The Researcher's Tool Kit

Resources for working smarter

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FY 2015 NIH Salary Cap and Stipend Levels released

Updated information about the FY 2015 NIH salary limitation and stipend levels is now available…

Remember to incorporate these current levels in your grant proposal budgets.  Keep in mind that even though we often refer to the salary limitation and stipends as the “NIH levels”, other federal and non-federal funders use this information in their guidelines for drafting grant proposal budgets .  cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

For FY 2015, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235), signed into law on December 16, 2014, restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary is currently set at $181,500, increasing to $183,300 effective January 11, 2015.  See the complete Notice of Salary Limitations.

The stipend levels for fiscal year (FY) 2015 Kirschstein-NRSA awards for undergraduate, predoctoral, and postdoctoral trainees and fellows, are shown in the tables below.  See the complete Notice of NRSA Stipends, Tuition/Fees, and Other Budgetary Levels for FY 2015.

FY2015 Stipend Levels



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How to apply for an NIH grant…How are grants reviewed?…insights from the experts

Are you a new NIH grant applicant?  Do you mentor new grant applicants?  Are you a research administrator working with PIs submitting applications?  If so, mark your calendars…cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will host four Meet the Experts in NIH Peer Review Webinars in early November 2014 to provide useful insights into the submission and peer review processes. CSR is the portal for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific and technical merit.

Webinars Will Each Focus on a Different Type of NIH Grant Application

Webinar Focus copy

Viewers Will See Presentations by Five CSR/NIH Experts

  • The Review of Your NIH Grant Application Begins Here
  • What You Need to Know about Application Receipt and Referral
  • How Your Application Is Reviewed
  • Key Things to Know About Your Type of Application (See above list)
  • Jumpstart Your Career with CSR’s Early Career Reviewer Program

Go to to register for the Webinar you wish to join by Tuesday, October 28. No special software is needed.  You will just need a reliable Internet connection and browser.  Submit questions for the Q&A session before or during the Webinar by sending them to the moderator at

If you are unable to participate in the live webinar, archived copies of each Webinar via the Webinar webpage will be available.  The recordings should be posted within a week after broadcast.

Please direct all inquiries to:

Don Luckett
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
Telephone: 301-435-1111

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Fall cleaning…is your lab ready?

Did you realize this is the last week of the recently announced National Biosafety Stewardship Month?

It’s time to assess, address, and update your lab’s safety standards.  You are probably aware that NIH requires its grantees and/or contractors to meet applicable Federal, State, and local health and safety standards.  You must also establish and implement necessary measures to minimize employees risk of injury or illness in activities related to NIH grants.



Based on their notice, NIH and other HHS agencies urge all institutions, grantees, and contractors to complete the following during this month (and throughout the year):

  • “Reexamine current policies and procedures for biosafety practices and oversight to ascertain whether they require modification to optimize their effectiveness
  • Conduct inventories of infectious agents and toxins in all laboratories to ensure that the institution has a record of which infectious agents and toxins are being utilized, has documentation that those materials are properly stored under the appropriate containment conditions, and has documentation that cites the party responsible for appropriate stewardship of the materials
  • Reinforce biosafety training of investigators, laboratory staff, and members of IBCs to include
    reexamining training materials and practices being utilized by the institution
  • Updating materials as appropriate
  • Ascertaining the appropriate frequency of training and conduct training when the interval between training or other considerations warrant it.”

The following guidelines are among resources available for use in developing and implementing health and safety operating procedures and practices for both personnel and facilities:

Yours in organization…

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Keeping up with the NIH grants policy makers…

We’ve all been there when an NIH grants administration policy upended proposal development (remember the page limitation changes a few years ago?) or award management processes (RPPR, anyone?) especially when minimal advance warning of new policy implementation was provided.   cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpgIn response to user needs, NIH recently launched a resource to help navigate upcoming changes in grants administration. Their grants policy page now houses an interactive timeline of upcoming changes in grants administration. Keep in mmd that the NIH Guide is still the official vehicle for policy announcements, but now guide notices will be added to the timeline based on when policies take effect.


For example, did you realize…

  • NIH is transitioning to a new format for reporting sex/gender, race, and ethnicity information in non-competing progress reports for awards with start dates on/after October 1, 2014?
  • New biosketch format extends page limit from 4 to 5 pages and allows researchers to describe up to 5 of their most significant contributions as of Jan. 1, 2015?

Mark your calendars now!

Upcoming Changes in Grants Administration

Upcoming Changes in Grants Administration

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Six keys to crack the code: the secret to NIH grant numbers

  • 1R01EY12934-04-S1A1…  what??

I am asked on a weekly basis to explain “what those numbers mean” for NIH applications and grants.  NIH provides comprehensive explanation; however, in the spirit of providing content in digestible bites, here’s the inside scoop (gleaned from NIH posts) on how to crack the code of those pesky grant numbers…cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

What we commonly refer to as the grant number is officially termed the “identification number” (used for applications as well as funded grants) and consists of six parts:grant number

1.  Application Type Code – A single-digit code identifying the type of application received and processed.  For example,

grant type code

2.  Activity Code (referred to as an Instrument Code) – A three-digit code identifying the type of grant applied for.

Some examples are:

  • K08 – Clinical Investigator Award
  • K22 – Career Transition Award
  • P01 – Research Program Projects
  • P50 – Specialized Center
  • R01 – Research Project
  • R03 – Small Research Grant
  • R29 – First Independent Research Support and Transition (First) Award
  • T32 – Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA)
  • U01 – Research Project (Cooperative Agreements)

3.  Administering Organization Code ( IC Code or Admin PHS Org Code) – A two letter code identifying the primary funding NIH Institute or Center.  Awards are now more frequently shared; however, only the PRIMARY Institute or Center is incorporated in the IC code.

Some examples are

  • CA – National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • DA – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • DK – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
  • EY – National Eye Institute (NEI)
  • HD – National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
  • HL – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • MH – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • NS – National Institute of neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

4.   Serial Number – A unique five-digit number identifying the specific application.  It is assigned by the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR).

5.  Suffix:  GRANT YEAR – A two-digit number indicates the current year of support.  For example, -02 identifies a grant in its second year.  The grant year number is increased by one for each succeeding renewal year.

6.  Suffixes (optional)

SUPPLEMENT – The letter “S” and related number identify a particular supplemental record; e.g., S1, S2.

AMENDMENT – The letter “A” and related number identify each amended application e.g., A1, A2, etc.

That’s all there is to it.  Happy application writing!


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xpln pmcid stat!!

I received the above text not long ago which reminded me that even though the NIH Guide for Public Access became effective in 2008, many researchers continue to struggle with the use of PMCID numbers when preparing NIH grant applications.  When you have some time, you are encouraged to read the guide for a detailed explanation of  PMCID number usage.cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

Essentially, the NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication. The Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.

That said, I realize most folks aren’t inclined to peruse NIH policy in their limited free time. Consequently,  I am providing answers to the PMCID questions I frequently receive in the wee hours of the morning (prime grant writing time) as well as reminders about use for your consideration and future reference.

When do I need PMCID numbers?

When you write an NIH (1) application, (2) proposal, or (3) progress report AND you cite a peer-reviewed manuscript (accepted on or after April 7, 2008) that:

  • you authored or co-authored
  • arose from your NIH award, AND
  • is covered by the NIH Public Access Policy

What sections in NIH grant applications require PMCID numbers?

  1. Bibliography/References Cited
  2. BIosketch– check out my post including a sample NIH Biosketch for details.  Most folks do not realize PMCIDs are required on all NIH Biosketches included in your application.  Yes, that means your co-PIs need to include them as well.

What is the difference between PMCID and PMID?

How does my paper get submitted to PubMed Central?

There are four methods to ensure that an applicable paper is submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. Authors may use whichever method is most appropriate for them and consistent with their publishing agreement. NIH provides a table summarizing the Overview of Submission Methods.

How do I find the PMCID?  Check out this PMCID Summary with detailed instructions and samples.  Did you know that you can use Endnote to search and download from PubMed to automatically get PMCIDs?

I have the PMIDs.  Can I convert those to PMCIDs?  Use the PMCID-PMID-Manuscript ID-doi converter.

How do I include PMCIDs in citations?  Check out NIH instruction on PMCIDs in citations.

Other questions you may have should be addressed at NIH Public Access FAQ.