See NIH Notice NOT-OD-20-174 as a reminder of NIH guidance that restricts the use of hypertext (e.g., hyperlinks and URLs) in NIH applications and the multiple concerns raised by the increasing use of unallowable hypertext. 

There is no change in the NIH policy on the use of hyperlinks, that policy as articulated in the NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guide reads:

  • Hyperlinks and URLs are only allowed when specifically noted in funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and form field instructions. The use of hyperlinks is typically limited to citing relevant publications in biosketches and publication lists. It is highly unusual for a FOA to allow links in Specific Aims, Research Strategy and other page-limited attachments.
  • Hyperlinks and URLs may not be used to provide information necessary to application review.
  • Reviewers are instructed against viewing linked sites and are cautioned that they should not directly access a website (unless the link to the site was specifically requested in application instructions) as it could compromise their anonymity and allow for malware to be downloaded onto their computers.
  • When allowed, you must hyperlink the actual URL text so it appears on the page rather than hiding the URL behind a specific word or phrase. Example:

Applications that do not follow these instructions, and include unallowable hyperlinks, may be withdrawn from review and funding consideration.  We have received notices recently from NIH Center for Scientific Review enforcing this policy so make sure applications are compliant.

Please contact your Sponsored Programs Research Administrator if you have any questions.

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