News From C3

June 6, 2012

Can Second Time be the Charm: Is it Possible for an Unscored Proposal to Get Funded on Resubmission?

We do alot of NIH proposals, so we looked first at NIH’s website for data to help answer this question. We didn’t find any so we have to be honest and say we don’t have a good handle on how often an unscored proposal gets funded on a resubmission, particularly now that NIH applicants only have two tries. At least, we don’t know on a large scale.We do see a lot of proposals every year, though, and we can say definitely that proposals that manage to jump from unscored to funded are really rare—at NIH or anywhere else. That doesn’t mean if your proposal didn’t receive a score you should give up and not resubmit, because we have seen one or two in the past couple of years. But you might want to ask yourself some hard questions about your first submissions—and the likelihood of the aforementioned event occurring—if your proposals frequently come back unscored. Truly, even one unscored proposal per year is too many. Because there is no doubt that any funder that limits to two submissions is trying to remove the temptation to use the proposal review process as a sounding board. Once your proposal is unscored, though, that information is available to reviewers who see your resubmission, and it doesn’t make a positive first impression—no matter how much you fixed things up the second time around.

If this does happen, what can you do to put your proposal into that small number of submissions that makes the leap? Get some strategies we have developed over the years when working on resubmissions.

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