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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 Submitting Your Application   ·   Create a Cover LetterNext page in Strategy.

Strategy for Getting Ready to Submit

This strategy page gives you action items for each step of electronic submission starting with ensuring your application is ready and understanding expectations and due dates. Learn what constitutes an on-time submission to Grants.gov and how to confirm that you have the right system and security settings.

If your application does not make it on time, read about NIH's late application policy. We also recommend including a cover letter and tell you for which purposes you must use one. During submission, you need to know who your contacts are, should you need help from Grants.gov or the Commons.

This page applies to any application using electronic submission.

Timing for Submitting Your Application

Know your deadlines ahead of time.

Action Summary Learn More

Avoid potential application problems.

If you haven't done so already, make sure your application:

  • Is complete and consistent.
  • Looks good.
  • Reads well.

Allow enough time to prepare since revisions in one section may trigger other changes.

Use the right version of the Adobe forms and Reader.

If your institution uses its own proprietary system to submit your application, be alert for how the timing and instructions may differ from NIH's description for Adobe forms.

Check that your forms are in order.

Know how to avoid pitfalls that could cause the Center for Scientific Review to return your application to you without a peer review.

Just the Facts

Master the Application in Part 3

Definitions

Our Advice

Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically in Part 2

Part 3

Prepare to Submit in Part 4

Submitting a grant application involves multiple steps, even more if you encounter problems.

Learn your internal institutional due dates early on.

Note that the NIH Guide announcement for your funding opportunity announcement will give you a receipt date, but your internal submission deadline is your key deadline, not the NIH receipt date.

Ask your institution to apply well before the receipt date so you'll have enough time to address any validation problems.

Understanding the entire submission process and deadlines will help you work with your authorized organizational representative so you can:

  • Submit on time.
  • If needed, correct the application in time, so your application does not miss the NIH receipt date.

Just the Facts

Part 4

Applying for a Grant questions and answers

Grant Application, Electronic SOP

Grants.gov

Definitions

Our Advice

Part 4

Find NIH receipt dates.

For an investigator-initiated application, find receipt dates at NIH's Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.

  • Receipt dates differ by activity code—e.g., R01, R21—and grant type—e.g., new, resubmission, or renewal.
  • AIDS applications have their own receipt dates.
  • Investigators who serve on certain NIH committees may qualify for continuous submission.

If you are responding to a request for applications or an institute-specific program announcement, you can find the receipt date in the NIH Guide announcement for the funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

If you are unsure, check the FOA.

Just the Facts

Choose Approach and Find FOAs in Part 2—information on investigator-initiated and targeted research

Definitions

Our Advice

Part 4

Know what constitutes an on-time submission to Grants.gov.

To submit on time, your institution will need to allow enough time for your application to get through Grants.gov and eRA Commons validations, including the possibility of having to submit a corrected application.

Your application is on time if Grants.gov timestamps it by 5:00 p.m. your institution's local time on the receipt date listed in the funding opportunity announcement.

Grants.gov confirmation usually arrives within minutes, but it can take 48 hours or more during busy periods.

Your application must pass Grants.gov validation to move on to the next step, eRA Commons validation, which may take up to 24 hours.

Don't count on submitting late.

Just the Facts

Part 4

Grants.gov

Definitions

Our Advice

Part 4

 

Draft a cover letter.

Action Summary Learn More

Know when a cover letter is required.

You must have a cover letter for the following applications:

  • Resubmissions.
  • Applications requiring our approval to submit.
  • Conference grant applications.
  • Applications that include genome-wide association studies or access to genome-wide association study data in the NIH repository.
  • Late applications.
  • Applications submitted under continuous submission rules.
  • Corrected applications.

To create your cover letter, use the format in the SF 424 Application Guide.

Read below for other uses of a cover letter.

Just the Facts

Do You Qualify for Continuous Submission? in Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically in Part 2

Part 4

SOPs

Definitions

Our Advice

Part 4

Use a cover letter for other purposes too.

We advise that you use an application cover letter for other actions relevant to you:

  • Request assignment to a study section and institute.
  • List the expertise necessary to understand and review application.
  • Exclude reviewers.
  • Note a subaward will be active for only some of the grant's years.
  • Note special areas, such as human subjects and select agents.
  • Point out requests for applications and program announcements, and state the title.

To read about choosing a study section, go to Ensure You Get the Right Assignments in Part 5.

Just the Facts

Create a Cover Letter in Part 4

NIH Center for Scientific Review

Definitions

Our Advice

Create a Cover Letter in Part 4

Know your contacts.

Action Summary Learn More

Review your NIH contacts before you apply.

Know where to get help at Grants.gov and the Commons.

Contact your scientific review officer for issues with your application before review.

Just the Facts

NIH's list of Help Desks

Communicating With NIAID—How to Get Help

Prepare to submit.

Action Summary Learn More

Confirm that you have the right software and security settings.

Use one of Grants.gov's Compatible Versions of Adobe Reader.

Know the pitfalls: you can inadvertently corrupt your application if you or others who work on your file open it with the wrong version of Adobe Reader and Acrobat.

Browser security settings can interfere with your submission.

Get tech tips from the links at right.

Just the Facts

NIH

Troubleshooting Tips at Grants.gov

Our Advice

Get Your Technical Ducks in a Row in Prepare to Submit in Part 4

Communicating With NIAID—How to Get Help

Go over your grant application package.

Use the "Check Package for Errors" button at the top of the grant application package page to ensure you completed all the fields required for submission to Grants.gov.

Know the administrative and formatting requirements NIH checks for once your application passes validations.

Give your grants business office enough time to complete institutional actions.

Just the Facts

Grants.gov's Compatible Versions of Adobe Reader

Our Advice

Prepare to Submit in Part 4

Understand NIH's late submission policy.

Action Summary Learn More

Submit late only if you are allowed.

Valid reasons for late submission include federal electronic systems issues, natural disasters, personal tragedies, and some types of service on an NIH study section.

When submitting a late application, you must include a cover letter describing the reason for the delay.

Know what NIH staff check after submission so you can avoid a failure that would force you to withdraw and submit late.

Neither CSR nor NIAID guarantees it will accept a late application. Depending on which organization conducts the review, some practices are different.

Just the Facts

Part 4

Late Applications SOP

NIH's Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies

Our Advice

Don't Be Late for a Very Important Date in Prepare to Submit Part 4

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

Previous page in Strategy.Timing for Submitting Your Application   ·   Create a Cover LetterNext 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 deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

Last Updated September 23, 2013

Last Reviewed September 30, 2011