Tracking publication outcomes of National Institutes of Health grants



      The peer-review literature is the primary medium through which the findings of funded research are evaluated by and disseminated to the broader scientific community. This study examines when and how grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lead to publications.


      Data on all investigator-initiated R01 grants funded during 1996 (n = 18 211) were extracted from the NIH’s Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects Web site. These data were linked with all MEDLINE articles published during and up through 4 years after completion of each grant using NIH grant numbers reported in the manuscript. Analyses examined the number, timing, and correlates of all linked publications and publications in core journals (179 journals, comprising the top 100 Institute for Scientific Information or 120 Abridged Index Medicus journals).


      On average, each grant produced 7.6 MEDLINE manuscripts (95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.47 to 7.69) and 1.61 publications in a core journal (95% CI: 1.56 to 1.65). In multivariable analyses among universities, more manuscripts and publications in core journals were seen for competing renewals versus new grants, for projects reviewed by basic science study sections, for full professors, and for universities with graduate programs ranked in the top 10 by US News and World Report. However, all grant, investigator, and institutional strata produced substantial numbers of publications per grant.


      The findings support the feasibility and potential utility of efforts to study the link between grant funding and research findings, an early step in the process by which funded science leads to improved clinical and public health.


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