Tips for Proofreading Your Next Grant Application

Developing a proofreading strategy can greatly improve the quality of your federal grant application.  Here are some tips from grant-making offices across the government that you can use for developing this strategy.

Grant Writing Tips

1. Enlist content proofreaders early in the process.

“Request that your colleagues or mentors review a first draft of your specific aims early in the process,” advises NIH.

Consider asking your early proofreaders to focus on macro issues, such as the organization of narrative sections or the logical flow within your application narrative. Even if your proposal is not completely ready, you can still have your designated proofreaders review some sections of the proposal. An Office of Justice Programs resource concurs, stating that early proofreading will allow for “sufficient time to deal with missing information,” as well as other common issues.

2. Develop a master checklist.

“Use [a] checklist to be sure that you have included everything that is required,” advises an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) resource. “Missing or incomplete items often result in outright rejection or at least a lower score, limiting your chance for funding.”

A checklist can mean different things to different people; applicants should think of a multi-page checklist that includes not only a list of required forms and attachments, but also formatting requirements, and a bulleted list of the agency’s judging criteria.

3. Give your application a grade.

“Rate your own application,” advises the NIH resource. Grade your own proposal after completing a solid first draft, or you can ask a qualified individual outside your organization to evaluate it. Doing this well before the deadline will enable your team to identify weak areas before it’s too late.

If you bring in an outside reader, ARC suggests that you “ask them to read the proposal quickly. That is how reviewers will likely go through it, at least initially.”

4. Enlist a proofreader late in the process to focus on micro issues.

“Enlist the help of someone not involved in the preparation of the application and proposal to review the proposal,” advises a USDA resource. This proofreader can focus solely on micro issues – word choice, sentence structure, and typographical errors.

Want more tips about the federal grant writing process? Click here to see other posts in the Grant Writing Basics blog series.


Original Post on July 14, 2020

Ever Wondered What Happens During the Scientific Review of an NIH Grant Application?

Understanding how peer review works is key to writing a good grant application.  In this 44-minute video, NIH Peer Review: “Live” Mock Study Section, scientists have gathered virtually to review three fictional applications in response to a fictional Request For Applications (RFA).

Watch their discussion to learn how applications are scored, what questions are commonly asked, and what mistakes to avoid in your application.

This video was originally recorded on October 28, 2020 during the 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration. Find other presentations from the Seminar here.

Original post on February 23, 2021 by

RAPID, EAGER, and RAISE Proposal Types Now Available in

Effective today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) enabled three new proposal types in the Proposal Submission System and in the recently launched demo site.  These are the Rapid Response Research (RAPID), EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE) proposal types.  New automated compliance checks and associated error and warning messages were also implemented.

In addition, based on feedback from the research community, NSF has removed the font type and font size automated compliance checks and compliance warning messages for proposals to align with FastLane and NSF policy.

New and updated system-related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available on the About Proposal Preparation and Submission page via the left navigation menu.

RAPID, EAGER, and RAISE Proposals

Proposers can now select a RAPID, EAGER, or RAISE proposal in the proposal creation wizard, in addition to the existing Research proposal option.  These proposal types are also available in the proposal preparation demo site.

New automated compliance checks for RAPID, EAGER, and RAISE proposals have been added to and are listed on the updated Compliance Checklist dated November 23, 2020 on the Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals page.  Error messages prohibit proposal submission to NSF, whereas warning messages still permit proposal submission.

Refer to the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) for RAPID, EAGER, and RAISE proposal requirements.

Removal of Font Type and Font Size Compliance Checks

Although the automated compliance checks and associated compliance warnings for font type and font size have been removed, proposals may still be returned without review if the font type or font size is not compliant with the PAPPG Chapter II.B.2.a.

Refer to the updated Compliance Checklist dated November 23, 2020 on the Automated Compliance Checking of NSF Proposals page for a complete listing of the current automated proposal compliance checks for proposals.

What’s Ahead? is being developed incrementally, and features are expanding to support the transition of all proposal preparation and submission functionality from FastLane to in accordance with NSF Important Notice 147: Implementation Update issued September 22, 2020.  Please refer to the new Proposal Submission Capabilities list on the About Proposal Preparation and Submission page left navigation menu to see what is in development.

Questions?  If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via  Policy-related questions should be directed to

Original post by NSF on November 24, 2020

NSF’s Dear Colleague Letter: Strengthening American Infrastructure (SAI)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) – through its Directorates for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), Engineering (ENG), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Geosciences (GEO), Biological Sciences (BIO), Education and Human Resources (EHR), and the Office of Integrated Activities (OIA) – seeks to stimulate fundamental exploratory, potentially transformative research that strengthens America’s infrastructure. Effective infrastructure, whether it be physical, cyber, or social, provides a strong foundation for socioeconomic vitality and broad quality of life improvement.  Strong, reliable, and effective infrastructure spurs private-sector innovation, grows the economy, creates jobs, makes public-sector service provision more efficient, strengthens communities, promotes equal opportunity, protects the natural environment, enhances national security, and fuels American leadership.  To achieve these goals requires expertise from across the science and engineering disciplines.  In particular, knowledge of human reasoning and decision making, governance, and social and cultural processes are essential to efforts to envision, build, and maintain an effective infrastructure that improves lives and society and builds on advances in technology and engineering.

This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) invites workshop and Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that incorporate scientific insights about human behavior and social dynamics to better develop, design, build, rehabilitate, and maintain strong and effective American infrastructure.  (Workshops associated with this DCL are identified as Conference proposals in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and will hereafter be referred to as “conferences.”)  The DCL is intended to support exploratory work, in its early stages, on untested but potentially transformative research ideas or approaches that can identify and help build this new area of research.  The activities NSF hopes to stimulate with this DCL may be considered especially “high risk – high reward” in the sense that the Foundation seeks radically different approaches, application of new expertise, or engagement of novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.


When people rent or purchase a home, register to vote, enroll their children in school, or check their cellphones for warnings of an impending storm, they rely on critical infrastructure.  Businesses rely on critical infrastructure to acquire loans and communicate with customers, and to protect their security and assets.  Cities, towns, and rural and tribal areas rely on extensive networks of a built and civic infrastructure.  And scientific progress depends on a substantial research ecosystem infrastructure.  Strong, effective infrastructure stimulates innovation and job growth, enables discovery and generation of new knowledge, provides safety and security, improves quality of life, and facilitates community welfare for many years into the future.

Many infrastructure projects entail extensive planning and large initial costs.  Substantial initial infrastructure investments are worthwhile to the extent they provide long-term benefit and meet the needs of all people for a range of functions.  Building such effective infrastructure requires understanding economic and social dynamics, and the perceptions and choices of many diverse individuals and communities. Whether involving transportation, security, health, education, communication, or other essential services, infrastructure design that puts people and social welfare first, is more likely to gain public support, to function more effectively, and to be less expensive to build and maintain.

The large costs and potentially large benefits of infrastructure investments mean that it is essential for people who build or maintain infrastructure to understand and incorporate relevant human and social factors in the earliest stages of design.  For example, transportation infrastructure to support automated vehicles will require advance knowledge of economic and social structural influences on people’s transportation choices, as well as human perceptual and cognitive responses in a wide range of critical decision-making and task-switching scenarios.  Infrastructure developed to expand economic opportunity is likely to be more effective if it takes into account recent evidence concerning explicit and implicit human biases, as well as from discoveries regarding how social structures affect opportunity across social groups.  Infrastructure designed to increase the speed and effectiveness of disaster response will work more effectively if its design is informed by often complex cultural and human trust contingencies and differences in group access to response resources.  Healthcare and other public infrastructure that is reliant on the provision of fast and accurate information will be more effective if built from a knowledge base that includes dynamics of how people process information and misinformation and how this changes under stress, as well as how social constraints foster or inhibit use of such infrastructure.  How people interact with their environment is critical to understanding consequences of large-scale infrastructure projects such as highways, dams, or levees.


With this DCL, the NSF seeks to build research capacity that can address these and many other challenging infrastructure contexts that require a human- and-social-centered approach.  NSF anticipates nurturing and growing a research community in SAI over the longer term. This DCL constitutes the first step in that direction.  We invite conference and EAGER proposals that will bring together experts across disciplines to support substantial and potentially pathbreaking, untested fundamental research grounded in user-centered concepts and offering the potential to substantially improve or transform the design, use, development, cost-effectiveness, or maintenance of U.S. infrastructure.  These proposals should include a central focus on at least one SBE program area with the lead PI being an expert in social, behavioral, or economic science.  Proposals must also demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach beyond that of any single Program or NSF Directorate.

NSF is particularly interested in proposals that integrate a deep understanding of human cognition, perception, information processing, decision making, social and cultural behavior, legal frameworks, governmental structures, and related areas into the design, development, and sustainability of infrastructure.  Infrastructure may be of any kind, including cyber, economic, educational, physical, and social.

NSF is also interested in proposals that include development of new or improved performance metrics that can help stakeholders more effectively and efficiently assess infrastructure usability, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, resilience, and adaptability to changing circumstances.

NSF welcomes proposals that include efforts to broaden participation of underrepresented groups (women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) in the development of the research agendas.  Proposals from MSIs are encouraged, as are opportunities for participation by undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, K-12 students, industry representatives, and others.  Public-private partnerships can also be proposed for conferences.


Proposals should reflect novel interdisciplinary and cross-Directorate approaches; however, each proposal submitted in response to this DCL must be grounded in a human- and/or social-centered approach to designing, building, and sustaining infrastructure.  To facilitate effective review, proposal titles for conferences must begin with “Conference: SAI,” and proposal titles for EAGERs must begin with “EAGER: SAI.”  Proposals of either type should identify both the relevant SBE program area(s) and the specific infrastructure that is being addressed; proposals must be submitted to the SAI Program (PD 21-145Y).

Proposals submitted in response to this DCL should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the guidelines contained in the most recent PAPPG.


Conference proposals submitted in response to this DCL must be submitted by November 30, 2020.  Initial inquiries to are encouraged to determine fit.  Awards funded in this category will provide support for a period of one year and may be requested at a level not to exceed $50,000 for the total budget (including indirect costs).  Proposers should clearly outline how the conference activity will contribute to developing novel potentially transformative interdisciplinary research, the participant groups, anticipated target audience to be engaged and the plan to disseminate the findings after the conference(s).  Convening events can take the form of conferences or other types of meetings and can include multiple sequential events.  See PAPPG Chapter II.E.7 for specific instructions about preparing Conference proposals.  Conference proposals must be submitted via FastLane or


Prior to submission, potential research teams are required to send a research concept outline, including project title, team members, institutions involved, and a summary of the project concept (up to two pages) by email to  To ensure proper processing, the subject line of the initial email inquiry should begin with: “EAGER: SAI-E”.  Concept outlines should be submitted by December 11, 2020 (earlier if possible).  NSF Program Directors will review the research concept outlines and will authorize those that fall within the scope of this DCL for submission of a full EAGER proposal.  Proposals submitted without written authorization from an NSF Program Director will be returned without review.

Full proposal submissions are due January 15, 2021 and will only be accepted if accompanied by written (email) authorization to submit (obtained in response to the research concept outline).  Proposers should upload the email documentation from the NSF Program Director in the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.

EAGER proposals in response to this DCL should adhere to the following guidelines.

  1. Research teams should show demonstrated expertise in the SBE sciences and at least one of the research areas represented by other participating directorates (ENG, CISE, GEO, MPS, BIO, EHR, and OIA) related to infrastructure.  An individual may participate as a PI or co-PI in only one EAGER proposal pursuant to this DCL.  However, individuals named as a PI or co-PI in an EAGER proposal may also participate in one or more Conference proposals.
  2. Proposals should describe how each participating discipline will contribute to intellectual merit and broader impacts for strengthening American infrastructure.  The research should be interdependent and integrated, contribute novel understanding, and provide innovation in addressing infrastructure challenges.
  3. EAGER is a funding mechanism for supporting exploratory work, in its early stages, on untested but potentially transformative research ideas or approaches.  Thus, proposals responsive to this DCL must include a section stating the appropriateness for an EAGER award (for instance, proposals submitted in response to this DCL may be “high-risk, high-reward” by way of involving radically different approaches, applying new expertise, or engaging novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives).  EAGER proposals may request up to $300,000 in total costs over two years (including indirect costs).

See PAPPG Chapter II.E.2 for specific instructions about preparing EAGER proposals.  EAGER proposals may be submitted via FastLane, or

Inquiries about the DCL, general inquiries, and questions about submission of SAI proposals should be directed to

Original post by NSF on November 8, 2020

NSF Revision of Award Terms and Conditions Effective on November 12, 2020

The following sets of NSF Award Conditions have been updated for consistency with the revised 2 CFR §200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards:

  • Grant General Conditions (GC-1);
  • Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CAFATC); and
  • Cooperative Agreement Modifications and Supplemental Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions for Major Multi-User Research Facility Projects and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.

The revised terms and conditions will apply to all new NSF awards and funding amendments to existing awards made on or after November 12, 2020.

The terms and conditions incorporate revised 2 CFR §200 coverage including: requirements for award termination and enforcement; compliance with Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which prohibits the use of Federal assistance funding on certain telecommunications and video surveillance services or equipment;  as well as other significant changes and clarifications.   All sets of award conditions are accompanied by a summary of changes made to that document.

NSF will separately announce the release of the Agency Specific Requirements to the Research Terms and Conditions (RTC), as well as the Administration of NSF Conference or Group Travel Award Grant Conditions (FL-26).

Questions about NSF award conditions may be sent to

Original post by Jean Feldman, NSF on November 6, 2020


Institutions to Submit FCOI Policy Electronically in eRA Commons, Effective November 12, 2020

NIH requires institutions to maintain an up-to-date, written, and enforced policy to identify and manage Investigator Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) and to post the policy on their publicly accessible website.  Starting November 12, 2020, NIH recipients will be required to submit their publicly assessible FCOI policy to NIH via the eRA Commons Institution Profile (IPF) Module.

This new feature will apply to all NIH applicants and/or recipients, with the exception of Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) applicants and/or recipients. (See NIH GPS Section 4.1.10 Financial Conflict of Interest for more information).  This new feature does not change the current requirements.

A PDF of the FCOI policy must be uploaded to the IPF by the institutional signing official (SO) under a new tab labeled “Policy Documents.”

Screenshot of the top of the IPF, highlighting the new Policy Documents tab

Screenshot of the top of the eRA Commons Institution Profile (IPF), highlighting the new Policy Documents tab

The information is provided on an institutional level as part of an institution’s IPF, rather than on a grant-specific level, so it is not necessary to submit the FCOI policy with each grant application.

While the requirement goes into effect in November, NIH recognizes that recipients will need time to modify their internal systems in order to comply.  Therefore, applicants and recipients have until December 1, 2020 to comply with this requirement.  The new feature within the IPF screen becomes available on November 12, 2020.

Note that noncompliance with this requirement as of December 1, 2020 may cause NIH to delay the issuance of awards, impose specific award conditions or take other enforcement actions.

NIH will review the submitted FCOI policies to ensure compliance.


Original post by NIH Staff on October 23, 2020

Reminder: NIH Policy on Use of Hypertext in NIH Grant Applications

The use of hypertext (e.g. hyperlinks and URLS) in NIH applications is restricted due to concerns including reviewer confidentiality, “overstuffing” applications, review consistency, and malware.

There is no change in the NIH policy on the use of hyperlinks.  The policy, documented in the NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and a recent reminder Guide Notice, reads:

  • Hyperlinks and URLs are only allowed when specifically noted in funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and form field instructions.  The use of hyperlinks is typically limited to citing relevant publications in biosketches and publication lists.  It is highly unusual for a FOA to allow links in Specific Aims, Research Strategy and other page-limited attachments.
  • Hyperlinks and URLs may not be used to provide information necessary to application review.
  • Reviewers are instructed against viewing linked sites and are cautioned that they should not directly access a website (unless the link to the site was specifically requested in application instructions) as it could compromise their anonymity and allow for malware to be downloaded onto their computers.
  • When allowed, you must hyperlink the actual URL text so it appears on the page rather than hiding the URL behind a specific word or phrase. Example:

Applications that do not follow these instructions, and include unallowable hyperlinks, may be withdrawn from review and funding consideration.

Original post by NIH Staff on October 1, 2020

Primary Email Address Option for Sign-in and NSF Account Password Recovery Begins September 28,2020

Previously, in March 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) introduced a new centralized account registration process in for the research community that provides each user with a single profile and unique identifier (i.e., NSF ID) for signing in to FastLane and for proposal and award activities and the ability for each user to manage their own profile.

Effective September 28, 2020, NSF will enhance the research community sign-in process by providing the option to use an individual’s primary email address to sign in to and for NSF account password recovery.  Users will still be able to sign in to with their NSF ID as they do currently or with their organization-issued credentials if the organization participates in the InCommon Federation.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Effective September 28, 2020, the Sign-in page will include three sign-in options:
    • Primary email address + password (new option)
    • NSF ID + password (existing option)
    • Organization-issued Credentials (InCommon Federation participating organizations only) (existing option)
  • Also effective September 28, 2020, users will be able to enter either their primary email address or their NSF ID for NSF account password recovery.
  • The user’s primary email address is the one they registered with on, and this email address is displayed on their My Profile page.
  • This change is intended to make it easier for users to remember their sign-in information, as well as to align with the industry standards for sign-in using an email address.

Account Management Resources

Additional information about NSF accounts and the primary email address is available on the About Account Management page.  An updated Account Management Guide and updated Frequently Asked Questions will be available on the About Account Management page on September 28, 2020.

Questions? If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via

Policy-related questions should be directed to

Original post by NSF  9/21/2020

DOE Reminder of Requirements for Submission of Final Peer-Reviewed Accepted Manuscripts with Follow Up FAQs

Following the PAMS Broadcast message that was sent in late January 2020 entitled “Requirements for Submission of Final Peer-Reviewed Accepted Manuscripts,” this follow up message is being sent to remind DOE Office of Science (SC) financial assistance recipients of their obligation to submit final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts for published journal articles resulting from SC funding.

Frequently asked questions that DOE received, with answers, are identified below:

Question: When did the requirement to submit final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts take effect for DOE SC financial assistance recipients?

Answer:  The requirement to submit final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts was incorporated into DOE SC financial assistance awards as part of the federal reporting checklist (DOE F 4600.2) in early (calendar year) 2015.  The requirements were established by the DOE Public Access Plan and are incorporated in the terms and conditions of award.

Question: Do I, as the PI, have an individual responsibility to submit my final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript or is it a responsibility of the institution?

Answer:  Recipient institutions are official awardee and are responsible for complying with the terms and conditions of award.  That said, any personnel at the recipient institution may submit final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts.  The recipient institution is responsible for ensuring that submissions are made, whether they are made by the PI, staff in the Sponsored Research Office, other researchers, or students.

Question: How are submissions made and when do they need to be made?

Answer:  Submissions of final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts are to be made to the DOE E-Link system ( and it is expected that recipients will submit final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts once they are accepted for publication, but no later than one-year after the date the journal article is published online, and before closeout.  Instructions for submissions may be found here.  OSTI has also prepared a video tutorial to demonstrate how to submit a manuscript which can be found here.

Question: My article is copyrighted. Can I submit an article that is copyrighted?

Answer: No. Copyrighted articles are not required for submission, and further, may not be submitted to E-Link.  Rather, only final peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts are accepted for submission, and DOE has rights to use the final peer-reviewed version of the manuscript for public access purposes.  Please do not submit the copyrighted, published version of the manuscript.

Question: Are duplicate submissions a concern?

Answer: No, duplicate submissions are not a concern.  When you submit your final peer-review accepted manuscript, and provide the DOI, they will reconcile the submission with any other submissions that have the same DOI.  They will account for the award number and sponsoring office that you identified for the submission, and merge that info as part of the metadata for the accepted manuscript record.

Question: Will my final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript be made available to the public as soon as I submit it?

Answer: No.  After a one-year period, following the published date of the manuscript, the final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript will be made available through DOE PAGES (DOE’s public access search tool) and OSTI.GOV (DOE’s umbrella search tool for all scientific and technical information product types).  This one year period serves as an embargo period following the date of publication.  As a benefit to the recipient and author of the manuscript, OSTI has agreements with commercial search engines such as Google, where the metadata for the submitted manuscript will be indexed.  This maximizes discovery of the submitted manuscript, and can lead to increased visibility and citation of the article.

Question: If I have reported details about the journal article in PAMS, do I still need to submit the final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript to E-Link?

Answer: Yes.  While product information related to journal articles is reported in PAMS for the RPPR, full-text of the final peer-reviewed manuscript is not required for RPPR purposes.  Therefore, the full-text of the manuscript and minimal metadata associated with it, needs to be submitted to E-Link for public access purposes.

For any other questions regarding announcement and submission of your final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript, please contact

Original post from DOE/OSTI on September 1, 2020

eRA Enhancement: Change in Format to the NIH Notice of Award Starting October 1, 2020

Starting on October 1, 2020, NIH award recipients will see a new standardized Page One of the Notice of Award (NoA).  The NoA is the legal document issued to notify the recipient that an NIH award has been made and that funds may be requested from the designated HHS payment system or office.  This enhancement is part of HHS’s Reinvent Grants Management initiative to standardize the NoA across various HHS systems and reduce the burden on recipients.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in collaboration with Operating Divisions (OpDivs) and recipients has developed a standardized Page One of the NoA that will serve as the first page of every HHS NoA for all discretionary awards.

The new format captures key award information for NIH grant recipients in an intuitive and digitally accessible format.  For instance, financial award information and federal agency contacts (program official contact information, etc.) will be available on Page One. The remaining sections of the NoA will remain mostly as is, with some data elements moving to Page One from subsequent pages of the NoA.

The new NoA Page One will be used by all HHS OpDivs.

NIH is developing a number of resources to help recipients get familiar with the new Page One of the NoA.  In the coming weeks, please look for these resources on the View Notice of Award page of the public eRA website.

For more information, please see Guide Notice NOT-OD-20-155.

Note: If users experience an issue with an eRA module after a release, they should completely clear out their browser cache, which will generally resolve the issue. If not, please contact the eRA Service Desk.

Need Help? Submit a web ticket; or call Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552, Phone: 301-402-7469.  The Service Desk hours are Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

 Help NIH improve their communications; send your suggestions and feedback to or call 301-435-8185.

 To read other recent articles and messages, please visit NIH’s Latest News page at

Original post by NIH eRA Commons on August 5, 2020