NIH Issues Notice on Enhancing Reproducibility

On June 9, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Extramural Research (OER) issued a Notice (NOT-OD-15-103) in an effort to clarify and revise application instructions and review criteria “to enhance reproducibility of research findings through increased scientific rigor and transparency.”

The release of the Notice is to raise awareness and begin “culture shifts in the scientific community.” In a June 9 blog post, Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, and Larry Tabak, Principal Deputy Director of NIH, explained, “These changes will prompt applicants and reviewers to consider issues, which—if ignored—may impede the transparency needed to reproduce key results and thereby slow scientific progress.”

The newly revised grant applications are intended to clarify NIH’s expectations regarding rigor and transparency and how it would like to see this described in applications. The instructions will highlight the need for applicants to describe details that may have been previously overlooked, the need for reviewers to consider such details in their reviews through revised review criteria, and minimize additional burden. The new instructions and review criteria will focus on four areas: (1) the scientific premise of the proposed research; (2) rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results; (3) consideration of relevant biological variables; and (4) authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources.

Pending approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NIH reports that the new revised grant application instructions will be incorporated into the application guide funding opportunity announcements in Fall 2015 for applications submitted for January 2016 due dates and beyond. Meanwhile, additional detailed information regarding the specifics of implementation is expected this fall. Additional information is available at here.

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