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Are You On the Fence About Whether to Resubmit?

Re-posted from: NIH Office of Extramural Research Extramural Nexus Posted on October 28, 2016 by Mike Lauer

Are You On the Fence About Whether to Resubmit?

by Mike Lauer

When applicants receive their summary statement resulting from the review of an application that was assigned a score outside of the ICs funding range, there are important decisions to be made that, ideally, should based upon evidence. What is the likelihood that an application like this one will be funded? If I resubmit the application, what changes might improve the chances for a successful resubmission?

Recall that in 2014, NIH relaxed its resubmission policy (OD-14-074) to allow applicants to submit a new (A0) application following an unsuccessful resubmission application. Also, we recently posted a piece showing that review outcomes for new applications submitted following an unsuccessful resubmission had about the same funding success as other new applications. But some applicants may wonder, what is the funding success for a resubmission application?

R01-equivalent success rates by submission. Data tables at

The data show higher success rates for applications coming in as a resubmission, but we know there may be other factors that influence whether researchers decide to resubmit an application. To that end we’re launching a survey to understand patterns of resubmission for new investigators. (If you receive an invitation, we hope you will respond and share your input with us!) In addition, today we want to provide all Open Mike readers with information about what to consider if your initial grant application to NIH is not funded.

First and foremost, we strongly encourage applicants to make an appointment for a consultation with the assigned program officer (PO). Program officers have a wealth of experience that can inform the next steps for the research proposed in the application. Program officers may be aware of other factors that can offer advantages, like new funding opportunities well suited to the science in the application. The contact information for the PO is at the top of the face page of the summary statement. Most POs prefer that to be contacted them by email to schedule a time for a phone call, giving him/her time to review the summary statement.

In the meantime, you can find a great deal of self-help information about the funding priorities of the various NIH institutes and centers, and the funding success rates associated with different types of grant applications by consulting information in the NIH data book. We have updated the Applicant Next Steps web page with more guidance to help applicants locate information on the NIH web sites about funding success, IC strategic plans, and funding policies.

For most investigators, achieving funding success usually comes from persistence and patience. The typical applicant who was successful in obtaining funding in the past few years from the NIH has submitted several applications prior to obtaining support for their research. In particular, resubmission applications have a better chance of being funded in comparison to original applications. In 2015, the NIH-wide success rate for new R01 applications was 13.1%, whereas the success rate for resubmission applications was 33.5%.

It is also important to determine the best application strategy for the specific science, and the scientist, involved in the application. Each Institute and Center (IC) has a unique funding policy that takes into account many factors, such as the New Investigator and/or Early Stage Investigator status of applicants. ICs also consider the balance of short-term (e.g. R21 and R03) versus long-term grant support (R01) within their portfolios. Knowing how the IC prioritizes different activities may influence your choice to submit an R01. It is important for New and Early Stage Investigator to note that these designations are not considered in the review of any investigator-initiated grant activities other than the R01 research grant.

We encourage all investigators who have recently learned that their application may have missed the fundable range to review the information provided on the Next Steps webpage. We hope you’ll share this blog with your colleagues and mentees, and that this information proves useful in preparing your next resubmission application.