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Success Rate, Percentile Ranks and Grant Budgets: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What do you mean by the "success rate" of grant applications funded by NIGMS and how does this relate to the percentile ranks assigned in peer review?

A. The success rate is the total number of grant applications that are funded in a given fiscal year divided by the number of grant applications that were peer reviewed. Success rates, computed on a fiscal year basis, indicate the percentage of reviewed research project grant applications that receive funding. For research project grants and R01s in FY 2017, NIGMS achieved a success rate of 30.6 percent and 28.3 percent, respectively. A large proportion of NIGMS' research project grants are R01s, so the success rate for R01s is usually similar to the overall research project grant success rate.

The percentile is a ranking that shows the relative position of each application's priority score among all scores assigned by a scientific review group at its last three meetings.

The success rate for R01 grants differs from the percentile ranks for R01 grants in the following ways:

  • The percentile ranks are calculated using all applications reviewed by the initial review group, including applications assigned to other NIH institutes and centers. Grants assigned to NIGMS tend to receive better priority scores than the NIH average. 

  • The NIGMS success rate is typically higher than the percentile ranks of the funded applications. Applications that are revised and resubmitted during the same fiscal year are only counted once in the success rate calculations, whereas all applications, both original and resubmitted versions, are included when the percentiles are calculated.

Q. How does NIGMS use percentile rank order to make its grant funding decisions?

A. NIGMS does not rely solely on a percentile cutoff or "payline" to make its funding decisions. These decisions take into account a number of additional factors, including whether the project will increase the breadth and diversity of the Institute’s research portfolio, approaches and investigators, and whether the research area is a high priority for the Institute’s mission. NIGMS staff and the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council also carefully consider the relative value of awarding grants to laboratories with total direct support in excess of $750,000 in any year and investigators with substantial unrestricted research support versus awarding grants to those with little or no other research support. These factors, along with the priority score, the comments in the summary statement and the advice of the Council, are considered together to make final funding decisions.

Q. What is the average size of an NIGMS R01 grant?

A. The current average size of an NIGMS R01 grant (excluding supplements) is approximately $237,000 in direct costs per year. The average competing award is also currently at about $237,000. Among the competing awards, new awards are smaller than the average and competing renewal awards are larger.

This page last reviewed on May 10, 2018