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Resubmission of Unfunded Applications Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

Program Announcements (PAs)

Requests for Applications (RFAs)


Changes to PI, Institution, or Title

What should I do if my application didn't succeed?

Contact your program officer after you get your summary statement, and read the following in Part 6. If Not Funded of the Strategy for NIH Funding:

I applied for an R01 as a new investigator. The application was not funded. Can I apply for another R01 as a new investigator?

Yes, NIH’s definition of a new investigator depends on whether you were awarded certain types of grants, not whether you applied. So you can continue applying for an R01 and still be considered a new investigator.

We discuss NIH’s definition further at How to Qualify for New and Early-Stage Investigator Status.

See New Investigator Advice for more details.

If my score misses the payline, should I wait to see if paylines go up before I resubmit?

No. Because paylines may not change, we advise you not to wait for possible funding later in the year.

If you revise and resubmit, you can improve your application based on the feedback from the initial peer review and hopefully get a better percentile and likelihood of getting an award.

Contact your program officer for more advice and read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Instead of resubmitting, can I submit my unsuccessful application as a new application without changes, in hopes of getting a better score?

Yes, but revising and resubmitting may be a better option because you'll have an opportunity to address reviewer comments. We suggest you improve your application regardless of whether you send a new one or resubmit.

Speak to your program officer and consider all your options. Learn more in Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Does a resubmission remove the original scored application from funding consideration?

No. The eRA Commons allows investigators to send one resubmission while the earlier application remains active, so NIAID can fund the earlier application if a resubmission receives a worse score.

Can a resubmission hurt my initial application's likelihood of funding?

Not usually. If your resubmission scores worse, we can still fund your previous application.

That said, our data show that you're much more likely to score better than worse. By addressing the issues raised in your summary statement you will increase the likelihood that your resubmission will fare even better than your first try.

Just remember that the summary statement isn't an exhaustive critique. Read more in What to Do if You Get Bad News in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should I always revise and resubmit if I didn't succeed?

No. First determine whether your problems are fixable.

We have more on this topic in What to Do if You Get Bad News in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How can I tell whether my problems are fixable?

Read What to Do if You Get Bad News in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

What are my options if I want to revise and resubmit?

Unless you applied to a request for applications (RFA), you have the following options:

  • Choose a new funding opportunity announcement or resubmit to the same one you applied to the first time.
  • Request the same study section or a different one.

Some RFAs do not allow resubmissions. If your previous application responded to an RFA, read your funding opportunity announcement to confirm you may resubmit.

Talk to your program officer and learn more at Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

For my resubmission, do I need an introduction?

Yes. You must include an introduction to the Research Plan. For details, read How to Resubmit in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

For an example of a good introduction to a resubmission, look at the Research Plan from Dr. Adam Ratner's sample application.

Should I read my summary statement carefully to identify problems?

Yes. Use your summary statement as feedback. For advice, read What to Do if You Get Bad News in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How and where should I respond to reviewers' comments from my previous application's summary statement?

You should address reviewers' concerns in both the Introduction and Research Strategy (or elsewhere if the reviewers had concerns). Many applicants use the Introduction to explain how their resubmission responds to the issues and criticism raised in the original application's summary statement and then address individual comments throughout the Research Strategy.

While we recommend addressing comments one-by-one in the Introduction, that may not always be possible due to the one-page limit. Fortunately our recommendation is not an NIH requirement. If you're cramped for space, don't drop important details in favor of making space to address reviewer comments. Learn more by reading How to Resubmit in Strategy for NIH Funding.

Remember, responding to criticism usually means altering your approach to account for reviewer concerns rather than arguing that the criticism is misguided. Don't waste space insisting that you were right all along.

For advice that’s specific to your application’s critiques and how you might address them within the one-page limit, talk to your program officer.

Can I revise my application and request a new study section?

Yes. Read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding for tips.

If I’m resubmitting my application and the review panel lacks expertise in my research area, can I request a special emphasis panel?

You may request a study section in your application's PHS Assignment Request Form, as explained in Requesting an Institute and Study Section; however, a request for a special emphasis panel (SEP) is unlikely to be honored.

Typically, your application will be assigned to an SEP if:

  • You're eligible for continuous submission.
  • You apply for a fellowship or small business award.
  • One or more standing study section members has a conflict and no other study section has the expertise to review your application fairly.

Contact your scientific review officer (SRO) to discuss your options. SROs frequently recruit ad hoc reviewers with specialized expertise to fill scientific expertise gaps in a review panel.

How many times can I resubmit my application?

Once. For advice on what to do if your one resubmission fails, read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

What should I do after one resubmission?

After one resubmission, you must submit a new application or look for funding outside of NIH.

You may keep some, all, or none of your previous application. For details, read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How long do I have to resubmit my application?

You must send your resubmission within 37 months of the original application's receipt date, regardless of when you actually submitted your application. See the Application Resubmissions SOP for more information. 

Is the deadline for an AIDS resubmission different from the deadline for an initial AIDS application?

No. You submit an AIDS and AIDS-related application in time for the May 7, September 7 or January 7 due dates whether the application is new, a renewal, a resubmission, or a revision. Non-AIDS applications generally have different due dates for initial applications and resubmissions.

Go to the Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications for all NIH receipt dates.

If my resubmission does not succeed, can I keep some parts of it for a new application?

Yes. For details, read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

For a resubmission, can I reuse letters of support from the initial proposal or am I required to obtain updated letters of support?

Yes, you may reuse letters of support if your application is substantially similar.

That said, we advise you to consider how old the letters are when deciding whether to do so. Reviewers likely won’t mind reused letters if the previous application was recent. However, if they’re more than six to eight months old, the reviewers will likely be concerned that the letters are outdated.

If I respond to all the previous reviewers' comments, am I guaranteed success when I revise and resubmit?

No. The two main reasons are: a summary statement is not an exhaustive critique of your application, and your new reviewers may not agree with your previous ones. For more information, see Assess Peer Review Results in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Which types of unfunded applications may I reuse, and how do I proceed?

You may reuse any unfunded application for any purpose. However, NIH will withdraw your application if it overlaps with another application that's under review at the same time.

For more on this topic and how to proceed, read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

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 (e.g., FDA, CDC, AHRQ). Learn more at Broaden Your Horizons in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

If your application is selected for funding, you must list it in the other support information you send us just-in-time. Keep in mind that the other organization may have a similar requirement. See Prepare Your Other Support Submission in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Program Announcements (PAs)

How do I know if I can resubmit an application that responded to a PA?

Check the NIAID Funding Opportunities List to make sure your program announcement (PA) is still on the list. If it is, you can find the expiration date in the Guide notice. You can resubmit until that time unless NIAID decides to extend the PA.

If the PA is no longer open, talk to your program officer for advice.

Can I resubmit for a different PA?

Yes, you may resubmit your application to any active program announcement, program announcement with set-aside funds (PAS), or program announcement reviewed in an institute (PAR) as long as you meet the new announcement's eligibility criteria.

Requests for Applications (RFAs)

What may I do if I apply for an RFA and my application doesn't succeed?

You have two possibilities.

  1. See if the request for applications allows a resubmission. Though RFAs usually have only one receipt date, some allow you to resubmit. Read What may I do if a reissued RFA allows resubmissions of applications from the previous RFA? below.
  2. Submit a new application for a different funding opportunity announcement. Read Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

What may I do if a reissued RFA allows resubmissions of applications from the previous RFA?

If we reissue an RFA (with a new number) that allows resubmissions, you have the option of submitting it as a new application or a resubmission.

However, if an RFA is open for several years (the RFA number remains the same) and simply allows resubmissions, you must apply with a resubmission.


Is appealing a good idea?

You can appeal an initial peer review you feel was seriously flawed, though we often recommend revising and resubmitting your application instead.

Read more in Should You Appeal? in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Can I appeal for differences in opinion on science?

No. You can appeal only for defects in the review procedure. See our Appeals of Scientific Review of Grant Applications SOP for a list of reasons you may appeal.

Can I resubmit my application if I have a pending appeal of an initial peer review?

Yes, but you will need to withdraw your appeal. You cannot have an appeal and a resubmission in the system at the same time. See the Appeals of Scientific Review of Grant Applications SOP for details.

Changing PI, Institution, or Title

If I change institutions, can I resubmit an application that I sent from my previous institution?

Yes. However, you'll have to get a letter from the signing official at the former institution that confirms its willingness to relinquish its ability to submit the resubmission application, then submit that letter to the Division of Receipt and Referral at NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSR).

NIH has no official template for this letter, but you’ll want to make sure it’s written on official letterhead and includes the signing officer’s signature.

You may send it one of two ways:

Don’t use NIH’s Official Statement Relinquishing Interests and Right in a Public Health Service Research Grant, though you may borrow text. That form is for funded grants only. 

You will also have to fill in the Change of Institution section of the PHS 398 Checklist Form when you apply, and since you're applying with a resubmission, make sure to use the ID number from the original application when you fill out the SF 424 Form. 

For my resubmission, may I use a different title if I have new preliminary data that changes the direction of the original application?

Yes. According to the SF 424 Application Guide, you should choose a new title if your Specific Aims have significantly changed. Note this in your cover letter.

Otherwise, a resubmission should have the same title as the previous application.

Can I replace another investigator as PI on a resubmission?

Yes. You may assume the role of PI on another investigator's resubmission—just make sure you rewrite the application to reflect that you are now PI and get approval from your business office to make the change.

In your cover letter, explain why you took over as PI. If the switch is related to comments from the previous review, note that.

If I replace another investigator as PI on a resubmission, will my new investigator status be affected?

No. If you are a new or early-stage investigator, you still get those benefits—e.g., a higher payline—even if the original PI was an established investigator.

One caveat to consider: reviewers will question a senior investigator who swaps roles with a new investigator. Even if you are an outstanding scientist, such a move might raise concerns about the quality of the science, the significance of the project, and the original investigator's commitment to his or her work.

Allay those concerns by explaining the change in your cover letter, as noted above.

Can I submit a new grant, modified from an unfunded resubmission (A1), using the exact same title?

Yes, you may use the same title again. Be sure to mark it as new in the application forms and eliminate any references to the previous review or previous review comments.

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

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 May 23, 2014