Grant funding today is more difficult to obtain than ever before as the number of applicants
keeps rising. The latest report (https://report.nih.gov/success_rates/) by the National Institute of
Health (NIH) revealed that only about 19% of applicants.
The success rate has significantly in the last 15 years –up 33%
The decline in success rates is primarily attributed to the fierce competition, lack of government
funding, and poor grant writing skills.
While we can do nothing about government funds and very little about fierce competition, there
is a lot we can do to improve poor grant writing skills.
We gathered years of experience helping applicants improve their success rates of obtaining NIH
Grant, SBIR Grants, and others.
In this article, we will be sharing quick tips and guidelines on how to successfully apply for NIH
Grant, SBIR Grants, etc.
We understand you might be in a hurry, so we summarized the main points so you can get
maximum for your time with this post.
Let’s get right in, shall we?
General Tips for Writing a Winning Proposal
- Start early and set a schedule
- Target the grant program according to your objectives
- Read carefully the most recent version of the program guidelines
- Use all available resources (colleagues, program officers, granting agencies, grant writing services, etc.)
- Read the funded requests of your colleagues or other projects that have successfully applied for NIH Grant, and SBIR Grants.
- Your proposal must be sufficiently thorough and detailed to maintain the level of interest of the experts.
- Clearly identify your research objectives
- Insist on the originality, innovation, and added value of your research.
- Clearly and persuasively describe the impact of your research.
- Include a schedule
- Demonstrate what you say as much as possible and give references.
- Make sure you have an up-to-date version of your resume in the required format by NIH and SBIR.
- Check if all attachments are included.
Steps in the Preparation of NIH and SBIR.
Preparing a grant application requires a good sense of organization, management of
Time and priorities.
A year before the deadline
- Expand the research file:
- Submit articles for publication;
- For new researchers, publish the results of the thesis;
- Establish collaborations / partnerships.
Four to six months
- Define a research topic.
- Review the literature.
- Formulate a conceptual plan (subject, relevance, methodology,
- Employees, budget).
- Discuss the project with colleagues
Three to four months
- Choose external reviewers such as grant writing services
- Write the first draft.
- Have the draft read by colleagues and external reviewer
- Review the research proposal.
- Complete the request form.
- Complete or update the electronic CV.
- Establish the budget.
- Get quotes for equipment.
- Obtain employee CVs, letters of support, and committed partners.
15 days to a month
Have a complete application reread one last time.
Send the complete application
THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL
- Follow the guidelines of the granting agency to the letter (number of pages, size,
characters, font, margins, spacing)
- If you use abbreviations, define them the first time and keep them for the rest of the
document without exception.
- Make reading easier with titles, subtitles, numbering or bullets
- Use capital letters, bold, italics and underlines where necessary to highlight key
- Avoid presentation devices (frequent font changes, excessive color use, etc.)
- If allowed, use figures, tables, diagrams.
- Have the final version proofread for correction of typographical and grammatical errors by a colleague or a grant writing service
- Be convincing: transmit a positive image of your team and your work;
- Be explicit: do not leave any ambiguity;
- Be clear: say exactly what you want to say. Avoid unnecessary synonyms;
- Be concise: present your project in a minimum of words;
- Be specific: give facts rather than vague statements;
- Be impartial: remain neutral and objective;
- Be consistent: systematically organize your ideas and demonstrations;
- Be simple: avoid overly complex sentences and syntax;
- Adopt a living style: vary the structure of the sentences. Do not hesitate to formulate questions that challenge the reader.
The title of the project is very important:
• It gives the first impression;
• It must be descriptive, relevant, and short.
The summary is usually written at the end, once the body of the application has been finalized:
- It must quickly convey the importance and relevance of the research.
- The chair of the committee uses it to direct the request to the lead assessors;
- It is a brief and precise but complete description of the proposal, including the general objectives, specific objectives, methodology, and expected results.
- It must be understood by experts and by non-specialists;
- In some cases, this is the only part of the proposal that is read by all members of the committee.
A detailed description of the project
Each research funding agency has its own content requirements and the presentation of the
detailed description. However, the following are required in most grant programs and will
perfectly apply to the NIH Grant and SBIR Grants.
Introduction, background, and general objective
The introduction or context aims to highlight the social, economic issues in which the research
project or program fits, and its general purpose.
Often, reference to government policies, studies, and statistics helps to understand the
importance of the problem and the relevance of the research.
- Problem and state of knowledge
Take a look at the problem or question from a scientific and social point of view. Show what has
been done so far using a literature review. Highlight the gaps in the state of knowledge or
divergent views and argue what your proposal brings to the advancement of knowledge.
Insist on the originality of your approach (new knowledge, a new approach to a problem, new
concept or confirmation existing hypotheses, etc.)
Avoid claims that you cannot justify adequately
- Research hypothesis (s) or question (s)
Separately or integrated into the problem, indicate your starting hypothesis (ies) or research
question (s). If applicable, mention alternative hypotheses and justify the choice of those you
- Specific objectives of the project
These are the objectives achievable under the grant given the time and budget available. They are
intended to support your hypotheses or to answer your questions about the research.
Number them in a logical order and specify the priorities. Whatever the structure of your
application, your specific research objectives should be clearly identified and appear early in the
text. Remember that your request will be assessed according to your objectives and your ability
to achieve them.
- Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework refers to the main theories, concepts, and research paradigms on
which is based on your research proposal. This framework allows the evaluation committee to
grasp the angle of analysis adopted to treat the research object.
It is essential to assert the consistency between the theoretical framework, the objectives, and the
- Methodology and work plan
- Describe how you plan to achieve the specific goals you set for yourself.
- Be clear and consistent. You can divide this section into as many objectives, placed in a
logical order, linking with the other specific objectives and general objectives;
- Then describe the methods proposed to achieve each specific objective and explain why
this approach was chosen.
- Demonstrate that the methods chosen are appropriate for your specific objectives, that
you are familiar with these methods, and that they are well established.
- Do not describe standard procedures but give references.
- In the case of new procedures or possibly unknown to the evaluators, explain why they
are more suitable than conventional methods
- In the case of experimental research, discuss the control experiments relevant;
- Give the size and nature of the sample or specify who will be the subjects or research
- Explain the process of data collection, analysis, and interpretation;
- What are the expected results? Of what use will they be? For who?
Dissemination of results
Indicate the means that will be used to disseminate the research results. Specify the journals,
association congresses, and targeted symposia. Distinguish between scientific dissemination and
dissemination to research users or the general public.
Note that, increasingly, granting agencies are encouraging wider dissemination within
professional circles, target audiences, or users of research.
Granting agencies always want to ensure that funded projects meet ethical standards; whether in
the case of research involving the participation of human beings, the use of human stem cells,
laboratory animals or dangerous products, or requiring an environmental assessment.
- THE BUDGET
- The budget is usually considered at the end of the evaluation process. All committee members
participate in its review based on the recommendations of external experts and lead assessors.
- The budget must be well documented, justified and realistic
- Check the eligibility of certain expenses (travel, equipment, etc.);
- Provide sufficient justification for each item to avoid arbitrary budget cuts.
- For the equipment, justify why each part is essential (not only better or faster) and why the specified model is required.
- For staff, specify the unique and essential role that each will play and indicate how their qualifications respond to their role. Name these people
- For travel, specify who will travel (principal investigator, students, etc.) and estimate the
costs according to the destination
- Don't forget taxes
If you’re preparing for NIH Grant and SBIR Grant application, or any other grant application for that matter, the above tips and guidelines will come in handy.
- As earlier mentioned, poor grant application skills is a major drawback to the application success rate.
If you or your team need a little help fine-tuning your grant application and preparation, consider hiring grant application writing and editing services. Don’t let a sneaky grammar mistake, stylistic error, or formatting mistake lock you out.