OMB No. 0925-0534 Exp: 08/2007
Survey of Scientific Review Administrators Logo


Evaluation of the Modular Grant Application Process


Survey of Scientific Review Administrators

Sponsored by:

National Institutes of Health

Office of Extramural Research


Introduction

This survey of scientific review administrators is part of a larger study evaluating the modular grant application process. The purpose of the evaluation is to gather information about your opinions and experiences with the modular grant application process. Results will be used to help improve communication and training about the process as well as improve various aspects of it. This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Office of Extramural Research. You have been selected to participate in this important study. Your feedback is critical. Even if you have limited experience with the modular grant application process, your opinions are still very important to us.

The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete. When responding to this survey, please keep the following definition in mind.

Modular grants: The modular grants program began in 1999. It is for grants of $250,000 or less in direct costs per year. Direct costs are requested in modules of $25,000 and applicants are not required to include detailed budgets in their applications.

There are no right or wrong answers, so you should respond by giving the answer that best describes your own situation. While we would like you to answer all the questions in this questionnaire, you may skip any questions that you do not wish to answer. Even if you feel you must skip a question, your answers to other questions will still be important to us.

Your participation is entirely voluntary, and if you choose to complete the survey, all of your responses will remain completely confidential and will not be linked to your name. All study results will be aggregated and will not be used to rate or report on NIH Institutes, Centers, or Study Sections.

Thank you very much for your participation.

A. ABOUT YOU


This section asks for information about you and your involvment in the modular grant application process.

A1.   Since 1999, have any of the grant applications in any of your study sections been modular?

Yes - Approximately what percentage of these grants have been modular? Your best estimate is sufficient  %
No
 
A2.   Have any of the grant applications in any of your study sections been nonmodular?

Yes
No
 
A3.   How many years have you been an SRA?

 
A4.   What type of SRA are you?

CSR SRA
Non-CSR SRA
 
A5.   Have you ever served on a modular grants implementation committee or workgroup?

Yes
No
 
A6.   Have you ever been a principal investigator?

Yes - Have you received an R01 award?
 
Yes
No
No
 
A7.   Have you ever been a peer reviewer for NIH?

Yes
No
 
A8.   Which NIH Institute/Center (IC) do you work for?

Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD)

B. KNOWLEDGE AND ASSESSMENT OF THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS


NIH is concerned that some aspects of the modular grant application process may present difficulties for you and other scientific review administrators (SRAs). Therefore, we would like you to identify the modular grant elements that you think need clarification. Below is a list of actual key features of the modular grant application process. Please check one box for each line that indicates how well you understand these features.
B1.   Features of the modular grant application process

This feature is clear to me This feature is not clear to me I have never heard about this feature
a.   There is no routine escalation for future years
b.   One or more additional modules may be requested during a particular year to cover an unusual cost fluctuation (such as a piece of equipment)
c.   Additional narrative budget justification is needed for any variation in the number of modules requested
d.   A separate form labeled "Other Support" does not appear in the modular grant application
e.   Narrative budget justification is needed only for personnel and consortium/contractual arrangements
f.   Individual salary information is not required for personnel
g.   The total cost of the consortium/contractual arrangement is included in the requested modular direct cost total
h.   Biographical sketches need to be prepared for all key personnel
i.   Biographical sketches should include the goals of current and recently completed research projects (federal and non-federal)
j.   All forms for modular grant applications are available on the NIH website
k.   Some form pages are different for a modular grant application than for a nonmodular grant application
 
B2.   Features of the peer review process

This feature is clear to me This feature is not clear to me I have never heard about this feature
a.   Peer reviewers can recommend that modules be cut from a proposed research budget
b.   Peer reviews should not recommend specific percentages be cut from a proposed research budget
c.   If peer reviewers want to recommend changes (e.g., in staffing, percent effort, specific aims, etc.) but a cost reduction in modules can’t be determined, the peer reviewer recommendations should be described in the budget section of the review without assigning an amount
d.   If peer reviewers recommend changes (e.g., in staffing, percent effort, specific aims, etc.) without recommending corresponding dollar amounts, IC staff will request specific budget information from the PI and will adjust the budget at the time the award is made
e.   IC staff can make additional budget reductions to a modular grant
f.   Program and grants management staff never receive a detailed budget from a PI who is awarded a modular grant
 
B3.   Before taking this survey, had you ever heard of the following goals of the modular grant application process?

Yes No
a.   Reduce administrative burden for Scientific Review Administrators
b.   Focus the efforts of Scientific Review Administrators on the scientific content of the grant application
c.   Reinforce the grant-in-aid philosophy (i.e., the government’s assisting in carrying out the research endeavor) as opposed to the contract mentality (i.e., buying research dollar-for-dollar)
d.   Accommodate principal investigators’ need for flexibility
e.   Eliminate budgetary negotiations between PIs and NIH program staff
 
B4.   In your opinion, to what extent has the modular grant application process achieved the following goals:

Not at all To some extent To a large extent Don't know/Can't rate
a.   Reduce administrative burden for Scientific Review Administrators
b.   Focus the efforts of Scientific Review Administrators on the scientific content of the grant application
c.   Reinforce the grant-in-aid philosophy (i.e., the government’s assisting in carrying out the research endeavor) as opposed to the contract mentality (i.e., buying research dollar-for-dollar)
d.   Accommodate principal investigators’ need for flexibility
e.   Eliminate budgetary negotiations between PIs and NIH program staff
 
B5.   Do you think there are other reasons for the implementation of the modular grant application process?

Yes - Please specifiy
No
 
B6.   Have you ever obtained information on the modular grant application process?

Yes
No
 
B7.   Below are possible sources of information on the modular grant application process. Please indicate whether you have obtained information from any of these sources. Check all that apply.

NIH web site/NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
IRG Chief and/or staff training
NIH Training
Other SRA at NIH
NIH Office of Extramural Research staff
NIH program staff
NIH grants management staff
Other (please specify):

C. YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS

This section asks you about your experience with the modular grant application process. Please check the box that indicates how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.
 
If you do not have experience with nonmodular grant applications in your study section, some of the items in this part of the survey may not apply to you. For these items, please select "Don't know/Not applicable".


Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Not applicable
C1.   The modular grant application process has not affected my job as an SRA
C2.   The lack of a detailed budget helps me focus on the scientific content of the applications
C3.   The modular grant application process has negatively affected the working relationship between me and the peer reviewers
C4.   As a direct result of the modular grant application process, discussions about the budgets in my study section are much more limited
C5.   Due to Just-In-Time, my job as an SRA is easier now because I don’t need to obtain IRB or IACUC approvals received by the PI after application submission
 
C6.   As a direct result of the modular grant application process, my overall study section meeting time has...

Increased significantly
Increased slightly
Remained the same
Decreased slightly
Decreased significantly
 
C7.   Please think about the average amount of study section meeting time spent discussing one applicant’s budget. Compared to a nonmodular budget, study section meeting time devoted to discussing a modular budget takes...

Much more time
Somewhat more time
About the same amount of time
Somewhat less time
Much less time
 
C8.   As a direct result of the modular grant application process my responsibilities as an SRA have:

Increased significantly
Increased slightly
Remained the same
Decreased slightly
Decreased significantly

D. YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS

This section asks your opinions about the modular grant application process. Check the box that indicates how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements. Please think only about your own opinions, not those of peer reviewers.



Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Not applicable
D1.   Peer reviewers can assess the scientific merit of a modular grant application without a detailed budget
D2.   Peer reviewers can assess the scientific merit of a modular grant application without "Other Support" pages
D3.   Making recommendations to cut a module is viewed by reviewers as not very important because the PI will ultimately be awarded the amount originally requested
D4.   Peer reviewers need to see a detailed budget to understand the proposed research project in a modular grant application
D5.   The lack of a detailed budget helps reviewers focus on the scientific content of a modular grant application
D6.   Reviewers generally know how much a proposed research project should cost
D7.   Since the modular grant applications only list total costs, new reviewers should receive training on how to determine whether or not proposed costs are reasonable
D8.   Reviewers aren’t comfortable recommending budget cuts without being able to view a detailed budget
D9.   Listing dollar value totals for major categories (personnel, travel, etc.) would be a good compromise between a detailed budget and a modular budget
 
We are interested in your perceptions about the modular grant application process. For the question below, please check one box for each line that comes closest to what you think.
 
 
D10.   As a direct result of the modular grant application process, my perception is that:

Increased Stayed the same Decreased
a.   The average amount of funding requested has
b.   The average size of award (dollar amount) has
 

E. YOUR SATISFACTION WITH THE MODULAR GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS


Finally, we would like to know your general thoughts about and satisfaction with the modular grant application process. Please be as detailed as you like in your responses to the open-ended questions. Again, we appreciate your feedback very much.

 
E1.   Overall, how satisfied are you with the modular grant application process?

Very satisfied
Satisfield
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
Dissatisfied
Very dissatisfied
 
E2.   Would you prefer the modular grant limit be higher than $250,000?

Yes - Why?
No - Why not?
Not sure/don't know
 
E3.   What aspects of the modular grant application process do you like?

 
E4.   What aspects of the modular grant application process do you dislike?