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Awards to USA Individuals and Groups to Recognize Exceptional Neuroscience Research Practices

NINDS Rigor Champions Prize


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
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Geographic Focus

Important Dates
Deadline: 12/15/23 11:59 PM EST Save

Grant Description
Awards to USA individuals and groups to recognize exceptional efforts in neuroscience research practices. The purpose of the award is to honor individuals who have emphasized transparency and demonstrated dedication to research rigor. Examples of eligible research activities include the creation of new educational materials, seminar series, and new management systems to ensure research quality.

The Office of Research Quality at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is announcing the “NINDS Rigor Champions Prize”. This Challenge will recognize individuals or small teams who have promoted or enhanced research rigor and transparency practices above and beyond their typical job duties (e.g., beyond the expected rigor and transparency practices applied to one’s own research projects) and have contributed to changing the culture of science on a local (e.g., laboratory, departmental) or broader (e.g., institution-wide, national, field-wide) level to enhance awareness or practice of research rigor and transparency. NINDS considers such individuals to be “rigor champions”. Widely applicable rigor and transparency practices submitted to this Challenge should be applicable to neuroscience research relevant to the NINDS mission:

Rigorous research practices and transparent reporting are integral to the scientific process and help ensure high-quality and robust research findings. For the purpose of this Challenge, rigor and transparency practices are defined as efforts to improve the design, execution, analysis, and reporting of experiments to minimize the risk of bias and/or chance observations, especially for confirmatory or hypothesis-testing experiments (see NINDS applicant guidelines for specific example practices: However, these practices are not always aligned with the typical metrics and incentives used for publishing, hiring, and tenure and promotion. Individual (or small teams of) rigor champions have the power to change behaviors, attitudes, and policies in their local networks, but this work often goes unrecognized or unrewarded. NINDS is dedicated to improving research rigor and transparency in the neurosciences (see the NINDS strategic plan section on rigor and transparency) by identifying and recognizing rigor champions working to improve the scientific enterprise.

The goals of this prize are to:

  1. Identify individuals or small teams (up to 5 individuals) of rigor champions who are exemplars of promoting enhanced research rigor and transparency practices beyond their normal job duties that are relevant to the neuroscience community and the biomedical community at-large;
  2. Recognize and reward these rigor champions for these efforts; and
  3. Raise awareness of these efforts more broadly.

This Challenge seeks creative and effective approaches to changing research culture around rigorous and transparent research practices that have been tested or employed by the Participant(s). These approaches can be on a small scale or a much larger one, and they can be driven by an individual or a small team. Promoting rigorous research practices and transparent reporting involves many members of the scientific community, so NIS encourages submissions from all rigor champions, including trainees and other early-career researchers, administrators, librarians, staff scientists, faculty, and other integral members of the scientific community from diverse disciplines and types of organizations. Critical to this Challenge is evidence of changing the culture around rigorous research practices relevant to neuroscience and not simply employing rigorous research practices.

Examples of activities that would be responsive to this Challenge include, but are not limited to:

  • Journal clubs or a seminar series focused on discussing and highlighting the principles of rigorous research and transparent reporting to raise awareness in the local scientific community (e.g., a Neuroscience Department, a Ph.D. training program)
  • Creation of new educational materials or services focused on enhancing training in the principles of rigorous research practices and transparent reporting
  • Implementation of a new quality management system or infrastructure for ensuring research quality in a single lab that then spreads to other labs
  • Campaigns to change policy or procedure to improve career incentive structures (e.g., research quality assessment during hiring, promotion/tenure, or student graduation requirements)
  • Creative awards to recognize and value individuals who publish null results, champion rigor and transparency practices, or do important replication or quality control work
  • Additional activities found in this publication; eLife, 2020


Additional Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, a Participant (whether an individual or group of individuals) —
a. Shall have registered to participate in the Challenge under the rules promulgated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as published in this announcement;
b. Shall have complied with all the requirements set forth in this announcement;
c. In the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. However, non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents can participate as a member of a team that otherwise satisfies the eligibility criteria. Their participation as part of a winning team, if applicable, may be recognized when the results are announced. Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents participating as individuals are not eligible to win a monetary prize (in whole or in part), but may be recognized with an Honorable Mention.
d. Shall be 18 years of age or older at the time of submission.

NINDS upholds that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogeneous teams. In line with this commitment, this Challenge encourages Submissions from all rigor champions, particularly those who are underrepresented in racial and ethnic groups and/or those with disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds.

- Shall not be a federal entity or federal employee acting within the scope of their employment;
- Shall not be an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, or any other component of HHS) acting in their personal capacity;
- Who is employed by a federal agency or entity other than HHS (or any component of HHS), should consult with an agency ethics official to determine whether the federal ethics rules will limit or prohibit the acceptance of a prize under this Challenge;
- Shall not be a judge of the Challenge, or any other party involved with the design, production, execution, or distribution of the Challenge or the immediate family of such a party (i.e., spouse, parent, step-parent, child, or step-child);

Participants (whether an individual or group of individuals) may not use federal funds from a grant award or cooperative agreement to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.

Federal contractors may not use federal funds from a contract to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.

Activities that would not be responsive to this Challenge:
- Activities with a focus outside of the scope of rigor and transparency practices (e.g., specific scientific techniques, personnel practices, or policies not being modified to increase or incentivize higher research quality)
- Activities with a focus on researcher integrity (e.g., ethics, misconduct) rather than processes dedicated to enhancing research quality via enhanced rigor and transparency
- Activities already required by NIH policies or funding stipulations (e.g., training in Responsible Conduct of Research, fulfillment of T32 award requirements)

Pre-Application Information
- 05/15/23: Submission open
- The completed registration form and all submission materials must be submitted to the portal by 11:59 PM Eastern time on December 15th, 2023.
- 12/16/23: Pre-screening and Initial Judging begins
- 01/16/24: Final Selection begins
- 03/15/24: Winners announced

Individuals agree to enter only one submission in this Challenge. If participating as a team, each Team member agrees to enter only one submission in this Challenge.

To learn more, watch this informational video:

Additional Funding Information

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants
Up to 5

Estimated Size of Grant
$10,000 each

Contact Information

Contact the Challenge.Gov team at to learn how to get started.

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