Today’s post is the final one in a series exploring the process of preparing and submitting an NIH proposal.
Part I – Overview/Regular Research Grants
Part II – Regular Research Grants
Part III – Program Project/Center/Training Grants
Part IV – Fellowship/Career Transition Awards
Part V – Initial Review of Submissions
Part VI – Second Review of Submissions and Common Errors
How to Improve
If your first attempt at a submission was unsuccessful, the worst thing you can do is throw up your hands and walk away. Instead, use the rejection as an opportunity to work on improving your application. Read the Summary Statement carefully to learn of your application’s strength and weaknesses. Additionally, be sure to speak with your Institute’s Proposal Director and other colleagues to get a second set of eyes and opinions as what could be done differently. Finally, don’t be hasty in preparing a revised application. Address all critiques soundly, and, instead of rebutting the ‘negatives,’ lay out a reasoned path showing the changes that you’ve made in response.
To assist applicants, NIH has laid out six traits that make up a truly exceptional application:
1. There is a high degree of novelty and innovation, and a strong significance to an important problem in public health
2. The applicant and its collaborators are well qualified, and have a strong track record
3. The rationale behind the proposed project is clear
4. Preliminary data presented is relevant and supportive of the overall goal
5. The approach is focused and clear, and will provide unambiguous results
6. The applicant has paid attention to detail, such as presentation, readability, and spelling
While there is no guarantee of success by taking a particular route in your application, by following the above suggestions your chances will greatly approve, and, overall, make you a better applicant down the line.