Grants Terminology and Acronyms (Glossary)
Miscellaneous Topics


Annual report: a document written and released to inform an organization’s community or to the public by an organization to describe activities related to its funding and/or grant activities. Conversely, an annual report or a progress report can also be requested or required by a funder for the grantee to report scientific progress. Progress report periods can be defined by the funder at their discretion

Blinding: also known as masking; the act of deidentifying any information that may introduce bias that could influence results.

Bylaws: the rules or the operating manual by which an organization follows. These can include the size and the function of the board, the selection of directors or committees and their roles, rules and procedures for meetings, policy-making, the distribution of grants, and other related matters

Designated funds: a type of fund that is restricted by the grantors and distributed under specified conditions

Discretionary funds: funds that do not require prior approval by specific parties such as the board of directors; for grantees, this can be budgeted into the proposal for costs that do not fall under a specific category such as travel costs or material costs for scientific meetings, publication costs, etc.

Disqualified person (private foundation): these individuals contribute to the organization and may present a conflict of interest. Legally, financial transactions are prohibited between a disqualified person and a foundation. This can include public officials, family members of disqualified persons, foundation managers, and partnerships.

Disqualified person (public charity): a person who may receive excessive benefits from the foundation who may have influence over the board, the operations of the foundation, donor-advised funds, or those who participate in managing the organization, and their immediate family members.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI): efforts to promote fair treatment, participation, and equality especially for under-represented groups and populations that have faced discrimination due to their race, ethnicity, nationality, language, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, dis(ability), or political perspective.

Fellow: an individual undergoing post-graduate/post-doctoral training towards tenure-track professorship or towards specialized medical training

Financial report: a report that differs from an annual or a progress report where it details financial matters. The financial report can declare itemized transactions that includes expenses, assets, and liabilities. Organizations can request that their grantees provide financial reports

Funding cycle: a defined period by which an organization will operate it’s grant programs to include the request for applications/proposals (RFAs/RFPs), review, decision-making, and award announcement. This can be done either quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

Funding mechanism: an award to provide support a proposed project; this is typically in the form of a grant.

Government agency: an organization under a federal authority that is responsible for the administration and execution of specific functions and operates independently from other agencies; this includes the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute in the United States.

Graduate student: a student undergoing doctoral training; also known as a pre-doctoral student or trainee

Grant: a fund or award given to a grantee (institution or an investigator) to fund a health research project

Grant monitoring: following the progress of a funded project by assessing whether the objectives of the proposal and the terms and conditions are being met. Periodic progress reports or poster/podium presentations at scientific meetings are a method by which funders and grantees can determine what has been achieved

Grantee: the institution or the investigator that receives a grant; also known as an awardee

Grantor/grantmaker: the organization or the individual that makes the grant/funding opportunity; also known as the funder

Grants administration: provides administration duties and cooperative agreements for an organization in an effort to apply policies and knowledge for grants management.

Grants manager: can also be referred to as the program officer of the funding organization who oversees the grant programs, manages the application process, sets up the review committees, contacts and announces the awardees, collects and helps assess progress reports and project evaluations, and answers any questions the applicants and the grantees may have

Guidelines: the priorities, criteria, and protocol for an investigator or an institution should adhere to while applying for a grant or funding opportunity

Impact factor: a metric used by journals to measure citations of published articles in a year; is often used as a measure to assess visibility and the importance of a journal

In-kind contribution:  a donation or gift of goods/services in place of cash or property

Investigator: the individual leading or guiding a proposed project; is often a principal investigator or an early-career scientist

Intellectual property (IP): the intangible creations resulting from human thinking and intellect; this includes scientific inventions or drug discoveries

Letter of intent/inquiry (LOI): a grant applicant’s formal letter or statement to the funder requesting to be invited to or considered for a funding opportunity. The LOI is generally a brief overview of the proposed project as well as the outcomes and a proposed budget.

Mission: an organization’s purpose and values which guide their efforts and contributions; this must be clearly communicated for their employees and their stakeholders

National laboratory: institutions and facilities that are operated by the federal government to conduct scientific research for government agencies such as the NIH

Open-access: a publishing model for immediate sharing of scientific, peer-reviewed research free of charge in the digital space; this allows for unrestricted access to everyone

Overhead: the costs needed to cover a grantee’s operating costs to their institution which include administrative costs, utilities, etc. Institutions will define a set percentage of overhead costs for every grant awarded

Peer-review/Programmatic review: the assessment and evaluation of a scientific proposal or body of work by members of the scientific community who conduct similar research (peers)

Post-doctoral trainee: also known as a fellow; an individual who has completed their doctoral studies and is receiving additional training

Post-award evaluation: a review and assessment of the results of a funded project to determine whether the objectives of the proposal were achieved

Pre-doctoral award: an award specifically for graduate students who are enrolled in a doctoral program