NITRO Competitions is a web-based application for managing institutional funding competitions.
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NITROCompetitions is a web-based application for managing institutional funding competitions.

Main features

  • Create a competition framework
  • Publish the competition and associated details
  • Ability for faculty and staff to authenticate to NITROCompetitions using any OAuth provider via the omniauth gem
  • Submission of proposals
  • A workflow for reviewing submissions via one or more members of a review panel
  • Email notifications of submission and review progress

The review criteria and panel setup mirrors the NIH study panel design by default.


NITROCompetitions is written in Ruby on Rails 5 and uses PostgreSQL as the backend database by default. However, any RDBMS that is supported by ActiveRecord should work.

Data model

NITROCompetitions has the following major models to organize sponsoring organizations, competitions, reviewers, submitters, applicants, and reviews:

  1. Sponsor: A sponsoring organization running a competition
  2. Competition: A competition to be managed
  3. User: An individual who logs in, or is listed with a role, is in the users table. Users can have one or more of the following roles:
  • administrator
  • reviewer
  • key person
  • applicant
  1. Submission: Submissions have the following:
  • submitter
  • applicant (the submitter and applicant can be the same)
  • key personnel
  • documents
  • a cover page
  • assigned reviewers (assigned by the administrators of the sponsoring organization for the competition)
  1. Review: Reviews, by default, follow the NIH review criteria, and consist of these review categories:
  • Overall
  • Significance
  • Investigators
  • Innovation
  • Approach
  • Environment

The categories can be customized on a per-competition basis. A 1-9 score, and descriptive text can be entered for each criterion.

Installing NITROCompetitions

Since NITROCompetitions is a standard Rails app, installing it is just like installing any other Rails app. The current version of the code is tested against Ruby 2.5

See the wiki for install instructions.

Running the test suite

NITROCompetitions has a number of rspec tests. To run these specs run the following command in the project folder:

$ bundle exec rspec



The current version of NITROCompetitions uses OAuth providers for authentication, via the omniauth gem.

See config/application.rb line 58

If you DO use an OAuth provider, note that you must register this application as a client of that provider (e.g. register the app with Google, Facebook, or whoever your OAuth provider is). Details on how to do that are provider-specific, and the provider's documentation should be consulted in those cases.


Feedback and bug/issue reports

We welcome new ideas and perspectives on the app's usage that have not been considered before. If you have an idea feel free to let us know.

Currently we host our issue and bug tracking system internally. However, if you'd like to submit a github issue, we'll take a look at it and get back to you.

If you want to report a security problem that you feel should be reported privately first, you can email

Code contributions

Please see the code contribution guide for more details.