The “First Step to Peer-Reviewed Funding” initiative is designed to provide help in grant writing through an internal review program. This is based on the perception by experienced reviewers that the Specific Aims page often seals the fate of a grant.
This is not to imply that the first page is the only important part of a grant. However, the rest of the grant won’t save it if the first page is not good, easy to understand, focused on an important problem, adequately justified or well-coordinated throughout. The most common criticism of new grants is that the proposal is either descriptive, unfocused or overambitious.
We would like to invite grant writers to submit the one page Specific Aims page to Dr. Barbara E. Corkey firstname.lastname@example.org.
The one page Specific Aims page refers to the normal NIH format but this program will also evaluate a similar one page of aims from other agencies. We will not consider more than one page. The Specific Aims will then be sent to several experienced faculty members to read and rapidly provide a few sentences of commentary (within a week).
Deadlines for receipt of the single Specific Aims page will be December 1, April 1 and August 1. These deadlines have the advantage of being two months before the receipt deadline for new grant submissions to NIH thus allowing investigators plenty of time to modify and improve their applications.
Specific Aims will intentionally be sent to reviewers with and without relevant expertise since most members of study section lack specific expertise in the subject of most grants but are nevertheless required to score them. This initiative is not intended to provide a scientific critique. Investigators are encouraged to find scientific experts on their own although some reviewers may volunteer to help with further drafts