I am a first-time PI of a large multi-year grant (specifically an R01, which is a 4-5 year research grant from the National Institutes of Health). I am looking for resources (e.g., books, detailed blog posts, papers, etc.) that would explain the details of successfully managing my grant, such as:

  • How should I track expenses and manage the budget (e.g., a personal finance software or something else)?
  • How should I track personnel hiring?
  • How should I allocate papers to aims?
  • What do I need to know about communications with the sponsor, such as progress reports?
  • What do I need to know about renewals?
  • What do I need to know that I don't even realize?

(I hope this question is not too broad for Academia Stack Exchange. I considered posting each of the above questions separately, but I'm hoping that the current format might lead me to a one-stop resource like the fictitious Managing Your First R01 For Dummies.)

  • 8
    I don’t understand why your university isn’t managing it. Normally they do it and take a cut.
    – Buffy
    Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


Your institution almost certainly should be handling the finances, talk to your department grants administrator. One of the criteria for NIH grants is that you have an institution supporting you and ensuring compliance with all the rules - that's what they're there for. I have a hard time imagining NIH giving R01 money to someone at an institution that doesn't provide that support.

Papers aren't "allocated" to aims, you'll credit the whole grant when you publish papers. In any event, haven't you already written your research plan for how you are going to approach those aims? Your papers will come out of that plan (and the necessary deviations from plan), not from any optimized allocation strategy. Future grants will depend on your ability to write a comprehensive forward-looking proposal and your overall output from previous funding; they won't go through and see that you've completed each and every aim exactly the way you said you would, but they expect you to make progress overall. It's often impossible to actually plan for an entire multi-year research program ahead of time.

Progress reports aren't competitive and won't affect the funds you have, just make sure you do them, and don't lie.

NIH has an extensive website at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/oer.htm all about grants this page specifically for post-award documentation; it's probably worth doing quite a bit of reading there. I'd be wary about depending on books and blog posts because these can quickly become outdated: go to the NIH itself, they aren't hiding their rules to be dodgy and catch you making a mistake, they have rules for a purpose (sometimes more of a legislative/political purpose rather than scientific) and want people to comply with them. It's your institution's job to keep up to date on this stuff (and a bit yours, too, but it's probably a waste of time for every PI to become familiar with every aspect of NIH grant administration - that's why institutions provide the support and why NIH considers this support crucial).

  • If there seems to be the need to deviate (significantly) from the original plan it might be good to call up the assigned member of the funding institution and discuss how/if to file a change request. (Not sure for NIH but for other agencies this is a possibility)
    – lalala
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 9:32
  • This is helpful. We do of course have grant admins here, but I would think that I should keep at least some records of my own as a sanity check, and I will of course need to be deeply involved with all the other items on my list.
    – half-pass
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 20:31
  • Regarding allocating papers to aims, my understanding was that the RPPR should list which papers fall under each aim.
    – half-pass
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 20:52
  • @half-pass Ah yeah, you're correct about that, but not just papers, you'll write about any progress and work you've done towards each aim. There's nothing about that to strategize though: you should allocate work done toward each aim that is, well, work done toward each aim.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 21:30

You need to be sure to take any training your university offers for grant management. That is almost certainly mandatory, and probably will cover many of these things.

I know the program guide for the NSF has a huge section called "Grant Administration" that covers things like the requirements to post PDF/A preprints in a central database. You can write your program officer and ask where the corresponding documentation is for NIH. There are probably specific annual reports you need to file, so find out that is needed for those.

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