Gaining a Competitive Edge: Predictors of NIH Funding Outcomes

Why are some NIH grant applications more likely to be funded than others? A recent study of NIH criterion scores suggest that the most important predictor of funding is the description of experimental approach, followed by the significance of the study.  

Study authors Eblen, et al. analyzed over 123,000 competing R01 applications submitted in fiscal years 2010-2013 in order to describe a number of potential correlates of funding – including significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment with subsequent overall impact score, and funding outcome.  

In addition to experimental approach and significance, the study found the New Investigator status of R01 applications to be positively associated with funding outcomes. 

So what are the implications for applicants? Get started early and pay attention to your experimental approach! The study authors suggest becoming familiar with peer reviewer guidance along with new and early investigator policies when preparing new applications. 

For more about the relationships of other application and applicant characteristics, read the full study here.