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Grants and Funding: Extramural Programs (EP)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ Pages

What do I have to do to submit an appeal?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a formal appeals process to resolve disagreements between grant applicants and NIH review committees and/or NIH staff concerning the referral and peer review of grant applications. The NIH Guide Notice dated November 21, 1997 provides full information on the NIH policy on "Appeals of Scientific Peer Review".

The NIH Guide Notice defines an appeal as: "With regard to the initial review, after examining the summary statement containing the results of that review for the grant application, an investigator may have concerns about, and wish to contest a procedural aspect of the process (e.g., that the review was biased, that conflict of interest existed, that the review group lacked appropriate expertise, that factual errors entered into the review)."

Before beginning the appeal process, the principal investigator is strongly advised to speak with their National Library of Medicine (NLM) program officer, who is listed on the summary statement. The program officer can explain the options and their consequences and is often in a position to help the applicant understand the study section's comments and recommendation. In most cases, peer review issues can be resolved at this stage.

For those cases that cannot be resolved by discussion, the first step is the submission of an appeal letter.

An appeal letter submitted after study section review should be sent to the program officer in NLM. Program and review staff will try to resolve the issues and take the appropriate action. If the issues cannot be resolved by staff, the appeal letter and all relevant information are submitted to the Appeals Officer/ Deputy Director for Research & Education, NLM, six weeks before the next Council meeting. The Appeals Officer decides if it needs to go to Council for further consideration. If Council review is warranted, it will be presented to the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine for review.

The Council may agree with either the study section or the applicant. If the Council agrees with the applicant, it recommends appropriate actions to resolve the matter, which may include re-review of the application. If the Council concurs with the study section recommendation, the application will not be re-reviewed, but a revised application may be submitted. The program officer can often give valuable advice about revising an application.

It may be necessary to delay Council consideration of an appeal until the following Council meeting, if the letter is not received sufficiently in advance of the Council meeting.

Appeals of receipt and referral issues regarding applications not yet reviewed should be directed to the Referral Office, Center for Scientific Review [formerly, Division of Research Grants].

See OER Grants/Extramural Policy Notices.

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