Thursday, September 18, 2014

ASSIST Overview video from NIH

Given the large number of complex, multi-component grant applications that are due the week of September 25th, I imagine that many of this blog's readers are frantically putting final touches on their applications.  Are you familiar with the ASSIST grant submission system?  Although your research administration staff will likely be spending the most time in ASSIST, it is still useful for you to understand how it works.  The way the application will be put together and the section headers and titles that will be created by the system may influence some of the titles and other information that you plan to include in the research plan or other sections of your proposal.  Take a look at the video and you will definitely have more than a basic understanding of the system.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Let's talk about a variable, that is

Forget Salt-N-Pepa - this is science, folks!  Yesterday, NIH released this Request for Information (RFI) that seeks input from the scientific community on the use of sex as a biological variable in biomedical research.  Responses will be accepted through October 13, 2014, and can be submitted using this webform.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Don't forget about the Resource Sharing Plan

Perhaps because it is buried beneath mounds of other text in most funding solicitations, or perhaps because they are so focused on the Research Strategy component, many investigators seem to forget about Resource Sharing plans until the last minute, when a grants administrator requests the document for upload.  What is a Resource Sharing Plan?  Here are links to a variety of resources that will help you to determine whether you need to include a Data or Resource Sharing Plan, as well as examples and advice on meeting the NIH requirements.

Friday, September 5, 2014

If you use genomic data, don't miss this

NIH recently released a new Genomic Data Sharing Policy.  This lengthy document outlines responsibilities of investigators in regards to sharing of genomic data with the greater research community.  It also provides more guidance than NIH previously offered regarding Genomic Data Sharing Plans.  The policy goes into effect early in 2015, but it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the requirements now.

Avoiding common errors in electronic application submissions

NIH provides this great list of 10 items to look for to avoid commons errors in electronic grant applications.  Although some of the potential errors (such as checking for the correct DUNS number in your application package) are more likely to be caught by your research administrator, many of the mistakes listed can be made by just about anyone who is in a hurry to get their grant submitted in  Ideally, you will finish your proposal in enough time for your research administrator to provide you with the full, assembled application for review so that you may look for these any other possible errors.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NIAID provides questions to ask yourself when writing your aims

On this page, NIAID provides helpful information regarding proposal design, including crafting your aims.  A great list of questions to ask yourself after writing the first draft of your aims includes:
  1. My reviewers would see my aims as tackling an important problem in a significant field.
  2. They would view my aims as being innovative, but not too innovative.
  3. My Specific Aims can test my hypothesis (or hypotheses).
  4. They are doable within the grant period I am requesting.
  5. The aims and hypothesis (or hypotheses) are concrete and well-focused.
  6. I can define endpoints my peer reviewers will be able to assess.
For more helpful tips, view the NIAID NIH grant writing tutorials.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Innovation should be a simple section to write

When writing the Research Strategy section of your application, you have three major sections to worry about: Significance, Innovation, and Approach.  The Significance section typically takes up approximately 1 page, although in some cases it is longer.  The Innovation section tends to cause unnecessary trips to CVS to buy ibuprofen in the middle of the night.  I am not sure why, but many people make this section much more difficult than it needs to be.  If your proposal is truly innovative, the overall innovative nature of the proposal can be summed up in 1-2 sentences. This should be followed by several bullets highlighting various innovative aspects of your proposal.  Be cautious about seeming too innovative, especially if you are a new investigator.  Proposing to apply an innovative method to solve a problem is one thing - saying you will cure all breast cancers with a 5-year R01 sounds like an exaggeration.  Remember: For the most part, NIH grants are focused on making incremental progress that will advance the field of knowledge - not giant, high-risk leaps.

If your spelling errors are making you feel bad...

Here are some hilarious public spelling mistakes that will leave you rolling with laughter.  This article provides just a little spelling humor for those of you who are down to the wire for September deadlines and looking for a break.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Start off on the right foot with your biosketch

When it comes to "Section A. Personal Statement", researchers seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to write.  After all, how do you sum up your qualifications and expertise in one brief paragraph?  It is like some kind of exercise you might have done in an undergraduate Philosophy course.  Surprisingly, although many of the visitors to this blog are looking for advice on writing their personal statements, they do not seem to be putting the same amount of time into making sure they are using the correct form. 

Are you working on your biosketch right now?  Look at the top right corner.  If there isn't a header that says "OMB No. 0925-0001/0002 (Rev. 08/12 Approved Through 8/31/2015)", then you are not using the correct form.  Find the current correct NIH biosketch format page here.