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

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

Tips & Tricks: How to Tailor Mendeley Newsfeed  

We launched our Mendeley Newsfeed a year ago, but it hasn’t remained stagnant: we’re constantly working with researchers to create a more useful newsfeed.

Here are our top four tips on how to tailor newsfeed content:

  1. URLs in a post can be expanded out to show the contents of the URL. This means followers will see a preview and image of the link contents.
  2. Tag one of your followers in a post if you want a specific person to respond to a question or comment – they will be notified in the navigation bar and their name is clickable in the post.
  3. Add a reference to a post, so you can refer to a specific article or share an article, and your followers can see the metadata and save to library without you needing to copy and paste it.
  4. Add images to the post if you need to ask a question about a specific picture or share an image with your followers

 

We’re still making improvements, based on your feedback and needs, so watch this space!

Insert references into your paper using Mendeley’s Web Library

You can now export references from your Mendeley Web Library into the Microsoft Word Citation Manager — without opening your Mendeley Desktop.

The export feature uses Microsoft Word’s built-in citation tool. This feature is only available on Windows for Word 2010 and above.

To export your references:

  1. Open your Mendeley Web Library
  2. Select the references you want to export
  3. Click on Export to MS Word, which will download an .xml file.
  4. Open Word and go to “References” and then “Manage Resources.”
  5. Browse your folder and select the .xml file. Your references will be available in Word’s Citation Manager.

mm_img_nl_201702_ms-word-citation-toolThe number of citation styles in Word are limited but you can install more styles from BibWord.
MS Word’s citation system is not the same system used by Mendeley Desktop. Using both on the same document will yield two sets of citations and two bibliographies.

Mendeley and Elsevier continue to support the CSL project

For the second consecutive year, Mendeley supports the open source Citation Style Language (CSL) project with a US$ 5,000 donation. With CSL, Mendeley users can format their citations and bibliographies in over 1,200 different citation formats, covering more than 7,500 scientific journals.

Mendeley recently (1) made it much easier to use CSL styles into your preferred language. In this guest post, CSL developers Rintze Zelle and Sebastian Karcher describe how this works.

Say, for example, that you wish to publish an article about Barcelona’s recent Champions League victory—in your native Catalan—and therefore need a Catalan citation style. At first glance, things might look bleak. If we go to the “View” menu, select “Citation Style” and then “More Styles…”, switch to the “Get More Styles” tab, and search for “Catalan”, we don’t see a lot of results:

CSL 1

Fortunately, you can actually use any style you want in Catalan. If we select the “Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (author-date)” style, a reference to a book chapter will be in US English by default and look something like:

Mares, Isabela. 2001. “Firms and the Welfare State: When, Why, and How Does Social Policy Matter to Employers?” In Varieties of Capitalism. The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, edited by Peter A Hall and David Soskice, 184–213. New York: Oxford University Press.

To use the style in Catalan, you can open the Citation Style window again (“View” → “Citation Style” → “More Styles”). In the “Installed” tab, look for the “Citation and Bibliography Language” drop-down menu. When set to “default”, styles localize to their own language (and US English if no language is set as default). The menu further includes with the 50 languages CSL styles can automatically localize to, from Afrikaans to Welsh. Let’s pick “Catalan”.

CSL 2

If we now create the same Chicago Manual of Style reference again, it will be in Catalan:

Mares, Isabela. 2001. «Firms and the welfare state: When, why, and how does social policy matter to employers?» En Varieties of capitalism. The institutional foundations of comparative advantage, editat per Peter A Hall i David Soskice, 184-213. New York: Oxford University Press.

Notice how this didn’t just change the vocabulary (“In” turned into “En”, “edited by” into “editat per”, and “and” into “i”) but also the quotation marks. Localization of CSL styles further extends to date formats, ordinal numbers, and other punctuation.

How Does It Work?
For those interested in a bit of technical background, here goes: To allow for automatic localization, the Citation Style Language defines a fixed set of terms that are translated to the various locales in separate “locale files”. When a CSL style uses one of these terms, the proper translation is automatically selected. For example, the CSL code that resulted in “edited by Peter A Hall and David Soskice” and “editat per Peter A Hall i David Soskice” in the examples above is:

<names variable=”editor translator” delimiter=”. “>
<label form=”verb” text-case=”capitalize-first” suffix=” “/>
<name and=”text” delimiter=”, “/>
</names>

This prints the translation of “editor” term (of form “verb”) from the US English or Catalan locale files in front of the names of the editors.

What If My Language Is Missing or Incorrect?
At CSL headquarters, we are fluent in only a handful of languages. So, if your favorite language is absent from the drop-down menu, you might be the best person to help us add it! Just follow our translation instructions, and feel free to ask for help at the CSL locale file issue tracker. You can also use the issue tracker to suggest better translations for existing CSL locale files.

Some CSL styles will localize better than others. E.g. if a style doesn’t use the “editor” term but directly uses “edited by”, this string cannot be automatically translated. The same holds for punctuation and dates: only styles that fully rely on the CSL locale files can properly localize. If you come across styles that don’t fully localize, you can either contact Mendeley support (who often pass your comments on to us), or create an issue at the CSL style issue tracker.

Finally, there are some limits in CSL when it comes to localization, and CSL might not support all the idiosyncrasies of your preferred language. While we hope to keep improving localization support in future versions of CSL, for now you can either correct such issues by hand after generating your bibliographies, or create a CSL style dedicated to your language.

We hope you enjoy the improvements, but let us know what you think in the comments or via the feedback channels above!


1. The features described in this post were introduced in Mendeley Desktop v1.13.4.
2. All non-English locale-specific CSL styles include their locale in the style name (in English). E.g. “Archéologie médiévale (French)”.

Elsevier Guide for Authors

Last week, in collaboration with Elsevier’s Guide for Authors team, we quietly rolled out a small, but worthwhile improvement for authors who use Mendeley, and who are submitting to Elsevier journals.

When viewing the ‘Guide for Authors’ page on an Elsevier journal site, the section on how to format your references now contains a link that will install the correct citation style for that journal in Mendeley Desktop, in a single click!

This is available today for 1673 Elsevier Journals.  You can see an example on the European Journal of Radiology, or try it for yourself directly: Use APA 6th in Mendeley.

Even for journals where authors are free to use any reference style at submission (and Elsevier will then ensure the correct style is used in the published article), if it is easy enough for authors to use the right style at submission, many authors will just do that. The one click reference style incorporation into Mendeley as described above achieves that ease of use.

Creating these links

While we’ve rolled this out with Elsevier Journals initially, anyone who gets submissions of papers with certain reference style guidelines can create and distribute one-click citation style install links for Mendeley.

Currently, the links only works with styles from the citationstyles.org project (see the repository of styles on GitHub). To create one of these links, you first need a citation style’s unique ID.  The style repository contains the list of available citation styles, some are in the main folder, and many are in the ‘dependent’ folder.

Click on the filename of the style you want to link to. The unique ID is the part that is highlighted in blue below.

CSLStyleCopy-3

Simply construct the Mendeley link using the following format:
http://open.mendeley.com/use-citation-style/[unique-id-of-style]

So for the above example, the final link would look like:
http://open.mendeley.com/use-citation-style/clinical-orthopaedics-and-related-research

That’s it 🙂 Test it yourself first to check that it works before distributing the links, but feel free to use these links on your journal or departmental webpages.

StyleSelected

Check the app store: Your iOS upgrade is here

Mendeley for iOS

 

We’re happy to announce another update to Mendeley for iOS! This release helps bring our iOS app closer to your Mendeley Desktop experience, with metadata extraction. Additionally, it includes faster and more reliable sync, and several bug fixes, which takes advantage of the new Mendeley API, especially when syncing your iOS app for the first time.

The update is currently rolling out slowly on the app store, and should be available worldwide in the next few hours.

Previously, when PDFs were added from other apps, such as Safari or Mail, users would have to manually enter metadata. This new app helps you stay organised by attempting to import the correct metadata for the imported entry.

How to import documents into your Mendeley iOS library

So how do you go about importing documents into your Mendeley library from your web browser or Mail apps?

Use the Open option to open a PDF in MendeleyIt’s also possible to add documents to your library directly from an iOS device once the PDF file has been opened in another app. This can be done by using the ‘Open in’ command from within the application you use to retrieve the PDF.

To add a PDF to Mendeley which has been opened from Mail (such a file sent as an email attachment), tap the open icon in the top right of your screen. You should see Mendeley listed.

To add a PDF you’ve accessed through Safari or Chrome, tap once on the PDF whilst viewing it. The ‘Open in’ option should be displayed at the top of the view and you can select Mendeley from the list of applications.


Mendeley will attempt to retrieve document details automaticallyWhen opening a paper in Mendeley for the first time, the app will attempt to retrieve details of the paper and populate the reference automatically. This process will only take place once. Once the paper has been added to your library, it will be available on other devices or computers after syncing.

Once it’s completed importing, you’ll be able to make use of the Mendeley PDF viewer and start reading, highlighting and annotating.


Want to learn more about the iOS app? Check out our handy guide “Getting started with Mendeley for iOS.”

Android

Mendeley_Android_mockup_v2So this is an iOS update, but we know you would ask if we didn’t tell you! Official Android app development is going very well, and we expect to release in the first half of this year!

 

 

 

Let us know what you think

Comment below, or, if you are having issues, please send send your activity log (located in the Settings menu) as our developers monitor and respond to them, or email support@mendeley.com.