Grant Writing

How to Write your Grant Project Summary/Abstract

The project summary or abstract is a concise and objective summary of your proposed research. The abstract of a study protocol or proposal should follow the logical flow of main points in a study proposal and outline the logic of the expanded work. With this in mind, the abstract is an annotation of the protocol or propose and is not a suitable avenue for critical analysis or sweeping allegation. You should be clear and coherent throughout the brief abstract and explain the essentials of the study correctly and succinctly.     

  • The project summary/abstract and projective narrative will be read by every reviewer and by funding agency staff members. The project summary/abstract should not be written until after the main research proposal has been finished.
  • Much like your title, this is the first piece of the research application that reviewers will read, and will set the tone for the rest of the application. The project summary/abstract should make the reader instantly energized about reading the rest of your application.
  • Stop and Consider: Your closest competitors will be able to read the project summary/abstract when it is published in the RePORTER database. Sensitive or confidential information should not be included for this reason.
  • Usually, for NIH submissions, the project summary/abstract is 30 lines or less.
  • The project summary/abstract should be written in lay language to allow the general public to understand your project without reviewing the full application.
  • The project summary/abstract should:
    • Immediately establish the relevance of your proposal to human health.
    • Introduce the gap in knowledge base/unmet need that will drive your application. Describe the objective of this application, what it seeks to accomplish, which must be either to fill the gap or meet that need that you delineated in the first paragraph.
    • Discuss your central hypothesis and link it to the objectives.
    • Write the first few lines on your expected outcomes. These are the payoff items the funding agency can expect if they fund your application. There should be at least one important expected outcome for each of your aims. There must be a clear linkage back to the specific aim that produced them.
    • Summarize how you will engage patients and stakeholders in your research.
    • Describe how your research plan is responsive to the specific PFA and its relevance to the mission of the funding agency.
    • You need to write the final few general closing lines about the positive impact of your proposed research. Summarize the general impact of the expected outcomes that, collectively, will advance your field vertically, as well as contribute to the mission of the funding agency and the RFA that you are targeting.
  • Formatting the project summary/abstract:
    • Usually 30 lines of text or less in total length.
    • Do not write in the first person, usually instructions will prohibit you from doing so.
    • Use the smallest font allowable (i.e. 11pts).
    • Line spacing should be minimized to 6 lines per vertical inch.
    • Can use 0.5 inch margins here, rather than the 1.0 inch margins in the proposal.
    • Highlight key words using either italics or underlined italics with fonts such as Arial or Helvetica.

Further Reading

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