Skip Navigation

Research Funding

Skip Content Marketing
  • Share this:
  • submit to facebook
  • Tweet it
  • submit to reddit
  • submit to StumbleUpon
  • submit to Google +

Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding. Link to Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding.Link to Part 2. Pick and Design a Project.Link to Part 3. Write Your Application.Link to Part 4. Submit Your Application.Link to Part 5. Assignment and Review.Link to Part 6. If Not Funded.Link to Part 7. Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Timing for Writing Your Application   ·   Know Your AudienceNext page in Strategy.

Strategy to Write the Research Plan

On this strategy page, you will find action items for each writing step: knowing and targeting your audience, understanding how your application will be assessed, and writing the title, Specific Aims, and the various sections of the Research Strategy.

Learn how to emphasize significance and innovation and how much detail to include in your experimental design. Find links to resource pages with detailed information and advice.

Before reading the information in this part, you may want to first read about planning the application in Part 2.

While this document is geared toward the basic research project grant, the R01, much of it is useful for other grants.

Write Your Research Plan

Know your audience.

Action Summary Learn More

Know how to write to your audiences.

If you haven't done so already, investigate study sections in the NIH Center for Scientific Review to find one that would appreciate your research.

Understand how to write for two audiences: 1) your assigned reviewers who have expertise in your field and 2) the others who are experts in other fields.

Make it easy for your assigned reviewers to grasp the essence of your project and explain it to the others.

Convince all reviewers how your project can drive knowledge in your field to a higher level.

Use your knowledge of your reviewers' perspective on the significance and other aspects of your project to guide your writing.

To learn more about the peer review process, go to Part 5. Assignment and Review, including Ensure You Get the Right Assignments.

Just the Facts

CSR study sections

Review Criteria SOP

NIH Grant Review Process Videos—see a simulation of an NIH study section in action

Definitions

Our Advice

Know Your Audience in Part 3—includes Investigate Committees and Members

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Know the NIH review criteria that will be used to assess your application.

Action Summary Learn More

Know how reviewers determine whether your application is high impact.

To gauge a project's impact, NIH reviewers use five criteria: significance, innovation, approach, investigator, and environment.

Know which application sections reviewers use to assess the different review criteria.

Your application will need to convince the reviewers likely to review your application that your project can have a high impact on its field and is important to NIH's mission.

Just the Facts

How Reviewers Score Applications in Part 5

Review Criteria SOP

NIH's Overall Impact Versus Significance Case Studies

Definition: initial peer review criteria

Our Advice

Highlight Significance and Innovation in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Get started writing.

Action Summary Learn More

After designing the project, get in gear to write.

Write the text in your word processor and upload it into the application form when final.

Save time by writing the application in a logical sequence.

Check the 200 character title you drafted. Make it specific by describing some of the following: the field, your goals, the research problem, and your approach to studying it.

Just the Facts

Get Started Writing the Research Plan in Part 3

SF 424 Application Guide

Our Advice

Use an Iterative Process in Design a Project in Part 2

Get Started Writing the Research Plan in Part 3

 

Write your Specific Aims.

Action Summary Learn More

Start by writing your Specific Aims.

In one page, write the Specific Aims you decided on when you designed your project.

Include two sections:

  1. Start with the rationale and significance of your planned research. Include a sentence that states your project's goals.
  2. List your aims, and describe each in one to three sentences.

Just the Facts

Definitions

Our Advice

Draft Specific Aims to Test Your Hypothesis in Design a Project in Part 2

Explain Your Aims in Get Started Writing the Research Plan in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Write your Research Strategy.

Action Summary Learn More

Write the Research Strategy—General

Know how to structure your 12-page Research Strategy.

Based on your knowledge of your reviewers' scientific perspectives, anticipate and address any questions you think they may have about your project's significance and innovation.

Convince them that your project is feasible: you have the resources and expertise to conduct the experiments.

Use graphics as visual aids, and add emphasis with bold or bold italics.

Organize any way you wish, as best suits your subject.

In the sample applications linked at right, see the strategies successful investigators used.

Just the Facts

Write the Research Strategy in Part 3

SF 424 Application Guide

Our Advice

Write the Research Strategy in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Create an Appealing Application

Enhance your application's chances of success by knowing the qualities it needs to pass muster.

Follow instructions to a tee, including for font and page limits.

Be aware of potential pitfalls and how to steer clear of them.

Use the links in the right column to get checklists and other information and advice.

Our Advice

Master the Application in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Write the Research Strategy—Significance and Innovation

Explain the significance of your research in the most detail in the Significance section.

Also highlight significance in your Abstract and Specific Aims, especially if you think many of the reviewers will not know the significance of your research without an explanation.

State your project's significance in the context of your field, long-term plans, and preliminary data.

Show you are aware of the opportunities, gaps, roadblocks, and frontiers of knowledge in your field and how your project can move the field forward.

Be cautious of and know the caveats for highly innovative research, especially if you are a new PI or are new to the field.

Show how your research is new and unique.

Just the Facts

Are You "New"? in the New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding

Our Advice

Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Write the Research Strategy—Approach

Know that, of all the review criteria, approach most closely correlates with your overall impact score.

Include enough background and preliminary data to give reviewers the context and significance of your plans.

Spell out a few sets of experiments to address each aim.

  • Make sure they can yield meaningful data that test the hypothesis.
  • Show alternative experiments and approaches in case you get negative or surprising results.

Include enough detail to convince reviewers you understand and can handle a method especially if you are new to the field or a new investigator.

Describe your anticipated results and their implications.

Make it clear what you do well and what unique skills you and your team bring to the research.

Keep a running tab of "who, what, when, where, and how (much money)" to help you stay on track and fill out the budget, biosketches, and other forms.

Omit all information not needed to state your case.

Our Advice

Sketch Out Experiments for Your Research Strategy in Design a Project in Part 2

Approach in Write the Research Strategy in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Write the Research Strategy—Preliminary Studies or Progress Report

Interpret your preliminary results critically.

Give enough information to show reviewers that you understand and can address problems.

If your project is complex, provide more preliminary studies.

Show how your previous experience prepared you for the project.

Make it clear which data are yours and which are not.

Our Advice

Preliminary Studies or Progress Report in Write the Research Strategy in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Write the Research Strategy—Referencing Publications

Cite the literature throughout the application for all references important to your project.

Include fewer than 100 citations (if possible).

Refer to unpublished work, including information you learned through personal contacts.

If you do not describe a method, add a reference to the literature.

Our Advice

Referencing Publications in Write the Research Strategy in Part 3

Sample Applications and Summary Statements

Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Timing for Writing Your Application   ·   Know Your AudienceNext page in Strategy.

See the other sections of
Part 3. Write Your Application

Table of Contents for the Strategy

We welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions. Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

Last Updated April 15, 2014

Last Reviewed April 15, 2014