Timelines for Applying for a Grant

Timelines for Applying for a Grant

While this document is geared toward the basic research project grant, the R01, much of it is useful for other grants.

Here are tips on the timing aspects of choosing a topic and planning the research for your application as well as items to plan ahead for while you are at this stage.

Timeline for Planning a Grant

Planning timeline

For each of the timelines in this section, the upper timeline shows major steps from application to award for a simple non-AIDS application, such as an R01. Preparation time can vary considerably. For investigators who are entering a new science area or are planning their first application, the planning stage is often much longer than the writing phase. We give actual months only for precise timing events: the receipt date—indicated by the Due arrow—through the advisory Council meeting.

  • Review happens four or five months after the due date, and Council around seven months after the due date.   
  • If your application is expedited, you could be funded as early as six months after the due date.
  • After Council, we continue funding based on paylines and in score order.
  • Some must wait until near the end of the fiscal year to get a grant, which may be as long as 20 months after your original due date.

Expanding the colored section in the top timeline, the lower timeline shows major action items and timeframes for this stage in more detail:

  • We suggest that you start your planning at least four months before your institution’s internal timeline.
  • Get feedback from your program officer and colleagues, then continue planning.

Read more at Prepare.

Timing for Writing Your Application

To help you make informed decisions, here are steps to make sure you plan enough time to write the application and get feedback on it, know about meeting deadlines, understand when it's most advantageous for you to apply, and take action early so you will be ready for electronic submission.

Timeline for writing your application

The upper timeline shows major steps from application to award for a simple non-AIDS application, such as an R01, as described in full at Timeline for Planning a Grant.

Expanding the colored section in the top timeline, the lower timeline shows major action items and timeframes for this stage in more detail:

  • After your planning phase, we advise you to begin writing no later than two months before your application’s internal due date.
  • Write your Research Strategy, get feedback from colleagues, and revise.
  • In the last week before your institution’s internal deadline, check and fix your application package.
  • Notify your institution’s business office when you’re ready.

Read more at Prepare.

How Long Will Writing Really Take?

Expect the unexpected. Build in extra time for items you cannot control since surprises are sure to happen.

It's a long and winding road that leads to the door of a funded grant, and many of the twists you encounter can lengthen or shorten the way.

When planning your application, figure the journey will take from 5 to 20 months from the time you submit to the day you get an award if your application is funded on the first try—far longer if you need to resubmit. That time does not include the several months it will take you to plan and write your application.

Such an extended time span makes a strong case for careful planning and execution at every stage.

Perfect the steps you can control. These actions include choosing a project that's right for you and creating as impeccable an application as you can. 

Expect the unexpected. Build in extra time for items you cannot control since surprises are sure to arise. For example, your mentor may recommend major revisions to your draft, or one of your collaborators may back out at the last minute.

Though the time needed to write an application can vary considerably from one person to the next, this list shows a typical break down of timing.

Your institution. Visit your institution's business office as soon as you start planning an application to find out about procedures and timelines. Your institution may need your application weeks or even months before your receipt date to process, sign, and submit it.

Initial preparation. Plan on two months or more of dedicated time to prepare for a simple R01, e.g., one that does not include vertebrate animals or human subjects.

Getting feedback. Allot at least two weeks to finalize your application; the time will vary depending on the responsiveness of your internal reviewers.

  • Send it to colleagues, mentors, and peers for an internal review.
  • Make changes resulting from that review.

Checks and edits. Allow at least a week to check and recheck your application to make sure nothing is missing and all information is consistent, search for factual errors, check spelling and grammar, and proofread.

Timing for Submitting Your Application

Here we lay out what happens after your institution’s internal deadline.

This is also a good point to start getting ready your just-in-time information to avoid a delay in getting your grant.

Timeline for submitting your application

 

The upper timeline shows major steps from application to award for a simple non-AIDS application, such as an R01, as described in full at Timeline for Planning a Grant.

Expanding the colored section in the top timeline, the lower timeline shows major action items and timeframes for this stage in more detail:

  • Your institution's internal deadline is your due date, not the NIH due date.
  • After your institution’s internal deadline and preferably well before the NIH due date, your authorized organizational official (AOR) submits the grant application.  
  • Grants.gov validation can take up to 48 hours. 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 FOA.
  • Commons validation can take up to 24 hours.  
  • After passing Commons validation, you get up to two business days to use the viewing window to check the application image. If you take no action, it moves forward to NIH referral officials at the end of the two days.
  • If there are problems with your application and you have time before the deadline, you can fix the problems and submit again.

Read more at Submit an Application.

Have Questions?

A program officer in your area of science can give you application advice, NIAID's perspective on your research, and confirmation that NIAID will accept your application.

Find contacts and instructions at When to Contact a NIAID Program Officer.

Content last reviewed on August 11, 2016