Revise & Resubmit

On this page:
Reading Reviewer Comments
Writing your Introduction (NIH)
Agency Resubmission Policies
Assistance with Proposal Revision

Reading Reviewer Comments

The next step in the proposal lifecycle depends on the outcome of funder review. You will either receive a notification of award (congratulations on your hard work!), a notification of non-award with reviewer comments, or a notification of non-award with minimal or no reviewer comments. In some cases (e.g., NEH) you may need to request reviewer comments. Your next step largely depends on how you interpret the reviewer comments.

Should you resubmit, or change funding mechanism, agency, or idea?

1. Analyze the reviewer comments and scores (if provided) to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal.

    • If comments and scores are provided by multiple reviewers, evaluate their uniformity across reviewers and note any disagreement.

2. Determine whether (or not) the weaknesses are correctable.

    • Weaknesses in grantsmanship (packaging and presentation) are correctable, whereas inherent weaknesses may or may not be correctable.
    • It can be helpful to obtain objective feedback from senior investigators in your field.

3. If you are considering resubmitting, consult with the other senior/key members of your research team.

    • Distribute the reviewer comments and scores (if provided) to the team members to identify constructive criticisms and form independent recommendations.
    • Hold a meeting with team members to discuss individual assessments and make a collective decision whether (or not) to resubmit.

4. If resubmitting, determine how to respond to reviewer criticisms.

    • List and prioritize all reviewer criticisms and discuss with your research team how to respond to each one.
    • Strongly justify rejection of any criticisms.
    • If your proposal was discussed by the review committee (i.e., not triaged), contact your Program Officer to discuss your strategy for resubmission. Visit the Contacting a Program Officer section for helpful tips.
    • Prepare your response to reviewer criticisms. Depending on the agency, this response can take different forms. For tips on preparing the Introduction section to an A1 proposal (resubmission) see Writing your Introduction (NIH) below.

5. If the weaknesses are inherent and not correctable, you may be more successful in developing a new idea, and reconsidering the funding mechanism and/or agency. For helpful tips on all stages of the proposal development lifecycle, visit the Proposal Development section.


Writing your Introduction (NIH)

At the NIH, resubmission applications must include an introduction that:

  • Summarizes substantial additions, deletions, and changes to the application,
  • Responds to the issues and criticism raised in the summary statement, and
  • Is one page or less in length, unless specified otherwise in the FOA or is specified differently on the NIH table of page limits.

Helpful tips:

  • Be responsive to all constructive criticisms; save space by only responding to criticisms and not reiterating identified strengths.
  • Prioritize your response by addressing the areas of greatest weakness for each of the review criteria.
  • Reference where changes have been made (e.g., see Research Strategy-Innovation); this will save space
  • Provide pre-submission reviewers this information so they can evaluate your response.


Agency Resubmission Policies

“A declined proposal may be resubmitted, but only after it has undergone substantial revision. A resubmitted proposal that has not clearly taken into account the major comments or concerns resulting from the prior NSF review may be returned without review. The Foundation will treat the revised proposal as a new proposal, subject to the standard review procedures.”

  • NASA’s proposal resubmission policy is found in the Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Funding Announcement, and is reproduced here for convenience:
    “Non-selected proposals may not be submitted as an unsolicited proposal. The non-selection of a proposal does not restrict the submission of a similar or even the same effort by the proposer(s) in response to appropriate future NASA FAs or to other appropriate funding agencies or organizations. However, if a proposal to NASA is contemplated, proposers are strongly urged to carefully consider the entirety of comments offered during their debriefing, as well as the proposal guidelines, before making the decision to resubmit the same, or nearly the same, proposal. Merely correcting any perceived deficiencies in a proposal as noted by a review process for one FA in no way guarantees a higher rating or selection in response to another FA.”
  • NEH proposal resubmission policy
    • Applicants may (or may not) revise and resubmit a proposal that was not recommended for funding. Check specific program guidelines.
    • All applicants can receive upon request the evaluators’ ratings and written comments (source: NEH’s Application Review Process)
  • NIFA’s proposal resubmission policy is found in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Federal Assistance Policy Guide, and is reproduced here for convenience:
    “A resubmission is an application submitted for consideration under the same program previously but has not been approved for an award under the program. For competitive programs, this type of application is evaluated in competition with other pending applications in the area to which it is assigned. Resubmissions are reviewed according to the same evaluation criteria as new applications. In addition, applicants must respond to the previous panel review summaries, unless waived by NIFA. When reviewing a resubmission application the panel will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project. (7 CFR 3430.14).”


Assistance with Proposal Revision

RD Associates are available to assist you with interpretation of reviewer comments, contacting your program officer, assessing whether to resubmit, submit as new, and/or change funding mechanism or agency, as well as crafting your NIH Introduction (or equivalent required resubmission document).

Learn more about engaging RDS

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