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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.Passing Validations   ·   Part 5. Assignment and ReviewNext page in Strategy.

Assess Your Application After You Submit

Did you just notice a major flaw? Is there a new paper in your field that could change your proposed research? Look at your application again and make sure you want it to continue to peer review.

Since paylines are tight and funding is competitive, don't waste a submission on a less-than-perfect application. Read this page for help and advice.

Table of Contents

Just the Facts

(This section has factual information only; for advice on this topic, go to Our Advice below.)

If You Want to Withdraw After Submitting

While you may withdraw your application at any time, note the following actions and consequences if you withdraw after the peer review.

For an initial application, the consequences are different depending on whether you withdraw before or after getting your summary statement.

Before. You lose your chance at a resubmission.

  • Because a resubmission must address reviewer comments, you must submit a new application. Read more under the header "Option 2: Create a New Application" in Choose Your Option in Part 6.
  • Rather than withdrawing at this point, wait for your summary statement. Then you can either:
    • Resubmit if you can address reviewer comments and make changes accordingly.
    • If problems aren't fixable, create a new application.

After. You can resubmit.

  • Results of the peer review stand, and reviewers have access to the summary statement.
  • Proceed as usual, i.e., read your summary statement and decide whether to resubmit or create a new application.

For a resubmission, you relinquish any chance of funding, and you must create a new application. Instead of withdrawing, wait for your summary statement and use it to write a new application. Read more about resubmitting at Strategy for Resubmitting in Part 6.

To withdraw your application, send a letter to the Center for Scientific Review's (CSR) Division of Receipt and Referral—follow the instructions in the Investigator Withdrawal of an Application SOP. For multiple PI applications, only the contact PI can make this request.

Note that after you withdraw, you no longer have an active application in the system.

If You Need to Send Late Materials After Submitting

For requests for applications (RFAs), you may have different rules.

NIH allows you to send only certain materials after you apply and before initial peer review:

  • Revised budget page(s) (e.g., change in budget request due to new funding or institutional acquisition of equipment)
  • Biographical sketches (e.g., change in senior/key personnel due to the hiring, replacement, or loss of an investigator)
  • Letters of support or collaboration resulting from a change in senior/key personnel due to the hiring, replacement, or loss of an investigator
  • Adjustments resulting from natural disasters (e.g., loss of an animal colony)
  • Adjustments resulting from change of institution (e.g., PI moves to another university)
  • News of an article accepted for publication (a copy of the article should not be sent)
  • News of a professional promotion or positive tenure decision for any PIs or key personnel

For T32 and T35 applications, you may provide updated information and data for the following items:

  • Applicant pool
  • Admissions
  • Enrollment
  • Faculty research support
  • Trainee and faculty member promotions and professional achievements, e.g., funding, publications
  • Addition of faculty member involved in training activities

For requests for applications (RFAs), you may have different rules. Ask your scientific review officer what he or she will accept.

To send materials after you apply, use the usual forms, create a PDF, include your authorized organizational representative's signature, and make sure your scientific review officer receives all materials at least one month before the peer review meeting. Otherwise, NIH will not accept your information.

Follow the advice in our Checkpoint below and see NIH's Frequently Asked Questions on the post-submission materials policy.

For details on submitting video, read Plan Ahead for Video in Part 3.

If you are looking for information about submitting after the receipt date, read about the rare circumstances in which you are allowed to apply late in Rules for Late Applications in Part 4.

Our Advice

(This section has advice only; you should also read the factual information above at Just the Facts.)

Between the time you apply and your application's review, assess your application and consider whether to send additional information or withdraw and submit for a later receipt date.

Withdrawing Is an Option

Stay on top of the science, take another look at your application, and consider whether you could make substantial improvements.

If you have doubts about whether your application is the best it can be, carefully assess whether you should withdraw it and apply for a later receipt date.

Our advice is to take another look at your application, revisit warnings you didn't correct from the Commons validation, take any new scientific developments into account, and consider whether you could make substantial improvements.

As a general rule, if you see a major error—whether in your data, science, or presentation—withdraw as soon as you can. Don't squander the goodwill of reviewers on a sub-par application.

Also keep tabs on developments that can improve your chances of success. Do you see new trends that elevate the significance of your work? A discovery that could bolster your application?

Think about whether you could use this information to build a dramatically stronger application for a later receipt date. You want to do everything you can to convince reviewers your work is significant, high-impact, and able to drive knowledge in your field to a higher level.

You may want to ask colleagues their opinion as well.

Be Aware of Timing Issues for Withdrawing

If you're concerned that withdrawing will delay your award, remember that if your application fares poorly in peer review, you'll need to resubmit for a later date anyway—except that will be your last opportunity to get the application funded.

Moreover, submitting for a later date may not have a major impact on when you receive your award. For more on that topic, read our advice at Timing Factors That Affect Your Application and Award.

It's best to withdraw before the review, so the submission does not count, and you can submit a new application for the next receipt date.

If you withdraw after the review, the submission does count. If you submitted a new application, you can apply in the future with a resubmission but not a new application. Be sure to wait until the summary statement is in the Commons before withdrawing (see Just the Facts above). 

Checkpoint. Before the review date, check that:

  1. My methods and data are sound.
  2. I continually review scientific literature for major developments that could affect my application.
  3. I know the kinds of supplemental material I can submit and send only if it fits NIH's rules—see If You Need to Send Late Materials After Submitting above, keeping in mind the following:
    • NIH prohibits information that could be used to circumvent page limits and limits late materials for investigator-initiated applications to mostly non-scientific items.
    • My authorized organizational representative must sign off on any submission of late information.
    • NIH scientific review officers do not have to accept anything I send.
  4. I send the post-submission materials to my scientific review officer at least 30 days before the review meeting.
  5. I carefully weigh the pros and cons of withdrawing my application either before or after the review meeting, taking into account how withdrawing may affect my ability to resubmit.

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

Previous page in Strategy.Passing Validations   ·   Part 5. Assignment and ReviewNext page in Strategy.

See the other sections of
Part 4. Submit Your Application

Table of Contents for the Strategy

We welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions. Email​


Last Updated April 22, 2016

Last Reviewed September 30, 2012