Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Only 6 Pages = Famous Last Words

In a recent discussion, I spoke with a researcher who plans to submit an R21 for the June deadline.  While this person has some research experience, her team has experienced a dry spell in recent years, and I believe much of it has to do with this type of attitude and a lack of planning, which leads to last-minute proposals being slapped together.  In this recent discussion, she said that the research plan is "only 6 pages" and that she has some things written from other purposes and papers that she can put together to "easily fill 6 pages". 


I challenge anyone, new or experienced, to slap together an innovative new proposal, worthy of receiving NIH funding, by pulling together some previous work haphazardly at the last minute.  This is just not possible.  Think of what needs to be accomplished in 6 pages.  Not only do you need to describe your actual plans for the study, but you also need to detail its significance, innovation, and approach.  Failure to address all of these components specifically will not result in a well-scored proposal.  From my perspective, I believe the shorter Research Strategy sections are actually more difficult to write, because so much needs to come across in such a short amount of space.  I dread what this proposal will look like when it is finished if it truly is thrown together.

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