An introduction to applying for a NIH grant

NIH funding is a major resource for medical researchers
Looking for NIH Research Funding? Try Mendeley Funding!

 

by Seema Sharma

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US, is one of the world’s largest funders of biomedical research grants. It awards funding of over $30B annually, for research that falls within its mission to understand living systems, enhance health, extend healthy lives, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. The NIH is funded by the US federal government and is made up of 27 institutions and research centres, with 24 actively offering funding grant awards. The funding criteria for each individual institution may vary from that of the NIH as a whole, so researching the institute whose grant you are applying for is crucial.

NIH grants have three types of calls to funding, including program announcements, requests for applications and parent announcements. All current funding opportunities are listed here https://grants.nih.gov/searchguide/. The first type, program announcements, are open for 3 years and usually highlight an area of focus, offering three opportunities for submitting applications a year. The second category are requests for applications (also known as RFA’s). The latter have a narrowly defined title and focus, a single submission date and a preallocated amount of funds.

Finally, if there are no available program announcements, or RFA’s available for your research project, a third type of grant called parent announcements are on offer. These allow researchers to submit speculative or investigator-initiated applications, encouraging new research ideas. Note that parent announcement applications need to be in line with the NIH’s mission, and fall within the criteria of specific NIH activity codes available here. For further information and advice on the different types of grants available, including help on which would suit your needs best, resources are available online at http://grants.nih.gov

Tips on submission

Remember to pay close attention to any specific requirements and instructions outlined in the funding announcement. Your call to funding will normally stipulate whether electronic or paper submission is required. Paper submissions require use of the PHS 398 application form, whilst electronic submission requires the SF424 (R&R) application. The majority of calls require electronic submission, details of which will be included in the funding announcement. A general application guide is also available for guidance on submission.

You need to take into account that there are multiple systems that your institution must be registered with to insure you can submit an application. These include having what’s called a Dun & Bradstreet number, (comprising a unique 9 digit code), registration with eRA commons — a grant administration interface used to share application information and track its status, institutional registration at grants.gov and also at the system of award management (sam.gov). Individual investigators applying for grants also need to register on eRA commons and grants.gov.  It can take up to 8 weeks to register with all of these, so make sure you factor this in when preparing your application.

NIH encourages you to contact their staff during the grant submission and review process. A list of staff contacts and the types of support they provide is available here. Program officials can be a useful point of contact for researchers when submitting an application, as they are responsible for developing grant initiatives and the programmatic content of a grant. Scientific review officers are responsible for conducting the technical and scientific review process. A review panel will be recruited by them from global scientists with relevance to your field. They evaluate the application to ensure it meets the criteria set out in the funding announcement, review it for scientific merit and identify potential conflicts of interest. Ultimately, their job is to provide a fair review of the grant application and provide a summary of their evaluation to applicants.

When writing your application, bear in mind NIH awards favour high impact research, that meets the priorities of the specific institute you are applying too. They also ask that you directly address the following key criteria in your application, each of which will be assigned a score by reviewers:

  1. Reviewers will want to know how the project will advance knowledge, solve a key problem and help progress in your scientific field. They will want to see a sound scientific premise for the research. Make sure you highlight the impact of the successful completion of the research project. They’ll be looking for it to be described in terms of scientific knowledge progress, advances in technical capability, or clinical practice, as relevant. Take time to describe how it might change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that are key to your field.
  2. Investigator(s). All those team members carrying out the project should be outlined here, including a clear programme of work for each contributor. You need to describe how they hold relevant training, experience and an outstanding research track record relevant to the area. If a collaboration is required, how will the experiences of the Principal Investigators, or other researchers involved, come together to deliver a successful project?
  3. Your project should aim to use new theoretical concepts, methodologies, instrumentation and interventions. You should clarify whether these represent a novel approach in your specific field or are unique across fields. Describe how you will seek to advance current research or clinical practice paradigms through your project to show innovation.
  4. Approach. Reviewers will be seeking a sound strategy, clear methodology, and analyses, that are all pertinent to achieving the stated aims of the project. They will want you to detail and pre-empt potential roadblocks and risks to the project that might arise. More importantly, you will need to state how you will deal with problems, including the alternative approaches could you take. Benchmarks for success, with clear quantifiable objectives throughout the course of the project, should be made evident. Your methodology should be justified as being scientifically robust, free from inherent bias and addressing biological variables. The use of animal and human subjects needs to be clearly justified.
  5. Environment. Here, an outline should be given of the scientific environment in which the work will be conducted. This should include all relevant resources, equipment, institutional support and collaborations, outlining how they will contribute to success.

What happens after submission

After submission of your application through your existing institute, it is handled by the Center for Scientific Review at NIH. They assign the application to the relevant reviewers and the institute you are applying too. There is a two tiered version of peer review, with the first level being referred too as the study section. During this time, your project is evaluated solely for scientific and technical merit, with the assignment of an impact score.

At the next stage, your grant submission is passed on to the institute you are applying too. The institute then evaluates it against its current priorities. After review, an advisory board from the institute will recommend whether funding should be awarded or not. The Institute Director will receive their recommendation and holds the final decision.

If successful, the institute will make the grant funding award via an applicant’s organisation to allocate funds to the Principal Investigator(s) involved in the project. The entire process normally takes at least 9 – 10 months, from the point of a submitted application to the successful receipt of a grant. There may be further stipulations that need to be met in order for the grant funding to be awarded – for example education certifications, or relevant documentation regarding any use of human or animal subjects in your research.

Good luck with your application!

Useful links

Need Funding Opportunities? Mendeley Users: visit Mendeley FundingMore Information

Webinar Series for Researchers: October webinars in French and German

Webinar in French: De la visibilité des laboratoires français : quels bénéfices pour les chercheurs ?

18 October 2017, 11:30 -12:00 CEST

Presenter: Anne Catherine Rota, Research Intelligence, Elsevier

Comme vous le savez, les multiples tutelles des laboratoires français ne facilitent pas la visibilité de leurs publications scientifiques, élément pourtant crucial. Cette session a pour objectif de présenter l’optimisation du repérage des laboratoires français et de leurs multiples affiliations dans Scopus afin de refléter au mieux la réalité de la recherche française.

Register Now

Webinar in German: Multidimensionale Metriken zur Auswertung und Messung von Publikationsleistung

23 October 2017, 11:30 -12:00 CEST

Presenter: Tomasz Asmussen, Customer Consultant Research Intelligence, Elsevier

In diesem Webinar werden folgende Themen anhand konkreter Fallbeispiele erläutert:

  • Erstellung bibliometrischer Auswertungen für einzelne Forscher oder Forschergruppen
  • Transparente Journal-Metriken (CiteScore, SJR, SNIP) als zentrale Messgrößen
  • Wissenschaftlichen Impact auf Basis von Nutzungs- und Zitationsdaten im Zeitverlauf analysieren
  • Forschungsthemen/-felder mit Keywords frei definieren, weltweit suchen, auswerten, beobachten
  • Einsatz alternativer PlumX Metriken zur Ergänzug der Auswertung
  • Export von Scopus-Daten in andere Tools (SciVal), Datenbanken oder in Forschungsinformationssysteme (FIS)

Register Now 

Can’t make the live event? You can still register and you will be notified once the webinar recordings are available!

 

1800 Journals Enable Data Sharing Through Mendeley Data

Use Mendeley Data to safely store, share and cite your research data.

You may have noticed that funding bodies and universities increasingly require you to share your research data at the end of your project.  This often coincides with the time when you publish papers about your research.  Therefore, journals are looking for ways to make it easier to you to share your data and comply with funder mandates. Mendeley Data can help with that.

Elsevier announced earlier this month that they are now implementing journal data guidelines for all their journals. This means that all journals will clearly explain whether you are expected to make your data available. More importantly, this means that all journals now provide the right infrastructure for data sharing.

For most journals this means that they will provide three options. First, it is possible to link to your data in a domain-specific data repository. Domain-specific repositories are often the best place for your data because they can ask for the information that is relevant in your field. However, in cases where there is no good domain-specific repository available, these journals enable you to share your data through Mendeley Data.

When you upload your data to Mendeley Data during the article submission process, a draft of your data will become available. Only you, the editor, and the reviewers have access to this draft. This gives editors and reviewers the opportunity to take a look and provide feedback. You can then still make changes to improve your dataset. By default, your dataset will only become publicly available when your article is published. If you want to analyze your data further before sharing with the world, you can also set an embargo data so that the dataset will become available at a later time.

In cases where you cannot share your data at all, you will have the option to make a data statement, explaining why your data is unavailable. Should you wish to make your data available at a later point in time, just go to data.mendeley.com and indicate that this dataset is linked to an article. We will make sure your article links back to your dataset to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.

Tips for applying for EU research Funding – ERC Grants

European Union funding for research is an attractive option.
Looking for European Union Research Funding? Try Mendeley Funding!

 
By Seema Sharma

Introduction

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s current research, innovation and development framework, offering €80 billion in grant funding to researchers over a seven year period (2014-2020). It differs from its forerunner, FP7, in that it combines all funding directives into a single programme for innovation, education and R&D. The framework splits the majority of the assigned fund available between three areas: excellent science (€24.4 billion), industrial leadership (€17 billion) and societal challenges (€29.7 billion). There are a few areas outside of these, for example — science with and for society, and spreading excellence and widening participation.

The main aim of the European Commission, when outlining the new programme was to simplify and streamline the funding and application processes. One additional goal was to cut decision times on successful applications from an average of a year to eight months. The Horizon 2020 scheme provides a 100% reimbursement of direct costs for research projects and a 25% refund of indirect costs.

Useful background for applying for EU funding

To apply for funding, researchers much go through the open calls for proposals, submitting their project electronically and adhere to the deadlines stipulated. Some applications involve a two-stage submission with a short proposal initially, which if successful, will require a further full proposal.

In order to apply, your organisation needs to be registered and have a 9-digit Participant Identification Code (PIC). All current open calls for proposals are available on the participants portal, where you can perform an advanced search by topic.

Applications are open to those outside Europe, and researchers with a non-EU nationality are encouraged to apply, however the calls for proposals state that the research institution where the project is carried out must either be established in an EU Member State or an associated country, or it may be an International European Interest Organisation (e.g CERN, EMBL, etc.). Further information on what count as associated countries are listed here. You can also direct general enquiries to the National Contact Point in your country.

As an example of the grants available, we’ll be covering the stages of applying for European Research Council (ERC) grants that fall under the ‘excellent science’ category of EU research call for proposals. ERC grants constitute a significant pooled budget of over €13 billion in funding.

Available ERC grants

ERC grant funding covers any individual research projects that are pioneering in frontline research, for example the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering and social sciences. They emphasise that their main selection criteria is the scientific excellence of the researcher and the project. They also prioritise projects with high risk but high gain potential. Currently, five types of grants are available.

  • ERC Starting Grant. This is an award of up to €2M with the criteria that you must have completed your PhD., 2-7 years before the publication date of the grant call. In addition, you must have at least one key publication in a high-ranking journal without the help of your PhD supervisor.
  • ERC Consolidation Grant. This follows on from the Starting Grant and has an award of up to €75M, aimed at those who completed their PhD., 7-12 years prior to applying. Grant criteria stipulate that the researcher should have gained an excellent track record and shown independence and research maturity, with several high-impact publications under their belt.
  • ERC Advanced Start Grant. This is subsequent to the Consolidation Grant, based on increasing levels of research experience. Here applicants must have a significant track record of research achievement gained in the last 10 years. The award is for up to €5M.
  • ERC Proof of Concept Grant. In order to qualify for this fourth type of grant, you must have previously received an award from the ERC. Additionally, you must demonstrate that you have research outputs that can be turned into a valuable commercial or social proposition. If successful, the grant award is up to €150M in value.
  • ERC Synergy Grant. Unlike the other grants that are aimed at an individual researcher applying, synergy grants are available for 2-4 Principal Investigators to collaborate on ambitious projects. The individual PI’s must have either an excellent early track record or more significant experience in the form of a 10 year record of achievement. The maximum award is for €10M to cover a 6 year period. Additional funding is available for PI’s needing to move to the EU as part of the proposal, equipment and access to facilities. This grant is currently on hold and will be re-introduced for 2018.

All grants awarded cover up to 5 years of research and aim to cover all of the direct costs of the project.

Tips on applying for an ERC grant

The administrative and summary forms required to apply for an ERC grant are straight-forward, although they may seem lengthy. It is essential to read the information for applicants for the specific ERC grant you are applying for (see the links at the end of the blog). Leave plenty of time so you can prepare each section with due care and attention. Also, its important to allow time for colleagues to review your application before you submit. Successful applicant researchers we spoke to spent between 3 months to 1 year preparing their ERC grant.

There are two stages to submitting the application. The first section (B1) consists of a 5 page synopsis of the project, with an accompanying 2 page CV and a track record document. Note that in the initial stage, this is all that is seen by the reviewing panel and they base their full decision on it, so it has to be outstanding.

Each panel normally consists of 10-15 experts in your field and they may not be in your direct area of expertise, so aim for clarity and concise statements on the significance of the project for a lay research audience. They are looking for individuals that demonstrate a rigorous scientific approach and management skills.

Include succinct objectives, as well as details of the scientific feasibility of the project with some preliminary data. Use this section to balance out the high risk, high gain aspects of the research. Your CV should be compelling and informative, and together with your track record showcase your expertise and excellence in your research field.

At this first stage the panel evaluates your proposal and grades your application A, B or C. Only those applications that receive an A grade are deemed high quality and will progress to the second stage. In past years one quarter of all application received a grade A to make it through to the second stage.

It is at this point the second part of your application (B2) is taken into consideration. This consists of a fifteen page explanation of your project. This must include detailed objectives, methodology and resources, including time commitments and budget. Make sure you include details of the team members involved and what they will be doing. Make the reviewers task easier by breaking up the prose with relevant figures and data.  Again, ensure you have plenty of time to prepare this part of the application. Get colleagues to review it and use any support available to you — for example your institutes grant office, to help.

If you’re successful for the first stage of the application, you are also invited to an interview in Brussels, where you give a ten minute presentation about your project. Advanced preparation with plenty of rehearsal is key to achieving the clarity the panel are looking for. Successful candidates we spoke too had spent a month preparing and rehearsing the presentation in front of peers. Preempt any doubts that may arise over scientific weaknesses in the project by explaining how you will deal with them. Ensure you provide preliminary data and demonstrate how you would problem-solve if any road blocks occurred. Project your enthusiasm and commitment to the project to the panel. Finally, the panel are looking for a certain degree of honesty, so do not be tempted to over-stress the scientific impact of your work.

Based on your B2 form and interview, your final application will be evaluated and graded A if it is excellent enough to be funded. On average, 40% of grants meet the ERC’s excellence criterion and receive a grant award at this second stage.

Good luck with your application!

Summary

  • Leave plenty of preparation time
  • Your synopsis (B1) form is crucial in the decision to get to stage 2
  • Ensure you get colleagues and peers in adjacent fields to review before you submit
  • Demonstrate outstanding knowledge of your scientific field
  • Show time commitment and an exceptional track record
  • Rehearse your interview

Useful links

EU participants portal, current calls for action
http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/index.html,

ERC 2018 work programme

https://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/document/file/ERC-Work-Programme-2018.pdf

ERC information for applicants to Starting Grant and Consolidation Grant

http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/guides_for_applicants/h2020-guide18-erc-stg-cog_en.pdf

ERC Information for applicants Synergy Grant

http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/guides_for_applicants/h2020-guide18-erc-syn_en.pdf

EU grant eligible ‘associated countries’

http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/grants_manual/hi/3cpart/h2020-hi-list-ac_en.pdf

National Contact Point Portal

http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/support/national_contact_points.html

Need Funding Opportunities? Mendeley Users: visit Mendeley FundingMore Information

Mendeley Brainstorm – Quantum Computing – We Have a Winner!

Is quantum computing ready for prime time?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Quantum Computing; picking a winner was not easy, however in the end, we selected Rui Santos’s post:

Revolution, as a concept itself, implies a shift in the until now set paradigm of thinking and doing. As offered now, computing runs the output scenario in either ones or zeros. Computation power per second has been increased by augmenting transistor abundance in a chip and by decreasing their size – up to 10nm in some mobile device’s chips nowadays! That’s pretty impressive! But these are still increments – evolution within the same thinking. Ironically, transistors are getting so small, that to regulate them, we actually have to take in account quantum mechanics! Differently, quantum processors function by creating a third state, in which a qubit can be either a zero or a one simultaneously. While a discrete system can only be one thing at the time, a quantum system is all things all the time. If that’s not a revolution what is? The evolution is getting them working at room temperature.

We asked Rui where the inspiration for this post sprang from:

I love technology and although it is not my working area, i like to keep in check the new gadgets that are announce, like a new smartphone. I like to know the geeky details about their processors and technologies the equipments use that are so fantastic and still, very little of us thing about the huge amount of computing power that nowdays we have at the tip of our fingers. We keep forgetting that our current smartphone is thousand times or maybe millions times more powerful than the chips on board of the Apollo rocket missions!

I always enjoy debating about what may come next, and i truly believe quantum computing will revolutionate the way we see and program machines but also their output. I believe it can be a better future if so we desire.

Rui added:

I also want to take the time to thank you and the Mendeley team about the software you provide. I use Mendeley as my daily reference manager. As a PhD student i really need to keep track of publications but also to make my references in reports, papers or monographies. I have synced through multiple devices including my phone and tablet. I simply love Mendeley and always suggest it to whoever asks me about a reference manager. Once again, thank you.

You’re welcome, Rui!

Thanks again to all our participants.

Why Researchers Love Mendeley

The core of Mendeley’s expanding ecosystem is its reference manager; researchers find it a convenient tool to organize their library, read and annotate, write and cite.

Reference Manager is available on desktop (Windows, Mac and Linux), web and mobile devices (iOS and Android).

You can also import papers, web pages and other documents directly into your reference library from search engines and academic databases. Mendeley Web Importer is available for all major web browsers.

The Mendeley citation plugin allows you to cite seamlessly without leaving your word processor (Microsoft Word and LibreOffice). We are introducing new citation styles which will better support researchers in the Arts and Humanities.

Whether you are a senior researcher or just starting your academic career Mendeley enables you to manage your research, stay up to date, find a new role or a funding opportunity, and connect with colleagues.

Find Out What You’ve Missed: Use Mendeley and Stay Up to Date

It’s time to fire up the laptop and the app and get back to work.

The hazy, hot days of summer are behind us, and it’s time to fire up the app and the laptop, catch up on what one may have missed whilst on the beach, and get back to work. With so much information being generated on a daily basis, it can be a daunting task to get on top of several months’ worth of new information.

Mendeley makes that process easier.  We have great features which make it more convenient than ever to stay up to date.

Suggest

Researchers have come to rely on Mendeley Suggest: as you add documents to your reference manager, Suggest learns what topics may be of interest to you and provides additional articles. The more documents you add, the more Suggest refines its recommendations.

Groups

If you are kicking off a new project, why not try using a Mendeley Group to share full-text articles with up to 25 collaborators? Article highlights, annotations and notes within private groups are synchronised to all group members, which is a convenient method to ensure context.

Feed

Mendeley Feed provides a convenient way to stay up-to-date with the latest information about your work or field of interest. Start by building your follower network; you can post news links and upload documents of interest as you find items worth sharing with your peers.

A great new feature of Mendeley Feed that you may have missed: You can now easily keep track of new publications authored by your collaborators. Simply link up your Scopus profile to your Mendeley account and we will post to your Feed whenever any of your co-authors publish something new.

Mobile

You can manage your library, read and annotate documents on the go with the Mendeley Mobile apps for iOS and Android.

We have enhanced the features of the Mendeley Mobile app, making it easier than ever to stay up to date no matter where you are.  Via the app, you can post status and drop comments onto the news feed.  Greater mobile functionality will become available over the autumn months.

Get productive with Mendeley

The transition from summer to autumn, from t-shirts to cardigans, from bathing trunks to full backpacks, will always be a dramatic shift.  But thanks to Mendeley’s features, it can be a productive time as well.