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Success Rate, Percentile Ranks and Grant Budgets: Frequently Asked Questions

March 1, 2010

Q. What do you mean by the "success rate" of grant applications funded by NIGMS and how does this relate to the percentile ranks assigned in peer review?

A. The success rate is the total number of grant applications that are funded in a given fiscal year divided by the number of grant applications that were peer reviewed. Success rates, computed on a fiscal year basis, indicate the percentage of reviewed research project grant applications that receive funding. For FY 2010 research project grants, NIGMS anticipates a success rate of approximately 29 percent. A large proportion of NIGMS’ research project grants are R01s, so the success rate for R01s is usually similar to the overall research project grant success rate.

The percentile is a ranking that shows the relative position of each application’s priority score among all scores assigned by a scientific review group at its last three meetings.

The success rate for R01 grants differs from the percentile ranks for R01 grants in the following ways:

  • The percentile ranks are calculated using all applications reviewed by the initial review group, including applications assigned to other NIH institutes and centers. Grants assigned to NIGMS tend to receive better priority scores than the NIH average. 

  • The NIGMS success rate is typically higher than the percentile ranks of the funded applications. Applications that are revised and resubmitted during the same fiscal year are only counted once in the success rate calculations, whereas all applications, both original and resubmitted versions, are included when the percentiles are calculated.

Q. How does NIGMS use percentile rank order to make its grant funding decisions?

A. NIGMS does not rely solely on a percentile cutoff or "payline" to make its funding decisions. These decisions are based on a number of additional factors, including whether the proposal comes from a new investigator, the level of other funding available to the investigator, the potential of the proposal to have a large impact on science as judged by NIGMS scientific staff and the existence of other grants funded by NIGMS or other components of NIH that cover similar scientific territory. These factors, along with the priority score (see new scoring procedures for applications receiving FY 2010 funding at, the comments on the summary statement and the advice of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, are considered together to make final funding decisions.

Q. What is the average size of an NIGMS R01 grant?

A. The current average size of an NIGMS R01 grant is approximately $219,000 in direct costs per year. The average competing award, currently at about $227,000, is typically larger than the average noncompeting renewal. Among the competing awards, new awards are slightly smaller than the average and competing renewal awards are somewhat larger.

This page last reviewed on December 5, 2012