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Changes to NIH and NSF application instructions

Mon, 4th January, 2016

Changes to NIH Applications/Proposals and RPPR Reports

When do the changes go into effect? On 11/25/15, via NOT-OD-16-029 the NIH announced the release of the new, revised application forms and guides effective for applications due January 25 through May 24, 2016.   During this period, revised FORMS-C application forms and instructions should be used. In a second phase of the 2016 revision, FORMS-D forms should be used beginning May 25, 2016; an application guide to these forms will be released in late March.

What is the rationale for these changes? These changes are part of a new NIH initiative designed to improve the rigor of experimental design and to increase the reproducibility of scientific experiments. It is important to note that these changes will be included in the new Study Section proposal review and scoring criteria. See NOT-OD-16-011 or the NIH information page available here for details on this initiative.

What proposals will be affected? Most grant applications will be affected by this change, including R01, R03, R21, and all K (career development awards).

What are the changes? Major changes to the FORMS-C are summarized in NOT-OD-16-004, with FAQs available here.

Changes include:

  • Updates to instructions for preparing the research strategy attachment have been added, additions as below:
    • Significance section
      • Describe the scientific premise for the proposed project, including consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of published research or preliminary data crucial to the support of your application.
    • Approach section
      • Describe the experimental design and methods proposed and how they will achieve robust and unbiased results.
      • Explain how relevant biological variables, such as sex, are factored into research designs and analyses for studies in vertebrate animals and humans. For example, strong justification from the scientific literature, preliminary data, or other relevant considerations, must be provided for applications proposing to study only one sex. Refer to NOT-OD-15-102 for further consideration of NIH expectations about sex as a biological variable.
      • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment is required; in this attachment applicants are instructed to “Briefly describe methods to ensure the identity and validity of key biological and/or chemical resources used in the proposed studies.” These include cell lines, specialty chemicals, antibodies and other biologics. Do not include standard reagents (e.g. buffers, solvents). Information in this section must focus only on authentication/validation of key resources used in the study; all other methods and preliminary data must be included within the page limits of the research strategy. Save this information in a single file named “Authentication of Key Resources Plan,” and attach it as Item 12, Other Attachments, on the Other Project Information form
    • Updated instructions for documents related to use of Vertebrate animals, see NOT-OD-16-006.
    • Updated guidance on criteria to be addressed (description of procedures; justifications; minimization of pain and distress; and euthanasia)
    • A description of veterinary care is no longer required
    • Justification for the number of animals has been eliminated
    • A description and justification of the method of euthanasia is required only if the method is not consistent with AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals
  • Changing the definition of a child to individuals under the age of 18 instead of 21 (NOT-OD-16-010.)
  • Changes to the PHS398 Research Training Plan form, included in Institutional training grant applications (e.g. T32, T34, T35,T90).

What are the changes to the RPPR (Progress Report)?

  • Updates to Section B – Accomplishments
    • By January 25, 2016, the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) instructions will be updated to include the following additional guidance for 6.2 Section B – Accomplishments, in addition to the existing instructions.  Progress reports submitted on or after January 25, 2016 that are initiated prior to the instruction updates may use the current forms while following these additional instructions.  The instructions that will address rigor are listed below for your convenience.
  • 2 What was accomplished under these goals?
    • Include the approaches taken to ensure robust and unbiased results.
  • 6 What do you plan to do for the next reporting period to accomplish these goals?
    • Discuss efforts to ensure that the approach is scientifically rigorous and results are robust and unbiased.

Changes to NSF Applications/Proposals

When do the changes go into effect? On 10/15/2015, the NSF announced changes to the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). These changes are in effect for all proposals with due dates on or after January 26th, 2016 and awards made on or after January 26, 2016.

A summary of significant changes is available here.

Some notable changes to proposal guidelines include:

  • Chapter I.F: A clarification that NSF will enforce its proposal deadline policy; i.e. that organizations will not be able to submit proposals after 5:00 local time. No solicitations will be issued with a different time due.
  • Chapter II.C.1.e: The addition of the new “Collaborators & Other Affiliations” single-copy document that requires all senior project personnel to provide information regarding collaborators and other affiliations. The requirement to provide the total number of collaborators and other affiliations is removed from the biosketch. This replaces the previous requirement to provide this information as part of the Biosketch.
  • Chapter II.C.2.f: A separate Biosketch for each person named as senior personnel must be provided. Biosketches for all senior personnel cannot be combined into a single PDF file. Section E “Colllaborators and Other Affiliations” is removed from the biosketch.
  • Chapter II.C.2.h: In the Current and Pending support document or form, all current project support must be listed, including internal funds allocated toward specific projects. A separate document or form must be provided for each person named as senior personnel.
  • Chapter II.B.2: Applicant organizations are responsible for ensuring that applications follow all standard NSF type size, margin, and spacing requirements.
  • Chapter II.D.14: The Dual Research of Concern (DURC) is a new section and states that proposing organizations are responsible for identifying NSF-funded life sciences proposals that could potentially be considered dual use research of concern, as defined in the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.
  • Chapter II.C.2.b, Project Summary: only Project Summaries that use special characters may be uploaded in the Supplementary Documents section. Uploaded Project Summaries must contain separate headings for Overview, Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts or the proposal will be returned without review.
Category : NIH / NSF

Changes to NSF’s Grants Policy Guide

Wed, 2nd January, 2013

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced changes to its Grants Policy Guide (GPG) that become effective January 14, 2013. As these changes may impact the preparation of your NSF proposals, we highly recommend you review NSF’s GPG Summary of Changes and the January 2013 Grant Proposal Guide before preparing a proposal to NSF.

Some notable changes to NSF’s GPG:

  • Biographical Sketches – The Publications section has been renamed Products. Products may include, but are not limited to, publications, data sets, software, patents and copyrights.
  • Budget – If salary is not being requested for senior personnel, their names must be removed from Section A of the budget.  These senior personnel should still be listed on the cover sheet and their roles on the project described in the Facilities, Equipment and other Resources section of the proposal (see below).
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources – Proposers must now include an aggregated description of the internal and external resources (both physical and personnel) that the organization and its collaborators will provide to the project, should it be funded. The information must be provided in this section, rather than in other parts of the proposal (e.g., budget justification, project description). It should be narrative in nature and must not include any quantifiable financial information. If there are no facilities, equipment or other resources information related to the proposal, a statement should be included in this section.
  • Project Description – Broader impacts must be described in a separate section within the narrative instead of being included as an integral part of the narrative. In addition, Results from Prior NSF Support has been redefined to include current NSF funding, whether or not the support was directly related to the proposal or salary support was provided.
  • Project Summary – The headings for Overview, Intellectual Merit and Broader are no longer required since FastLane has been modified to display three separate text boxes where the information should be provided. Note that proposals not containing all three elements of the Project Summary will be returned without review.
  • References Cited – If there are no references cited, a statement to that effect should be included in this section.
  • Review Criteria – this section has been replaced by an expanded Merit Review Principles and Criteria section.
  • Indirect Costs – NSF has elected to use grantee institutions’ predetermined overhead rates in most instances. NSF program staff is not authorized to suggest or request that PIs seek reduction or waivers of indirect cost.
Category : NSF

NSF Research Performance Progress Reports now submitted through

Tue, 4th December, 2012

Ohio State has been selected to be an early adopter of NSF’s Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for preparation and submission of annual, final and interim progress reports.  You should now submit your NSF project reports through instead of FastLane.  You will automatically be redirected from FastLane to when you log into FastLane to prepare or submit a report.  In addition, you will now see Project Outcome Reports, reporting requirements and project reports in your Project Report Dashboard on  NSF has extended the due and overdue dates for project reports due from now through January 2013 to help with the transition to the new reporting system.

More information and instructions on preparing and submitting your NSF project reports can be obtained on the Project Reports information page on  Contact your Sponsored Program Officer if you have questions.

Category : NSF

New NSF Proposal Requirement

Mon, 21st December, 2009

One of the requirements of the America COMPETES Act is that institutions accepting funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for science and engineering research or education must provide appropriate training and oversight in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers supported by the funded research project.

NSF is implementing this requirement for awards resulting from proposals submitted on or after January 4th, 2010. Below is an outline of Ohio State’s implementation plan:


  • PI proceeds as usual this requirement has no impact on proposal content
  • NSF is adding an additional item to the certification page. The SPO signature on this page certifies that Ohio State has in place a plan to provide the required RCR training.


  • If the proposal is funded, all undergraduate and graduate students, and postdocs supported by the award will be required to complete RCR training
  • We will work with PIs on implementing this requirement
  • The university is developing its RCR plan.
Category : NSF

New NSF Proposal Requirements

Mon, 5th January, 2009

Investigators submitting proposals to the National Science Foundation on or after January 5th 2009 should be aware of the following significant change in NSF requirements:

Any proposal that requests funding for postdoctoral researchers has to include, as a separate section within the 15-page project description, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals.  Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation’s broader impacts merit review criterion. Proposals that do not include a separate section on mentoring activities within the Project Description will be returned without review.

In addition, NSF has modified its Senior Project Personnel Salaries & Wages Policy as follows:

‘As a general policy, NSF limits salary compensation for senior project personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants’.  The major effect of this change is that it is now possible to charge academic year salary as well as off duty quarter salary to NSF awards, within the two month limitation.

For additional information see

Category : NSF

Cayuse424 can now be used to submit USDA, HRSA and NSF, as well as NIH, proposals to

Mon, 3rd December, 2007

Cayuse424, the electronic research administration tool provided by the University to facilitate submission of NIH proposals to, can now be used to submit proposals to several other agencies as well. Some advantages of using Cayuse424 over PureEdge:

  • Standard data (University and investigator information) are automatically loaded into forms
  • Some budget functions are automated
  • Proposals can be previewed and printed
  • Proposals can be checked for errors throughout the process
  • PDF attachment process is simple
  • Multiple users, designated by the PI, can all work on the same proposal
  • Works with Macs as well as PCs

Training sessions have been scheduled and will focus on USDA submissions. However, those submitting to other agencies are welcome to attend.

Category : NIH / NSF

NSF to Enhance Support of Transformative Research

Thu, 11th October, 2007

The National Science Foundation just announced that it is broadening its Intellectual Merit Review Criterion to specifically include review of the extent to which a proposal suggests and explores potentially transformative concepts. The enhanced criterion will be used for all proposals received after January 5, 2008.

Project GRO is an initiative within the university’s Office of Research and Office of University Outreach and Engagement to create a resource for faculty who are including a broader impact component in their grant proposals for research funding. Project GRO ( can assist investigators with interpreting and responding to NSF’s new review criterion.

Category : NSF

National Science Foundation Proposal & Award Policies Guide Now Available

Wed, 25th April, 2007

The National Science Foundation has just issued its new NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide – NSF 07-140 (PAPP Guide), which combines two formerly separate documents –the NSF Grant Proposal Guide(GPG) and the Grant Policy Manual (GPM).

The new guide, which is available online at: as a PDF version with active web links,  is effective for proposals submitted on or after June 1, 2007.

Following are some of the more significant changes.

  • Coverage on exceptions to NSF’s deadline date policy
  • Identification of designated fonts that must be used to prepare an NSF proposal
  • Increased coverage on the apply function
  • Further guidance on the elimination of program-specific cost-sharing and removal of the statutory (1%) cost-sharing requirement
  • Incorporation of two additional proposal certifications regarding Nondiscrimination and Flood Hazard Insurance
  • Incorporation of language regarding use of the Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate at the time of award
  • Revision of human and vertebrate animal data for consistency with
Category : NSF