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Federal Resume Tips
Federal and private sector resumes.
Federal resumes differ from resumes used in the private sector with regard to both content and purpose.
- multiple pages long
- detailed description of work experience and qualifications
- used to determine if you meet requirements/qualifications for a job announcement. Be sure to list all your experiences (including non-paid).
- generally limited to two pages
- brief summary of work history
- used as a marketing tool to get an interview
In the Federal Government, your resume is your application. There may be an additional component called an assessment questionnaire . The assessment questionnaire asks you to rank yourself on your qualities necessary to do the job being advertised. It must support the experiences listed in your resume.
An academic curriculum vitae does not provide enough information to determine if you meet eligibility requirements. If you use one, please be sure to add the information listed below.
Resumes must thoroughly describe how your skills and experiences align to the criteria in the job announcement. It must also support your responses to the assessment questionnaire. To do this, be sure to include detailed examples in your resume.
Why? We operate under various federal employment laws, rules, and regulations. We are prohibited from drawing conclusions or making assumptions regarding your experience or qualifications.
We encourage you to use the USAJobs online Resume Builder . If you use your own resume, you must include the following information:
- Contact information . This includes your name, address, day and evening telephone numbers, and email address
- Citizenship (if other than the U.S.)
- Relevant work experience . This includes paid and unpaid experiences. For instance, volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social)
For each employment listed, include the following information:
- Dates of employment . Include beginning and end dates in the following format: month/day/year
- Hours per week . We assume fulltime unless otherwise stated. Employment will be prorated in crediting experience.
- Include any supervisory/managerial responsibilities and number of staff supervised (if applicable). This information helps determine if you meet minimum eligibility requirements for the position.
- Review the qualifications section in the job announcement closely and directly address the education, skills, and experience required in your resume.
- Series and grade or equivalent (if a Federal position)
Education R equirement
If the position has an education requirement or you are qualifying on the basis of education, include the following:
- Education history . Specify the type of degree and major of study.
- Relevant courses . This information is needed if the position requires credit hours.
Do NOT Include
On your resume and cover letter, you should not include any of the following:
- A photograph or video of yourself
- Any sensitive information (age, date of birth, marital status, protected health information, religious affiliation, social security number, etc.)
- Links to web pages
- Spell out all acronyms .
- Projects worked on
- Specific duties and tasks
- Tools, software, or systems
- Results and outcomes (i.e. saved money, time, consolidated resources, etc.)
- Example: an individual in the budget field has "worked with disseminating budgets for small projects." To make the description more relevant, the applicant describes the experience with numbers, "disseminated budgets for small projects amounting to $450,000."
- Example: When a recruiter reads the keyword "analyst," he or she might assume you have experience in collecting data and evaluating effectiveness.
- If a job announcement uses a keyword such as "develops," use it in your resume. It is representative of independence in work assignments and the range of responsibility for the available position.
- Be honest . Be honest in describing your accomplishments, but not modest.
- Use reverse chronological order to list experience . Start with your most recent experience first and work your way back. An exception: when it is more appropriate to list your most relevant work experience first (e.g. if you are changing careers).
- Tailor your resume to include information relevant to the specific position you are applying to. Education and work experience that is indirectly related can be excluded if the resume begins to grow too long.
- Be concise and keep paragraphs short. To make your resume easier to read, add a brief, relevant heading to paragraphs to maximize readability.
- Use bullets to describe your experiences and accomplishments.
- Ensure correct grammar and no spelling errors . Your resume is your first impression – make it a good one!
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Assignment of Application
Receipt and referral.
The Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) in the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) serves as the central receiving point for all competing applications, whether solicited or unsolicited. Upon receipt of a competing application, DRR: checks for completeness, determines area of research, assigns applications to one or more NIH Institutes or Centers (ICs) for possible funding, assigns an identification number that looks similar to this: 1-R01-MH123456-01, and assigns the application to a review group that has the expertise to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of the application. To reach the most appropriate assignment, DRR consults with ICs’ referral staff, Scientific Review Officers (SROs) and Integrated Review Group (IRG) Chiefs, and considers applicants’ requests (see Using a Cover Letter section below). For applications assigned to an IC review branch for peer review, a general assignment is made to that IC; the staff in the review branch subsequently decides whether the application is to be reviewed by an IC standing committee or by an IC Special Emphasis Panel (SEP). Additional information about this process at CSR may be found on their submission and assignment web page . As noted above, applications submitted to the NIH receive two assignments through the CSR DRR:
- Programmatic assignment is based on the overall mission, specific mandates and interests of the IC.
- The assigned IC is responsible for the overall administration of applications, and will potentially provide funding, depending on review and other considerations.
- Once assigned to a specific IC, your application will also be assigned to a Program Official within that IC (see Step 1 for details on the Program Official’s role ).
- The second assignment (review) is to the review cluster (Integrated Review Group [IRG]) as well as to a particular review committee (Scientific Review Group [SRG], often referred to as Study Section) that will review the application, either at CSR or within an IC. For example, some grant applications that are assigned to NIMH are reviewed by a NIMH Peer Review Committee or SEP instead of CSR. Review assignment is based on the specific description for each standing scientific review committee .
Identifying the Most Appropriate Review Committee for Your Grant Application
While CSR or the NIMH Review Branch retains the responsibility for making the final determination concerning assignment of grant applications to a particular review committee, it is often in your best interest to be familiar with the available choices and to express your opinion at the time of application submission (see Using a Cover Letter section below).
To help identify the most appropriate review committee, look at the description and recent rosters for each review committee. These can be found using the search feature or related links at:
- Integrated Review Groups (IRGs) conducted by CSR
- NIMH Peer Review Committees
Applicants should also consider seeking guidance from the Scientific Review Officer, IC Program Officer (often listed within the Funding Opportunity Announcement), and check out the NIH Reporter database of funded grants in order to identify the most appropriate review committee for you grant application.
One other type of review committee is the Special Emphasis Panel (SEP). These are special committees of experts that usually meet only once for the review of a specific set of applications. These types of applications may have been submitted in response to a specific Request for Applications, or are for specific grant mechanisms that are submitted only once per year, among others types of such applications. Because SEPs are set up on an as-needed basis, applicants cannot request a specific SEP. You can look for your assigned SEP and roster 30 days before the review on this list of SEPs . The SEP codes will have the prefixes ZRG1 for CSR review or ZMH1 for NIMH review (please note that ZMH1 SRC 99 is a holding code only, used by all review committees convened by NIMH, including those subsequently assigned to standing review committees or SEPs.)
Using a Cover Letter
Investigators may include a cover letter (a PDF attachment for electronic submissions) with their application. The information within a cover letter can help DRR in referring your application to a particular IC and help the SRO conduct the review. You can use a cover letter to suggest a particular review group, to suggest an IC you think would be interested in your research, to describe the kinds of expertise needed to review your application (you should not, however, list the names of potential reviewers), and to inform the SRO of potential reviewers who you feel might be in conflict with your application. While cover letters are encouraged, please note that CSR and IC review staff make the final assignment and conflict decisions after carefully considering your suggestions and explanations, in light of NIH policies and referral guidelines. Note that cover letters are for internal use only (i.e., referral staff and SROs). Cover letters are not provided to reviewers. You must have a cover letter for the following applications: resubmissions, applications requiring IC approval to submit (e.g., grants requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year), genome-wide association studies (GWAS) or those studies that plan to access GWAS data in the NIH repository, late applications, and continuous submission (in which case you should indicate that you are a member of a NIH study section qualified to submit at a nonstandard time).
Checking on Final Assignment
Information on the final programmatic and review assignments can be found in the eRA Commons page related to the grant application several weeks after submission. If the information is not clear or there are questions about assignment, contact the peer review contact (if any) listed in the Funding Opportunity Announcement or the Division of Receipt and Referral at 301-435-0715.
Back to Step 3
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Hints for Applicants
The Summer Programs are highly competitive. About 1 of every 8 applicants to the Summer Programs is selected. In the NHLBI, the selection process is initiated by the scientists themselves. They typically select students whose research interests and skills are of relevance to their ongoing research. Some investigators will select students based on key words in their application, while other investigators will select only from students who contact them directly. It is thus highly advantageous that applicants contact individual investigators to explain their interest and aptitude for the ongoing research.
Hints on How to Apply and Compete
- Take some time to identify areas of research that interest you. You should identify several researchers or laboratories whose research interests you most. Listings of researchers and their interests in the NHLBI and within all of NIH are available on-line.
- Also visit the web sites of NIH Institutes and Centers .
- Write a good cover letter describing your interest in health-related research, future academic plans, and reasons for seeking an internship at the NIH. Use this cover letter in your on-line application.
- Send an e-mail to investigators whose research interests you that tells them why you are interested in their research and how your research skills will be useful to them with a copy to the NHLBI Office of Education at: [email protected] . Correspondence with NIH Investigators and the Office of Education is most effective if it comes directly from potential summer researchers.
- Include information in your application and in the e-mail to investigators on past research experience, science awards, honors, student programs and participation in scientific meetings and poster sessions—attach copies of abstracts and scientific papers.
- Carefully proofread your application.
- The best recommendation letters are from science faculty, preceptors, etc. that have direct knowledge of your scientific interests and abilities. Letters from family friends are less useful.
- Graduating seniors should include information that you have been accepted to an academic institution at the next educational level, e.g., acceptance letter to college, professional school, etc.
- Be mindful about application deadlines. Apply early (before January 1) electronically on the NIH web site. If you have an interest in an internship in research going on at the NHLBI , select THE NATIONAL HEART, LUNG, AND BLOOD INSTITUTE in item #9 on the application.
- Selection of students by individual laboratories begins early in the year, well before the application deadline. Students who have been selected will be contacted by investigators and will receive notification of their selection from the Office of Education. Those who are not selected will receive notification during the month of May. The Office of Education will not be able to respond to inquiries about the status of a particular application.
For further information about the NHLBI DIR Summer Internship Program, including help on choosing a mentor, please contact the Summer Program Coordinator by calling 301-451-9440, emailing [email protected] , or visiting NHLBI DIR Office of Education at Building 50, Room 4139, Bethesda, MD 20892-8033
Back to Summer Research
G. 200 - SF 424 (R&R) Form
Additional Instructions for Multi-project:
Overall Component: Fill in all the SF424 (R&R) Form fields, as they are all collected.
Other Components: You need to fill in only a subset of fields in the SF424 (R&R) Form. Skip the other fields, as any information provided in them will be discarded. The fields you must fill in are:
5. Applicant Information
- 7. Type of Applicant (Optional)
11. Descriptive Title of Applicant's Project
12. proposed project, 1. type of submission.
This field is required. Check one of the "Type of Submission" boxes:
The pre-application option is not used by NIH or other PHS agencies unless specifically noted in a funding opportunity announcement (FOA).
An "Application" is a request for financial support of a project or activity submitted on specified forms and in accordance with NIH instructions. (See NIH Types of Applications for an explanation of the types of applications).
Check this box if you are correcting either system validation errors or application assembly problems that occurred during the submission process. Changed/corrected applications must be submitted before the application due date.
When you submit a changed/corrected application, follow these guidelines:
- After submission of an application, there is a two-day application viewing window. Prior to the due date, you may submit a changed/corrected application. Submitting a changed/corrected application will replace the previous submission and remove the previous submission from consideration.
- If you check the "Changed/Corrected Application" box, then "Field 4.c Previous Grants.gov Tracking ID" is required.
- Do not use the "Changed/Corrected Application" box to denote a resubmission application. Resubmission applications will be indicated in "Field 8. Type of Application." See NIH Glossary for the definition of Resubmission .
Additional Instructions for SBIR/STTR:
SBIR/STTR Phase II, Phase IIB and CRP Applications: To maintain eligibility to seek Phase II, Phase IIB, or CRP support for a specific project, awardees should submit within the first six due dates following the expiration of their budget period.
2. Date Submitted and Applicant Identifier
The "Date Submitted" field will auto-populate upon application submission.
Fill in the "Applicant Identifier" field, if applicable. The Applicant Identifier is reserved for applicant use, not the federal agency to which the application is being submitted.
3. Date Received by State and State Application Identifier
Skip the "Date Received by State" and "State Application Identifier" fields.
4.a. Federal Identifier
New Applications without Pre-application: Leave this field blank.
New Applications following Pre-application: Enter the agency-assigned pre-application number.
Resubmission, Renewal, and Revision Applications: The Federal Identifier is required. Include only the IC and serial number of the previously assigned application / award number (e.g., use CA987654 from 1R01CA987654-01A1).
When submitting a Phase II application, enter the Phase I SBIR/STTR grant number in this field. When submitting a Phase IIB or CRP application, enter the Phase II SBIR/STTR grant number in this field.
NIH SBIR Contract recipients: When submitting a Phase II, Phase IIB, or CRP grant application connected to a Phase I or Phase II contract, the applicant should submit a New application (as opposed to a Renewal) with a predetermined 'alternative' Grant Number used for the Federal Identifier. The Federal Identifier will be the awarding IC code, followed by six 0s. For example, if the applicant would like for NHLBI to be the awarding institute, they'd enter HL000000. It is critically important for the applicant to inform the appropriate NIH SBIR/STTR Program Manager before they apply. The applicant should also include a cover letter indicating that the application is a Phase II or Phase IIB, and that the Phase I was from an NIH SBIR contract.
For more information on applying for SBIR/STTR Phase II, Phase IIB or CRP awards, see the following link, and the SBIR / STTR Frequently Asked Questions .
4.b. Agency Routing Identifier
Skip the "Agency Routing Identifier" field unless otherwise specified in the FOA or notice in the NIH Guide for Grants & Contracts.
Applications in response to a NIH Notice of Special Interest require the notice number (e.g., NOT-IC-FY-XXX) to be entered into this field in order to assign and track applications and awards for the described initiative.
4.c. Previous Grants.gov Tracking ID
The "Previous Grants.gov Tracking ID" field is required if you checked the "Changed/Corrected Application" box in "Field 1. Type of Submission." A Tracking ID number is of the form, for example, GRANT12345678.
The "Applicant Information" fields reflect information for the applicant organization, not a specific individual.
Other Components: The "Applicant Information" section is required and applies to the lead organization of the component.
The small business is always the applicant organization for an SBIR or STTR award (e.g., ABC Incorporated).
The small business must be located in the United States.
Unique Entity Identifier (UEI):
This field is required.
Enter the UEI of the applicant organization.
This UEI must match the number entered in the eRA Commons Institutional Profile (IPF) for the applicant organization. The applicant's Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) is encouraged to confirm that a UEI has been entered into the eRA Commons IPF prior to application submission. The same UEI should be used in the eRA Commons IPF, Grants.gov, System for Award Management (SAM) registration, and in the UEI field in the application.
If your organization does not already have a UEI, you will need to go to the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) to register and obtain a UEI.
Other Components: If a component is led by an organization other than the applicant organization, then you must provide the lead organization's4UEI. If the organization does not already have a UEI, you will need to go to the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) to obtain a UEI. However, the lead organization does not need to be registered in SAM or in eRA Commons at the time of application. SAM registration is encouraged since it helps staff process your application if you are selected for funding.
Enter the legal name of the organization.
Enter the name of the primary organizational department, service, laboratory, or equivalent level within the organization.
Enter the name of the primary organizational division, office, major subdivision, or equivalent level within the organization.
This field is required. Enter the first line of the street address for the applicant organization.
Enter the second line of the street address for the applicant organization.
This field is required. Enter the city for the address of the applicant organization.
Enter the county/parish for the address of the applicant organization.
This field is required if the applicant organization is located in the United States or its territories. Enter the state or territory where the applicant organization is located.
If "Country" is Canada, enter the province of the applicant organization; otherwise, skip the "Province" field.
This field is required. Select the country for the address of the applicant organization.
The ZIP+4 is required if the applicant organization is located in the United States. Otherwise, the postal code is optional. Enter the ZIP+4 (nine-digit postal code) or postal code of the applicant organization.
Person to be contacted on matters involving this application
This information is for the administrative contact (e.g., AOR or business official), not the PD/PI. This person is the individual to be notified if additional information is needed and/or if an award is made.
Enter or select the prefix, if applicable, for the name of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
This field is required. Enter the first (given) name of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter the middle name of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
This field is required. Enter the last (family) name of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter or select the suffix, if applicable, for the name of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter the position/title for the person to contact on matters related to this application.
This field is required. Enter the first line of the street address for the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter the second line of the street address for the person to contact on matters related to this application.
This field is required. Enter the city for the address of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter the county/parish for the address of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
This field is required if the person to contact on matters related to this application is located in the United States or its Territories. Enter the state or territory where the person to contact on matters related to this application is located.
If "Country" is Canada, enter the province for the person to contact on matters related to this application; otherwise, skip the "Province" field.
Select the country for the address of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
The ZIP+4 is required if the person to contact on matters related to this application is in the United States. Otherwise, the postal code is optional. Enter the ZIP+4 (nine-digit postal code) or postal code of the person to contact on matters related to this application.
This field is required. Enter the daytime phone number for the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter the fax number for the person to contact on matters related to this application.
Enter the e-mail address for the person to contact on matters related to this application. Only one e-mail address is allowed, but it may be a distribution list.
6. Employer Identification
Enter either the organization's Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) as assigned by the Internal Revenue Service. If your organization is not in the United States, enter 44-4444444. Your EIN may be 12 digits (e.g., Payment Management System (PMS) Entity Identification Number), and if this is the case, enter all 12 digits.
The small business must be located in the United States or a U.S. territory.
7. Type of Applicant
In the first field under "7. Type of Applicant," enter the appropriate applicant type. If your applicant type is not specified (e.g., for eligible Agencies of the Federal Government), select "X: Other (specify)," and indicate the name (e.g., the appropriate federal agency) in the space below.
Additional Instructions for Fellowship:
The information in "7. Type of Applicant" is for the applicant organization, not a specific individual authorized organization representative (AOR) or fellowship PD/PI.
Other Components: You may fill out "7. Type of Applicant," but it is optional.
Select "R. Small Business."
The applicant organization must certify (through Just-in-Time pre-award procedures) that it will qualify as a small business at the time of award.
Complete only if "X. Other (specify)" is selected as the "Type of Applicant."
Do not use the "Women Owned" checkbox.
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Do not use the "Socially and Economically Disadvantaged" checkbox.
Note: NIH, CDC, and FDA use the Business Type information provided in the System for Award Management entity record for the applicant organization, rather than the "Woman Owned" and "Socially and Economically Disadvantaged" checkboxes, to determine the small business organization type. For more information, see the NIH Guide Notice on Small Business Organization Type Information Pulled from System for Award Management Record Rather than Grant Application Form .
8. Type of Application
Select the type of application. Check only one application type. Use the following list of existing definitions to determine what application type you have. For more information, see NIH Types of Applications .
- New. Check this option when submitting an application for the first time or in accordance with other submission policies. See the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 188.8.131.52: Submission of Resubmission Application .
- Resubmission. Check this option when submitting a revised (altered or corrected) or amended application. See also the NIH Application Submission Policies . If your application is both a "New/Revision/Renewal" and a "Resubmission," check only the "Resubmission" box.
- Renewal. Check this option if you are requesting additional funding for a period subsequent to that provided by a current award. A renewal application competes with all other applications and must be developed as fully as if the applicant were applying for the first time.
- Continuation. The box for "Continuation" is used only for specific FOAs.
- Revision. Check this option for competing revisions and non-competing administrative supplements. For more information on competing revisions, see NIH Competing Revisions . For more information on administrative supplements, see NIH Administrative Supplements .
Additional Instructions for Career Development:
The applicant should generally check "New" or "Resubmission." Unless otherwise specified in the FOA, individual career development awards usually cannot be renewed, supplemented, or revised. Contact the awarding component staff or refer to the FOA if clarification is needed.
The applicant should generally check "New" or "Resubmission." Unless otherwise specified in the FOA, individual fellowship awards usually cannot be renewed, supplemented, or revised. Contact the awarding institute or center staff or refer to the FOA if clarification is needed.
Small Business Program Phases and Their Associated Application Types
Phase I: New/Resubmission
Phase II: Renewal/Resubmission. Phase II applications should not be listed as "New" unless they are Direct to Phase II applications. Only one Phase II application may be awarded for a specific project supported by a Phase I award
Direct to Phase II (SBIR Only): New/Resubmission. Direct to Phase II awards should be submitted as "New" applications and not continuations of Phase I SBIR or STTR projects. Small businesses that are eligible to submit Phase II applications for projects that were supported with a Phase I SBIR or STTR award are expected to submit the regular Phase II application as a "Renewal" application based on the awarded Phase I SBIR or STTR project.
Phase IIB: Renewal/Resubmission
Commercialization Readiness Pilot (CRP) Program: New/Renewal/Resubmission. The "New" application designation utilized by the CRP PAR program announcements allows active Phase II grants or contracts to receive a CRP concurrently with their active award. This does not allow for a "New" CRP application after an unsuccessful resubmission of a CRP application.
For more information about SBIR/STTR application types, see the SBIR/STTR Frequently Asked Questions .
If Revision, mark appropriate box(es).
You may select more than one.
- Increase Award
- Decrease Award
- Increase Duration
- Decrease Duration
- Other (specify)
If "E. Other (specify)" is selected, specify in the space provided.
The boxes for options B, C, D, and E will generally not be used and should not be selected unless specifically addressed in a particular FOA.
Is this application being submitted to other agencies? What Other Agencies?
In the field "Is this application being submitted to other agencies?" check "Yes" if one or more of the specific aims submitted in your application is also contained in a similar, identical, or essentially identical application submitted to another federal agency.
Otherwise, check "No."
If you checked "Yes," indicate the agency or agencies to which the application has been submitted.
9. Name of Federal Agency
The "Name of Federal Agency" field is pre-populated from the opportunity package and reflects the agency from which assistance is being requested with this application.
10. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number and Title
This field is pre-populated from the opportunity package and reflects the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number of the program under which assistance is requested.
This field may be blank if you are applying to an opportunity that references multiple CFDA numbers. When this field is blank, leave it blank. The appropriate CFDA number will be automatically assigned by the agency once the application is assigned to the appropriate awarding component.
Other Components: The "Descriptive Title of Applicant's Project" section is required.
Enter a brief descriptive title of the project.
The descriptive title is limited to 200 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
New Applications: You must have a title different than any other NIH or other PHS Agency project submitted for the same application due date with the same Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI).
Resubmission or Renewal Applications : You should normally have the same title as the previous grant or application; however, if the specific aims of the project have significantly changed, choose a new title.
Revision Applications: You must have the same title as the currently funded grant.
An SBIR/STTR Phase II application should have the same title as the previously awarded Phase I grant.
Other Components: The "Proposed Project" section is required.
This field is required. Enter the proposed start date of the project. The start date is an estimate, and is typically at least nine months after application submission. The project period should not exceed what is allowed in the FOA.
Additional Instructions for Training:
The usual start date for an institutional training grant is July 1, but there are other possible start dates. Refer to the Table of IC-Specific Information, Requirements and Staff Contacts in your FOA or contact the awarding component staff for further information.
This field is required. Enter the proposed ending date of the project.
Phase I: SBIR and STTR Phase I awards typically last for 6-12 months and generally do not exceed two years.
Phase II and Commercialization Readiness Pilot (CRP): Both SBIR and STTR Phase II awards typically last for two years and generally do not exceed three years. Applicants are encouraged to propose a project duration that is reasonable and appropriate for completion of the research project.
13. Congressional District of Applicant
Enter the Congressional District as follows: a 2-character state abbreviation, a hyphen, and a 3-character district number. Examples: CA-005 for California's 5th district, VA-008 for Virginia's 8th district.
If outside the United States, enter 00-000.
For States and U.S. Territories with only a single congressional district, enter "001" for the district number.
For jurisdictions with no representative, enter "099."
For jurisdictions with a nonvoting delegate, enter "098" for the district number. Example: DC-098 or PR-098.
If you do not know your Congressional District: Go to The United States House of Representatives website and search for your Congressional District by entering your ZIP+4. If you do not know your ZIP+4, look it up on the USPS Look Up Zip Code website.
14. Project Director/Principal Investigator Contact Information
This information is for the PD/PI. The PD/PI is the individual responsible for the overall scientific and technical direction of the project.
In the eRA Commons profile, the person listed here in "14. Project Director/Principal Investigator Contact Information" must be affiliated with the applicant organization entered in "5. Applicant Information." If you are proposing research at an institute other than the one you are currently at, do not create a separate Commons account with the proposed applicant organization. For additional information on creating affiliations for users in the eRA Commons, see eRA Account Management System's Online Help .
If submitting an application reflecting multiple PD/PIs, the individual listed here as the Contact PD/PI in "14. Project Director/Principal Investigator Contact Information" will be the first PD/PI listed in G. 240 - R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Form .
See G. 240 - R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Form for additional instructions for multiple PD/PIs. To avoid potential errors and delays in processing, ensure that the information provided in this section is identical to the PD/PI profile information contained in the eRA Commons.
Provide the name of the individual candidate (considered the PD/PI for career development award programs). If the PD/PI is not located at the applicant organization at the time the application is submitted, the information should reflect where the candidate can be reached prior to the requested award start date. If the PD/PI is not located at the applicant organization at the time of submission, the Commons account for the PD/PI must be affiliated with the applicant organization.
If your proposed career award is at a different site than your current institution, the proposed sponsoring institution will be the applicant organization. You must affiliate your Commons account with the institution so that you have access to records submitted on your behalf. Do not create a separate Commons account with the proposed sponsoring institution.
Note: For some career transition award programs (e.g., K22) the applicant may apply without an institutional affiliation. These individuals should refer to the specific FOA for application instructions.
Multiple PD/PIs cannot apply for individual career development awards.
Provide the name of the individual fellowship applicant (considered the PD/PI for fellowship award programs). If the PD/PI is not located at the applicant organization at the time the application is submitted, the information should reflect where the fellowship applicant can be reached prior to the requested award start date.
If your proposed fellowship is at a different site than your current institution, the proposed sponsoring institution will be the applicant organization. You must affiliate your Commons account with the institution so that you have access to records submitted on your behalf. Do not create a separate Commons account with the proposed sponsoring institution.
Multiple PD/PIs cannot apply to fellowship applications.
For Single PD / PI Applications: Name the one person responsible to the applicant small business for the scientific and technical direction of the project in the "14. PD/PI Contact Information" section.
For Multiple PD / PI Applications: Name the contact PD/PI here in "14. PD/PI Contact Information." The Contact PD/PI (as designated here in "14. PD/PI Contact Information") must be listed first in the G. 240 - R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Form and must be affiliated with the applicant organization in the PD/PI's eRA Commons profile.
NIH and PHS staff conduct official business only with the named PD/PIs and organizational / institutional officials listed on the application.
A revision / supplemental application must have the same contact PD/PI as the currently funded grant.
Phase I, Phase II, and CRP: The primary employment of the PD/PI must be with the small business at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed project. Primary employment means that more than one half (greater than 50%) of the PD/PI's time is spent in the employ of the small business. Primary employment with a small business precludes full-time employment at another organization.
Phase I, Phase II, and CRP Multiple PD / PI applications: The PD/PI listed here in "14. PD/PI Contact Information" must be affiliated with the applicant small business organization submitting the application and will serve as the contact PD/PI. The primary employment of the "Contact PD/PI" must be with the small business at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed project.
PD / PI Definition: As defined in 42 CFR 52, the PD/PI(s) is or are the "â€¦individual(s) judged by the applicant organization to have the appropriate level of authority and responsibility to direct the project or program supported by the grant and who is or are responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the project." When the proposed PD/PI clearly does not have sufficient qualifications to assume this role, the application is not likely to receive a favorable evaluation.
Verification of PD / PI Eligibility: The awarding component will require documentation to verify the eligibility of the PD/PI, if at the time of submission of the application, the PD/PI meets any of the following criteria:
- is a less-than-full-time employee of the small business;
- is concurrently employed by another organization;
- gives the appearance of being concurrently employed by another organization, whether for a paid or unpaid position.
If the PD/PI is employed or appears to be employed by an organization other than the applicant organization in any capacity (such as Research Fellow, Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Clinical Professor, Clinical Research Professor, or Associate), a letter must be provided by each employing organization confirming that, if an SBIR grant is awarded to the applicant small business, the PD/PI is or will become a less-than-half-time employee of such organization and will remain so for the duration of the SBIR project. If the PD/PI is employed by a university, such a letter must be provided by the Dean's office or equivalent; for other organizations, the letter must be signed by a corporate official.
This requirement applies also to those individuals engaged currently as the PD/PI on an active SBIR project. All current employment and all other appointments of the PD/PI must be identified in his or her "Biographical Sketch" required as part of the application. Be certain that correct beginning and ending dates are indicated for each employment record listed.
Phase I and Phase II: The primary employment of the principal investigator must be with the small business or the research institution at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed project. Primary employment means that more than one half (greater than 50%) of the PD/PI's time is spent in the employ of the small business or the research institution. Primary employment with a small business or research institution precludes full-time employment at another organization. A small business may replace the principal investigator on an STTR Phase I or Phase II award, subject to approval in writing by the Funding Agreement Officer. For purposes of the STTR Program, personnel obtained through a Professional Employer Organization or other similar personnel leasing company may be considered employees of the awardee. This is consistent with the Small Business Administration (SBA) size regulations, 13 CFR 121.106-Small Business Size Regulations.
For Multiple PD / PI Applications: The PD/PI listed here in "14. PD/PI Contact Information" must be affiliated with the applicant small business submitting the application and will serve as the Contact PD/PI. The Contact PD/PI may be from either the small business or the single partnering research institution.
Note: The Contact PD/PI must have a formal appointment with or commitment to the small business, which must be in the form of an official relationship between the parties, but need not include a salary or other form of remuneration.
PD / PI Eligibility: The PD/PI must commit a minimum of 10% (1.2 calendar months) effort to the project and must have a formal appointment with or commitment to the applicant small business, which is characterized by an official relationship between the small business and that individual. Such a relationship does not necessarily involve a salary or other form of remuneration. In all cases, however, the PD/PI's official relationship with the grantee must entail sufficient opportunity for the PD/PI to carry out his or her responsibilities for the overall scientific and technical direction of the project. Although documentation (e.g., consortium and contractual arrangements) describing the official relationship of the PD/PI with the applicant small business should NOT be submitted with the grant application, a copy must be furnished upon the request of the NIH awarding component.
Following is guidance for such documentation (describing the official relationship of the PD/PI with the applicant small business), which is required prior to award. The letter should be prepared on the letterhead of the independent PD/PI and addressed to the small business. One page is recommended. At a minimum, the letter should (1) verify the PD/PI's commitment to the project; (2) refer to the specific project by name; and (3) specify what assets or services the PI will contribute (e.g. expertise, number of hours/percent effort) as well as the PD/PI's remuneration. The letter should also indicate that the PD/PI and the small business have reached an agreement on proprietary interests (e.g., intellectual property).
Signatures of the authorized organization representative (AOR or signing official) for the applicant organization on the Authorized Representative section and the signature of the duly authorized representative of the research institution certifies, among other things, that the PD/PI has a formal relationship with / commitment to the small business when the PD/PI is an employee of the Research Institute.
The following are examples of situations describing the official relationship of the PD/PI with the applicant small business organization:
- PD/PI with a full-time, university appointment may also have appointments with other organizations (with or without salary) and still appropriately consider his or her commitment to the university to be "full-time," consistent with the personnel policies and procedures of the university applied on a routine basis. The PD/PI's commitment to the university and other organizations (including the applicant small business) cannot exceed 100% of his or her total professional effort.
- PD/PI with a full-time, 12-month appointment with an small business would be considered to have a commitment to the applicant organization of 100% of his or her total professional effort.
- PD/PI who has a part-time appointment with an small business and has concurrent commitments or appointments with organizations in addition to the small business concern would deem each commitment as a portion of 100% of his or her total professional effort.
As responsible stewards of funds, the NIH is concerned that the PD/PI has the time available to carry out the proposed STTR research activities. Therefore, it should be clear in the application that the time proposed for the PD/PI on a particular project is reasonable and it should be clear that the PD/PI has sufficient time (minimum 10% effort, which is 1.2 calendar months) from among his or her total professional commitments to devote to this project.
Enter or select the prefix, if applicable, for the name of the PD/PI.
This field is required. Enter the first (given) name of the PD/PI.
Enter the middle name of the PD/PI.
This field is required. Enter the last (family) name of the PD/PI.
Enter or select the suffix, if applicable, for the PD/PI. Do not use this field to record degrees (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.). Degrees for the PD/PI are requested separately in the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Form.
Enter the position/title of the PD/PI.
This field is required. This field may be pre-populated from the applicant information section in this form.
Enter the name of primary organizational department, service, laboratory, or equivalent level within the organization of the PD/PI.
Enter the name of primary organizational division, office, major subdivision, or equivalent level within the organization of the PD/PI.
This field is required. Enter first line of the street address for the PD/PI.
Enter the second line of the street address for the PD/PI.
This field is required. Enter the city for the address of the PD/PI.
Enter the county/parish for the address of the PD/PI.
This field is required if the PD/PI is located in the United States or its Territories. Enter the state or territory where the PD/PI is located.
If "Country" is Canada, enter the province for the PD/PI; otherwise, skip the "Province" field.
Select the country for the PD/PI.
The ZIP+4 is required if the PD/PI address is in the United States. Otherwise, the postal code is optional. Enter the ZIP+4 (nine-digit postal code) or postal code of the PD/PI.
This field is required. Enter the daytime phone number for the PD/PI.
Enter the fax number for the PD/PI.
This field is required. Enter the e-mail address for the PD/PI.
15. Estimated Project Funding
All four fields in "15. Estimated Project Funding" are required.
a. Total Federal Funds Requested
Enter the total federal funds, including Direct Costs and F&A Costs (Indirect Costs), requested for the entire project period.
Applicants should refer to the NIH Research Training and Career Development website for current stipend and other budgetary levels. Enter the total amount requested for the entire period of support. This amount should include the applicable stipend amount, the actual tuition and fees, and the standard institutional allowance.
If new stipend or other payment levels for Kirschstein-NRSA fellowships are announced after the time of application, these amounts will be automatically adjusted at the time of award.
Extraordinary Costs: Additional funds may be requested by the institution when the training of a fellow involves extraordinary costs for travel to field sites remote from the sponsoring institution or accommodations for fellows who are disabled, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The funds requested for extraordinary costs must be reasonable in relationship to the total dollars awarded under a fellowship and must be directly related to the approved research training project. Such additional funds shall be provided only in exceptional circumstances that are fully justified and explained by the institution in the application.
Enter total federal funds, including Direct Costs, F&A (Indirect) Costs, and Fee, requested for the entire project period.
The current budget guidelines for the programs can be found in the Omnibus SBIR / STTR solicitations. The budget guidelines are the same for both programs, but individual NIH Institutes and Centers can set their own budget limits and Specific SBIR / STTR Funding Opportunities may have their own budgetary guidance. The NIH recognizes that some biomedical innovations require funding levels above the budget guidelines to reach the marketplace. For those topics, the NIH has a waiver from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to allow larger awards. The list of approved topics can be found on the SBIR / STTR Funding Opportunities page . Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact program officials prior to submitting any application in excess of the total award amounts listed in the solicitation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NIH Program Officers prior to submitting any application in excess of the guidelines and early in the application planning process. In all cases, applicants should propose a budget that is reasonable and appropriate for completion of the research project. Not all Institutes or Centers offer Phase IIB or CRP awards and allowable budgets may vary. For a full listing of those Institutes or Centers that accept Phase IIBs or CPRs, see the Omnibus Solicitation program Descriptions and Research Topics document .
b. Total Non-Federal Funds
For applications to NIH and other PHS agencies, enter "0" in this field unless cost sharing is a requirement for the specific FOA.
c. Total Federal & Non-Federal Funds
Enter the total federal and non-federal Funds requested. The amount in this field will be the same as the amount in the "Total Federal Funds Requested" field unless the specific FOA indicates that cost sharing is a requirement.
d. Estimated Program Income
Indicate any program income estimated for this project, if applicable.
Enter "0," as the "Estimated Program Income" does not apply to training applications.
Enter "0," as the "Estimated Program Income" does not apply to fellowship applications.
16. Is Application Subject to Review by State Executive Order 12372 Process?
Applicants should check "No, Program is not covered by E.O. 12372."
The list of NIH and other PHS agencies Certifications, Assurances, and other Policies is found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 4: Public Policy Requirements and Objectives.
The applicant organization is responsible for verifying its eligibility and the accuracy, validity, and conformity with the most current institutional guidelines of all the administrative, fiscal, and scientific information in the application, including the Facilities and Administrative rate. Deliberate withholding, falsification, or misrepresentation of information could result in administrative actions, such as withdrawal of an application, suspension and/or termination of an award, debarment of individuals, as well as possible criminal and/or civil penalties. The signer further certifies that the applicant organization will be accountable both for the appropriate use of any funds awarded and for the performance of the grant-supported project or activities resulting from this application. The grantee institution may be liable for the reimbursement of funds associated with any inappropriate or fraudulent conduct of the project activity.
Check "I agree" to provide the required certifications and assurances.
18. SFLLL (Disclosure of Lobbying Activities) or Other Explanatory Documentation
If applicable, attach the SFLLL or other explanatory document as per FOA instructions.
If unable to certify compliance with the Certification in the "17. Certification" section above, attach an explanation. Additionally, as applicable, attach the SFLLL (Standard Form LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities ) or other documents in this item.
For more information:
See the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 4.1.17: Lobbying Prohibition , and the NIH Lobbying Guidance for Grantee Activities page.
19. Authorized Representative
The authorized representative is equivalent to the individual with the organizational authority to sign for an application. This individual is otherwise known as the authorized organization representative (AOR) in Grants.gov or the signing official (SO) in eRA Commons.
Enter or select the prefix, if applicable, for the name of the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the first (given) name of the AOR/SO
Enter the middle name of the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the last (family) name of the AOR/SO.
Enter or select the suffix, if applicable, for the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the position/title of the name of the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the name of the organization for the AOR/SO.
Enter the name of the primary organizational department, service, laboratory, or equivalent level within the organization for the AOR/SO.
Enter the name of the primary organizational division, office, major subdivision, or equivalent level within the organization for the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the first line of the street address for the AOR/SO.
Enter the second line of the street address for the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the city for the address of the AOR/SO.
Enter the county/parish for the address of the AOR/SO.
This field is required if the AOR/SO is located in the United States or its Territories. Enter the state or territory where the AOR/SO is located.
If "Country" is Canada, enter the province for the AOR/SO; otherwise, skip the "Province" field.
Select the country for the address of the AOR/SO.
The ZIP+4 is required if the AOR/SO is in the United States. Otherwise, the postal code is optional Enter the ZIP+4 (nine-digit postal code) or postal code of the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the daytime phone number for the AOR/SO.
Enter the fax number for the AOR/SO.
This field is required. Enter the e-mail address for the AOR/SO.
Signature of Authorized Representative:
Grants.gov will record the electronic signature for the AOR/SO who submits the application.
It is the organization's responsibility to assure that only properly authorized individuals sign in this capacity and/or submit the application to Grants.gov.
Grants.gov will generate this date upon application submission.
Unless specifically noted in a FOA, NIH and other PHS agencies do not use pre-applications. The "Pre-application" attachment field should not be used for any other purpose.
If permitted by your FOA, attach this information as a PDF.
21. Cover Letter Attachment
The cover letter is for internal use only and will not be shared with peer reviewers.
Who must complete the "Cover Letter Attachment":
Refer to the "content" list below for items that are permitted, as well as for specific situations in which a cover letter must be included.
A cover letter must not be included with post-award submissions, such as administrative supplements, change of grantee institution, or successor-in-interest.
Attach the cover letter, addressed to the Division of Receipt and Referral, in accordance with the FOA and/or these instructions.
Attach the cover letter in the correct location, specifically verifying that the cover letter has not been uploaded to the "20. Pre-application" field which is directly above the "21. Cover Letter Attachment" field . This will ensure the cover letter attachment is kept separate from the assembled application in the eRA Commons and made available only to appropriate staff.
Do not use the cover letter to communicate application assignment preferences. The Assignment Request Form is provided for that purpose.
The letter should contain any of the following information, as applicable:
- Application title.
- Title of FOA (PA or RFA).
- For late applications (see Late Application policy on NIH's Application Submission Policies ) include specific information about the timing and nature of the delay.
- For changed/corrected applications submitted after the due date, a cover letter is required, and it must explain the reason for late submission of the changed/corrected applications. If you already submitted a cover letter with a previous submission and are now submitting a late change/corrected application, you must include all previous cover letter text in the revised cover letter attachment. The system does not retain any previously submitted cover letters; therefore, you must repeat all information previously submitted in the cover letter as well as any additional information.
- Explanation of any subaward budget components that are not active for all budget periods of the proposed grant (see G. 310 - R&R Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form ).
- Statement that you have attached any required agency approval documentation for the type of application submitted. This may include approval for applications that request $500,000 or more, approval for Conference Grant or Cooperative Agreement (R13 or U13), etc. It is recommended that you include the official communication from an NIH official as part of your cover letter attachment.
- When intending to submit a video as part of the application, the cover letter must include information about the intent to submit it; if this is not done, the video will not be accepted. See NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 184.108.40.206: Post Submission Grant Application Materials for additional information.
- Include a statement in the cover letter if the proposed studies will generate large-scale human or non-human genomic data as detailed in the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy (see the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 220.127.116.11: NIH Genomic Data Sharing and Section 18.104.22.168: Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy/Policy for Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) ).
- Include a statement in the cover letter if the proposed studies involve human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions (HFT), regardless of whether or not Human Subjects are involved and/or there are costs associated with the HFT. For further information on HFT policy refer to the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 22.214.171.124 Human Fetal Tissue from Elective Abortions , Section 4.1.14 Human Fetal Tissue Research and Section 126.96.36.199 Human Fetal Tissue from Elective Abortions .
Mentored Career Development Award (CDA) applicants must include a cover letter that contains a list of referees (including name, departmental affiliation, and institution).
Non-mentored CDA applicants are encouraged, but not required, to include a cover letter. The cover letter should include a list of referees (including name, departmental affiliation, and institution).
Individual fellowship applicants must include a cover letter that contains a list of referees (including name, departmental affiliation, and institution).
If Phase I or Phase II was a contract or awarded from another federal agency, include the contract or award number.
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Cover Letter–NIH -- When to Include in Application/UNH Template Effective 1.25.18
Lynnette Hentges , University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
A tool for researchers to use to (1) decide whether a cover letter should be included in their applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for due dates on or after 1/25/18; and (2) prepare the cover letter to be included. This template incorporates the most recent information from the NIH guidance documents as well as advice from the NIH Office of Extramural Research and various NIH Institutes and Centers.
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Apply for a Grant
Letters of support.
Your application should include letters of support from your institution, key personnel, collaborators, and other significant contributors. Relevant letters of support will assure your peer reviewers that your collaborations and institutional commitments are on the right track.
What To Include
The letter text should demonstrate the commitment of your institution and contributors. Summarize the agreements you have in place to support your project.
Familiarize yourself with the recommendations given in the SF 424 Letters of Support instructions.
In multi-component applications, you may include letters of support in the overall component, other components, or both unless stated otherwise in the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO). You may also be instructed to begin the Letters of Support attachment with a table of letter authors, their institutions, and the type of each letter (e.g., institutional commitment).
Specifics for Collaborator Letters
When you request a letter of support, consider providing your collaborator a summary of your agreement as a convenient starting point. Discuss with them what information you think needs to be included.
The letters of support should clearly describe what type of support your collaborators will provide (e.g., reagents, animals, human samples, technology). Make sure to indicate whether the support is available to anyone on request or if your collaborator will provide it to only you. Our staff consider the latter point as they determine who may review your application without conflict.
Note that this letter is not the same document as your formal written agreement with the collaborator. Do not include the text of the formal agreement itself with your letters of support or your application. The formal agreement is for your benefit. NIH does not request, use, or need a copy of it. Learn more about Using Subawards .
Don’t Send Too Many Letters of Support
Include the letters as described in the NOFO’s instructions, but don’t assume that even more letters would be better. We strongly advise against collecting letters of support solely as endorsements of your reputation, expertise, or research plans.
In some cases, applicants have provided over a thousand letters of support. Large quantities of letters pose a significant burden on peer reviewers as they try to determine which are truly relevant to the project.
Unnecessary letters can also limit the pool of experts who are allowed to review your application. Due to potential conflicts of interest, anyone who writes a letter may not review your application. You might unintentionally eliminate the scientists who could have been your best supporters on the review panel.
Find our central list of Types of Letters for Grant Applications .
Late Applications and Post-Submission Materials
Key Points Regarding Late Submissions No one at the NIH provides approval of acceptance to late submissions in advance, and each instance is assessed based on the individual circumstances. Include a cover letter describing how your situation falls within a potentially valid situation as described below. The decision to accept a late application is NOT with NINDS and ultimately lies with NIH Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center for Scientific Review (CSR).
With only a few exceptions, NIH does not accept late applications. We advise you to submit your application well ahead of its due date in case you run into technical difficulties or any of the other problems. NIH will consider accepting your late application within a two-week window of the application due date if there is a valid reason within NIH policy . The only time NIH will not consider accepting a late application is when a request for applications (RFA) states in the Application Due Date field "No late applications will be accepted for this notice of funding opportunity."
Potentially Valid Reasons for a Late Application
NIH issues special Guide notices when a natural disaster occurs. In this circumstance, your delay should not exceed the duration of time your organization is closed, and you'll have to explain the specific reasons for the delay in your cover letter.
In the event of a personal tragedy, e.g., you or an immediate family member suffer sudden severe illness, you will need to include an explanation in your cover letter.
Issues With Federal Computer Systems
Follow the NIH Office of Extramural Research’s guidance on Dealing With System Issues and take the following actions:
- Go to Need Help? to find the appropriate Help Desk and contact information. Get in touch with the appropriate Help Desk immediately, over the phone and in writing.
- Maintain a record of the steps you take to resolve the problem.
- Once the issue is resolved, make note of it in your application’s cover letter. Include the confirmed system issues, Help Desk ticket numbers, and the steps taken to resolve the issues.
Notifying your program officer or scientific review officer is not a substitute for contacting the appropriate Help Desk.
Service on an NIH Advisory Panel
A perk to serving on an NIH panel is that you may be eligible to submit your application late. Full-time, temporary, or ad hoc service during the two months before or two months after an application due date may be an acceptable reason for late submission. For details, see Late Applications .
If you are eligible and choose to take advantage of this policy, you must explain the nature and period of your service in your cover letter.
You may also qualify for continuous submission, which allows you to apply at any time for R01, R21, and R34 grants. For more information, see Continuous Submission .
Neither CSR nor NINDS may give permission in advance for a late submission. NINDS cannot guarantee that we will accept a late application.
For the record, CSR has rejected the following reasons for late submission:
- Heavy teaching burdens.
- Ongoing illnesses.
- Laboratory relocations.
- Delays caused by an institution's business office.
Allowable Post-Submission Materials
For the full list of allowable post-submission materials, see Post-Submission Application Materials on NIH’s Submission Policies page.
Guidelines for Sending Post-Submission Materials
All post-submission materials must conform to NIH policies on font size, margins, and paper size. For details, see the Application Instructions for your grant type.
Your Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must concur with sending post-submission materials and send either his or her concurrence to you or the materials directly to your Scientific Review Officer (SRO). If you receive your AOR’s concurrence, forward the materials and concurrence to your SRO. A communication from you copying your AOR is not acceptable.
You or your AOR must submit post-submission materials as a PDF attachment to your SRO at least 30 calendar days before the peer review meeting, unless otherwise stated in the NOFO. Your SRO uploads acceptable materials into the official electronic grant file maintained in the eRA Commons.
comments Want to contact NINDS staff? Please visit our Find Your NINDS Program Director page to learn more about contacting Program Directors, Grants Management Specialists, Scientific Review Officers, and Health Program Specialists.
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CSR’s primary role is to handle the receipt and review of ~ 75% of the grant applications that NIH receives. NIH separates the review process from funding decisions.
Reviewers are critical to our mission to see that NIH grant applications receive, fair, independent, expert, and timely scientific reviews. We appreciate the generosity with which reviewers give their time.
News & Policy
The latest news and policy updates from CSR. Read about our outreach programs and publications.
Applications are reviewed in study sections (Scientific Review Group, SRG). Review Branches (RBs) are clusters of study sections based on scientific discipline.
Review Panels & Dates
Application Submission and Referral
The policy says there is a two week late window after the due date during which time NIH might accept a late application. How is that late window calculated?
I'm a reviewer, can I submit my application late?
Can I get approval in advance from NIH to submit my application late?
What is allowed in the Appendix?
What are some examples of things not allowed in the appendix?
- The instructions for appendix materials in the notice of funding opportunity do not match the instructions for appendix materials in NOT-OD-17-098 or the NIH Application Guide. Which one do I follow?
What is the current policy on resubmissions?
Must I wait for my summary statement before submitting my idea again?
Is there a limit to the number of times an application may be submitted as new?
Is there a benefit to submitting a resubmission rather than a new application?
My application was not discussed. Should I develop a new application or try to address the reviewers’ comments in a Resubmission application?
Am I allowed to submit the same application as a new and a resubmission application in the same Council round?
My resubmission application was not funded. May I now submit it as a new application?
Can I submit the same application to two different NOFOs simultaneously?
Can an additional PD/PI be added or removed before submitting a Resubmission application?
How are resubmission applications reviewed?
May I request that my Resubmission application be reviewed by a different study section or have primary assignment to a different NIH IC than my original application?
What should I do if I do not agree with my review group assignment or the funding institute assignment?
Are reviewers allowed to consider previous submissions when reviewing applications submitted as new?
Can I resubmit or submit my application as new while my application is under appeal of the initial peer review?
Do I need to contact the Program Officer before I submit a new R01 application? How early should this happen? Should I send a summary of the grant?
Is it better to appeal a review or to just resubmit a new application?
How do I withdraw my application?
How can I find a Program Officer or Scientific Review Officer to answer questions before submitting my application?
Applications may be accepted within two weeks of the due date, so if the due date is on the 1st of the month, applications could be accepted for two weeks (through the 15th of the month) for notice of funding opportunity that can accommodate late receipt of applications.
If the due date or the end of the late window falls on a holiday, weekend, or NIH Office closure the late window will be adjusted in accordance with our standard submission policies . For example, if the due date is the 1st of the month and falls on a holiday, the new due date will be the 2nd of the month and the late window will run from the 3rd to 16th. Similarly, if the end of the late window is the 15th and falls on a day when Federal offices are closed, the end of the late window would move to the next business day.
Most notice of funding opportunities (NOFOs) have a two-week late window of consideration during which time an application can be submitted. However, the terms are very specific, and don’t apply to some Requests for Applications (RFAs). Examples of reasons why late applications might be accepted include review service, illness, natural disasters, etc. However, no advance permissions will be given for late applications. You should list your reasons in the cover letter with your application and the decision will be made on a case-by-case basis. You should read the NIH late policy in the NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-039 for an explanation of how the policy may apply to you. In addition, some reviewers have continuous submission eligibility because they are appointed to an NIH review group such as a study section or institute advisory council. Under continuous submission, these reviewers may submit R01, R21, and R34 applications with standard due dates at any time during the council round. Read the NIH continuous submission policy in both NOT-OD-20-060 if this policy applies to you.
No. Permission to submit late is not granted in advance. If an application is submitted late, a cover letter explaining the reasons for the delay must be included with the signed, submitted application. The information included in the cover letter will be used to evaluate application acceptance on a case-by-case basis.
Note: Cover letters are maintained separately from the assembled application image and are only made available to a small subset of staff, mainly receipt and referral and review staff. Reviewers are never given access to cover letter information.
Only the items listed in NOT-OD-17-098 , plus any additional items if specifically listed in the individual notice of funding opportunity as required or optional.
If it is not specifically listed as allowed in the Notices or in NOFO used to submit the application, it is not allowed.
However, for purposes of clarity, a few examples of unallowable appendix items include but are not limited to :
- Methods or instructions for conducting the research
- Methods or instructions for analyzing the data
- Clinical trial protocols, or protocol synopses, in applications that do not propose to conduct a clinical trial
- Investigator’s Brochure section from an FDA IND application in applications that do not propose to conduct a clinical trial.
- Lists of abbreviations, definitions, or codes
- Data or other information, either preliminary or published, including tables, charts, graphs, figures, diagrams, graphics, images, screen shots, etc.
- Powerpoint presentations
- Papers, posters, or abstracts, including those in preparation, submitted, accepted for publication, or posted as pre-prints
- Reports, including market survey reports, and summaries of reports or sample reports
- Patents, patent applications, or materials intended for a patent application
- Flyers, curricula, course descriptions
- Case studies
- Files containing a mixture of allowed and unallowable Appendix materials
- Items that appear to be “similar to” one of the allowed Appendix items
- Items specified in the NOFO as not allowed in the Appendix
This is not intended to be a definitive list of unallowed materials; these examples are provided for purposes of clarity.
The instructions for appendix materials in the notice of funding opportunity do not match the instructions for appendix materials in NOT-OD-17-098 or the NIH Application Guide. Which one do I follow?
Instructions in the notice of funding opportunity for additions to or further restrictions on the types or amounts of materials allowed in an Appendix supersede other general NIH instructions for Appendix materials.
Only a single resubmission (A1) of an original application (A0) will be accepted. Following an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) application, applicants may submit the same idea as a new (A0) application for the next appropriate new application due date (see NOT-OD-18-197 for exceptions).
Resubmissions (A1) must be submitted within 37 months of the new (A0) application (see NOT-OD-10-140 and NOT-OD-12-128 ).
For more details on the Resubmission Policy, visit the Resubmissions webpage and see NOT-OD-18-197 .
Once your application has been reviewed, you must wait for the summary statement to be issued before you resubmit that application or submit any other application with substantial scientific overlap.
No. The number of such cycles is not limited, but NIH encourages applicants to update their applications to reflect the status of the field over the interim period and to incorporate new preliminary data, literature citations, letters of reference, etc. as time passes.
A resubmission allows you to provide a one page introduction, to tell reviewers directly how you have addressed their critiques. Alternatively, the introduction allows you to explain why you did not address them.
This issue should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Read the summary statement carefully and note weaknesses that you could address in a reasonable length of time. Discuss the critiques with your collaborators, colleagues, and/or senior researchers/mentors to get their suggestions. The PO also can discuss your options going forward. It is possible for an application that carefully addresses the reviewers’ comments to go from being “not-discussed” to receiving outstanding scores upon resubmission.
Generally, no. NIH will not allow duplicate or highly overlapping applications to be under review at the same time. This includes: 1) a new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application; and 2) a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application. ( NOT-OD-18-197 )
Yes. Investigators should take into account the scores of the previous application, the reviewer comments, and any advice from NIH program staff when deciding whether to submit the application as new. Should you decide to submit the application as new, take advantage of the comments from reviewers to reshape your application, but remember, you should not directly reference the previous review in the new application. If the previous application was a renewal resubmission, the new application should not include a Progress Report or a Progress Report Publication List. (Note special rules apply for submitting after an unsuccessful Phase II SBIR/STTR application.) Work from the prior funding period should be presented as preliminary data and/or rationale for the proposed research. Publications from the prior work may be cited in the reference list, as applicable, and/or listed in the biosketches of the investigators.
In most cases, two or more applications that have scientific overlap in the experiments proposed are not allowed in peer review at the same time, even if one is to an RFA and the other(s) to a PA/PAR/PAS. There are exceptions to this rule. NIH allows subprojects of Program Project Grant applications to be submitted as research applications (R01, R03, R15, R21, etc.) in the same cycle. In most cases, a second application for the same project should not be submitted until after the summary statement for the original submission has been released. See more information on overlapping applications .
A PD/PI can be added to or removed from the resubmission application. It is best to explain these changes in the introduction of your application. A change of PD/PI also needs to be noted via a checkbox in the application.
Reviewers are instructed to evaluate the resubmission application as presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project. For resubmitted renewals, the committee will also consider the progress made in the last funding period.
Resubmission applications usually are assigned to the same study section and Institute/Center (IC) as the original application but you can request a change using the Assignment Request Form with the resubmission application following the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide . It is a good idea to consult with your Program Officer (PO) and/or Scientific Review Officer (SRO) to discuss whether a change would be appropriate.
The Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) at the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is responsible for assigning applications to ICs and in some cases to Scientific Review Groups (SRGs). DRR usually accommodates requests if appropriately justified and requested well before the review meeting date, but reserves the right to make the final decision. ICs websites describe mission interest which can help applicants match topics of research to the appropriate funding component. The CSR website provides information regarding the focus of expertise of each of the CSR standing study sections .
You may direct referral questions to the CSR Referral Office ( [email protected] or 301-435-0715 ).
Contact the NIH scientific review officer (SRO) assigned to your application to discuss the review assignment. Contact the Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center of Scientific Review to discuss the funding institute assignment ( [email protected] or 301-435-0715 )
No. The scientific review officer will remind reviewers that they must only consider the information included in the new application.
No. The appeal must be resolved in order for you to submit that application again.
It is a good idea to contact a Program Officer (PO) to discuss if the PO’s NIH funding Institute is interested in the proposed project. The earlier this is done the better and one should discuss with the PO what they prefer i.e. to receive a summary of the grant, just specific aims or to have a discussion on the phone.
The NIH is very specific about the circumstances when one can appeal a review. You may appeal the review process if there is evidence of bias or conflict of interest on the part of one or more of the reviewers; lack of appropriate expertise within the study section; and/or factual error(s) made by one or more of the reviewers that could have altered the outcome of the review substantially. A difference in scientific opinion(s) is NOT grounds for appeal. You may wish to talk to your Program Officer (PO) to get advice about appealing, resubmitting or submitting a new application. The PO can explain the appeal process to you, tell you their experience with situations like yours and give you an idea of what you may wish to do next.
The signing official at your institution can now request withdrawal of an application directly through eRA Commons. See NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-143 for instructions. Alternatively, a letter with ink signature from your signing official can be sent to [email protected] and we will process your request manually.
Before you submit your application, program officers (PO) can identify the right type of grant program and/or funding opportunity for you and your research and verify that your idea fits within the mission and priorities of an NIH Institute or Center. POs also can refer you to appropriate scientific review officers (SRO) or study sections.
To find a PO or an NIH Institute or Center that might fund your research, go to the Matchmaker tool in NIH’s RePORTER database and click on the find-program-officials tab.
If you wish to find a study section at CSR, you can search for a study section using key words or use the Guide Study Section Selector tool on CSR’s home page: www.csr.nih.gov . Contact information for the SRO responsible for each study section can be found on the study section description pages. You are welcome to contact SROs to in inquire about the fit of your proposal with the study section.
After you submit your application, your assigned program officer and scientific review officer will be listed in your eRA Commons account.
For more guidance, visit the Contact NIH Staff page .
Last updated: 04/27/2023 10:54
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Curriculum Vitae (CV), Resume, and Cover Letter Resources for Graduate Students
Curriculum vitae (cv) and resumes.
Boise State University Resources:
- Curriculum Vitae Overview : Use this to get started and learn about the differences between a CV and resume!
- Resume and Cover Letter Resources
United States Federal Government Resumes: Federal Government Resumes are similar to resumes and CVs because they are targeted documents to a specific position. Although there is overlap, federal resumes contain very detailed information about past experiences including (hours worked per week, salary, supervisor’s name/phone number/address, occupational series numbers and the starting and ending grades of the federal government positions held, etc). Visit USAJobs.gov and What should I include in my federal resume? for more information and resources.
Application materials outside the United States: Visit GoinGlobal for country specific guides that include resume/CV resources, job search resources, employment opportunities and trends, business resources and networking groups, work permits and visa regulations, cost of living and compensation information and much more.
- Creating an Undergraduate CV – Columbia University Center for Career Education
- Graduate CV Checklist – The George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
- Graduate CV Guide and Template – The George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
- Resumes/CVs and Cover Letter Resources – University of Georgia
- Resume Examples – University of Georgia
- Building Your CV Guide for Graduate Students – Princeton University
- CV vs Resume Guide – Princeton University
- Transforming your CV to Resume Guide – Princeton University
Cover Letter for a Postdoc or Research Position: A cover letter for a post-doctoral or research position is tailored to showcase the applicant’s expertise and research accomplishments. The focus here is on the specific research project or lab the applicant is interested in and how their research aligns with the ongoing work of the organization or principal investigator. Important elements to include are:
- Research Experience: Detail your Ph.D. research, methodologies, findings, and any relevant publications. Emphasize how your expertise can contribute to the research goals of the prospective position.
- Research Goals: Explain your short-term and long-term research goals, indicating how the postdoc or research position will further your academic and career aspirations.
- Alignment with the Lab/Organization: Demonstrate your familiarity with the work of the lab or organization and how your research interests align with their ongoing projects or research areas.
Cover Letter for an Academic Job: An academic job cover letter is typically written by a graduate student or a Ph.D. holder seeking a faculty position at a university or college. In this type of cover letter, the emphasis is on the applicant’s research and academic achievements, teaching experience, and their potential to contribute to the academic community. The following aspects are important to include:
- Research Focus: Describe your research interests, ongoing projects, and any published work. Emphasize how your research aligns with the department’s focus and how you can contribute to the institution’s academic reputation.
- Teaching Experience: Highlight your teaching experience, including courses you have taught or assisted with. Demonstrate your passion for teaching and your ability to engage and educate students effectively.
- Future Goals: Express your long-term academic career goals and how the specific position fits into your overall trajectory as a researcher and educator.
Cover Letter for a Non-Academic Job: A cover letter for a non-academic job is targeted towards positions in industries outside of academia, such as corporate, government, nonprofit, or private sector jobs. The focus in this type of cover letter is on transferable skills and experiences that make the applicant a strong candidate for the specific role. Key points to address are:
- Transferable Skills: Highlight skills acquired during your academic journey, such as analytical abilities, problem-solving, project management, communication, and teamwork skills. Connect these skills to the requirements of the non-academic job.
- Relevant Experience and Accomplishments: Emphasize any internships, clinical, practicum, jobs, or research experiences that align with the industry or job you are applying for.
- Alignment and Fit: Express your enthusiasm for the company or organization and how your background makes you an ideal fit for the position.
- Cover Letters Virtual Workshop – Boise State University
- Graduate School Application Cover Letters – Roanoke University
- Cover Letters for PhD Students – Harvard University
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- Int J Endocrinol Metab
- v.19(3); 2021 Jul
Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine: How to Write a Cover Letter?
1 Nutrition and Endocrine Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, School of Medicine, City University of New York, New York, USA
3 Endocrine Physiology Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
A cover (covering) letter is a brief business letter introducing the scientific work alongside the submission process of a manuscript and is required by most scientific peer-review journals. A typical cover letter includes the name of the editor and the journal, date of submission, the characteristics of the manuscript, the importance of the work and its relevance to prospective audiences, declarations such as author agreements, conflicts of interest statement, funding source (s), and ethical statements. The letter also includes the contact information of the corresponding author (s) and may also include suggestions of potential reviewers. Spending enough time to draft an informative, comprehensive, and concise cover letter is quite worthwhile; a poorly drafted one would not persuade the editor that the submitted work is fit for publication and may lead to immediate rejection. Here, we provide a practical guide to draft a well-written, concise, and professional cover letter for a scientific medical paper.
The Cambridge dictionary defines a cover letter as “a letter that contains information about the thing it is sent with”. The cover letter is commonly known as a motivation letter submitted along with the curriculum vitae (CV) or a job application for employment ( 1 ) or academic position ( 2 ), and it is not clear why and how it was introduced into the scientific field ( 3 ). In scientific writing and publishing, a cover/covering letter is a letter to the editor’s target journal ( 4 ).
Providing a cover letter alongside the submission process is now required by most scientific journals. In fact, some high-quality and prestigious journals pay specific attention to the cover letter ( 3 ). Amongst the different steps of the publication process, the cover letter is the last step and is often overlooked ( 5 ). One of the most common complaints voiced by editors regarding submitted manuscripts is that the authors neglect to write a well-written cover letter, including a statement justifying the importance of their work ( 6 ). Missing this opportunity may have unintentional consequences, rejection without further consideration instead of being sent for external peer-review ( 5 , 6 ). Contrary to this view, some believe that the cover letter’s content overlaps with the manuscript’s abstract and gives mostly redundant information already found within the online submission system ( 3 ). The cover letter may also be a “misleading commercial advertisement” where it would not represent the content of the manuscript ( 3 ).
Although many editors may not read or seriously consider the cover letters of the submitted manuscripts ( 3 , 4 ), neglecting the importance of the cover letter may be a risk for the authors. Therefore, spending an adequate amount of time to write a coherent and persuasive cover letter is worth it. Following our previous publication on choosing a journal in a new series entitled Scientific Publishing in Biomedicine ( 7 ), here, we provided a practical guide to draft a well-written, professional, and concise cover letter needed to be accompanied by an original scientific paper, either with the initial submission or subsequently at revision/resubmitting stage. Since there are subtle differences in writing a cover letter for an original research paper versus a review article or an opinion, some points for drafting a cover letter for such papers are also discussed.
2. The Function of the Cover Letter
A cover letter is “a brief business letter”, which introduces the submitted manuscript to a prospective editor (s) ( 8 ). There are essentially two types of letters; the first is the one that is initially submitted with the manuscript (cover letter), and the second is when a revision is being submitted (revised letter). The first letter introduces the work at the initial manuscript submission ( 9 ), while the second one is needed following an invitation to revise and resubmit the manuscript. Here, the authors respond to the suggestions/criticisms of the reviewers ( 10 ). In this paper, “cover letter” and “second letter” refer to the first/submit letter and the revised letter, respectively.
A well-written cover letter is an effective tool for authors to sell their work to the journal editor and make a “good first impression”. A cover letter is a summary that highlights the main points, emphasizes the novelty, and communicates the potential implications of the submitted work ( 3 ). A cover letter allows the authors to persuade the editors regarding the novelty/originality and significance of the research in a less formal manner than in the manuscript itself ( 6 ). A well-written and informative cover letter helps the journal’s editor to be informed about the work and its significance. Regardless of the novelty and significance of the submitted manuscript, editors may miss those points without providing insights in a cover letter ( 5 ).
3. The Content of a Cover Letter
3.1. first cover letter (submit letter).
One point of view is that the cover letter’s content should be covered in the manuscript’s abstract ( 3 ). A typical cover letter includes the name of editor (s) and the journal, date of submission, the characteristics of the manuscript (i.e., title, type of the manuscript, e.g., review, original, case report), the importance of the work and its relevance to the readership of the journal, verification of the originality of the work, the authors’ confirmation that the manuscript is currently submitted only to this journal, declarations and ethical statements, suggested potential reviewers, and contact information of the corresponding author of the submitted work ( 5 , 6 ). Other manuscript characteristics, including the length and number of tables and figures, can also be indicated. If the manuscript belongs to a special issue or is being submitted upon an official invitation from the journal’s editorial office, it should also be addressed. The main contents of the first cover letter are described in Table 1 .
The most critical element of a cover letter is a “statement of novelty/significance/implication.” The authors are advised to carefully write a brief and concise description of their work’s impact toward communicating its significance ( 6 ). The authors are strongly advised not to copy the abstract into the cover letter and instead explain in their own words the significance of the work and the reason for submitting it to the journal ( 11 ). If this information is lacking, the editors may rely on the reviewers who may not appreciate the significance of the work and just focus on the technical issues rather than the scientific value of the work ( 5 ). Providing a clear and robust statement of novelty and significance would be more critical for editors and potential reviewers with diverse and interdisciplinary backgrounds ( 6 ).
The statements are expected to answer the following questions: (1) why is the work important? (e.g., emphasizing a new measurement, a new diagnostic method or criterion, a newly discovered biological process); and (2) how does the work advance current knowledge in the field? The best approach to answer this question is by describing the current state of knowledge in the field and clarifying how the work provides an added value by answering a previously unanswered question, finding the solution to a problem, or improving existing methods ( 5 ). Checking the recently published papers on similar topics in the journal provides new insights for the authors to clarify in the cover letter as to how the manuscript follows the publication trends of the journal and will add something new that would be relevant to the trend ( 12 ).
The cover letter is also expected to emphasize why the manuscript will attract the journal’s readers ( 5 ). The authors also need to consider the journal’s Aims and Scope to underscore how the manuscript would fit within the journal’s scope and attract potential readers ( 13 ). Instead of stating simply that the manuscript is “of interest to the field” or “novel,” the authors should address specific aspects of the journal’s Aims and Scope statement, e.g., “We believe that this manuscript is appropriate for publication by [journal name] since it… [reference to the journal’s aims and scope] ( 11 ).
For a review, opinion, or a trends paper, emphasizing the timeline and novelty is needed, as stated by Sacristán, the editor of trends in molecular medicine: “The synthesis and conceptual advance should be particularly stated in terms of what is new and has been trending in the field for the last one to five years”. She also recommends that the authors need to provide a future perspective beyond the main take-home message of the manuscript for a trends paper and take a strong and novel stance on a hypothesis or idea for a cover letter of an opinion manuscript ( 14 ).
The cover letter must contain some predefined statements, including the “author agreement” statement ( 13 ). An “author agreement” is a statement to confirm that “all authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript being submitted” ( 8 ). Furthermore, “the authors warrant that the manuscript is their original work, has not received prior publication and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere” ( 8 ). Some journals may request the corresponding author to confirm that he/she will take responsibility for informing co-authors of editorial decisions, reviews received, and any changes or revisions made; additionally, the editor (s) should be informed about any closely related manuscript (s) simultaneously submitted for consideration to the same or another journal ( 15 ). The authors also should declare if any part of the submitted work has been previously published elsewhere, even as an abstract ( 16 ); e.g., “there is some overlap in the content of the introduction section, which we have noted in the text”.
Depending on the journal’s policy, other statements, including “conflict of interest statement”, “funding source declarations”, and “permission note”, may also be required to be included in the cover letter ( 8 , 11 ). As indicated by Elsevier, a conflict of interest statement, known as a disclosure statement, is a declaration from the author that “there is no financial/personal interest or belief that could affect their objectivity”. The publisher emphasizes that the authors should declare and state the potential conflict’s source and nature in cases where a conflict of interest exists. A funding source declaration is defined by the publisher as “a declaration of any funding or research grants (and their sources) received in the course of study, research or assembly of the manuscript”. Elsevier also defines the permission note as a statement that declares that “permission has been received to use any material in the manuscript such as a figure, which is not original content” ( 8 , 17 ). Other statements like “Statement of English native editing” may also be added.
Furthermore, informing the editor (s) regarding any information that will support the submission (e.g., original or confirmatory data, supplementary materials, relevance, topicality) can be helpful ( 8 ). Other operational information, typically provided within checkboxes of the journal’s submission system, is not required to be included in the cover letter ( 5 ).
3.2. Second Cover Letter
The second cover letter, which accompanies the revised version of the manuscript, must be a model of clarity and must address every issue posed by the editor and reviewers ( 10 ). If the revised manuscript is sent for the second round of peer-review, the reviewer (s) will see the letter. The content of the header and footer sections of the revised letter is similar to that of the submitted cover letter. The letter should be directed to the editor as addressed in the first letter unless the authors are informed that a new editor will process the revised version ( 10 ). The first paragraph should start with an “expression of polite gratitude”, e.g., “we would like to thank you for the opportunity to revise and resubmit our manuscript.” The “manuscript ID” or “identification number,” usually assigned by the journal in the first submission, should be addressed in the first paragraph ( 10 ).
The second paragraph usually “signals attention to the reviewers’ comments” by providing an explicit reference to the comments made by the reviewers and the editor. Furthermore, it may contain a positive statement regarding the results, methodology, conclusions, etc., in which case the authors need to acknowledge reviews’ insights ( 10 , 18 ). For example, “We sincerely appreciate all the valuable comments and suggestions made, which helped us improve the revised version of our manuscript” or “we found the reviewers’ comments helpful in guiding us to revise the manuscript.” Such statements will help the authors in creating a polite, formal tone throughout the letter. The paragraph should be followed by providing the editor with a roadmap or a summary of the revisions, addressing “the response to comments attachment.” A point-by-point response to the specific comments of the reviewers must be provided. If the authors disagree with a point raised by a reviewer, a rebuttal or counterstatement may be in order. A scientific and polite approach should spell out why the authors disagree, never losing sight of the reviewer’s opinion ( 19 ).
The footer section (closing salutation) of the letter returns to polite formalities, using statements like “we hope that the revised version of our manuscript is now acceptable to the reviewers, and suitable for publication in the [name of journal], we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience” ( 10 ).
Although it is not a rule, the cover letter’s content can be organized within a cover letter header (opening salutation), three main paragraphs (the body of cover letter), and a cover letter footer (closing salutation), as described in Table 1 .
The cover letter should be initiated by addressing the editor (s) and the target journal; however, the author’s affiliation and contact information may also be included at the top of page ( 4 ). The name of the editor (s) can be easily found on the journal’s information page. If it is known, the authors must address the editor who will receive the manuscript and handle the peer-review process ( 13 ). If there are several co-editors, the person the author feels has the most appropriate background, and specialty of the topic should be addressed. In cases where such information is lacking, authors can mention all editors by name or address the letter to “dear editors” ( 12 ); however, it has been recommended to avoid writing “dear editor” ( 16 ). Also, the submission date and the journal’s name where the manuscript will be submitted are required ( 13 ).
In the first paragraph of the cover letter body, to introduce the submitted work, the title and the type of manuscript, authors’ name, journal name, and manuscript length are presented ( 4 ). In addition, it is mentioned that whether the manuscript is submitted upon an invitation or belongs to a special issue. The importance of the study, including novelty, potential implications, and its take-home message, are addressed in the second paragraph of the cover letter body. In addition, it is explained why the work would be attractive for journal readers. The third paragraph of the cover letter body includes some statements including authorship agreement, conflicts of interest, funding source, and ethical considerations. If required, potential reviewers are also suggested here.
Within the closing salutation, the authors can appreciate the editor for taking the time to read the cover letter and considering the submitted work for potential publication.
5. Some Practical Tips: The Length, and Dos and Don’ts
The authors need to spend plenty of time crafting their cover letters. They are advised to avoid too many details and keep it within one page (less than 200 words), like an introduction or a brief overview ( 4 , 11 ). The authors should check the guide for authors and cover letter suggestions provided by the journal, including all the requirements, e.g., specific disclosures, statements, and potential reviewers. Some publishers (e.g., Springer, https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/journal-author/cover-letters/1398, Taylor & Francis, https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/publishing-your-research/making-your submission/writing-a-journal-article-cover-letter/) provide sample cover letters that the authors can use. Figure 1 provides a sample for a cover letter.
If the authors address previously published papers in the cover letter, then appropriate citation should be considered. The authors should carefully check the letter for any spelling and grammatical errors ( 11 , 20 ). They should make sure that they correctly spell the name of the journal’s editor (s) ( 4 ). Being careless regarding the editor’s name or the change of a journal’s name in a cover letter of a resubmitted manuscript, can be embarrassing and make a bad impression ( 4 ). It is suggested that the cover letter be written on the authors’ institutional letterhead to display professionalism and reliability ( 20 , 21 ).
When authors suggest a number of potential reviewers, they should avoid suggesting their friends and colleagues, as this would be viewed as a conflict of interest. Collaborators whom the authors have published with in the past five years should not be suggested either; an editor may easily be informed of such associations by a quick search of PubMed or other databases ( 22 ). The authors should avoid using complex sentence structures, jargon, and acronyms and keep the text straightforward and easy to read ( 11 , 20 ). The authors should also avoid including unrelated personal information or glorifying their past research papers or any of their academic accolades ( 20 ). They must not be rude towards the editors or complement the editor’s accomplishments ( 4 ). The novelty statement should not exaggerate or overstate the findings of the work; furthermore, any conclusion stated should be completely supported by the data provided in the manuscript ( 23 ). Finally, authors are recommended not to write a generic cover letter that could be used for any manuscript and could be sent to any journal ( 21 ).
In summary, a cover letter should highlight the novelty, importance, take-home message, and goodness-of-fit of the manuscript to the journal. These are critical information that can persuade an editor that the submitted work merits publication consideration in the journal. The cover letter should not be general but should be custom-written for the target journal. Although the submitted manuscript may usually pass through the peer-review process and get published regardless of the cover letter, a well-written, informative, and concise cover letter increases the chance of gaining acceptance.
Authors' Contribution: Study concept and design, Zahra Bahadoran and Asghar Ghasemi; Drafting of the manuscript, Zahra Bahadoran, Parvin Mirmiran, and Asghar Ghasemi; Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, Khosrow Kashfi and Parvin Mirmiran.
Conflict of Interests: The authors have no conflict of interest.
Funding/Support: This study was supported by the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (grant number 28127).