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Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q: We have been using the PHS 2590 form to submit annual MARC progress reports for years. Why is the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) format now required?

A: All federally-funded research, including NIH grants, must use the RPPR format. This ensures a common format, data elements and data dictionary for federal grants. After October 17, 2014, all MARC progress reports must be submitted electronically using the RPPR format (see for details).

Q: Where can I find RPPR instructions? Is additional information needed to complete the report?

A: Visit for the NIH RPPR Instruction Guide. Note there are specific instructions for training mechanisms like MARC in section 7.4, Training RPPRs, beginning on page 87. Also, see the MARC Supplemental Instructions for specific MARC details, including the MARC Progress Report Table.

Q: When are MARC RPPR progress reports due?

A: Annually on October 15.

Q: What is the reporting period for the MARC RPPR?

A: MARC awards are typically for 5 years. Typically, the reporting period for all MARC U-STAR programs is October 15 to October 14 of the following year. Note, that since all MARC U-STAR grants are awarded in June, the first year's report will be abbreviated from June (when the award is given) to October 14 of that year (reports are due each year on October 15). The remaining years of the 5-year award will each be reported from October 15 to October 14 of the following year.

MARC Reporting Period
Year 1
June to October 14 of the same year

Year 2-5
October 15 to October 14 of the following year

Q: If your reporting period is June 1 to October 14, then there may not be any students who have graduated, correct?

A: Yes. The first year of a 5 year MARC award will be a truncated period (just several months long) and thereby students may not have graduated from the program or entered Ph.D. programs, etc.

Q: If a student is out for a year and then goes into a Ph.D. program we don't report them, correct?

A: Yes. Only report the immediate outcomes of each student associated with the particular reporting period. You will, however, state the outcomes of all MARC students over multiple years on your next competitive renewal application.

Q: Will we essentially report on different MARC cohorts—those who were in program from October 15 to May 31, some of whom will finish the program at end of May, plus those who entered the program in June?

A: Yes.

Q: Several of our MARC students who were in Ph.D. programs have defended and since earned their Ph.D. degrees. Is there anywhere on the MARC Progress Report Table to state this information?

A: Great, you have students who have obtained Ph.D. degrees! You will report this outcome on your next T2 competitive renewal application, but not on the MARC Trainee Progress Report Table. Here, you are only to report the outcomes of current students in the reporting period as defined above (Year 1 or Years 2-5 of a 5 year award). You could, however, include these details in the narrative section of the progress report.

Q: How do we report students who complete MARC funding but will take another semester to graduate?

A: Report student outcomes for the reporting period using the MARC Trainee Progress Report Table. The table includes a "Trainees in other positions" category, use this section to report outcomes of trainees who do not fit the other stated categories (entered Ph.D., M.D., etc.).

Q: On the MARC Trainee Progress Report Table, please clarify the line "Trainees in other positions." Is this referring to students who are still undergraduates or students who have already graduated?

A: "Trainees in other positions" can be used for both MARC students who have graduated and those who are still undergraduates. Simply add a footnote to the table indicating the difference.

Q: Are MARC students considered "participants"?

A: No, not for the RPPR progress report.

Q: Do we need to get NIH-styled biosketches/CVs for all summer mentors and include them in the RPPR?

A: No.

Q: Do we need to upload the biosketches/CVs of our advisory board members in the RPPR?

A: No.

Q: For Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training, do we include RCR activities that have already occurred in the reporting period, or those that are planned?

A: Follow NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-019 for RCR training.

Q: Where do we include the evaluation report provided by the evaluator for the MARC program?

A: Upload the evaluation report in section B, "Accomplishments." Note the 6MB limit for all uploads and pdf format.

Q: Where do we include details about MARC student presentations?

A: In Section B, "Accomplishments."

Q: Section B.4 asks for the course work taken by each student to be included in the paragraph about each student. Should all courses taken in the progress report period be listed in this paragraph?

A: Yes. Section B.4 states, "What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?" Include a short paragraph for each MARC trainee in the current reporting period that identifies mentor, research project and course work of each trainee. Include conference presentations, honors, fellowships, workshops and related activities. This description should be sufficient to allow evaluation of the trainees' progress toward the goals of the training grant.

Q: Section B.5 under "Accomplishments" states, "How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest." What should we include here?

A: If you have published results of your MARC program you can list the citation here. Other means of dissemination can be stated here as well. If nothing has been done, so indicate.

Q: Do we need to complete section D.1, "What individuals have worked on the project"?

A: No. The RPPR instructions indicate on page 88 that section D.1 is only applicable to K12 and KL2 mechanisms. Other mechanisms, including MARC T34s, are to disregard this section.

Q: In the past we have submitted other MARC tables for trainee data. How do we submit these now, or do we not submit these anymore?

A: Only submit information requested on sample table shown at

Q: For the RPPR, are the submissions online? I received an e-mail indicating to send a hard copy of the MARC progress report.

A: Beginning October 17, 2014, all Type 5 non-SNAP progress reports like MARC must be submitted using the RPPR format. For more information, see the NIH Guide notice at

Public Access Policy Questions

Q: With the Public Access Policy, we report the research publications that MARC students conducted. What period do we report, the year the student's publication came out or the progress report period?

A: You report any publication(s) that came out by current and/or former MARC students in the MARC progress report period. Please keep in mind that the purpose of the policy is to make grant-supported publications broadly available in a timely fashion. For a training grant like MARC, you must work to ensure public access to publications that resulted 1) from research done by the MARC trainee while supported on the MARC grant, and 2) that appeared/was published within your reporting period. While you will want to collect all papers that resulted from your student's research for your competing renewal application, for the purposes of the RPPR you must include only publications that appeared (were published) within the reporting year, regardless of when the MARC-supported research was conducted.

Q: Do we submit publications from current MARC students or from past MARC students who have graduated?

A: For each progress report, you will report only publications that appeared in that year (e.g., October 15, 2015, to October 14, 2016). They may be from current MARC students, if their MARC-supported research has led to a publication quickly, but more likely will reflect work of past MARC students, whose MARC-supported research took a while to be reflected in a publication. For example, you can imagine a MARC student who did summer research several years ago, whose contributions have resulted in a multi-author publication from that research mentor, and was published in the last year. You would report that paper.

Because MARC support generally occurs in the junior/senior year of college, a subsequent paper from that trainee, resulting from research performed in graduate school (when the graduate research was clearly not supported by MARC) does not need to be submitted for public access compliance for the MARC grant.

Q: What needs to be done to gain compliance if a student's paper does not cite the MARC grant?

A: For the purposes of Public Access Policy compliance, it doesn't really matter if the paper cites the MARC grant, although we would prefer that it does. Note that an author or MARC program director cannot "add" that citation after the paper has been published.

NIH supported researchers have been required to submit their resulting papers for public access compliance for several years. In general, the research mentor is often the corresponding author to submit the manuscript to NIGMS and get the PMCID number if the paper arose from the NIH award. As a MARC director, you want those research papers to be associated with your MARC award, whether they cite the MARC grant or not. Contact the research mentor and ask that he/she "assign awards" to link your MARC award to that research paper. We urge you to use your eRA Commons account for your MARC award and use My NCBI to track compliance to avoid a last minute scramble. For additional support, please contact help desk officials at

Q: What about journals (domestic or foreign) that refuse to participate in the Public Access process; what do we do for compliance?

A: Journals have been very accommodating in this effort.

Q: What if the publication is published in a journal that does not allow public access?

A: Federal law requires NIH funded research "…to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication..." Investigators can submit their manuscripts to NIH PubMed Central (or arrange to have the journal submit them), which is part of the National Library of Medicine, NIH, as soon as they are accepted, confident that PubMed Central will strictly observe and protect embargoes of 12 months or less. Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research (NOT-OD-08-033) specifies that, "Institutions and investigators are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning submitted articles fully comply with this Policy." If you have concerns about a copyright agreement, check with your sponsored projects office before signing.

Q: In addition to publications, do we submit student presentations from published abstracts for the Public Access Policy?

A: No. Only submit student publication details as a part of the Public Access Policy. Under Section B, "Accomplishments," you can note student presentations.

Budget- Related Questions

Q: What period of time do we use to state any unobligated balances?

A: For unobligated balances, the period of time is based on the budget year, which is from June of year one (when all MARC grants are awarded) to May 31 of the following year. If it is anticipated that there will not be an unobligated balance greater than 25% of the current authorized funded amount then you should answer "No" to this question.

Q: We just started the first year of our MARC grant this past June. What should we report for the unobligated balance?

A: If you are in the first year (year -01) of a typical 5-year MARC grant, it will be difficult to anticipate what the unobligated balance will be at the end of the budget period (that is May 31 of the following year). Therefore answer "No" to question G.10 but include a comment that the grant is in its first year.

Q: The RPPR instructions say to use either the SF 424 budget form or the PHS 398; which should MARC grantees use?

A: NIGMS would like MARC grantees to use the PHS 398 budget format to complete the RPPR.

Q: Do we need to include page 4 of the PHS 398?

A: No. MARC grantees no longer need to provide the detailed budget, page 4, of the PHS 398.

Q: What do we include to complete the training related budget; is it just one figure?

A: The Training Related Expenses (TRE) is just one figure. The RPPR does not ask for a detailed budget, just the total of all the TREs, unlike the former a PHS 2590 form.

Q: If there is an unobligated balance from one year left over, can it be used in the following year?

A: MARC T34 training grants do not have automatic carryover, therefore after each budget year ends on May 31 your institution needs to complete and submit the Federal Financial Report to report the unobligated balance from that budget year. These unobligated balances are restricted funds and cannot be used unless your institution submits a formal written request to NIGMS for consideration. Approvals are not automatic or routine and are only approved in exceptional circumstances.

Q: If part of the support for "participants" is coming from the college or university, then how and where do we report this?

A: If a MARC institution is providing stipend supplementation or paying the gap between actual tuition costs from what NIGMS provides, then this information is not required to be reported.

This page last reviewed on November 30, 2017