Outcomes for second-time R01 resubmissions

It’s been over two years since the NIH revised their grant resubmission policy. This revision allows applicants whose R01 application (called an A0) and subsequent resubmission (an A1) are unsuccessful to submit a new application without having to demonstrate significant changes in scientific direction from the previously reviewed applications. When the policy went into effect in April of 2014, there was a sigh of relief but also uncertainty about how these “new” applications, now referred to as “virtual A2s,” would fare.

In a June 24 Open Mike blog post, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Michael Lauer, analyzes the data, showing the changed policy has slightly increased the success of second-time revisions.

Events following unfunded A1 applications. Baseline: unfunded R01 applications in FY2014; subsequent application: at least one R01 or R21 application submitted by a PI in the baseline group; “virtual A2”: at least one subsequent application/award with text that significantly matched with the baseline group; “nonmatching”: at least one subsequent application/award without a significant text match in the “baseline” group. June 24, 2016 Open Mike.

Lauer and his team used text-mining software to identify these virtual A2s and to describe their review outcomes compared to other submissions from the same investigators. Following is a summary of their findings:

  • Investigators are taking advantage of the new policy. For about 22% of unsuccessful A1 applications, NIH receives a materially similar subsequent submission, a virtual A2;
  • PIs were more likely to submit a virtual A2 if their unfunded A1 had been discussed and received relatively favorable scores;
  • Investigators who fail to obtain funding on an A1 remain active. 80% of the PIs with unsuccessful A1 applications submitted at least one application within the following fiscal year;
  • New investigators are less likely to submit virtual A2s; and
  • Of the cases in which at least one virtual A2 application was submitted, 20% had at least one application funded.