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Frequently Asked Questions About Grant Review

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Q: What happens to my application once I submit it?

A: The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) examines your application for completeness and relevance to the NIH mission. If your application is submitted in response to a specific request for applications (RFA), it is examined for relevance by the sponsoring institute or center. Once it is determined that the application is relevant and complete, CSR determines how it "fits" within the programs of the various institutes and centers, and an assignment is made to one or more institutes or centers for funding consideration.

To assist CSR in its assignments, you are encouraged to submit the optional PHS assignment request form with your application; this form will allow you to suggest assignment to a specific institute or center.

Q: What determines where my application is reviewed?

A: The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) assigns your application to the appropriate study section according to the scientific emphasis of the proposed research and guidelines that delineate the scientific expertise of each study section. Senior science administrators who have had research and scientific review administrator experience make the assignments. Applicants may submit the optional PHS assignment request form to request assignment of their application to a specific study section, but CSR makes the final decision regarding assignment and referral.

Reviews of applications for certain funding mechanisms, such as Institutional Research Training Grants (T32s) and requests for applications (RFAs), are conducted by review committees convened by the institutes and centers to which the applications have been assigned.

Assignment to a specific study section is independent of assignment to an institute. Many study sections which review NIDCD applications also review applications assigned to other NIH institutes and centers.

Q: What are the rules for appendices in an application?

A: Read the most recent guidance on allowable appendix materials

Q: Where can I get answers to logistical questions about my submission?

A: The NIH Office of Extramural Research provides detailed information about application and review procedures. Help with specific issues is available on the OER help page.

NIH strongly encourages applicants to obtain application materials from the NIH grants website or locally from the office of sponsored programs at their institutions.

Q: How can I learn more about the different study sections and who is on them?

A: Study section information, including rosters, can be found on the CSR website.

Q: What are the current initiatives of the NIDCD?

A: Read about NIDCD's extramural research funding program and see our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan.

Q: When does the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NDCD) Advisory Council meet?

A: The Council dates for the NDCD Advisory Council are listed on the NIDCD website.

Q: What happens to my application after it gets reviewed?

A: The status of your application will be updated in your eRA Commons account within a few days after the review meeting. If your application was discussed in the review meeting, you will receive a priority score and, for most applications, also a percentile. Within approximately 30 days, the summary statement containing the reviewer comments will be posted to your Commons account.  Program staff make every effort to attend your review, and are available to offer advice on interpreting the summary statement and probability of funding.

After the review, if you have questions regarding the review of your application or wish to discuss your summary statement, please contact the NIDCD Program Officer assigned to the application, as indicated in your Commons account.

Q: What if I believe there were procedural flaws with the peer review of my application?

A: NIH has an official appeals process. NIH defines an appeal as: "An appeal is a written communication from a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and/or applicant institution that meets the following four criteria: 1) is received after issuance of the summary statement and up to 30 calendar days after the second level of peer review, 2) describes a flaw or perceived flaw in the review process for a particular application, 3) is based on one or more of four allowable issues (described below), and 4) displays concurrence from the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR)."

Prior to beginning the appeal process, the PD/PI is strongly advised to speak with his/her program officer (PO), listed on the summary statement, who can explain possible options and outcomes. In some cases, peer review issues can be resolved at this stage.

For cases that cannot be resolved by discussion, a PI wishing to pursue a re-review may submit an appeal letter, through their AOR, to the PO. For cases that cannot be resolved by discussion, a PI wishing to pursue a re-review may submit an appeal letter to the PO. The appeal letter should detail the concerns and justifications for a re-review. Appeal letters are provided to the NDCD Advisory Council for consideration. There is no need to include the summary statement or the grant application, as these documents are automatically available. If the Council supports the appeal, it will recommend a re-review of the application.

Please note the following details:

  • The deadline for receipt of appeals is five weeks prior to the NDCD Advisory Council meeting. In order for NIH staff and Council members to give careful and full consideration to an appeal, every effort should be made to ensure that letters arrive five weeks prior to the Council meeting. It may be necessary to delay consideration if the letter is not received on time. Meeting dates for the NDCD Advisory Council can be found here.

The PI will be notified of the Council's decision within 30 days after the meeting of the NDCD Advisory Council.

Last Updated Date: 
October 12, 2018