovation?
    • Can I plan a project that is within a reasonable scope?
  • To plan my project, have I sought advice from mentors? Have I considered filling in gaps in expertise with collaborators or consultants? Read Make Sure You Have the Necessary Expertise.
  • Have I considered submitting a multiple PI application, being aware of the caveats for new investigators? See Should You Be One of Many PIs?
  • Have I thought about my project's scope and set limits so it doesn't get too big? See Decide the Parameters of Your Request .
  • Can I plan my budget so it meets my needs and remains a modest request? Go to How to Plan an Appropriate Budget.
  • Do I know how to keep up with policy changes that will affect my grant? Learn more in Staying Informed .

Grant Writing for New Investigators

  • Have I read the Strategy for NIH Funding for advice on writing to my audience, addressing NIH review criteria, and other important topics? See Getting Oriented.
  • To make my application stand out, have I done the following—read more items in Creating Your Application:
    • Limited my Specific Aims?
    • Shown that I have my own resources and institutional support, am independent, and able to lead?
    • Demonstrated that I understand the literature?
    • Provided as much data as possible to support my aims and hypotheses?
    • Left out all nonessential information?
  • Have I read NIAID's guidance on submitting my application and passing validations? Read Submitting the Application.
  • Did I not include information in my application that I will send to NIH just-in-time, including other support? in Submitting the Application.
  • Have I thought about repurposing my NIH application for a non-PHS organization? Learn more in Using Your Application More Than Once.

Programs and Resources for New PIs

  • Do I know about NIH and NIAID programs that help new PIs? Check out Programs for New PIs.
  • Have I checked NIH's and NIAID's online information on the application process? Go to Web Resources.

For more information, see our Strategy for NIH Funding. Find more checklists at All About Grants tutorials.

Last Updated April 18, 2016

Last Reviewed April 18, 2016