Provide Input on Proposed Simplified Review Framework for NIH Research Project Grant Applications

Funding News Edition: January 18, 2023
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A new NIH Request for Information (RFI) seeks public input on a proposed revised framework for evaluating and scoring peer review criteria for NIH research project grant (RPG) applications.

NIH proposes a Revised Simplified Review Framework that will reorganize five major regulatory criteria (Significance, Investigators, Innovation, Approach, and Environment) under three scored categories and reduce the number of non-score driving review considerations that reviewers evaluate in judging the scientific merit of RPG applications.

Under this Framework, reviewers will take into account their assessments of the three factors below and additional criteria in determining an overall impact score.

  • Factor 1: Importance of the Research (scored 1-9, based on the criteria Significance and Innovation)
  • Factor 2: Feasibility and Rigor (scored 1-9, based on the criterion Approach)
  • Factor 3: Expertise and Resources (based on the criteria Investigators and Environment and rated as “fully capable”, “appropriate” or “additional capability/expertise needed” or “additional resources needed”)

Of the three factors, only Factor 1: Importance of the Research and Factor 2: Feasibility and Rigor, will receive individual scores. In the revised framework, Factor 3: Expertise and Resources will not receive an individual score.

Additional review criteria, e.g., Human Subjects Protections, Vertebrate Animals, Biohazards, will not receive individual scores but will be considered in arriving at the overall impact score.

Two review considerations—Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources—and Budget and Period of Support will be evaluated but have no effect on the overall impact score.

The proposed changes pertain to those RPGs with standard review criteria. All the factors required by regulation will continue to be evaluated. NIH is not proposing to revise the regulatory criteria but is proposing to revise its policy of how peer reviewers score the criteria, and how NIH organizes the criteria for review purposes. NIH believes that these changes will allow peer reviewers to refocus on the critical task of judging scientific merit and will improve those judgements by reducing bias.

For more information, see the slides from the December 8, 2022 Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH meeting.

Response Submission and Due Date

Submit your response electronically at RFI on Proposed Revised Simplified Review Framework for NIH Research Project Grant Applications by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 10, 2023, to ensure consideration.

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