Working the NIH part 4 – the Office of Extramural Research

Prelude (added after the fact): I started to write this about what reviewers are told. if you google “guidelines for reviewers” your first link is to an out of date page. I’m even not including the link. The better place to start is the Peer Review Policies and Practices page, which you can also get to from the Office of Extramural Research page (OER). Then I started writing about the OER, and realized that its worth a post of its own.

This post is less hands-on info, and more background you need to know. I learned a few things in writing this. Once again, the NIH website is huge and full of all sorts of goodness like a cream filled cupcake. Except its bigger than a cupcake, and much harder to swallow. Learning where to start looking for what you want is as important as learning what you need to know, let alone knowing it (knowing the question, knowing how to find the answer, and then at some point in time, t, where t is big, finding the answer). In my experience, googleing NIH and any modifier seldom gets you what you want, and often gets you out of date stuff (very bad potential outcome). One does better by finding a current link and following it. That’s part of my goal in this series. Without further ado, the OER:

The OER is where our good friend Sally Rockey lives. Here is what she says about the OER:

What is OER’s role? We provide the leadership, oversight, tools and guidance needed to administer and manage NIH grants policies and operations. Our resources can offer you vital assistance in applying for funding, the first step in reaching your research goals. I encourage you to contact our office or email me directly anytime.


OER Mission:  Provides the corporate framework for NIH research administration, ensuring scientific integrity, public accountability, and effective stewardship of the NIH extramural research portfolio.

Here is a diagram version of what the OER does:

oer fig

It does read like boring admin stuff for which showing up is 90% of success. But they set lots of policy, like giving new or young investigators a bump in score (the link is to the annual report, something I never thought I’d read, but who knew, it has useful info in it).

Other OER things you need:

I could go on, but this is a good start to a list of what OER does, as well as motivation to go to the main OER page.

But what they also have, that got me started on this post, are links for reviewers on how to review. This is one of the most important steps in writing a grant, and writing to these guidelines is a very good idea, indeed. For example, I almost always include a sentence that starts “this project is innovative because…” and “The significance of this work is…:”. Make it easy for the reviewer by giving them what they are looking to put in their review. Read this after you have started writing (and figured out what goes in a grant).


One thought on “Working the NIH part 4 – the Office of Extramural Research

  1. Pingback: Triaged Grants (and a Passover Lesson) | Mistress of the Animals

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