In a Grant Proposal

Measures strongly influence the quality and effectiveness of data collected in a research study. Review factors to consider when choosing a measure for your research study.

Recognizing the value of research data that can be shared, compared and combined across studies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) encourages investigators to use common data elements (CDEs) in basic, clinical, and applied research.

CDEs: Data elements that have been identified and defined for use in multiple data sets across different studies.


The NIH Resource Portal can help investigators identify NIH-supported CDEs--including PROMIS®, Neuro-QoL, and NIH Toolbox®--for use in protocols, case report forms, and other data collection instruments. The Portal includes tables showing CDEs for specific subject areas (e.g., neurology) and guidance for their use.
Currently, some NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) encourage investigators to consult the Portal and describe in applications how they will use NIH-supported CDEs.

Currently, the NIH scored review criterion “Approach” specifies the question, “Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?” This criterion includes evaluating whether a measure is appropriate, and hence could influence the overall impact score of a grant or cooperative agreement proposal.

An NIH Institute & Center may sponsor a funding announcement (e.g., an RFA or PAR) and specify additional “review criteria” requiring that NIH peer reviewers evaluate if the grant or cooperative agreement proposal has been responsive to the use of an NIH-supported common data element (CDE) or a particular measure. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), for example, encourages the use of all four batteries of the NIH Toolbox in funded studies. If a proposal is not responsive to such specifications, this could influence the overall impact score.

Investigators proposing the use of PROMIS measures in research studies can use this model text to describe PROMIS. Also review the Validation pages for each measurement system on this site for suggestions on how to support use of a HealthMeasure in a grant proposal.

Most domains in the HealthMeasures systems have manuscripts with detailed descriptions of instrument development (e.g., see development paper for smoking banks). Manuscripts also have been written describing the cross-domain instrument development and methodology. Review the Measurement Development & Research pages for each measurement system on this site for guidance.