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  • 3 Project Summary Facts EVERY Researcher MUST Know to Get Funded
  • Admin Team
3 Project Summary Facts EVERY Researcher MUST Know to Get Funded

Your Project Summary may be the most important component of your R01 grant application. Reviewers utilize this one-page abstract like a “one-stop-shop.” It must illustrate your overall objectives, the methodology that you plan to follow, and your specific aims. To properly craft your R01 Project Summary, you must understand what it means to your grant, your reviewers, and most importantly, you. To file a fundable R01 grant application, every researcher must know these 3 essential Project Summary facts:

  1. Your Project Summary is one of the few sections EVERY reviewer will read. In 2017, there were 30,516 R01 applications competing for limited funding. Reviewers simply don’t have the time to completely read every proposal. Instead, they use your Project Summary as a primary determining factor when deciding which applications deserve further consideration.

Writing Tip: Write with passion, excitement and vigor. Your purpose must be to engage your reviewer and to “suck them in” so they want to read more of your application.

  1. Although your Project Summary is written by experts, it must be understandable to non-experts. R01 grants are often geared toward gaps in scientific knowledge that are highly specific, technical and complex, requiring experts in the field to fill these gaps (you). However, while reviewers have PhDs, they simply cannot be experts in every scientific field. Accordingly, it is essential that you write your Project Summary in plain language so that a non-scientist can understand its significance. If your writing is too technical or too complex, a reviewer may have difficulty understanding the value of your research, and that value is directly tied to your ability to get funded.

Writing Tip: Write in plain language so anyone, even nonscientists, can understand your project.

  1. Your Project Summary is your R01. Encompassing your entire proposal narrative within your one-page Project Summary in a way that will capture reviewer attention can be a daunting task. And if it isn’t, you are probably not doing it right. When writing your Project Summary, remember to highlight the research aspects of your proposal, i.e., your specific aims and approach. If an important feature, like your significance or specific aims, is lacking or underdeveloped in your Project Summary, reviewers may think the same is true with the rest of your application.

Writing Tip: Encompass your entire research narrative in your Project Summary (Specific Aims, Research Strategy, etc.).

Remember, while your Project Summary is very valuable, it is also very short (no more than 30 lines of text). This means that your writing must be focused and general, so you should edit this section several times throughout the course of writing your R01 proposal. Each time you should develop a more focused, complete version. Consider the months spent developing your R01 a waste of time if your Project Summary doesn’t grab a reviewers’ attention because it won’t be read or be given further consideration. If you can present a complete research narrative in your Project Summary, you will instill confidence in reviewers that you have thoroughly organized the facets of your application. This confidence is what reviewers want out of grant applications, and it’s what will maximize your R01 funding potential.


For more step-by-step guidance on how you can write an award-winning R01 Project Summary, check out the newly launched, how-to manual:

2019 NIH R01 Grant: Expert Writing Skills Manual

Happy writing and good luck!

  • Admin Team

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