At NINDS, we are committed to supporting researchers across career stages whose work advances our mission to further our understanding of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce suffering due to neurological disorders. An important part of this support lies in providing accessible and up-to-date web information about how we fund research. For that reason, I am proud to share that we have made it easier for researchers to understand the funding process through enhanced and newly created web content. These web resources provide information not just about applying to NINDS funding opportunities or resources for managing an award, but also demystifying how funding decisions are made. In an increasingly digital world, we hope that our website is a trusted, go-to source of information for the NINDS research community and all of our stakeholders.
Importantly, this web revitalization aligns with our NINDS 2021-2026 Strategic Plan to engage diverse stakeholder communities on NINDS priorities and widely communicate funding opportunities; communicate easy-to-understand information on NINDS operations, policies, guidance, and decisions; and promote stakeholders’ understanding of the mission and value of NIH and NINDS.
Although our program staff continue to be important contacts for information about funding opportunities, we recognize that researchers often search first online for answers to funding-related questions. We hope our redesigned content will enable researchers to quickly find answers to questions such as:
- Am I going to be funded / what's the likelihood of funding / when am I going to be funded?
- Is my research idea of interest to NINDS? What types of support does NINDS use?
- How do I request a carryover? No-cost extension? Change in PI? Change in institution?
- What training and career development mechanisms might I be eligible for?
We also made improvements to provide clearer and more comprehensive explanations of our funding policies.
To achieve this web content redesign, a group of NINDS staff, representing the offices and divisions that plan, offer, review, fund, and manage grants collaborated over the last several months. We aimed to make current NINDS practices transparent for both external audiences and internal staff and to anticipate commonly asked questions. With input from across the Institute, the group conducted an extensive analysis of existing NINDS pages and assessed best practices from other NIH Institutes and Centers. After tackling the intricate task of re-thinking the section’s organization and architecture, the group developed a content strategy that streamlined redundant information and identified information gaps. At the Society for Neuroscience’s 2022 conference in San Diego, California, the group engaged with current and prospective NINDS grantees through a comprehensive survey about their funding experiences and through user testing for the funding information on our website. All their input and thoughtful feedback helped to inform content and design updates.
The newly re-organized Funding Section of our website follows a grant’s lifecycle from learning about funding opportunities to post-award processes. It includes information about NINDS paylines and how to determine funding likelihood as well as the roles of our Program Officers, Grant Management Specialists, and Scientific Review Officers and how and when to contact them.
We regularly update and evaluate our webpages through an iterative process informed by scientific and administrative staff, who work alongside our Digital Experience (DX) staff to optimize the visitor experience. When you visit the NINDS website, you will see a feedback mechanism on each page: “Did you find the content you were looking for?” Our DX Team works with subject matter experts to review and address comments we receive, and this and other feedback from you helps to ensure that our website remains a useful and transparent resource for the research community.
We need engagement from you – our research community and stakeholders – to help us continue to improve this section. Now and always, I encourage you to look through the revitalized funding section of our website and offer your feedback directly on our pages or by contacting us.