What are appropriate lengths for the sections in an NIH Phase I?

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The NIH Phase I application requires you to write and upload a Research Strategy document that cannot exceed 6 pages in length. There are four basic sections that should be included in a Phase I Research Strategy. (Note: the instructions for Phase I’s only mention three required sections – Significance, Innovation, and Workplan. However, we have seen over the years that grants are much less likely to be funded if you do not include preliminary evidence, too.) 

Thus, the basic length of each section should be as follows: 

  • Significance: ½ to 1 page. This should include a discussion of your competition or how the task is being done currently. Note that all factual statements should be backed up by citations, preferably to peer-reviewed journal articles.  
  • Innovation: ¾ of a page to 1 page. This should include a discussion of how the innovation is superior to the competition by being better, faster, or cheaper (or all three).
  • Preliminary evidence: ¾ of a page to 1 page. 
  • Workplan: 2.5 to 3 pages. This should include a timeline in a table or Gantt chart format.  

At the end of the document, you should try to have enough space for the following additional sections:  

  • Commercialization potential (1-2 paragraphs) (this is optional but it is a major plus if you have the space) & intellectual property information (right to practice, etc.).  
  • Conclusion paragraph/Phase II goals paragraph. It is always good to remind the reviewer of what you anticipate having at the end of the Phase II project. 

This methodology will permit you to dedicate the largest amount of space to your Workplan. In a winning grant, your Workplan should be detailed and specific enough that an expert can replicate your work entirely using only the Workplan that you provide (assuming similar expertise and s/he has your innovation knowhow). If you think of the “Methods” section of a published paper, that is a good amount of specificity to achieve.  

Remember that the CTC consultants can review drafts of your Research Strategy prior to submission, and that the CTC also offers a Pre-submission Panel Review for each NIH and NSF deadline to provide you with feedback on your Research Strategy and the rest of your grant. For more information, reach out!