How to Write a Research Project Grant Application

How to Write a Research Project Grant Application -- NIH
Use the Quick Guide for Grant Applications for detailed instructions on how to prepare a research
These tips are from the NINDS
Writing and Formatting
Read the PHS 398 carefully and follow its guidelines to the letter. Formatting is strictly enforced.
Observe the page limitations for your type of application; further, reviewers appreciate
comprehensive but succinct proposals. Type setting (font size and spacing) requirements are
strictly enforced. Avoid alienating reviewers with hard-to-read type and formatting.
Follow the format in the instructions. Reviewers expect the research plan to be organized
exactly as described in the instructions - you do not want to upset these expectations! Label
sections exactly as in the instructions: A. Specific Aims, B. Background and significance, etc.
Edit thoroughly. Make sure your work is letter perfect. Sloppy work will definitely suffer in
review. Reviewers feel that if the application is sloppy or disorganized, the applicant's research
may be as well.
Writing Tips
Prefer the active rather to the passive voice. For example, write "We will develop a cell line," not
"A cell line will be developed."
Keep related ideas and information together, e.g., put clauses and phrases as close as possible
to - preferably right after the words they modify.
Simplify and breakup long, involved sentences and paragraphs. In general, use short simple
sentences; they are much easier on the reader. Your goal is communication, not literature.
Edit out redundant words and phrases.
The NIH web site has a section to help scientists prepare grant proposals. They provide a lot of tips on
writing here: The follow material is an
exerpt of this web page.
NIH encourages applicants to describe their research in terms that are easily understood by peer
reviewers, scientists, Congress, and the public.
Titles, abstracts and statements of public health relevance should:
1. Convey the value of the research in plain language – clear, succinct, and professional
2. Be comprehensible to both scientists and the public
3. Relay the potential impact of the research on health
Start with an outline following the suggested organization of the application.
Be complete and include all pertinent information.
Be organized and logical. The thought process of the application should be easy to
follow. The parts of the application should fit together.
Write one sentence summarizing the topic sentence of each main section . Do the same
for each main point in the outline.
Make one point in each paragraph. This is key for readability.
Keep sentences to 20 words or less.
Write simple, clear sentences.
Use sub-headings,
Use a clear and concise writing style so that a non-expert may understand the proposed research.
Make your points as directly as possible.
Use basic English, avoiding jargon or excessive language.
Be consistent with terms, references and writing style.
Use the active, rather than passive, voice. For example, write "We will develop an experiment, "not
"An experiment will be developed ."
Use diagrams, figures and tables, and include appropriate legends.