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Frequently Asked Questions About Grant Review

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Q: What happens to my application once I submit it?
A: The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) examines your application for completeness and relevance to the NIH mission. If your application is submitted in response to a specific request for applications (RFA), it is examined for relevance by the sponsoring institute or center. Once it is determined that the application is relevant and complete, CSR determines how it "fits" within the programs of the various institutes and centers, and an assignment is made to one or more institutes or centers for funding consideration.

To assist CSR in its assignments, you are encouraged to send a cover letter with your application that suggests assignment to a specific institute or center and explains how the research addresses its mission. You may also request a secondary assignment. NIDCD program staff can also notify CSR that they are "awaiting receipt of an application," called an ARA notice.

Q: What determines where my application is reviewed?
A: The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) assigns your application to the appropriate study section according to the scientific emphasis of the proposed research and guidelines that delineate the scientific expertise of each study section. Senior science administrators who have had research and scientific review administrator experience make the assignments. Applicants may include a cover letter requesting assignment of their applications to a specific study section, but CSR has the final decision regarding assignment and referral.


Reviews of applications for certain funding mechanisms, such as Institutional Research Training Grants (T32s) and requests for applications (RFAs), are conducted by review committees convened by the institutes and centers to which the applications have been assigned.

Assignment to a specific study section is independent of assignment to an institute. Many study sections which review NIDCD applications also review applications assigned to other NIH institutes and centers.

Q: What are the rules for appendices in an application?
A: In preparing your application, there are specific instructions for each grant mechanism type on whether appendices are allowed and if so, what to include in the application and appendices. To avoid delays in your application, NIH has provided guidelines on how to prepare the application. Number 10 in these guidelines specifically refers to requirements for appendices.
Q: Where can I get answers to logistical questions about my submission?
A: GrantsInfo ( provides information about NIH extramural research and research training programs and standard application and review procedures. It also offers assistance with obtaining information from the NIH system of Web sites and refers inquiries to appropriate NIH offices when necessary. GrantsInfo staff are available by telephone from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except on Federal holidays. Inquiries may also be processed via voice mail, e-mail, or fax.

NIH strongly encourages applicants to obtain application materials from the NIH grants web site or locally from the office of sponsored programs at their institutions. If an individual is unable to obtain these materials from a local or Web site source, GrantsInfo will process the order.

Inquiries may be directed to:
Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Suite 6095
Bethesda, MD 20892-7910
Fax: (301) 480-0525
Telephone: (301) 435-0714

Q: How can I learn more about the different study sections and who is on them?
A: The CSR Study Section Roster Index contains an alphabetical listing of study sections with links to their member rosters.
Q: What are the current initiatives of the NIDCD?
A: NIDCD Initiatives are posted on the Web site under the Research Funding section.
Q: When does the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NDCD) Advisory Council meet?
A: The function, members, and Council dates for the NDCD Advisory Council are described on the NIDCD Web site.
Q: What happens to my application after it gets reviewed?
A: In the weeks following review, the Center for Scientific Review will send you a card containing the priority score and percentile assigned to your application. Within the following six to eight weeks, NIDCD should receive your summary statement and will forward it to you directly. This summary statement will contain the review groups' feedback and comments about your application. Program staff make every effort to attend your review, and are available to offer advice on interpreting the summary statement and probability of funding.

If you have questions regarding the review of your application, or if you do not receive your summary statement, please contact your NIDCD program administrator.

Q: What if I believe there were procedural flaws with the peer review of my application?

NIH has an official appeals process. NIH defines an appeal as: "An appeal is a written communication from a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and/or applicant institution that meets the following four criteria: 1) is received after issuance of the summary statement and up to 30 calendar days after the second level of peer review, 2) describes a flaw or perceived flaw in the review process for a particular application, 3) is based on one or more of four allowable issues (described below), and 4) displays concurrence from the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR)."

Prior to beginning the appeal process, the PD/PI is strongly advised to speak with his/her program officer (PO), listed on the summary statement, who can explain possible options and outcomes. In some cases, peer review issues can be resolved at this stage.

For cases that cannot be resolved by discussion, a PI wishing to pursue a re-review may submit an appeal letter, through their AOR, to the PO. For cases that cannot be resolved by discussion, a PI wishing to pursue a re-review may submit an appeal letter to the PO. The appeal letter should detail the concerns and justifications for a re-review. Appeal letters are provided to the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NDCD) Advisory Council for consideration. There is no need to include the summary statement or the grant application, as these documents are automatically available. If the Council supports the appeal, it will recommend a re-review of the application.

Please note the following details:

  • The deadline for receipt of appeals is five weeks prior to the NDCD Advisory Council meeting. In order for NIH staff and Council members to give careful and full consideration to an appeal, every effort should be made to ensure that letters arrive five weeks prior to the Council meeting. It may be necessary to delay consideration if the letter is not received on time.
  • Meeting dates for the NDCD Advisory Council can be found here:

The PI will be notified of the Council's decision within 30 days after the meeting of the NDCD Advisory Council.