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10 Tips to Help You Get a Research Grant

Review these tips for writing and preparing your application.
Top Ten Tips for Research Grant
Top Ten Tips for Research Grant

1. Start early. Allow plenty of time to complete your application, give it multiple reviews and get feedback from others. Most applicants start working on the Specific Aims for the project six months in advance of the deadline.

2. Look at examples. Ask your division if there are any templates/prior grant submissions that you can review. There’s no recipe for a successful grant, so the only way to compose one is to have a sense of what has worked in the past. In general, prior awardees are happy to share their applications if you contact them.

3. Request feedback. Ask mentors and colleagues for early feedback on your Specific Aims page. If it makes sense and is interesting to them, reviewers will likely feel the same way.

4. Ask your collaborators for letters of support. In addition to your preceptor, consider including letters of support from prior researchers that you have worked with or any collaborators for the current project, especially if they will help you with a new technique or reagents.

5. Contact the grants staff with questions and concerns early on. If you don’t understand part of the application, aren’t sure if you’re eligible or are having problems with submission, contact the grant staff right away. Don’t wait until the week or day the grant is due when staff may be flooded with calls. They can assist you much better with advance notice, which will allow you to avoid last-minute stress.

6. Each application should be different. Keep in mind the scope of the grant and amount of funding. Don’t just recycle an R01-level application for a one-year AGA pilot award.

7. More is better than less when it comes to preliminary data. If your expertise in a technique you are proposing is established, you will not need to demonstrate the capability to do the work but will likely need to show preliminary data. If you are looking to build expertise (as a part of your career development), you may need to show that the infrastructure that enables you to do the work is accessible.

8. Don’t take constructive feedback personally. As you share your draft with mentors and colleagues for feedback, you may receive some unanticipated criticism. Try not to take this personally. If you can detach yourself emotionally, you’ll be in a better position to answer critiques and make adjustments.

9. Remember your end goal: to help patients! Even the most basic science proposals are rooted in a clear potential to benefit patients.

10. Stay positive. If you do not succeed on your first application, believe in your work, make it better, and apply again.

Thanks to the following AGA Research Foundation grant recipients for sharing their advice, which resulted in the above 10 tips:

  • Arthur Beyder, MD, PhD, 2015 AGA Research Scholar Award
  • Barbara Jung, MD, AGAF, 2016 AGA-Elsevier Pilot Research Award
  • Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, 2014 AGA Research Scholar Award
  • Josephine Ni, MD, 2017 AGA-Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Sahar Nissim, MD, PhD, 2017 AGA-Caroline Craig Augustyn and Damian Augustyn Award in Digestive Cancer
  • Jatin Roper, MD, 2011 AGA Fellowship-to-Faculty Transition Award
  • Christina Twyman-Saint Victor, MD, 2015 AGA Research Scholar Award

Visit to review the AGA Research Foundation research grants now open for applications. If you have questions about the AGA awards program, please contact [email protected].

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