Five Reasons to Submit a Cover Letter with Your Grant Application

I recently attended a scientific meeting where I had the opportunity to talk with investigators at all stages of their scientific careers. I was surprised to learn that many didn’t know that they could submit a cover letter with their electronic grant application. Here I briefly explain some reasons to provide a cover letter, including situations that require one.

1. Suggest a particular review group for your application.

The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) assigns applications to scientific review groups (SRGs), but sometimes an application could be a scientific match for more than one study section. In a cover letter, you can request assignment to a particular study section and explain why you think that study section would be the best fit. Appropriate assignment requests are honored in the majority of cases. Study section descriptions, recent study section rosters and the NIH RePORTER database of funded grants can help you identify an SRG suitable for your application.

2. Suggest a particular institute or center (IC) for funding your research.

Your research might be relevant to the mission of more than one NIH IC. You can use a cover letter to suggest that your application be assigned to a specific IC. The NIH RePORTER database is a good place to investigate the types of research supported by different ICs. Before making a request in a cover letter, you should also consult with program officers at the IC to determine whether your application would be an appropriate scientific match.

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Webinar to Answer Your Questions About the New Research Training Tables

UPDATE: The webinar slides and answers to frequently asked questions are available.

NIGMS Staff Participating in March 8 Webinar

Shiva Singh, Chief, Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch, Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity

Dick Okita, Program Director, Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry

John Laffan, Scientific Review Officer, Office of Scientific Review

Lisa Newman, Scientific Review Officer, Office of Scientific Review

If you’re preparing an institutional training grant application, you might have questions about the new research training tables required for receipt dates on or after the one coming up on May 25. We’ll field these questions during a webinar on Tuesday, March 8, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST. You can send questions to me or post them here before the webinar.

The revisions reduce the number of tables from 12 to 8, minimize the reporting of individual-level information and extend the tracking of trainee outcomes from 10 to 15 years. Table 8A must also be used to prepare annual progress reports. Table formats, instructions and samples are available on the NIH website.

To access the webinar, visit https://face2face.nih.gov/hope.mabry/7GZSC5SY Exit icon and click “OK.” If you’re away from your computer, you can access the site from a mobile device. You can also listen to a voice-only option by calling 1-888-390-0678 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering access code 50106.

We look forward to talking to you about the new training tables.

Impact Score Paragraph in Summary Statements, Plain Language in Public Sections of Grant Applications

Extramural NexusThe August issue of NIH’s Extramural Nexus includes two announcements that might interest you.

Impact Score Paragraph in Summary Statements

Starting with September grant application reviews, reviewers will include a summary paragraph to explain what factors they considered in assigning the overall impact score. This should help investigators better understand the reasons for the score.

Plain Language in Public Sections of Grant Applications

The director’s column talks about the importance of communicating research value in your grant application.

Your grant title, abstract and statement of public health relevance are very important. Once a grant is funded, these items are available to the public through NIH’s RePORTER database. Many people are interested in learning about research supported with taxpayer dollars, so I encourage you to be clear and accurate in writing these parts of your application. Reviewers are being told to expect plain language in these sections.

The Nexus column includes links to these helpful resources: