Skip to content

NIH Proposal Checklist

The information below is intended to serve as a basic guide to the most commonly used NIH forms and sections and includes template Word documents for your convenience with general information or tips where appropriate. It is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should it be considered a substitute for reading the relevant Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), General Guidelines and Research Guidelines provided by NIH.

You may also download a PDF form checklist that can be printed or boxes checked in Adobe Acrobat as you complete items.

Please be sure to check NIH Standard Due Dates for deadlines and earliest possible project start dates (always verify that standard due dates apply to the FOA you're applying for.) Grant applications and associated documents (e.g., reference letters) are typically due by 5:00 PM local time of application organization on the specified due date. Note also that, if a standard due date falls on a weekend, federal holiday, or Washington, DC area Federal office closure (NOT-OD-17-041), the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

General information sections

  • Cover Letter - UC Merced letterhead (Box folder, password protected)
  • Biographical Sketchfive pages only, NIH Biosketch Forms F Template (Word)
  • PHS Assignment Request form. The PHS assignment form is a fillable form in Cayuse 424. We can also send you a PDF that may be completed and sent to your research administrator to transfer details into the 424 application.
  • Project Summary/Abstractthirty lines of text only, summarizing the project in easy-to-understand language. Template (Word)
  • Project Narrativethree sentences only, describing the public health impacts of the project. This is a publicly releasable document. Template (Word)
  • Bibliography and References Cited - no page limit
  • Facilities & Other Resources - no page limit. Template (Word)
  • Equipment - no page limit. Describe the equipment you currently have in your lab, or that you have access to. This is in addition to the Facilities and Resources section but is focused only on equipment. Please note: this is not a budget justification of equipment you propose to purchase with grant funds but a description of equipment you already have.

Budget sections

  • Budget Justification - no page limit. Detailed budget justification for RR (detailed) budgets only. See NIH budget justification template
  • Personnel Justification - no page limit. This document is required for Modular Budgets only. Provide the name, title and effort in person months for each individual, along with a clear, concise description of their role on the project. Do not include any reference to dollar amounts, fringe benefits or indirect costs. The NIH budget justification linked above can be used for this section but will exclude all sections but A. Senior/Key Personnel and B. Other Personnel
  • Consortium Justification - no page limit. This document is required for Modular Budgets that include a sub-award. Provide a detailed budget justification for any sub-award expenses, rounded to the nearest $1,000
  • Additional Narrative Justification - no page limit. This document should be included with your Modular Budget if you are requesting different numbers of modules in different years, or if your budget request includes extraordinary or special expenses, such as Equipment.

Research Plan sections (general)

  • Introduction to Application (for RESUBMISSION or REVISION only)
  • Specific Aims - single page only.
  • Research Strategy - typically 12 pages, but check the FOA.
  • Progress Report Publication List - optional for most submissions except renewals.

Human Subjects Sections

  • Protection of Human Subjects
  • Data Safety Monitoring Plan
  • Inclusion of Women and Minorities
  • Inclusion of Children
  • PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report - The PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report form is used for all applications involving NIH-defined clinical research. This form is used to report both planned and cumulative (or actual) enrollment, and describes the sex/gender, race, and ethnicity of the study participants. While the PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report is a fillable form in Cayuse 424, for your convenience, this PDF may be completed and sent to your research administrator who can transfer details into the 424 application.

Other Research Plan Sections

  • Vertebrate Animals
  • Select Agent Research
  • Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan
  • Consortium/Contractual Arrangements - required where there is a sub award(s). This is not a budget justification, but is a description of how the research partnership will work, how you will confer with collaborators, and how any disputes may be resolved.
  • Letters of Support
  • Resource Sharing Plan(s)
    • Data Sharing Plan - A Data Sharing Plan or an explanation of why data sharing is not feasible is expected to be included in all applications where the generation of data is anticipated and direct costs of $500,000 or more in any year of the proposed research is requested. Certain Funding Opportunity Announcements may request a data sharing plan for all applications regardless of the amount of direct costs.
    • Sharing Model Organisms - The submission of a model organism sharing plan is NOT subject to a cost threshold of $500,000 or more in direct costs in any one year. All NIH grant applications where the development of model organisms is anticipated are expected to include a description of a specific plan for sharing and distributing unique model organism research resources generated using NIH funding or state why such sharing is restricted or not possible.
    • Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) - Applications that involve the generation of large-scale human and/or non-human genomic data are expected to include a Genomic Data Sharing Plan, regardless of the requested costs.
  • Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources (if required) - see NIH.GOV NOT-OD-17-068 for more information

Other information

  • Appendices - NIH rules impose strict rules on appendices for proposals due on or after January 25, 2017. Applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2017 will be withdrawn and not reviewed if they are submitted with appendix materials that are not specifically listed in this Notice or the FOA as allowed or required.
    • For applications proposing clinical trials (unless the FOA provides other instructions for these materials):
      • Clinical trial protocols Investigator's brochure from Investigational New Drug (IND), as appropriate
    • For all applications:
      • Blank informed consent/assent forms
      • Blank surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments
      • FOA-specified items.
        • If appendix materials are required in the FOA, review criteria for that FOA will address those materials, and applications submitted without those appendix materials will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.