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Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding. Link to Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding. Link to Part 2. Pick and Design a Project. Link to Part 3. Write Your Application. Link to Part 4. Submit Your Application. Link to Part 5. Assignment and Review. Link to Part 6. If Not Funded. Link to Part 7. Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Timing for Picking and Designing Your Project   ·   Strategy to Pick a ProjectNext page in Strategy.

Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically

Make sure ahead of time that everything will be in place when you are ready to apply.

This resource page gives you details about the information introduced at Timing for Picking and Designing Your Project, including steps you'll need to take to be ready to apply electronically and information about deadlines and qualifying for continuous submission.

This document is appropriate for any research grant using electronic submission.

Table of Contents

Just the Facts

(This page has factual information only.)

Most activity codes use electronic application, though multiproject grants and a few others use paper. To be sure, read the funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

Your institution has to sign up for an eRA Commons account.

Get deadlines and other information from your grants business office.

Preparing for Electronic Application

Ask your business office what approach it uses to submit electronic applications.

For example, your institution may have its own proprietary system that you will need to access. If this is the case, be alert for how the timing and instructions may differ from NIH's description for Adobe forms.

You may need extra lead time for training on how to use your organization's system. And your business office's role might require additional or different internal due dates for you to finish your part of the application. That's why you should find out about deadlines so you can plan ahead. 

Keep in mind that some of NIH's instructions may not match how your organization's system works. NIH describes applying directly to Grants.gov using the grant application package. Your proprietary system may have its own forms, layouts, or form fields.

The differences we describe above aren't barriers to your success, however. NIH data from FY 2013 indicate that system-to-system applications tend to need fewer attempts to pass eRA Commons validations. See the table below.

Number of Attempts Required for Error-Free* Commons Validation in FY 2013

Attempts Application Method and Percent Error-Free
System-to-System Adobe Forms
No errors on first try 90% 74%
No errors on second try 99% 94%
No errors on third try 99.8% 98%

*A passing application may be free of errors but still receive warnings.

To submit electronically, your institution has to make the following preparations.

  • Sign up for both a Grants.gov and an institutional eRA Commons account.
    • If your institution has never applied for NIH funding, it could take more than a month to complete all the steps necessary to register.
    • Foreign institutions take even longer to complete their additional steps.
  • Get you an eRA Commons account.
  • Get a principal investigator signature assurance from you.
  • Assign an authorized organizational representative to submit your application to Grants.gov.

If neither you nor your institution has ever registered to apply for an NIH grant, use the links below for detailed instructions.

You can sign up for NIH's electronic submission listservs at Get Connected.

If you need help troubleshooting the application process, talk to staff in your business office. Your business official should be able to answer the question directly or know whether you should contact a system provider, the Grants.gov helpdesk, or the eRA helpdesk.

When Will You Apply?

Receipt dates vary by activity code and other factors.

The NIH Guide announcement for your FOA will give you a receipt date, a deadline for submitting your application electronically.

Note that your internal deadline is your key due date, not the NIH receipt date. Even so, the NIH receipt date will trigger other dates relevant to your submission.

Here is what you need to know about NIH receipt dates.

  • For an investigator-initiated application (including program announcements), you will apply by one of NIH's three standard receipt dates (except for institutional training grants), called cycles 1, 2, and 3.
    • New non-AIDS R01 applications are due February 5, June 5, and October 5.
    • Dates for other applications differ by various factors:
      • AIDS and AIDS-related research.
      • Activity code, e.g., P series (program projects) or R41 to R44 (small business applications).
      • Grant type, e.g., new, renewal, or resubmission.
    • Find all dates on Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.
    • If a standard deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, it moves to the next business day.
  • At NIAID, T32 and T35 training grants have only one annual deadline: September 25 for non-AIDS and January 7 for AIDS-related applications.
  • Each request for applications has its own (usually one-time) receipt date stated in the FOA.
  • Some program announcements also have their own special receipt dates; read the FOA to be sure.

Do You Qualify for Continuous Submission?

Peer reviewers with recent substantial service and members of the following groups can apply for an R01, R21, or R34 any time, regardless of a standard receipt date (this policy does not apply to RFAs or funding opportunity announcements that have only one receipt date).

  • Chartered study sections.
  • Boards of Scientific Counselors
  • Advisory Councils
  • Program advisory committees
  • NIH's Peer Review Advisory Committee

Find more details in Investigators Eligible for Continuous Submission in our Late Applications SOP.

Note that if you apply for continuous submission you may not request assignment to a study section.

More Resources

For application timing advice, read:

For timelines, go to:

Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Timing for Picking and Designing Your Project   ·   Strategy to Pick a ProjectNext page in Strategy.

See the other sections of
Part 2. Pick and Design a Project

Table of Contents for the Strategy

We welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions. Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

Last Updated November 05, 2013

Last Reviewed December 01, 2011