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NSF News

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