What if my proposal isn’t accepted?
If your proposal wasn’t awarded, don’t be discouraged. Reworking a proposal and resubmitting, either to the original sponsor or a different one, often results in an award.
If your proposal was turned down, request the reviewers’ comments and seek feedback from the Program Officer. If the sponsor discourages resubmission, consider finding an alternative funding source or modifying your project idea or approach. The Program Officer, your colleagues, and OSP may be able to provide suggestions.
If the sponsor encourages resubmission, your chances of success on the next round are good. Respond specifically to reviewer’s comments in the narrative of the revised proposal. Point out changes made to strengthen the proposal in the areas judged to be weak, and clarify information that may have been misinterpreted in the initial review. You can further your cause by working closely with the Program Officer, being willing to rethink aspects of the project based on the agency’s feedback, and being as objective as possible in revising the proposal.
Resubmissions to NSF
Unlike NIH, which has a formal resubmission process, NSF considers each new submission as a separate proposal. NSF does not link the new submission to any prior related proposal. A program director may not even realize that it is a revised version of a previously declined proposal.
If your proposal for NSF support has been declined, you will generally receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision.
If the explanation provided does not satisfy you, you may request that the cognizant NSF Assistant Director or Office Head reconsider the action to determine whether the proposal received a fair and reasonable review, both substantively and procedurally. Consult the Grant Policy Manual Section 900 (PDF) for additional information on the NSF reconsideration process, including the categories of actions that are subject to the NSF reconsideration policy.
Resubmissions to NIH
As part of its resources defining the full life cycle of a grant, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides detailed guidance on how to revise and resubmit an application that is declined for funding. This interactive website allows applicants to work their way through a flow chart describing how to determine whether a resubmission is warranted and permitted, lodge a formal appeal, start over with a new application, or search for funding outside NIH.
If you have applied to NIH and had you proposal declined, you can gather practical information from the information in the following: Strategy for Resubmitting.
The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is the portal for the review of NIH grant applications and their scientific merit. The information on their website is intended to keep researchers up-to-date on the guidelines used to evaluate NIH proposals.