Recent Changes to Grant Policies

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

January 28, 2019: New NSF proposal and award guidelines, PAPPG, take effect. the new PAPPG is available at All proposals submitted to NSF starting January 28, 2019 must adhere to the new guidelines.

August 29, 2018: External peer reviews are important to the decision-making process and a crucial source of feedback to PIs. NSF encourages reviewers to watch the orientation video, “The Art and Science of Reviewing Proposals.” (NOTE: The video will only play on Internet Explorer.) 

May 18, 2018: Collaborators and Other Affiliations FAQ (pdf).

April 31, 2018: is now available for NSF grant proposal applications except for Collaborative Proposals and others as indicated in solicitations. will eventually replace FastLane as NSF's proposal vehicle.

April 2018: revised Collaborators and Other Affiliations Information Template.

January 29, 2018: NSF PAPPG 18-1 effective for proposals submitted on or after Jan. 28 (Fastlane submissions).

  • Project Description must contain a separate section with the heading "Intellectual Merit" in addition to separate sections on "Broader Impacts" and "Results from Prior NSF Support." Results from Prior NSF Support must be included if the conditions in the next bullet apply.
  • Results from Prior NSF Support time period is clarified: "The purpose of this section is to assist reviewers in assessing the quality of prior work conducted with prior or current NSF funding. If any PI or co-PI identified on the proposal has received prior NSF support including:
    • an award with an end date in the past five years; or
    • any current funding, including any no cost extensions,

    Information on the award is required for each PI and co-PI, regardless of whether the support was directly related to the proposal or not."

  • Budget Justification page limit is 5 pages per justification; e.g., subaward budget justifications can also be 5 pages.


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

April 23, 2019, Accomplishments in Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at NIH is seeking comment and input from the research and public health communities to help inform a list of impactful public health and healthcare accomplishments and contributions resulting from behavioral and social sciences research. Nominate a health accomplishment resulting from behavioral and social sciences research, browse other comments, and vote for your favorites. Submission deadline: July 31, 2019.

March 29, 2019, for Clinical Trials, NIH Releases Protocol Template for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Involving Humans (NOT-OD-19-092)

March 25, 2019, Applicants should include a rationale for the age range of study participants and justification for age-based exclusion in the Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children section of the PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information Form (Section 2.4). This section will continue to have the heading “Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children” until the next forms update. See the instructions under Inclusion of Children in the application guide for additional information. Have more questions on the Inclusion Across the Lifespan policy? Check out its FAQ page

January 25, 2019, New Protection of Human Subjects website. On the new Protection of Human Subjects site, you can find useful information about proposing and conducting NIH extramural research involving human subjects, including policies, regulations, training, resources, and updated information on the revised human subject regulation (Common Rule).

December 19, 2018: Revision: NIH Policy and Guidelines on the Inclusion of Individuals Across the Lifespan as Participants in Research Involving Human Subjects

December 7, 2018 and November 26, 2018: Update to General Application Guide. See Significant Changes effective January 25, 2019

July 3, 2018: The NCATS Trial Innovation Network – A Resource Supporting High Quality and Cost Effective Clinical Trials Available to You”

May 9, 2018: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipends, Tuition/Fees and Other Budgetary Levels Effective for Fiscal Year 2018

March 7, 2018: Salary Cap update.

January 25, 2018: General Application Guide effective for proposals submitted on or after Jan. 25 (aka Forms E applications).

Important - Human Subject Research Changes at NIH Effective January 25, 2018

Planning to submit a proposal to NIH?

Please read through the information below and contact the Grants and Contracts office with any questions.

15-minute video presented by NIH on Human Subjects & Clinical Trials changes.

If you are applying for research that involves human subjects, these changes may affect how you:

  •  select the right NIH funding opportunity announcement
  •  write the research strategy and human subjects sections of your application
  • comply with appropriate policies and regulations

First, familiarize yourself with the new PHS Human Subject and Clinical Trial Information form (pdf example with annotations). For application due dates of January 25, 2018, and beyond, you will be required to use an updated application forms package (FORMS-E), which includes the new human subject and clinical trial form. This form requests human subject and clinical trials information at the study level using discrete form fields.

Some NIH Institutes no longer accept parent announcements for clinical trials and will announce their own solicitations. Be sure to check the announcement for your target institute.

It is very important in the early proposal process to identity whether or not you need to respond to a Clinical Trial or non-Clinical Trial Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and that you begin the application with the correct funding announcement.

Second, take a moment to answer these four questions about your current or proposed research:

1)    Does the study involve human participants?

2)    Are the participants prospectively assigned to an intervention?

3)    Is the study designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the participants?

4)    Is the effect that will be evaluated a health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome?

If the answer to all four questions is Yes, then your proposed research meets the NIH definition of a clinical trial. The definition encompasses a wide range of trial types: mechanistic, exploratory/developmental, pilot/feasibility, behavioral, and more.

Need more help determining whether your study would be considered by NIH to be a clinical trial? After reading information on the NIH website and walking through the decision tree, contact your NIH program official or the scientific point of contact listed on the funding opportunity announcement to which you are applying.

The Penn State IRB office is always willing to assist in your determination and would prefer to be involved early in the submission planning process, especially if your proposal includes a clinical trial.

Third, familiarize yourself with NIH policy changes related to enhancing stewardship of clinical trials.

NIH has made a number of policy changes to improve the stewardship of clinical trials across the life cycle of the trial. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with all that is changing, including:

  • The requirement to apply to an FOA that specifically allows for the submission of clinical trial applications for due dates beginning January 25, 2018.
  • Good Clinical Practice training expectations for NIH staff, grantees, and contractors that went into effect January 2017.
  • Updated peer review criteria that will be included in FOAs for clinical trial applications and solicitations for due dates on/after January 25, 2018.
  • New Human Subject Information form requirements for clinical trials that will be included in updated application forms (FORMS-E) for due dates on/after January 25, 2018, and contract solicitations published as of January 25, 2018.
  • Use of a single IRB for non-exempt, multi-site clinical trials for application due dates on/after January 25, 2018.
  • Expanded registration and reporting to include all NIH supported clinical trials.

May 31, 2017: Reminder: Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources

May 30, 2017: Policy on Post-Submission Materials

March 24, 2017: Citing interim research products in applications, proposals and reports

March 2, 2017: Update and Clarification: NIH Continuous Submission Policy

January 25, 2017: New Appendix Policy

January 4, 2017: Updated Font Guidelines (Among the changes: black font is no longer required.)

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