Beginning in Spring 2021, The BRAIN Initiative® will include a new component in most FOAs requiring that applications include a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) in the proposed research. When a PEDP is required, applications submitted without such a plan will be considered incomplete and will be withdrawn prior to peer review. Evaluation of the applicant’s PEDP will be made during the peer review stages as part of the scorable criteria and during programmatic reviews, and will be used to inform funding decisions.
last updated: July 21st, 2021
I. General FAQs
1. What is a PEDP?
A PEDP or “Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives” is a summary of strategies to advance the scientific and technical merit of the proposed project through inclusivity. The PEDP is submitted as a 1-page “Other Attachment” to be included in grant applications submitted in response to specified Funding Opportunity Announcements. Please see the PEDP Overview and the Key Elements and Examples.
2. What does "diverse perspectives" mean for a research project?
Broadly, diverse perspectives refer to the people WHO* do the research and the places WHERE** research is done, as well as WHO PARTICIPATES *** in the research as part of the study population.
*WHO: The inclusion and empowerment of investigators and trainees from a variety of backgrounds, including those historically underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce (see NOT-OD-20-031), and investigators from different scientific disciplines, at varying career stages, and with varied skills, experience, and expertise.
**WHERE: Participation of researchers from all relevant sectors, including diverse organizations and institutions (e.g., research intensive and research active, undergraduate, minority-serving, community-based etc.). Historically, largely well-resourced academic and research institutions have competed successfully for BRAIN Initiative funding. The goal is to broaden The BRAIN Initiative®’s reach by supporting projects, partnerships, and collaborations at institutions and organizations that, to date, have not been part of BRAIN Initiative-funded work. The expectation is that by broadening its support (e.g. geographically and/or to different institutions and organizations), The BRAIN Initiative® will simultaneously advance the goals of the individual projects as well as the mission of The BRAIN Initiative®.
***WHO PARTICIPATES: To realize the broadest benefits to human health impacting all segments of the population, The BRAIN Initiative® is committed to promoting equity in research participation. To that end, maximum effort is encouraged to engage and recruit diverse participants for human studies. To make findings broadly relevant, it is expected that studies that use human tissues or cells will collect and use specimens derived from varied ancestries. Any projects involving human participants or samples derived from humans should be collected in an ethically sound manner and consented appropriately. These guidelines are a part of the overarching neuroethical considerations included in the NIH BRAIN Initiative. For more information on neuroethics, please visit https://braininitiative.nih.gov/brain-programs/neuroethics.
3. Why is the PEDP included in BRAIN Initiative grant applications?
It is widely accepted that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Accordingly, the NIH’s commitment to diversity is well documented (NOT-OD-20-031). Similarly, the recognition of the value of diverse perspectives derived from a variety of experiences, training, backgrounds, and skill sets has also been emphasized in the initial BRAIN 2025 Report, as well as the subsequent BRAIN Initiative 2.0 and Neuroethics Reports.
The inclusion of a PEDP represents explicit alignment of research activities, peer review, and research funding considerations with the BRAIN Initiative’s commitment to advance the scientific and technical merit of BRAIN Initiative research projects through expanded inclusivity.
4. Has an emphasis on diverse perspectives previously been included in BRAIN Initiative Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)?
Since its inception, The BRAIN Initiative® has supported cutting-edge science through a variety of funding mechanisms. Several BRAIN Initiative training and career development opportunities have included a focus on workforce diversity. These include K99/R00 (see RFA-NS-19-043, RFA-NS-19-044) and diversity supplement awards (see PA-21-071). The PEDP extends this emphasis to research project funding mechanisms and promotes the inclusion of diverse perspectives more broadly.
5. What should be included in a PEDP?
Within the 1-page PEDP summary, applicant(s) are expected to show how enhancing diverse perspectives is supported throughout the application and how this strengthens the scientific and technical merit of the project (in terms of significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment), as appropriate. The PEDP will depend on the content and structure of the scientific aims, the expertise required, the environment, and the performance site(s). The PEDP should include a timeline and milestones for relevant components that will be evaluated as part of the review. Within the research strategy, applicant(s) are expected to align their description with the strategies summarized in the PEDP. Please see the PEDP Key Elements and Examples.
6. Will a PEDP be required in all types of BRAIN Initiative grants?
The PEDP policy will be included in new, selected funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). It will apply to many BRAIN Initiative research grant FOAs published April 2021 and beyond. FOAs with a PEDP requirement will include specific instructions, and evaluative questions related to the PEDP will be included in the review criteria.
7. Does the PEDP apply to competing continuations as well as new applications?
The updated PEDP policy applies to any applications submitted to BRAIN Initiative FOAs that include the PEDP requirement, regardless of whether the submission is a new application (an "-01"), a resubmission (an "A1"), or a competing continuation (a "Type 2").
8. What guidance on the PEDP is available for applicants?
For guidance and other materials please see the PEDP Overview and the Key Elements and Examples.. Questions not covered in these FAQs can be directed to <BRAINInitiative_PEDP@nih.gov>. Additional guidance and FAQs will be updated as needed.
1. Where in applications should the PEDP information be addressed?
The PEDP information should be included in the "Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives" under “Other attachments” (see Section IV of FOA, 1-page limit) and where appropriate, within the research strategy section. The 1-page PEDP attachment should:
- include a summary of strategies of expanded inclusivity to advance the scientific and technical merit of the proposed project.
- outline how enhancing diverse perspectives is viewed and supported throughout the application.
- incorporate strategies relevant to each of the review criteria (significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment), as appropriate.
- include a timeline and milestones for relevant components that will be considered as part of the review.
Within the Research Strategy, applicant(s) should align their description with the PEDP strategies and milestones, and are encouraged to refer to information included in the PEDP attachment. The content of the PEDP will depend on the content and structure of the scientific aims, the required expertise, the environment, and the performance site(s). Please see the PEDP Key Elements and Examples.
2. Are there examples of the types of strategies that might be part of a PEDP?
The BRAIN Initiative® anticipates that every PEDP will be unique and will depend on the content and structure of the scientific aims, the required expertise, the environment, and the performance site(s). Examples of strategies that advance inclusivity in research and may be part of a PEDP can include, but are not limited to the list provided here <https://braininitiative.nih.gov/about/pedp-key-elements-and-examples>.
3. Is there a PEDP template or example available?
No. A PEDP template or example is not available because the PEDP will depend on the content and structure of the scientific aims, required expertise, the environment, and performance site(s). Please see the PEDP Key Elements and Examples.
4. Does a grant application need to include every strategy listed in the PEDP Key Elements and Examples?
No. The details of the PEDP will depend on the content and structure of the scientific aims, the required expertise, the environment, and the performance site(s). Applicants are asked to explain how the proposed research project will benefit from the diverse perspectives described in the application. They are expected to provide a rationale for the inclusion of different PEDP strategies and how these strategies strengthen the research project.
5. Are there specific type(s) of diversity that are preferred?
No. The BRAIN Initiative® encourages innovative approaches that support scientific excellence by fostering inclusivity and promoting culture change. The BRAIN Initiative® has always placed strong emphasis on the inclusion of investigators representing diverse disciplines of science. The PEDP seeks to broaden this approach beyond scientific disciplines to include career stage, investigator background, partnerships, collaborations, etc. that advance the goals of the project (see the PEDP Key Elements and Examples.).
6. Can a PEDP include perspectives related to gender identity and/or sexual orientation?
The NIH BRAIN Initiative strives to promote inclusivity broadly. Related components might include BRAIN-relevant questions and approaches to advance rigorous research on the health of sexual and gender diverse populations, foster partnerships and collaborations with experts and communities, and develop and support a highly skilled and diverse workforce.
7. What makes a strong PEDP?
Reviewers will evaluate the PEDP based on the criteria specified in Section V of the FOA. Briefly, the PEDP should reflect careful consideration of how to maximize diverse perspectives within the research project and outline the benefits. It should also provide rationale for the selected types of PEDP strategies and include a timeline and milestones for relevant PEDP components.
8. Are foreign collaborations considered to enhance diverse perspectives?
While an emphasis on U.S.-based geographic diversity is encouraged, foreign collaborations may be considered to enhance geographic and regional diversity, if justified as described in III.5. Consistent with NIH policy, foreign components will be subject to additional review requirements (see NIH Grants Policy Statement section 16).
9. If costs increase as a result of the PEDP, can funds be requested to support the PEDP?
Applicants may include a request for allowable costs associated with PEDP implementation (see NIH Grants Policy Statement section 7).
1. How will reviewers be instructed to evaluate the PEDP?
PEDP considerations will be included in each of the scored review criteria (Significance, Innovation, Investigators, Approach, and Environment). Reviewers are asked to consider the strengths and weaknesses associated with each of the review criteria and weigh them appropriately. Thus, the PEDP evaluation will contribute to the criterion scores and overall impact score of each application. It is expected that a PEDP judged by reviewers as insufficient can negatively impact criterion score(s) and overall impact score.
2. What will happen to an application with its PEDP judged by reviewers as insufficient?
A PEDP judged by reviewers as insufficient may result in poorer criterion scores and overall impact score. The reviewers are instructed to evaluate all components of the application as reflected in Section V of the FOA. As such, peer reviewers will evaluate the PEDP as part of each of the scored review criteria, and in the overall impact score.
3. Is training on the PEDP available for reviewers?
Reviewers will be directed to the guidance materials available to applicants. In addition, review panels will be provided with opportunities to learn more about the PEDP ahead of any scheduled review meetings.
IV. Administrative Issues
- Is a PEDP “Other Attachment” required?
Yes. Applications that fail to include the required PEDP “Other Attachment” will be considered incomplete and will be withdrawn prior to review.
- Will the PEDP be considered in programmatic funding decisions?
Yes. As a whole, the following will be considered in making programmatic funding decisions:
- Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
- Availability of funds.
- Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities, including the PEDP.
- What post-award oversight of the PEDP will be expected?
As part of their required progress report, investigators will be asked for updates on the implementation of the PEDP in their annual NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR). Investigators should describe progress in the PEDP based on the goals, timelines, and milestones outlined in the application and/or in response to the reviewers’ comments as well as on any additional elements recommended by the study section and/or program staff. If sufficient information is not provided in the progress report, program officials may request the additional information needed to assess satisfactory progress.
- What administrative actions can be taken if a research project does not meet its PEDP objectives?
In cases where an investigator encounters challenges in meeting their PEDP objectives, Program Officers (POs) can request an interim progress report with clear explanation of the difficulties, as well as the actions taken to overcome them. In response, POs may suggest alternative approaches, request an interim progress report, or issue a no-cost extension, to delay the noncompeting renewal until the difficulties are resolved. Broadly speaking, failure to meet expectations agreed upon by the Recipient and the NIH/IC may result in Enforcement Actions as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement section 8.5.2.