Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative: What’s the Difference and What to Include

When writing an NIH grant application, applicants are asked to develop a Project Summary/Abstract and a Project Narrative, two sections that, if funded, are made available on RePORTER to help the public understand the value of NIH-funded research. Check out the table below to see how they compare and what to include.

Project Summary/Abstract Project Narrative
A succinct and accurate description of the proposed work Communicates the public health relevance of the project to the public
30 lines of text or less No more than 2-3 sentences
Use plain language understandable by a general audience Use plain language understandable by a general audience
Include: the project’s broad, long-term objectives and specific aims, and a description of the research design and methods. Do not include: proprietary or confidential information, or descriptions of past accomplishments. Describe how, in the short or long term, the research would contribute to: the fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems, and/or the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.
If the application is funded, the summary/abstract will be available on RePORTER If the application is funded, the narrative will be available on RePORTER

For more guidance, see the Application Guide for Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative.

Original post on 6/28/2019 by NIH Staff

Clarifying Long-Standing NIH Policies on Disclosing Other Support

Who funds your current research?  Make sure to let NIH know.  It is required.

Institutions and investigators must disclose all forms of what is termed “other support” when applying for and receiving NIH grants.  Other support, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement (GPS) Section 2.5.1, includes all resources, regardless of whether or not they have monetary value, available in direct support of an individual’s research endeavors.

This is not new, but rather a long-standing requirement for those seeking NIH grants to be fully transparent regarding all of their research activities both domestic and foreign, which is critical for prudent fiscal management, accountability, and stewardship of U.S. taxpayer funds.

So, do you need to report those other NIH grants you have?  YES.  What about a contract from another federal agency?  YES.  Grants or contracts that go through another institution, including institutions in foreign countries?  YES.  Commercial funds?  YES.  Domestic or international positions held by senior/key personnel? YES.  In kind lab or office space?  YES.  Scientific materials?  YES.  Even if it has no monetary value?  YES. Affiliations (even if described as honorary or adjunct) with foreign entities or governments, including talents programs?  YES.

NIH uses this information to ensure that all resources made available to an investigator, including any foreign activities, are considered prior to making an award.  With this in hand, they will know that sufficient levels of effort are committed to the project, there is no scientific, budgetary, or commitment overlap, and only the funds necessary to the approved project are included in the grant award.

NIH recently published a Guide Notice to clarify what is meant by foreign activities as they relate to other support and what NIH expects to be disclosed.  As part of this notice, applicants are reminded they must also promptly notify NIH if previously submitted just-in-time information is substantively changed prior to award or at the time of the progress report, which could lead to budgetary, scientific, or commitment overlap.

Since institutions are the applicants for and recipients of NIH funding, they are responsible for ensuring that all materials submitted to NIH are complete and accurate.  This means they must also ensure individual investigators make all appropriate disclosures to them regarding other support, affiliations, and financial interests.  Sometimes NIH discovers potential issues involving institutions not accurately reporting other support, including foreign support through foreign institutions, associated with their NIH award.  Sometimes it’s because investigators don’t report their foreign research activities to their American institutions.  In such cases, we can take (and have taken) action.  Depending on the severity and duration of the noncompliance (see NIH GPS Section 8.5), NIH may contact the affected institutions, impose specific award conditions, disallow costs, withhold future awards for the project or program, suspend the award activities, make a referral for investigator suspension or debarment, or terminate the award.

NIH wants to be clear that they are focusing their efforts on enhancing research integrity across all their processes and systems.  The extraordinary contributions of foreign nationals to American science are indisputable.  As just one example, 24% of U.S. Nobel prizes have been awarded to foreign-born scientists.  The biomedical research workforce continues to be greatly enriched and strengthened by scientists who come to our shores from many parts of the world.  The overwhelming majority of researchers participating in NIH grants, whether U.S. or foreign-born, are honest contributors to the advancement of knowledge that benefits us all.  Driving away talented scientists from other countries would have a profoundly negative effect on American productivity.

NIH appreciates the efforts of recipient organizations to partner with them to improve reporting of all sources of research support and international collaborative research. These obligations are instrumental to protecting the integrity of biomedical research.  Working together, NIH along with you and your organization can be better assured that federal funding decisions are sound, proprietary information is protected, and compliance with grant terms is achieved.

If you have questions, please refer to the FAQs, the Guide Notice, or send an email to for additional assistance.

Original post on 7/11/19 by Mike Lauer/NIH

Hyperlinks in Grant Applications

The do’s and don’ts of hyperlinks in grant applications are simple:

  • Do include hyperlinks when explicitly requested in application guide, funding opportunity, or NIH Guide notice instructions
  • Do use hyperlinks in relevant citations and publications included in biosketches and publication list attachments
  • Don’t use hyperlinks anywhere else in your application

It would be hard to read more than a couple paragraphs on the internet these days without encountering a hyperlink to a definition or additional clarifying information. Hyperlinks are everywhere. So, why does NIH limit the use of hyperlinks in grant applications?

  • Fairness. Key sections of NIH grant applications – Specific Aims, Research Strategies, and Training Program Plans, to name a few – are page limited. Page limits promote fairness by ensuring all applicants have an equal opportunity to present their proposed project. Linking out to additional supporting information negates our page limits.
  • Reviewer Anonymity. We instruct reviewers to rely on the information contained in the grant application and caution them not to follow unrequested links to websites. Website access, especially access to sites controlled by the institution or PI, can be tracked and can compromise reviewer anonymity.
  • Security. Just like clicking on links in phishing emails, following links in grant applications can expose a reader to viruses, malware, or other security threats that can compromise our ability to protect application information.

At the end of the day, risk avoidance may be the most convincing reason to avoid unrequested hyperlinks. NIH may withdraw your application from consideration if you include them. Don’t risk it. Write a compelling, self-contained grant application and let it speak for itself.

Original post by NIH Staff 5/13/2019

Now Available in Support for Collaborative Proposals with Subawards and New SPO/AOR Email Notification

NSF is pleased to announce that as of June 24, 2019, the research community can prepare and submit full, research collaborative proposals with subawards in  This is in addition to the existing capability (since April 2018) to prepare and submit full, research non-collaborative proposals in  Since that initial release just over a year ago, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has implemented several enhancements to the site, including additional flexibilities for PDF uploads, support for PDFs generated from LaTeX source documents, and compliance checks for fonts and font sizes. Future enhancements to the proposal system will allow the preparation and submission of separately submitted collaborative proposals from multiple organizations.

Compared to FastLane, our grants management system launched in 1994, the proposal system is much easier to use and provides proposers with faster document uploads and the ability to quickly create and update documents. We encourage you to try the new system, and we are confident that you will agree that this next generation grants management system is more efficient and less burdensome than FastLane.

Also, as of June 24, 2019, a new email notification functionality was implemented to generate Sponsored Project Office (SPO)/Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) email notifications when Principal Investigators (PIs) enable proposal access to SPOs/AORs. A similar email notification is available in FastLane, and we are excited to add the capability in

Modernizing Proposal Preparation and Submission

NSF’s modernization of its FastLane system continues with the goal of improving the user experience to prepare and submit NSF proposals, while also reducing administrative burden for both proposers and NSF staff. As capabilities are migrated from FastLane to, the system features will expand until it eventually replaces FastLane for proposal preparation and submission.

 While proposers can still prepare and submit collaborative proposals with subawards as well as full, research non-collaborative proposals in FastLane, NSF encourages the research community to use the new proposal system because as NSF continues to enhance the new system incrementally, your vital feedback is being incorporated during the development process.

Preparing and Submitting Proposals in

Here’s some of the current features that proposers are enjoying:

  • Integrated compliance checks for fonts, margins, and line spacing;
  • Real-time compliance feedback and alerts, so proposers know a proposal section is compliant before moving on to another section;
  • Specific checks on the budget screens and for Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) uploads;
  • A few seconds to upload documents versus 30-90 seconds for each document upload in FastLane; and
  • Embedded relevant sections of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and video job aids, so proposers don’t have to go to multiple sites to access guidance and tools.

Initiating a Proposal in

By answering a few questions in the five-step proposal wizard, customizes the set-up process and compliance rules for the proposal being created. In addition, the proposal wizard dynamically drives the proposal sections that are required on subsequent screens.

 If you have not done so already, we invite you to initiate a proposal in by following the steps outlined below:

  • Open and click “Sign In” located at the top right of the screen;
  • Enter your NSF ID and password and click “Sign In;”
  • From the “My Desktop” page, click “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types)” in the “Prepare & Submit Proposals tile” or go to this option from the top navigation bar by selecting the “Prepare & Submit Proposals” tab and clicking on “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types);”
  • Select the “Prepare Proposal” option in the “Prepare New Proposal” tile on the left side of the Proposal Preparation page; and
  • Follow the five-step proposal wizard to set up the proposal.

 After completing the initiation steps, you are ready to complete all required and optional sections of your proposal and then submit it to NSF.

 Submitting Feedback

NSF wants to hear from you! To submit feedback about the new Proposal Preparation and Submission Site:

  • Go to the Feedback page;
  • Choose “Other” under the Site Area dropdown menu;
  • Include your feedback in the Comments or Suggestions field; and
  • Click Submit when you are ready to send your feedback to NSF.

 Training Resources and Additional Information

NSF encourages you to share this information with your colleagues. If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or Policy-related questions should be directed to

Original post by NSF on 6/24/2019

Sample Grant Applications, Summary Statements, and More

If you are new to writing grant applications, sometimes seeing how someone else has presented their idea can help as you are developing your own application. With the gracious permission of successful investigators, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) makes available examples of funded R01, R03, R15, R21, SBIR/STTR, K, and F applications, summary statements, sharing plans, leadership plans, and more. When referencing these resources, it is important to remember:

  • These applications were developed using the application forms and instructions that were in effect at the time of their submission. Forms and instructions change regularly. Read and carefully follow the instructions in the funding opportunity announcement to which you are responding and the current application instructions carefully.
  • The best way to present your science may differ substantially from the approach taken by those who wrote the example applications. Seek feedback on your draft application from mentors and others.
  • Talk to an NIH program officer in your area of science for advice about the best type of grant program and the Institute or Center that might be interested in your idea.

Check out the NIAID’s Sample Applications and More.

Original post by NIH Staff on 5/1/2019 Mobile App Update Adds New Features

The federal grant application process is anything but simple. From searching for funding opportunities to submitting carefully crafted applications, there are complexities at every turn.

To this end, is always looking for ways to make applicant tasks more convenient. The Mobile App (available for Android and iOS), with its latest update, is a perfect example of this focus.

With convenient new login and submit features coming to the mobile app, applicants can now do even more while they are away from their desk or laptop.

Below is a list of current mobile app features that help make the applicant process more convenient:

  • Search for grants by keyword, CFDA number, and federal agency
  • Browse grant forecasts and opportunities from federal agencies
  • Review eligibility requirements for each grant opportunity
  • Add the Closing Dates for packages to your phone’s calendar app
  • Enter a Tracking Number for a status update on your submission
  • Get quick access to’s Community Blog, Twitter and YouTube channels
  • Subscribe to specific grant opportunities and get notified about changes made by the grant-making agency (login required)
  • Sign and Submit completed applications within the app ( Submit privileges are required)
  • Access your application submission history (login required)
  • Receive and manage push notifications from your account (login required)

Original post on April 8, 2019

Updated NIH Policy for Resubmission of New Investigator R01 Applications

The NIH Center for Scientific Review and National Institute of Mental Health will no longer offer a special deadline for new investigator resubmission applications. This change goes into effect starting with R01 applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2019.

Since 2007 NIH had provided new investigators the option of submitting R01 A1 resubmission applications for consecutive review cycles (“next round resubmission”) thinking it would enable new investigators to potentially resubmit applications more rapidly.  The expectation was that the policy would accelerate funding for new investigators.  However, this turned out to be incorrect.  Utilization of the “next round resubmission” policy is low, and it has not made the impact on age of first R01 or in time to award, so they are discontinuing the policy. For more information, see NOT-OD-19-053.

Originally posted by NIH Staff 1/18/19

NSF: NEW EDGE Solicitation Released!

A new Enabling Discovery Through GEnomic Tools (EDGE) solicitation (NSF 19-527) has been released. Although for the Directorate of Biological Sciences there are no deadlines for many kinds of proposals, as a special program EDGE will continue to have a deadline – in 2019, EDGE proposals will be due on Tuesday, February 12th.

EDGE continues to focus solely on tool development for direct tests of gene function in non-model organisms.  The expectation is that those tools will be rapidly disseminated throughout the biological community for future hypothesis-driven research.

With this solicitation EDGE introduces two separate funding tracks:

The Comprehensive Track is intended for projects to develop and provide proof-of concept tests of functional genomic tools and infrastructure to enable direct tests of hypotheses about gene function in diverse animals,  plants, microbes, fungi and viruses for which such tools and infrastructure are presently unavailable.

The Targeted Track is intended to address a specific bottleneck that impedes either transformation or aspects of husbandry required to produce sufficient biological material (e.g. specific cell types, life history stages etc.) needed to efficiently conduct direct tests of gene function. Targeted track proposals are expected to be smaller in scope and thus have more limited budgets.

Prior to submission please read the EDGE solicitation carefully. There are some significant differences for EDGE proposals from the general instructions in NSF’s PAPPG. EDGE proposals have required sections in the project description and additional supplementary documents compared to regular proposals submitted to IOS core programs. Collaborative projects from a consortium of organizations must submit a single proposal with one eligible organization serving as the lead, and all other organizations as sub-awardees.

EDGE proposals also have special review criteria. For EDGE proposals, reviewers will be instructed to focus on the following critical aspects of the proposed work:

  • The potential catalytic impact of enabling the species named in the proposal to advance research in organismal biology;
  • The potential catalytic impact of the proposed research to advance organismal research by enabling new tools, approaches, and infrastructure;
  • The feasibility of the proposed methods and approaches to achieve the stated goals, and the likelihood of success;
  • The quality and potential for rapid and high impact of the Dissemination and Education Plan; and,
  • For those proposals involving multiple organizations, the quality of the Project Management Plan and likelihood of successful project coordination.


Contact the NSF EDGE working group: BIOIOSEDGE@NSF.GOV

NSF: Statement from the Acting Assistant Director for Biological Sciences on Proposal Submission Limits

In August, the NSF BIO directorate released new solicitations to its proposal submission process to eliminate deadlines and limit the number of proposals that could be submitted to a given division annually by a PI or co-PI. As BIO was receiving far more worthy proposals than it has money to support, this submission cap was established with a view to ensuring that BIO’s merit review process would not be overwhelmed with the move to no deadlines.

In the ensuing three months, the community expressed serious concern that this new policy would hinder collaboration as well as limit funding prospects for new investigators. BIO places a high value on collaboration and on fostering careers of new investigators; thus, we held internal discussions to consider ways to address these concerns. In addition, relatively few proposals have been submitted to BIO since the release of the solicitations.

Having listened to community concern and tracked the current low rate of submission, and following extensive internal consultation, BIO is lifting all PI or co-PI restrictions on proposal submission for FY 2019, effective immediately.

NSF BIO recognizes that it is important to track the effects of the no-deadline policy on proposal submission patterns, to ensure that a high-quality review process is sustained. Therefore, we are seeking approval from the NSF Biological Sciences Advisory Committee to establish a subcommittee to assist in developing the evidence base for any future policy changes that may be needed.

Solicitations for proposals will be amended and released over the next few weeks to reflect these changes.

 Original post by DEB Science Staff at NSF on November 15, 2018

New Grant Application Submission Tips for Success Videos

Getting ready to apply for a grant and don’t know where to start? Set yourself up for success with tips from the experts at NIH. Quickly learn how to access application forms, ensure your application is a good fit for an announcement, and make an important final check of your application after submitting with new videos from the Office of Extramural Research (OER).

Check out these helpful quick tip videos on the How to Apply – Video Tutorials page to help you avoid common mistakes and position yourself for success:


Original post on October 12, 2018 by