The Application Process

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Linear timeline in months starting on the left from preparing an application to deadlines to review to funding at the far right
Linear timeline in months starting on the left from preparing an application to deadlines to review to funding at the far right

 

There are many steps involved in submitting a successful application for funding. Use the timelines below to learn about each major step from planning an application to award for a typical application such as an R01. Some applications may have accelerated timelines (e.g. SBIR and AIDS-related applications), but the below timelines should be informative for most applications. The overall process from planning and preparing an application to receiving a Notice of Award can take as long as two years. It typically takes between 8 and 20 months after the due date to receive a notice of award indicating you have received an award.

 

Prepare Your Application 

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Linear timeline for the preparation phase of the grant application timeline going up through internal deadlines on the right side

 

Some essential or important deadlines are before the application due date

If you plan to apply for a grant, your opportunity’s due date may not be the only one you need to know. You may also have special institutional and NIH prior approval deadlines in the weeks or months before you apply. 

We advise you to Contact a NINDS Program Officer early for advice on your planned science, funding opportunity announcement (FOA), and how to meet special requirements.

Here are some scenarios with Required Prior Approval before your application’s due date:

Beyond those examples, your application may have different or additional requirements. Check the instructions for your chosen FOA and NIH Policy and Compliance instructions.
 

  • Start writing your specific aims and research strategy. Get details at Preparing Your Research Strategy.
  • Write each additional section. Complete the the additional elements of a successful grant application including human and animal subjects as well as resource and data sharing and management plans
  • Finalize with feedback. Allot significant time to finalize your application. Send it to colleagues, mentors, and peers for their advice and make changes resulting from that review.
  • Checks and edits. We recommend that you leave time to check, edit, and recheck your application. Make sure nothing is missing and all information is consistent. Search for factual errors, check spelling and grammar, and proofread.
  • When you’re ready. Notify staff in your institution’s business office so they can begin their part of the submission process.

 

Submit Your Application 

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Linear timeline of the grant application process highlighting the submission phase just before the due date


Your institutional official should submit your application well before NIH’s due date. The application must pass electronic validations.

  • Meet your institution’s internal and any NIH prior approval deadlines. This may be weeks or even months before your NIH due date listed in the "Key Dates" section of the FOA you are applying to. The standard NIH receipt dates can give you a general idea for when these might be. Allow your institutional officials enough time to process, sign, and electronically submit.
  • Timestamp and electronic validations. When your institutional official submits your application, it must get a Grants.gov timestamp and pass automatic checks at Grants.gov and eRA Commons. The latter checks could take up to 48 hours. Learn more at Application Technical Requirements
  • Check application status. You may Track Your Application Using eRA Commons. After passing validations, you have up to two business days to View Your Application Image before the NIH due date and time.
  • Consider corrections. If you must make corrections to pass validations or if you spot issues you’d like to correct, work out timing and next steps with your institutional official. Learn about Correcting Content Problems After Commons Validation and If You Want To Withdraw After Submitting. Your corrected application must pass validations before NIH’s due date to be considered.
  • Late? With only a few exceptions, NIH does not accept late applications. Read the rules for Late Applications & Post-Submission Materials.
  • Onward to peer review. If your application passes validations without errors and you do not withdraw it, your application moves on for assignment and review.

 

Assignment, Review, and Council 

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Linear timeline of the grant application process highlighting the first 7 months after the due date, and specifically calling out the review phase for months 4 and 5, and ending short of month 8 where funding consideration begins


NIH checks your application for compliance with pertinent policies (e.g. page limits, inclusion of required components, clinical trial status) and assigns it to an institute. Peer review is four or five months after the NIH due date. Most applications go to the full Council meeting about seven months after the due date.

  • Assignment. After the two-day viewing window, staff in the Center for Scientific Review give your application a number, check it for administrative requirements, and assign an NIH institute and review group. Learn more at Understand the Review Process.
  • Scientific peer review. Your application’s First-Level Peer Review meeting is four or five months after the NIH due date.
  • Score and summary statement. After the peer review meeting, NIH releases your application’s score in the Commons within three business days and uploads the summary statement within 30 days. Find details and advice on understanding scoring & summary statements in Post Review: Next Steps. NOTE: You will want to wait until you have received your summary statement before contacting a Program Officer to discuss the review outcomes.
  • Check NINDS Funding Strategy and Payline Webpage to assess likelihood of funding. If your application has a percentile, you can get a good idea of the likelihood of funding by consulting the NINDS Funding Strategy and Payline webpage. If your application does not have a percentile, or if it’s hard to interpret, wait until your summary statement has been released and then contact the Program Officer listed to inquire as to likelihood of funding, comments in your summary statement, and your next steps. Learn more about options if your application isn’t funded at Post Review: Next Steps.
  • NIH’s Just-in-Time (JIT) request email. NIH sends an automatic email for applications with a score of 30 or better. This email asks you to prepare and submit pre-award JIT information, but you don’t need to do so yet unless funding seems likely or you have been specifically asked by NINDS staff to submit JIT. If your application has been selected for funding and we have not received JIT, we will request it directly. Learn more at NINDS’ Just-in-Time page.
  • NINDS Council meeting. About seven months after the due date (you can always find a more exact timing via your eRA Commons page), NINDS’ Advisory Council meets.

 

Funding Decisions

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Linear timeline of the grant application process highlighting month 8 to up to 20 months after the due date to specify this is when funding decisions are made ending at the far right side indicating the end of the fiscal year


During this period, NINDS staff and leadership are making final funding decisions and doing due diligence reviews of applications. Applicants are responding to any NINDS staff inquiries and submitting just-in-time information.  It typically takes between 8 and 20 months after the due date to get a notice of award indicating funding.

  • Just-in-Time (JIT) requests. You may have already received NIH’s automatic JIT request for applications that scored 30 or better. When funding is likely, NINDS will likely send a separate JIT request for any applications selected for funding but have not been received. Learn more on the NINDS Just-in-Time Process.
  • Respond to NINDS’ JIT request promptly and carefully since your application cannot be awarded without it and its acceptance.
  • Your situation is unique. We will not make an award until you provide necessary information and we are satisfied that your application meets all requirements. Funding is not guaranteed unless you receive a notice of award.
  • Timing varies. Many factors influence grant award timing. Therefore, don’t assume we will make your award on the early end of the estimates we provide below.
  • Your grant. Get details on the steps immediately before and after award at NINDS' Pre-Award page.
  • Waiting? It could take as long as 20 months after the due date to get an award near the end of the fiscal year. Rather than wait, you may wish to revise your application or send a new one right away. Consider your options if your application isn’t funded and talk to your Program Officer for advice.
  • Fiscal year end. When the relevant fiscal year ends on September 30, your application is no longer eligible for funding consideration. Check your options if your application isn’t funded at Post-Review: Next Steps.

 

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