Nursing researchers may spend up to four 40-hour weeks and more than $270,000 in costs preparing for a single National Institutes of Health grant application, a new study shows.

Costs included salary, reimbursable overhead and other benefits. The study appeared in Nursing Outlook last month. The largest amount of time was spent writing/revising/formatting, with research as secondary, such as statistical research. Third was filling out forms or application packages, according to Columbia School of Nursing researchers.

For every 20 submissions averaging $13,512, there were 19 not funded, they discovered.

“Our findings originate from work being done at Columbia, a research-intensive academic health center,” said co-author Kathleen Hickey, Ed.D., associate professor of nursing. “We have 64 NIH grants underway and annually submit an average of 53 applications. If time and financial commitments are this large with all of our experience, imagine how significant they are at schools with much less experience.”

The authors called for new models of funding and conducting research.