Letters of Support

Your application should include letters of support from your institution, key personnel, collaborators, and other significant contributors. Relevant letters of support will assure your peer reviewers that your collaborations and institutional commitments are on the right track.

What To Include

The letter text should demonstrate the commitment of your institution and contributors. Summarize the agreements you have in place to support your project.

Familiarize yourself with the recommendations given in the SF 424 Letters of Support instructions.

In multi-component applications, you may include letters of support in the overall component, other components, or both unless stated otherwise in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA). You may also be instructed to begin the Letters of Support attachment with a table of letter authors, their institutions, and the type of each letter (e.g., institutional commitment).

Specifics for Collaborator Letters

When you request a letter of support, consider providing your collaborator a summary of your agreement as a convenient starting point. Discuss with them what information you think needs to be included.

The letters of support should clearly describe what type of support your collaborators will provide (e.g., reagents, animals, human samples, technology). Make sure to indicate whether the support is available to anyone on request or if your collaborator will provide it to only you. Our staff consider the latter point as they determine who may review your application without conflict.

Note that this letter is not the same document as your formal written agreement with the collaborator. Do not include the text of the formal agreement itself with your letters of support or your application. The formal agreement is for your benefit. NIH does not request, use, or need a copy of it. Learn more about Using Subawards.

Don’t Send Too Many Letters of Support

Include the letters as described in the FOA’s instructions, but don’t assume that even more letters would be better. We strongly advise against collecting letters of support solely as endorsements of your reputation, expertise, or research plans.

In some cases, applicants have provided over a thousand letters of support. Large quantities of letters pose a significant burden on peer reviewers as they try to determine which are truly relevant to the project.

Unnecessary letters can also limit the pool of experts who are allowed to review your application. Due to potential conflicts of interest, anyone who writes a letter may not review your application. You might unintentionally eliminate the scientists who could have been your best supporters on the review panel.  

More Information

Find our central list of Types of Letters for Grant Applications.

 
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