Sunday, May 6, 2012

Do I really need to include a cover letter with my grant application?

As I explained in another post, it can be quite beneficial to include a cover letter with your application when applying for a parent announcement.  When you have a general plan for your research strategy, look over the NIH institutes and centers to determine which may be the best fit for your particular project.  If necessary, talk to a program officer to obtain feedback and make sure that your project fits with the interests of the institute or center to which you plan to apply.  Then, look over the lists of reviewers available on the website of the institute or center.  (Yes, you can see a public listing of all of the people who may be selected to review your proposal.)  After you have done this homework, sit down and write a cover letter to include with your application.  The cover letter should include an explanation of the expertise needed to review your particular project.  You should list the institute or center that you feel would be the most appropriate assignment.  You can also request a particular review group, or request that a particular reviewer not be assigned to your application.  This is sometimes necessary in the case of competition or personality conflict. 

For more information and advice on the cover letter, visit the Center for Scientific Review

The letter should be attached in the "Cover Letter" (optional) section of the SF 424 application package.  Since it is an optional component, fail to include one will not generate any errors.  However, you will be missing out on an opportunity to ensure that your proposal has the best odds of receiving a favorable review.

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