The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the world’s largest funding agency with a mission to support biomedical research, enhance the average lifespan, and reduce illness and disabilities. It invests more than $31 billion annually in R&D through 24-27 different institutes and centers (ICs) that administer funding programs in the form of intramural and extramural support. This support – awarded to more than 300,000 scientists – aims to encourage, finance, and advance public health research initiatives with the potential of contributing to the collective scientific technology and pharmaceutical health progress.
The comprehensive structure of the NIH grant awards is primarily to:
- Simplify the process for new and/or early-stage investigator as well as for senior research scientists
- Acquire funding for thought-provoking research projects and promising health-care service proposals.
The NIH programs help prepare individuals for a career in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research by funding cutting-edge research (Collier, 2009)
During the period of 2010-2015, the NIH funded research that led to the development of 210 clinically-approved new drugs, which were identified through the drug discovery practice, and 84 of these were developed through unidentified mechanisms until that time. In pursuing this mission, the NIH not only focuses on health improvement but also economically contributes to society by creating growth and productivity. Record and evidence of these wide-ranging, consequential, and long term activities used to be accumulated from a variety of formal/informal sources, ranging from individual investigations, studies conducted by different institutes, or through the extensive analyses of the NIH institutions with its complicated directorial as well as execution policies on the whole, until the NIH integrated the public accountability into its undertakings by providing general access to its research data.
The NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) makes the research activities data as well as ever-changing trends in funded research, available for public viewing. It also includes information, analysis, and different reports on NIH expenditures along with the research outcomes. In this article, we are going to discuss RePORT by means of understanding the purpose, advantages, and disadvantages of establishing such a platform and what it means for researches pursuing careers in science.What is Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)
The RePORT is an online platform, which was created in an effort to provide a searchable database of the varying activities that take place at the NIH institutes and centers such as:
- Grant programs information to scientific publications
- Inventions resulting from NIH funded research projects
- Federal investment liability
The purpose of RePORT is to encourage transparency amongst the scientific community, which in turn increases the integrity of science funding procedures. The database is programmed in a manner that invites and engages agency representatives with the public to sustain debates on the research expenditure, policies, and results backed by experimental data and statistics. (Berg and Ashurst, 2019)
Besides the virtual audit of the NIH expenditures, the RePORT tool takes the user to the following gateways for the information about scientists, funded projects and subsequent inventions, rights exclusive publications, and tax money expenditure:
Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC)
In a bid to keep people aware of their tax money expenditure, in 2009, the NIH assimilated the RCDC record into the RePORT tool website. The RCDC comprises of more than 280 categories of research fields, diseases, and conditions. This online board is used by the NIH staff to publish the funding support each of the listed disease, condition, or research has been granted. All of the research projects that were funded by the NIH are present on the RCDC correlating each category. The user can view the full project report and listings by clicking the individual category as well as print or download this reliable and transparent information.
RePORTER (RePORT Expenditures and Results)
The RePORTER module is basically one of the many tools provided on the RePORT website to access information about scientists, funded projects, and subsequent inventions, project summaries, rights exclusive publications through the grand database. Additionally, you can browse through the funded researchers along with funded projects, which can serve to benefit you in gauging the plausibility of your research field, competition, and project proposal chances of getting funded.
Interagency Edison (iEdison): iEdison provides assistance to the funding agencies and recipient organizations to comply with federal law in accordance with Bayh-Dole Act of Patent and Trademark Law which instructs entities to maintain ownership while giving license of utilization to a government agency (e.g., NIH) that funded your research project in the first place.
PubMed Central (PMC): PMC is one of the major publicly accessible research databases that was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). It is basically a searchable database of free digital archive of more than 30 million biomedical citations, abstracts, and full-text scholarly articles that are published in the biomedical and life sciences journals. (Powell, 2019)
Some of the other interesting options of the RePORTER include different screenings to narrow down your exploration to relative variables, keywords, and search preferences, such as:
- You, as a user, are allowed to alter Fiscal Year (FY) information in the upper right field of the search template to get updated/uploaded results as per requirement.
- In the same field, you have a choice between search by fiscal year and the default setting of Active Projects, which allows the search results to be more comprehensive than that of FY results.
- If you need to search in relation to RCDC categories, you are allowed to go to the Project Details and incorporate the NIH Spending Category field into your search algorithm.
- For keyword-specific search, RePORTER has a Matchmaker function that lets the user paste in external text for keyword specification or abstract from any scientific paper. You then will be given two option:
- Similar projects
- Similar program officials
- Similar projects option takes you through the categorical data of all the projects the NIH funded in relation to the respective institute and research field.
- You will also find information about other scientists in the same field, which is a great way to seek collaborators or initiate networking.
- In the similar program officials option, you will see the tabled portfolios of the NIH program officers categorized by the number of appropriate projects. If you follow the link through the relevant project number, you will see the awards list that the particular official assisted.
- Register with eRA Commons to be able to access LikeThisfor further information funded projects and publications. LikeThis bears some resemblance with RePORTER’s Matchmaker function, browse through whichever is convenient to you.
- For extramural or intramural funded projects’ publications, follow the RePORTER’s Search Publicationsfeature link. It allows you, as a user, to insert as much as thousand PubMed ID (PMID) numbers to search through the data along with similar publications or citations through PubMed or even Google Scholar.
- To save your search record in RCDC or browsing history in RePORTER at any time, use the Excel Export function. You can download the data as well as upload it to your own data system for later analysis.
All the data – archived from the past 25 years – present on the RePORT Expenditures and Results, RePORTER system, including add-on publications and the NIH funded patents extensions, is provided by the following institutes:
- Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
- All Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (All CDC)
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Veterans Affairs (VA)
- The NIH and all its affiliated Institutes and Centers
The RePORTER brings together information from the following databases on varying degrees of coordination and inclusiveness among the data sources:
- eRA databases
- PubMed Central
- NIH Intramural Database
MyRePORTER is your personalized space where you can save, bookmark, and archive your research material and queries. You need to sign up yourself for MyRePORTER account by following the registration link present on the Query Form as well as on the main login landing page. It is an easy one-step email registration process for such a comprehensive database. If you are a registered member of the RePORTER module, you can make data corrections of genuine errors by submitting a proper request to do so, or – in case of the NIH grantee – you can add omitted information of your grants, such as missing paper.
For Correction: The Contact Us link takes you to a detailed form with different options, but to request a correction, you need to follow through “data quality issues and corrections” selection.
For Missing Papers: The NIH Manuscript Submission System allows the grantees to connect grants and previously published papers by simply following the procedure of eRA Commons log into the manuscript system and hence resulting options in the below stated sequence:
- Manuscript System >> Grants Reporting >> Add from PubMed
You will find all the PubMed papers with a specific name you used for a search, select your paper followed by selecting the grant you wanted to make the addition, and submit the request for the formal process.
The RePORTER registered members are also notified of every new posting and result published on the website, through customized email alerts.The RePORTER has the weekly data-upload cycle. Mostly, it is Sunday of each week on which the grant project information is updated, which in turn should make new entries available by Monday morning. For your project’s official abstract to appear on the server, you are required to wait at least 7 to 10 days after passing the Budget Start Date of your grant award.
Lastly, watch the RePORT Tutorial video for an even better understanding of the NIH resource to be able to avail maximum benefit from the comprehensive repository of research-related funding data along with new developments.
- Collier, R. (2009, February 3). Rapidly Rising Clinical Trial Costs Worry Researchers. CMAJ, 180(3), 277-278. http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.082041
- Ashurst, J., & Berg, E.J. (2019, June 19) Patterns of Recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) Funding in General Surgery: Analysis Using the NIH RePORTER System. Cureus, 11(6), https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4938
- Powell, K. (2019, April 1). Searching by Grant Number: Comparison of Funding Acknowledgements in NIH RePORTER, PubMed, and Web of Science. J Med Libr Assoc, 107(2), 172-178. https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2019.554