Let’s delve a bit deeper into one of your and my favorite topics: success rates. Most of you monitor success rates as an indicator of NIH funding trends but also as the main way to determine your chances of receiving an NIH award. But what exactly do these rates mean? Our official success rates for the fiscal year – as defined here – are based on the number of awards made divided by the sum of the applications reviewed that fiscal year where revisions submitted in the same fiscal year are collapsed and counted as one application. We calculate success rates this way because historically we have been interested in the success of a project or an idea getting funded, rather than of the success of the individual application submission. But what is the likelihood of an individual application submission getting funded? This is pertinent because applicants often hear about individual institutes or centers with much lower paylines than the overall NIH success rate, and paylines are based on all the application submissions being considered by an institute or center. We call this an “award rate” – the number of awards made in a fiscal year divided by the absolute number of applications where we don’t combine resubmissions (A1s) that come in during the same fiscal year. The award rate calculation obviously increases the denominator (applications) for the same number of awards (in the numerator).

Read more at Rock Talk: Comparing Success Rates, Award Rates, and Funding Rates. Rock Talk is a blog by Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director of Extramural Funding.

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