Grant Writing

How to Include Preliminary Data in Your Grant Application

When presenting preliminary data, you need to ensure that you present actual data, and not summaries, that will lead the reviewers through your application and ensuring that every reader makes the logical connections that support the feasibility of your application. Select preliminary data that supports the formulation or existence of each of your specific aims individually. Present the data in a compelling and logical order as you present your specific aims to support the feasibility of each aim.

  • Preliminary data is to be included for one purpose alone: to support feasibility of this particular project.
    • Select data to support the feasibility of the immediate project and do not include extraneous details.
    • Refrain from using any preliminary data that comes from investigators outside of your own research team listed in the proposal.
    • Data should support your specific aims and your central hypothesis.
    • Different granting agencies require different preliminary data. Even different grants within a funding agency may have different requirements for preliminary data, be sure you understand the expectations for your proposal.
    • When preliminary data is not specifically requested, include a small amount anyway to appease reviewer expectations.
  • Usually, new and early stage investigators are not required to have as much preliminary data, but the data presented should be high-quality and stimulating.
  • Stop and Consider: The majority of preliminary data should be unpublished and recent. Confirm that your preliminary data is not discussed in the application text before it has been formally presented to the reviewer.
  • Most preliminary data will be presented under the Approach section.
    • Discuss preliminary data for each specific aim in the justification and feasibility discussion.
    • Present the data to make one point only and it should be accompanied by a written description that makes the same point.
    • Write descriptions of the data in such a way that it leads the reviewer through the data in a comprehensive and intelligible way.
    • Ensure to end each paragraph with a sentence that explains why this data was presented and how it supports the feasibility of this current project.
  • Ensure each figure and table is appropriately and consecutively numbered throughout the entire proposal from page one to the end before you turn in your final application.
  • Double-check that you do not refer to tables or figures that have been moved or even deleted, (i.e. You’ve deleted Table 4.2 in the final proposal and yet in the text you’ve stated “in Table 4.2 (above) the reviewer can see…”).
  • Formatting preliminary data should be done with the utmost forethought.
    • Text should be a minimum of 9 points in figures, figure legends, and tables.
    • Wrap text around figures to help save space in the final proposal.
    • Alter the format you use to present the data to make it the overall proposal reader friendly.
    • Ensure that all text is legible, this includes any photos that may have been resized.
    • Be cautious with colors. Keep in mind that reviewers may get a black-and-white copy, and you need to ensure that your graphs will be legible in grayscale.

Further Reading