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General Application Information Questions and Answers

Table of Contents


Deadlines, Corrections, Late Applications

Application Sections

Collaborators, Consultants, and Subawards


Where can I find basic information on writing and formatting my application?

Find basic information in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Which form do I use to apply for an NIH research grant?

Check the funding opportunity announcement to be sure. Most grant types, such as the R01 and the Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21), use the electronic forms in the grant application package.

Applicants must submit a paper PHS 398 for administrative supplements for complex award types such as program projects.

Go to our Application portal for more resources.

How do I send my application?

Use the grant application package listed in your funding opportunity announcement. For more information about sending your application, read Strategy for a Successful Submission in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Do I need to be a citizen to apply for a grant?

You do not need to be a citizen to apply for most research project grants, such as an R01, small grant (R03), or exploratory/developmental grant (R21). Some grant types require citizenship, such as training and small business grants. Read the funding opportunity announcement for details.

If you are a non-citizen working at a U.S. institution receiving an award, you must remain there long enough to finish your project. If you do not have a permanent visa, state in your application that your visa will allow you to remain in the U.S. long enough for you to be productive on the project.

Your institution is responsible for ensuring that you have an appropriate visa. For more information, see Ready for Independent Support? in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How do I know if an application uses multiple PIs?

NIH allows multiple PIs for most grant types. To be sure, check the funding opportunity announcement.

For more information, go to NIH's Multiple Principal Investigators and read Design a Project in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should I apply for an NIH-wide FOA or an NIAID-specific FOA?

The latter—see Is it better to apply under one of the broad NIH PAs or an institute-specific one? in our Small and Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants Questions and Answers.

Are my application and grant confidential?

In general, unfunded applications are confidential, and funded applications and grants may be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

In the Privacy, Conduct, Conflict of Interest, and Clinical Research Ethics Questions and Answers, read:

For more information, go to these resources:

How long will I have to wait for notification of review results?

Go to Know What a Summary Statement Means in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How long does it take to receive an award?

See How Long to Get the Grant in the Strategy for NIH Funding and How long does it take to receive an award? in the NIAID Funding Decisions Questions and Answers.

Might NIH return my application if it's not formatted properly?

Yes. You must follow formatting requirements in the instructions or risk having your application returned. This can happen if you exceed page limits, for example, or use improper fonts, font size, or margins.

For more, go to Master the Application in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

May I use the same application for more than one funding opportunity announcement?

Yes, you may use the same application as often as you want for as many funding opportunity announcements as you qualify for—unless your multiple applications go to peer review at the same time.

NIH will not accept your application if it overlaps with any other application under review at the time ​you submit, even if you're using different funding opportunity announcements (e.g., applying for an investigator-initiated R01 at the same time as you respond to a request for applications). In that case, you will have to withdraw one of your applications.

Can an investigator be listed as a PI on more than one scientifically distinct application in response to an RFA?

It depends on the opportunity. Every Guide announcement for a request for applications (RFA) includes “Number of Applications” within Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

There the announcement will answer your question with text that is likely similar to these examples:

  • “Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.”
  • “Only one application per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number or NIH IPF number) is allowed.”

Remember, if you're submitting more than one application, you may ask for a combined level of effort that exceeds 100 percent (e.g., 60 percent on one application and 60 percent on another). If both applications are funded, we'll adjust your effort to be no more than 100 percent when we negotiate your awards.

Can I submit the same application to another organization as well as to NIH?

Yes, as long as the organization is not a Public Health Service agency. NIH allows you to send the same application you submitted or are planning to submit to NIH elsewhere, e.g., a private foundation or a non-PHS agency, such as the Department of Defense.

Even if your application is pending award, you must list it in the other support information you send us before funding. Keep in mind that the other organization may have a similar requirement. You may accept only one of the awards.

May I submit two applications for the same receipt date for the same funding opportunity announcement?

Yes, unless the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) says otherwise. To be sure, check the "Number of Applications" section of the FOA.

Note that if your applications have overlapping aims, NIH will reject them. Read more about this at NIH’s Evaluation of Overlapping Applications.

Can an investigator with appointments at two distinct institutions be the PI for an award at one and oversee a subaward (from the same grant) at the other?

Yes, so long as the institutions and the investigator are eligible within their respective capacities.

Know that those involved with peer, programmatic, and administrative review of applications will be watching closely for overlap (budgetary, effort, or scientific) for that scientist and all or any portion of the proposed research.

For example, the grantee institution must perform a substantive role in the conduct of the research rather than merely serving as a conduit of funds.

In a situation like this, we suggest contacting a program officer or grants management specialist directly. See Contacting Program Officers and Grants Management Specialists.

If my application did not succeed, may I submit the same topic as a new application?

Yes. We advise this as one option if your application isn't funded, though we suggest you improve your application as much as possible. For details, read Option 2: Create a New Application in Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should I include a cover letter?

We recommend that you include a cover letter for all applications, and you must have one for some. Read more in Create a Cover Letter in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How should I cite references? Should I cite all names for a large multiauthor paper?

Give complete citations, including titles and authors, in the Bibliography and References Cited Attachment of your application. Read more on Connect to Science With Citations in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How do I submit a video or other material that cannot be sent electronically?

See How do I submit a video or other material that cannot be sent electronically? in the Submitting and Validating Your Electronic Application Questions and Answers.

How do I sign my application?

You do not need to sign your applications, progress reports, or prior approval requests. Instead, your institution asks you to sign a principal investigator signature assurance for each application.

When do I need a data sharing plan?

Applicants must share their final research data for all applications that seek $500,000 or more in direct costs in any year of the grant and for some program announcements and requests for applications.

Regardless of cost, applications that are genome-wide association studies need a plan to share data.

Final research data is defined as the recorded factual material commonly accepted by the scientific community as necessary to document and validate research findings.

If I need a data sharing plan, where do I put it in my application?

Describe your plan—or justify its absence—in a brief paragraph in your Research Plan. Put the plan in the Resource Sharing Plan attachment to the PHS 398 Research Plan form. It does not count toward the page limit.

You may include additional information on data sharing in other sections if appropriate. Find more information about data sharing at NIH Data Sharing Policy.

Also see:

What is the proper way of authenticating reagents? Is a sample of the new Authentication Plan for Key Biological/Chemical Resources available online?

We do not yet have any examples of the Authentication Plan posted online. Still, consider the following guidance from NIH:

The methods used for authentication will depend on the key resource type, and methods may vary by research field. For instance, key cell lines might be authenticated by chromosomal analysis or short tandem repeat (STR) profiling. Key antibodies might be validated by Western blot, ELISA, immunoprecipitation, immunofluorescence, or flow cytometry using knockdown cells and positive and negative controls, depending on the assay proposed. Key chemicals might be validated by liquid or gas chromatography or mass spectrometry. Authentication plans should be based on accepted practices in the applicable field of science.

Remember, you do not need to include authentication data in the plan itself; reviewers will assess the adequacy of the plans you propose for authenticating key resources. For more information, read the Open Mike blog post Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources in NIH Grant Applications.

To learn more about the new reproducibility policy requirements, see Section V. Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources on NIH's Rigor and Transparency—Frequently Asked Questions. You can also email directly.

Deadlines, Corrections, Late Applications

Read the Questions and Answers below or see the Table of Contents above.

When are applications due?

If you have already selected a funding opportunity announcement, find your due date in the Key Dates section.

For investigator-initiated applications, NIH accepts most investigator-initiated applications on three receipt dates. For example, non-AIDS new R01 applications are due on February 5, June 5, and October 5 (the date moves forward to the next business day if that day is a holiday or weekend).

AIDS, renewals, small business awards, fellowships, and other grant types have different receipt dates.

NIAID has an annual submission deadline for T32 and T35 training grant applications: September 25 for non-AIDS and January 7 for AIDS-related. Each request for applications has its own one-time receipt date.

If a deadline is on a weekend or federal holiday, it moves to the next business day.

Go to the Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications for all NIH receipt dates, and see Prepare to Submit and Rules for Late Applications in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

May I submit my application late?

Typically, NIH allows lateness for circumstances out of your control—including natural disasters or personal tragedies—as well as service on an NIH study section.

See Rules for Late Applications in the Strategy for NIH Funding and the Late Applications SOP.

May I send supplementary, missing, or corrected materials after a receipt date?

Possibly. Read If You Need to Send Revised Information in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

For applications reviewed at NIAID, see May I send supplementary, missing, or corrected materials after a receipt date? in the Peer Review at NIAID Questions and Answers.

Application Sections

Read the Questions and Answers below or see the Table of Contents above.

How should I prepare the budget if I am requesting six or seven years of funding?

If you're applying through, use Form Page 4 of the Budget Pages for the Initial Period of Support, and Form Page 5 for years two, three, four, and five. Use a second Form Page 5 for the budgets of years six and seven.

If you're applying through ASSIST, the budget form can accommodate the additional years.

Can I include capital equipment in the budget for a new application?

Yes. It goes in the equipment category.

Am I required to use My Bibliography or SciENcv to list my published work in the biosketch format?

No, but those databases are great examples of publicly available sources of published work. If you do include a URL for a publication list, it must be to a government website (.gov).

The biosketch format is designed to capture your five most significant contributions to science. Within each of those five descriptions, you may list up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications.

Since your biosketch is limited to five pages, including a full list of your publications will take up too much space. Thus, you have the option to link to a full list on a government website (.gov). We recommend that you use SciENcv because it includes features designed to simplify biosketch preparation, as demonstrated in the YouTube video SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae.

To see the biosketch instructions and a completed sample, view Biosketch Format Pages, Instructions, and Samples on SF 424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission Information.

Do biosketches of technicians, students, and collaborators need a personal statement?

The personal statement is part of the biosketch, and most grants require one for all key personnel, which includes consultants and technical staff who play a substantive role in the project.

To be sure, read the instructions in your funding opportunity announcement. For more guidance, see Emphasize Expertise in Biosketches in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Can I include preliminary data in the biosketch?

No. If you have unpublished preliminary data in support of the proposed work, it belongs in your Research Strategy as usual. Nor are graphics, figures, or tables allowed.

In the biographical sketch, you can highlight contributions to science, but you're not including actual data there. Instead, as an example, you might note that you contributed to science by adding data to an unpublished source such as a repository.

For more on biographical sketches, see NIH's Frequently Asked Questions on Biosketches.

How do I send in other support information?

NIH collects other support just-in-time. After your application is within the range of possible funding, we ask you for this information.

All electronic grant application packages have a field for attaching "Current and Pending Support" in the SF 424 Senior/Key Person component form. Ignore that field—NIH does not use it.

When we ask you for other support information, follow the sample in the SF 424 Application Guide. Here's a Sample Other Support Form (PDF). Read more:

What type of materials can I include in the Appendix?

Go to What to Add and Not to Add in an Appendix in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Collaborators, Consultants, and Subawards

Read the Questions and Answers below or see the Table of Contents above.

If I have a subaward agreement, what budget information should I submit for my collaborators?

Read Where to Add Consortium and Contractual Information in the Strategy for NIH Funding and our Subawards (Consortium Agreements) for Grants SOP.

The collaborator on my R01 application is in the U.K. Do I need to check off the 'foreign involvement' box (#6) on the application in Section 4.4 Other Project Information? Do I need to upload any attachments?

Yes, for an R01 grant application, working with a U.K. collaborator would be considered foreign involvement; therefore, you would need to check the box for question #6.

Further, you must check “Yes” any time the applicant organization is a foreign institution or if the project includes a foreign component. See the definition of foreign component listed in the NIH Grants Policy Statement Definition of Terms.

Indicate whether your agreement with the collaborator is for him or her to participate as an unpaid foreign collaborator, or if it is a foreign consortium agreement with a foreign institution (subaward), which allows him or her to participate.

Upload any relevant documents and provide justification, including an explanation of why the work cannot be completed by a U.S. collaborator.

May a subcontractor subcontract to another organization?

For grants, no. All subcontractors must have a direct subcontract with the awardee institution. A subcontractor to a subcontractor is not allowed.

For contracts, subcontractors can have subcontractors.

What if my question wasn't answered here, or I'd like to suggest a question?

You can find more Questions and Answers about grant applications at Applying for a Grant, Writing a Great Grant Application, and other Application Questions and Answers.

For questions and suggestions, email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. We answer questions by email and post them here. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.​​​​​​​


Last Updated April 22, 2016

Last Reviewed November 17, 2015