New Requirements for NIH Applications, Starting January 2016

New Requirements for NIH Applications, Starting January 2016

Enhancing Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency (NOT-OD-15-103)


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Extramural Research (OER) plans to revise application instructions and review criteria to enhance reproducibility of research findings through increased scientific rigor and transparency.  These updates, pending approval by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), will take effect for applications submitted for the January 25, 2016, due date and beyond.  – See more at:

Newly revised grant application instructions will: clarify long-standing expectations to ensure that NIH is funding the best and most rigorous science; highlight the need for applicants to describe details that may have been previously overlooked; highlight the need for reviewers to consider such details in their reviews through revised review criteria.  These new instructions and revised review criteria will focus on four areas deemed important for enhancing rigor and transparency: 1) the scientific premise of the proposed research, 2) rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results, 3) consideration of relevant biological variables, and 4) authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources.  

Each of these 4 areas will need to be specifically addressed in new sections of applications. Applicants will be instructed to include their consideration of scientific premise, rigorous experimental design, and consideration of sex and other relevant biological variables in the Research Strategy section.  Page limits for this section will not change. Reviewers will be asked to evaluate scientific premise as part of Significance, and rigorous experimental design and consideration of sex and other biological variables as part of the Approach criteria. As such, evaluation of these three areas will be included in the assessment of overall impact.  Authentication of Key Resources will be incorporated as a new attachment under the Other Research Plan Sections and reviewers will be asked to comment on the plan but not consider it when scoring overall impact.  

The Office of Research and the School of Medicine will organize a workshop on these changes later in the fall after the revised application instructions are announced.  


James W. Hicks, Ph.D.
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research
Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Oswald Steward, Ph.D.
Director, Reeve-Irvine Research Center
Senior Associate Dean for Research
University of California Irvine School of Medicine


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