Reminder: NIH Policy on Use of Hypertext in NIH Grant Applications

The use of hypertext (e.g. hyperlinks and URLS) in NIH applications is restricted due to concerns including reviewer confidentiality, “overstuffing” applications, review consistency, and malware.

There is no change in the NIH policy on the use of hyperlinks.  The policy, documented in the NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and a recent reminder Guide Notice, reads:

  • Hyperlinks and URLs are only allowed when specifically noted in funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and form field instructions.  The use of hyperlinks is typically limited to citing relevant publications in biosketches and publication lists.  It is highly unusual for a FOA to allow links in Specific Aims, Research Strategy and other page-limited attachments.
  • Hyperlinks and URLs may not be used to provide information necessary to application review.
  • Reviewers are instructed against viewing linked sites and are cautioned that they should not directly access a website (unless the link to the site was specifically requested in application instructions) as it could compromise their anonymity and allow for malware to be downloaded onto their computers.
  • When allowed, you must hyperlink the actual URL text so it appears on the page rather than hiding the URL behind a specific word or phrase. Example:

Applications that do not follow these instructions, and include unallowable hyperlinks, may be withdrawn from review and funding consideration.

Original post by NIH Staff on October 1, 2020