Research Funding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are common questions applicants and grantees may have. The answers direct you to sections on the NIH and NIMH Research Funding Web sites with detailed information about the subject.
- I’m a new investigator, what key elements do I need to know about before applying for a research grant?
- What are the different types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)?
- Who is eligible to be a principal investigator on an NIMH grant?
- What are the components of a complete NIH grant number, and what does it tell me?
- What is the NIH eRA Commons?
- Who will review my grant application?
- If I get a certain score or percentile ranking am I guaranteed funding?
- When are progress reports due?
- If my application is not funded what can I do?
1. I’m a new investigator, what key elements do I need to know about before applying for a research grant?
New investigators will need information on Research Topics:
And the Research Process for Submission:
- How to contact a program officer (it is strongly recommended you contact a program officer before beginning an application.)
- Which forms and applications to use
- What the deadlines for submission are (be sure to allow plenty of time to complete an application)
- How the review process works
2. What are the different types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)?
There are two types of FOAs: Program Announcements (PAs) and Request for Applications (RFAs). There are also special types of PAs known as PARs and PASs. For further details see Research Funding Opportunities.
3. Who is eligible to be a principal investigator on an NIMH grant?
Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out NIMH relevant research may work with his or her institution to develop a grant application. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.
Applications are accepted for research support from investigators at foreign institutions. However, candidates for diversity supplements, National Research Service Award (NRSA) trainees at any level, and candidates for career awards must be citizens or permanent residents. See the NIMH training site for details on these programs.
Any special criteria for applicant eligibility or requirements concerning the qualifications of the PI or other staff or participants will be specified in the program solicitation, program guidelines, or other publicly available documents. In the funding opportunity announcements, this information is listed under a section regarding Eligibility.
Individuals who are NOT eligible to be principal investigators include:
- Persons pursuing training solely to provide mental health services. NIMH no longer supports education or training for this purpose, worthy as it may be. Those interested in graduate level clinical mental health services training should contact the Center for Mental Health Services. This center is part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), created in 1992.
- Persons at the high school level. However, high school students ARE supported by NIMH through the Diversity Supplements to NIMH research grants (that are submitted by the PIs of those grants.)
- Undergraduates. However, undergraduates ARE supported by NIMH through the Diversity Supplements to NIMH research grants (that are submitted by the PIs of those grants.) Finally, funded investigators may support undergraduates as research assistants on their grants.
- Persons pursuing master's level degrees only.
- Persons who lack an institutional affiliation, but who wish to do research. An eligible institution is necessary to administer any grant. Eligible institutions may include organizations that are domestic or foreign, public or private, or non-profit or for-profit and may include government agencies, institutions of higher education, and hospitals, among others. This information can be found on specific funding opportunity announcements.
4. What are the components of a complete NIH grant number, and what does it tell me?
The parts of a complete NIH grant number indicate the following: type, activity code, Institute, serial #, grant year, and (possibly) a suffix. For example, the grant number: 1-R01-MH99999-01A1 indicates:
An explanation of each part of the grant number is given below.
1- This is the Type Code. The most common types are:
- 1- never previously funded grants — that is, a new/first time grant application.
- 2- competing continuations — that is, a grant application that was previously funded for a period of time. This new continuing period of support requires peer review.
- 5- non-competing continuations — that is, a grant application that has been funded and is in the midst of its support period. For each year of the support period awarded, there is an administrative review of progress before the next annual installment of support is issued (no peer review is needed). The application that the PI submits as part of this process is called a "non-competing continuation application," and it contains a "progress report" for the period of support just completed.
R01- This is the Activity Code indicating the type of grant mechanism. Other grant mechanisms include R03s (small grants), R13s (conference support grants), "K"s (career awards), "T"s (institutional training awards), etc.
MH- This is the Institute Code. The Institute code identifies the NIH Institute with primary responsibility for payment of this application. MH = NIMH. Each NIH Institute has a two-letter code associated with it. Another example of a two-letter code is for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): "DA."
99999- This is the Serial Number. This number provides a unique identification to the project and is assigned sequentially for newly submitted applications. The Serial Number remains the same for as long as a project is active, even when the PI submits a competing continuation for a new period of support.
01- This is the Grant Year. "01" indicates the first year of a grant application or funded grant.
A1- This is the Suffix. "A1" indicates that the application was submitted once previously but did not receive a sufficiently strong priority score to merit funding. This application is an amended version of the original one also called a “resubmission.” At NIH, an R01 may be submitted up to three separate times for review (i.e., an A2 application is the last amended version permitted). Other suffix terms are also used. For example, "S1" refers to a competing supplement request for a currently funded project.
5. What is the NIH eRA Commons?
The eRA Commons is a Web interface where NIH and the grantee community are able conduct their extramural research administration business electronically.
6. Who will review my grant application?
There are many different review committees that review applications. Assignment to a review committee may be suggested by you, the applicant, but the final decision is made by the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSR), quite often in consultation with the NIMH referral office. Contact the referral office at email@example.com.
7. If I get a certain score or percentile ranking am I guaranteed funding?
No. Funding decisions are never guaranteed. In addition to an application’s score and percentile ranking (if any), other considerations include: 1) Institute and division priorities; 2) balance in the existing research portfolio; and 3) availability of funds. Refer to Funding Strategy for Research Grants for current fiscal year information.
8. When are progress reports due?
Due dates for progress reports are dictated by the individual grant. Be sure to pay attention to due dates. A late progress report can delay and possibly reduce your award.
9. If my application is not funded what can I do?
Generally speaking an application can be submitted up to a total of three times. This can vary depending on the particular situation. You should consult the Program Officer about the process for resubmission.