NINDS Sustainable Transformation of Institutional Research Rigor (STIRR) Program

June 5, 2023


This notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) aims to support the establishment of programs to enhance research rigor and transparency practices within academic and research institutions to promote a culture of high-quality neuroscience research. Attention to principles of rigorous study design and transparent reporting are essential to enable the neuroscientific community, as well as the biomedical community at large, to design and perform valid experiments and to assess the value of scientific findings. Awards are intended to support the implementation of innovative programs, strategies, and approaches at the departmental, inter-departmental, or equivalent intra-institutional entity level. These organizational entities will provide clarity of vision, comprehensive assistance, effective evaluation, and sustainable commitment to transforming the local scientific culture. Such transformation should improve demonstrably the scientific rigor and transparent reporting of neuroscience research studies performed by investigators within the organizational entity and encourage the adoption of similar measures by the broader research community.


Current scientific career and research incentives often are not aligned with fostering the most rigorous and transparent research practices. Many biomedical publications do not transparently report complete methodologies, analyses, and measures taken at various stages of the research project to ensure rigor and minimize risks of bias (see NINDS guidelines for grant applications for examples of such measures), and recent surveys of researchers suggest this often is due to a lack of practice. This apparent insufficiency of rigor in experimental execution and transparency in reporting may contribute to difficulties in building upon research findings and subsequently may hinder scientific progress. The NINDS Office of Research Quality has implemented prior initiatives and programs to facilitate improved scientific approaches, including the development of educational materials on the principles of rigorous research and support for a community of scientists who champion better research practices. For any such individual efforts to be successful and sustainable, institutions must support and incentivize best practices in performing rigorous research, education in these practices, and community reinforcement.

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