A Refresher on Application Resubmission Strategy

Funding News Edition: June 02, 2021
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Before you begin a new (A0) application in the same vein as a prior application, take a hard look at whether another attempt using the same idea is likely to result in funding.

Credit: NIH Clinical Center

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

You might want to keep this familiar saying in mind in the event you submit a new, renewal, or revision application that does not get funded. Fortunately, you can “try again” with a resubmission (A1) if the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to which you applied allows it.

What’s more, according to the NIH/AHRQ Application Submission/Resubmission Policy, should your A1 be unfunded, you can submit a new (A0) application, which does not need to be significantly different from the A1. The second A0, sometimes called a “virtual A2,” is submitted as a new A0 even though you previously submitted an A1 and have the opportunity to consider and preempt previous reviewer concerns.

Advice on A1 Resubmissions and Second A0 Applications

The following pointers should help as you prepare your A1 resubmission or second A0 application.

When you prepare a resubmission (A1) application, be sure to address reviewer concerns, highlighting your responses to their comments in a one-page introduction. Simply re-stating your original arguments without providing new data will not improve your score. You should also ask your program officer for feedback if he or she was present at a review meeting for the discussion of your application. Read Revise and Resubmit an Application for more advice about improving your unfunded application following peer review.

While you should address reviewer critiques directly in an A1, NIH policy forbids you from stating that you’ve addressed reviewer critiques in a second A0 application. The application submission after an unfunded A1 must be an A0, prepared as though it is a completely new application and submitted by the due date for new applications. Thus, for your second A0, you’ll need to remove any references to past submissions and reviews, though you’ll likely have made changes to improve the project. Unlike for an A1, you should not include a one-page introduction addressing reviewers’ critiques in the second A0; if you do, your application will be returned to you without review.

If you go on to submit a second A1 following an unsuccessful second A0 (i.e., a fourth iteration which would appear to reviewers as an A1) you can address the previous review directly (that of the second A0) but not any reviews or submissions preceding that (those of the initial A0 and first A1).

Broadly speaking, you should submit a second A0 if your overall impact score was competitive and the reviewers were generally supportive of your application, so long as you are diligent in addressing any shortcomings identified in peer review.

Before you begin an A0 application in the same vein as a prior application, take a hard look at whether another attempt using the same idea is likely to result in funding. Consider adjusting or completely overhauling your application as needed.

Even if you submit your previously reviewed and revised application as new (i.e., second A0), it may still go to the same study section and reviewers are likely to remember it from before. You won't have the benefit of an introduction to address the previous comments. Therefore, make sure you have taken reviewers' suggestions into consideration when writing your application.

Again, the second A0 application should follow the FOA's procedures for new applications. Don't respond directly to comments from prior reviews—just use them to improve the application. Omit the A1 application’s introduction. If the second A0 is following an unfunded renewal application, remember to also omit the progress report that was included in the initial renewal application. Confirm you still meet any eligibility criteria (career stage or other qualifiers). Get prior approvals again as required, as described in the Big Grants SOP and Conference Awards SOP. Finally, allow sufficient time to prepare your application as if it were brand new since there could be changes in policies and forms that you need to address since you last applied.

We encourage you to update each subsequent application submission to reflect the status of the field over the interim period. We also encourage you to incorporate new preliminary data, literature citations, letters of reference, and any other relevant updates as time passes.

For More Advice and Information

See the following from NIH and NIAID.

NIH

NIAID

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