Grant Writing

Ultimate Guide to Letters of Support in Grant Writing

Letters of support are a good way to show reviewers that you have both the institutional support and expertise to back up your research proposal and to form a strong foundation for your project. Request letters of support early with a clear deadline and focus so that you have a good range of letters to include with your application.

  • Provide Letters of Support, including any letters necessary to demonstrate the support of subcontract participants and collaborators, such as principal investigators, investigators, stakeholder associations, and other significant contributors included in the contract application.
  • You are also highly encouraged to include a letter from the leadership of your organization indicating that the organization is supportive of implementing the research findings if they are germane and warranted for implementation.
  • Letters of Support are not required for personnel (such as research assistants) who are not contributing in a substantive, measurable way to the scientific development or execution of the project.
  • Consider the following for letters of recommendation:
    • Independence:
      • For Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or those who are in the early stages of independent careers, it is important to provide the reviewers evidence that you have the appropriate experience and training for the size and scope of the project.
    • Resources:
      • Understand the level of resources needed to compete.
      • Conduct an organizational assessment. Determine what resources and support your organization has and what additional support you’ll need.
      • Consider whether the available equipment and facilities are adequate and whether the environment is conducive to the research.
      • You should clearly state that you have the appropriate resources to conduct the research, such as adequate equipment and laboratory space.
    • Institutional Support:
      • Letters of reference and institutional commitment are important.
      • Mention any start-up funds, support for a technician, etc. This is a positive indicator of institutional commitment to the peer reviewers.
    • Collaborators
      • Determine the expertise needed for your research study team (individuals, collaborating organizations, resources, etc.). Most scientific work requires collaboration among researchers, and NIH is dedicated to fostering such relationships.
      • Letters of commitment in your application should clearly spell out the roles of the collaborators. The grant application should contain a signed letter from each collaborator to the applicant that lists the contribution he or she intends to make and his or her commitment to the work.
      • For consultants, letters should include rate/charge for consulting services.

Further Reading