Publications as predictors of racial and ethnic differences in NIH research awards

PLoS One. 2018 Nov 14;13(11):e0205929. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205929. eCollection 2018.


This research expands efforts to understand differences in NIH funding associated with the self-identified race and ethnicity of applicants. We collected data from 2,397 NIH Biographical Sketches submitted between FY 2003 and 2006 as part of new NIH R01 Type 1 applications to obtain detailed information on the applicants' training and scholarly activities, including publications. Using these data, we examined the association between an NIH R01 applicant's race or ethnicity and the probability of receiving an R01 award. The applicant's publication history as reported in the NIH biographical sketch and the associated bibliometrics narrowed the black/white funding gap for new and experienced investigators in explanatory models. We found that black applicants reported fewer papers on their Biosketches, had fewer citations, and those that were reported appeared in journals with lower impact factors. Incorporating these measures in our models explained a substantial portion of the black/white funding gap. Although these predictors influence the funding gap, they do not fully address race/ethnicity differences in receiving a priority score.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / trends*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Financing, Government
  • Humans
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Physicians
  • Publications / trends*
  • Racial Groups
  • Research Personnel
  • United States

Grant support

The NIH provided support in the form of a contract [HHSN276200700235U] awarded to Discovery Logic/Clarivate Analytics [DKG, JS, UJ, JB] for data license and labor fees required for data preparation and analysis, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This work was also supported by the National Institute on Aging, 1R01AG36820-0 to DKG. WTS was an employee of NIH at the time of this study. NIH reviewed and provided feedback on the manuscript prior to publication. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.