Thursday, August 26, 2010

Embedding extra information in your Resources section is not a good idea either

As I mentioned in my previous post, applicants are attempting to be very creative in circumventing the new NIH research plan page limits. Allowable contents of the Appendix are clearly defined by NIH, so for obvious reasons it is not wise to place extra research plan content in your appendix. Another possible target for abuse is the Resources and Environment section. This section is one of the few that does not have any page limits. The section should be tailored to each individual proposal, and provide information on the resources unique to the project and how they will be used by the project. One can argue that it is difficult to discuss the use of resources without at least mentioning the research in some way. However, that is not an excuse for cutting the extra half page of methods you have written and pasting it into the research plan. Reviewers know what belongs in the Resources section and what does not. Attempting to get more information in front of them by placing it in this section will only make you look dishonest. One reviewer I spoke to recently described a proposal with a Resources section that rambled on for several pages and was clearly an extension of the Research Strategy section. Needless to say, that proposal did not fare well. Bottom line: Just follow the page limits. You may think you have found a creative way to get around them, but it has probably already been done and already annoyed reviewers. If you start writing early enough and allow adequate time for editing and review by your peers, you won't have to frantically cut text at midnight the night before the proposal is due.

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