Are you writing your first grant proposal, but need help getting started? The Research Concierge Service (RCS) has compiled some guidance documents that can be helpful reference when preparing your next grant submission. 

Concept Paper – Template 

You identified a funding opportunity that seems to be a good fit for your proposed project. For the next several weeks (if not months) you will be committing a substantial amount of your time to the proposal writing process. Are you confident you have fully vetted this opportunity and know for certain that your proposal is responsive to the funding announcement? Are you submitting a proposal in response to an NIH parent announcement? If you answered “yes,” keep in mind that each institute that elects to participate in an NIH parent announcement is likely to have its own requirements and funding priorities. Before committing significant time to the proposal, consider drafting a 1-2 page concept paper to float your idea with the relevant program officer.

What is a concept paper? Concept papers are the written equivalent of an “elevator speech.” These 1-2 page documents provide a concise overview of your proposed project. Some funders (e.g. foundations) approve concept papers before inviting full applications. Concept papers are also a good best practice for anyone interested in honing their message with potential funding sponsors. Click here to learn more about concept papers and best practices. When writing a concept paper, consider the “Heilmeier Criteria.” George Heilmeier was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the 1970s. Heilmeier developed a set of questions, referred to as the “Heilmeier Criteria,” that every proposal for a new research program had to answer.

Facilities and Other Resources Section – Template

A well-written Facilities and Other Resources section of an NIH grant application should demonstrate to reviewers that the institution(s) involved in the proposed research has the right scientific environment to support a successful outcome. We prepared a template to guide you through the process of creating a strong Facilities and Other Resources section for your next NIH funding proposal.

Career Development/Training Plan – Template

Candidates for the NIH mentored career development (or “K”) awards must include a career development/training plan within their NIH proposal. The career development/training plan must align with the research strategy and demonstrate that the candidate has undertaken a thorough self-assessment, which carefully considered short- and long-term career goals. Through this self-assessment, the career development/training plan identifies specific areas in need of improvement that, if addressed, will help the candidate transition to a successful R01 (or equivalent) submission and ultimately, an independent research career.

Setting the Stage for a Successful NIH Mentored “K” Application

So you decided that a mentored “K” award is the right opportunity at the right time for you. You need a period of mentored research and training (3 to 5 years) to position you for an independent research career. Before diving into the proposal writing process, take some time to examine the big picture. Competitive mentored “K” applications start with good planning. The Research Concierge Service (RCS) has compiled a list of best practices that PIs can use to guide their planning process.

Application Checklist – NIH Mentored “K” Application

The Research Concierge Service (RCS) has compiled an application checklist based off the Career Development Instructions for NIH and Other PHS Agencies dated March 24, 2017. Application form instructions for most NIH mechanisms can be accessed here: