Ancillary documents for NIH grant applications: The pages beyond the science

Published:November 15, 2022DOI:


      Preparing a grant proposal is no small feat, especially for research (R-series) grants from the National Institutes of Health. The National Institutes of Health is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, and as such, procuring a research grant from the National Institutes of Health is one of the ultimate benchmarks of success for a surgeon–scientist. Most investigators are familiar with the page limits for most R-series grants (12 pages for an R01 and 6 pages for an R21), with the addition of a single page allotted for the specific aims. Interestingly, despite the usual focus on the aforementioned research section, the rest of the application can routinely consist of an additional 100 to 150 pages, which means that pages allotted for the specific aims and research strategy represent only 10% of the complete application package. For busy surgeons, it is this abundance of ancillary documentation that can make preparing a research grant particularly onerous. Fortunately, for some, support exists within the department to help prepare much of this documentation by drawing from previous sources, templates, and boilerplate language that has been developed. Although these resources can significantly reduce the burden on individual investigators, there is a danger of leaning on generalized templates that can dilute the message of the overall grant proposal and introduce extraneous or incorrect information that can ultimately impact the cohesiveness and ultimately the competitiveness of the grant. The focus of this article is to educate surgeon–scientists regarding the purpose and importance of the ancillary information required for National Institutes of Health research grants and how to make the most of institutional resources while tailoring these materials to create a cohesive, competitive grant application.
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