NIH Reminders: Hyperlinks and URLs are only allowed when specifically noted, How to Submit Post-Submission Materials to NIH

Hyperlinks and URLs

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a reminder about existing guidance that restricts the use of hypertext in NIH proposals. See NOT-OD-20-174 for full details.

There is no change in the NIH policy on the use of hyperlinks. As a reminder, that policy as articulated in the NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and ASU’s NIH Checklist.

  • Hyperlinks and URLs are only allowed when specifically noted in funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and form field instructions. The use of hyperlinks is typically limited to citing relevant publications in biosketches and publication lists. It is highly unusual for a FOA to allow links in Specific Aims, Research Strategy and other page-limited attachments.
  • Hyperlinks and URLs may not be used to provide information necessary to application review.
  • Reviewers are instructed against viewing linked sites and are cautioned that they should not directly access a website (unless the link to the site was specifically requested in application instructions) as it could compromise their anonymity and allow for malware to be downloaded onto their computers.
  • When allowed, you must hyperlink the actual URL text so it appears on the page rather than hiding the URL behind a specific word or phrase. Example:

NIH proposals that do not follow these instructions, and include unallowable hyperlinks, may be withdrawn from review and funding consideration.

How to Submit Post-Submission Materials to NIH

NIH posted an article recently, providing guidance for situations where changes need to be submitted to an NIH proposal after submission but before the initial peer review. Please see NIH’s Extramural Nexus for the full article: How Do I Submit Post-Submission Materials for My Application?

NIH’s policy on post-submission materials also outlines allowable materials and how to submit them: NOT-OD-19-083.

The steps to submit these materials are summarized here.

  1. Prepare your materials
    Follow standard Format Attachment guidelines, including PDF format, font size, margin, and paper size requirements. Any specified format pages (e.g., budgets, biographical sketches) and associated page limits apply. If the material is not required on a specific format page and/or does not have a specified page limit, each item (explanation, letter, etc.) is limited to one page (except for Training Grant application publication lists which may be up to three pages). See NOT-OD-19-083 for additional details regarding citations and videos.

    Be sure to follow the rules pertaining to your specific submission in addition to the general policy. Some funding opportunities and special NIH Guide notices expand or limit post-submission materials. For example, NOT-OD-20-163 temporarily expanded the post-submission materials policy to include preliminary data and our opportunities for emergency and urgent competitive revisions do not allow any type of post-submission materials.
  2. Obtain AOR concurrence
    Post-submission materials require concurrence from the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) of the applicant organization. Although the post-submission materials may originate from the PD/PI, Contact PD/PI, or organizational officials, the AOR must send the materials to NIH or must send his/her concurrence to the PD/PI who will forward the materials and concurrence to NIH. A communication from the PD/PI only or with a “cc” to the AOR will not be accepted.
  3. Send materials to NIH
    Post-submission materials must be sent to the Scientific Review Officer (SRO) listed in the Contacts section of the eRA Commons application Status screen (Status Information online help). Use of secure e-mail is recommended, though not required. Post-submission materials must be received by the SRO no later than 30 calendar days prior to the peer review meeting. Post-submission materials will not be accepted after this time, unless specifically allowed in the FOA for which the application was submitted or in a special Guide Notice.
  4. Verify Additions Received
    The SRO is responsible for uploading acceptable materials into the official electronic grant file maintained in the eRA Commons. The PD/PI and AOR can check the “Additions for Review” section of the eRA Commons application Status screen for the added material (Status Information online help).

This procedure provides the information to reviewers in a secure manner.