New Investigator Award Evaluation Criteria

AACP Resource

Phase 1

The following criteria (point values in parenthesis) will be used by the disciplinary review panels in evaluating applications. Please refer to the criteria and point values below below as a guide for the preparation of NIA application. A reviewer may utilize continuous whole numbers when scoring each criterion. Example: If a reviewer determines the Nature of the Project to be between “Excellent” and “Satisfactory,” a score of 4 points may be given.

Criteria

Nature of Project

  • Excellent (5 points): Provides a clear, concise, and thorough background, structure, and scope of the project.
  • Satisfactory (3 points): Provides partial background, structure, and scope of the project.
  • Needs Improvement (1 point): Provides minimal background, structure, and scope.
  • Omitted (0 points): Background, structure, and scope not provided. 

Specific Aims

  • Excellent (15 points): Goals are defined and appropriate. A testable hypothesis is clearly stated.
  • Satisfactory (8 points): A majority of goals are defined, appropriate and testable.
  • Needs Improvement (3 points): A minority of goals are defined, appropriate and testable.
  • Omitted (0 points): Goals are inappropriate and/or untestable.

Significance of the Project

  • Excellent (15 points): The research proposed is likely to add significantly to the current relevant literature with a stated plan to disseminate the results and contribute to the generation of future research.
  • Satisfactory (8 points): The research proposed has the potential to be used as preliminary data for more substantial research in the same area and a stated plan for result dissemination. 
  • Needs Improvement (3 points): The research proposed is unlikely to add to the body of evidence that currently exists in the field and is unlikely to be widely disseminated. 
  • Omitted (0 points): Project significance not stated and has no plan for dissemination of results. 

Methods I: Methods to Be Used in the Study

  • Excellent (20 points): Provides a clear explanation of appropriate methods and are appropriate for testing the study hypothesis. They are sound and workable within the one-year time frame including sufficient collaborative support when needed. There is adequate recognition and discussion of the limitations.
  • Satisfactory (12 points): Provides adequate explanation of methods. There is room for improvement with the proposed research techniques. Limitations have not been properly considered.
  • Needs Improvement (6 points): Provides an unorganized explanation of poor methods. It is unlikely the methods will produce the proposed data.
  • Omitted (0 points): Methods not provided or inappropriate for goals or objectives.

Methods II: Data Analysis and Interpretation

  • Excellent (15 points): Provides clear evidence the Principal Investigator can efficiently evaluate the data with proper statistical measures.
  • Satisfactory (8 points): Provides adequate evidence the Principal Investigator can obtain the data, statistics are appropriate and limitations of data have been considered.
  • Needs Improvement (3 points): Unclear if the Principal Investigator can obtain the data or evaluate the outcome of the data appropriately.
  • Omitted (0 points):  Data analysis methods not provided.

Timeline

  • Excellent (5 points): The project is appropriate for a one-year time frame. 
  • Satisfactory (3 points): The project is appropriate for a one-year time frame but requires modification to ensure timeline is met.
  • Needs Improvement (1 point): Questionable project for completion within one-year time frame, requires significant modification to meet timeline.
  • Omitted (0 points): The project is not appropriate for a one-year time frame.

Contribution to Career

  • Excellent (15 points): Purpose of the project is clearly stated in relation to past and future scholarship interests of the applicant and will assist in future grant proposals.
  • Satisfactory (8 points): Purpose of the project is vaguely stated in relation to past and/or future research interests of the applicant but will assist in future grant proposals.
  • Needs Improvement (3 points): Purpose of the project is unclear in relation to the applicant's past and future research interests. 
  • Omitted (0 points): The contribution to the applicant’s career is not provided.

Budget Justification

  • Excellent (10 points): The salary, equipment, and supply items requested in the budget are consistent and justified by the proposed methods.
  • Satisfactory (5 points): The salary, equipment, and supply items requested are consistent but not justified by the proposed methods.
  • Needs Improvement (3 points): The salary, equipment and supply items requested are not justified by the proposed methods. 
  • Omitted (0 points): Justification for budget not stated. 

Phase 2

After evaluation of proposals by disciplinary review panels, top scoring proposals from each disciplinary section are compared to each other using scores and reviewer comments from Phase 1. The NIA Review Committee will provide an overall impact score based on a modified NIH 9-point scale:

  • 1 = Exceptional (Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses)
  • 2 = Outstanding (Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses)
  • 3 = Excellent (Very strong with only some minor weaknesses)
  • 4 = Very Good (Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses)
  • 5 = Good (Strong but with at least one moderate weakness)

The NIA scoring system differs from NIH in a few ways:

  • Scores ranging from 6-9, representing satisfactory or low impact proposals, are not used. This is because proposals that would score in this range are not brought forward from Phase 1 for further consideration.
  • Proposals are scored by members of the NIA Review Committee to one decimal place (e.g. 2.2). Immediately prior to scoring a proposal, the Review Committee agrees to a half-point range (e.g., 1.0-1.5, 1.6-2.0, 2.1-2.5, etc.) from which individual scores are submitted.
  • If a disciplinary section puts forward multiple proposals for consideration, no more than two may have the same score range.

Top scoring proposals in this phase will be recommended for funding. Note: COS Board Members will have final discretion to assign awards based on recommendations of the full NIA Review Committee. Preference will be given to provide each disciplinary section at least one award provided it is considered viable and of high scientific merit.