Like a Lost Child In a Big City – The Importance of Cover Letters

We’re in the middle of an application deadline, and it always suprises me when a PI says, “No, I don’t have a cover letter, it’s not required.” It happens quite often, and it’s a common misconception.

One of our senior grants and contracts officers says that sending in a grant to NIH without a cover letter is like dropping off your youngest child in the middle of New York city and asking him to find his way home by himself. There is always a chance it could happen – but it’s not very likely to produce a successful outcome.

Investigators, even experienced ones, sometimes forget that their proposal goes to the Center for Scientific Review to be assigned to a study section. My favorite link to help explain the importance of a cover letter is on the CSR website here.

It’s nice to have the time to walk a new investigator through the list of review committees, and show them the list of names of participants on each. We usually provide a sample cover letter to the CSR which is helpful.

Sounds simple enough – but it’s these kind of touches that reassure a PI that their proposal has a better chance of funding. It’s nice to be able to help, especially in this tough funding climate.

How do you go the extra mile for your investigators?


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