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Home No. 12: Grant deadlines: What can I do?

Jun 07

No. 12: Grant deadlines: What can I do?

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Grant deadlines: What can I do?

Reader question: My deadline for submitting my letters of reference is June 12, but I still have a few outstanding ones that haven’t been turned in. And I know NIH no longer allows the five-day grace period for submitting these. What can I do to make sure my referrers get their letters in on time?

Expert Comments:

Your best bet is to draft the letter yourself. Send it to your mentor and say, “I understand time is short. I need your reference by June 10.” Ask the mentor if he will read the letter, make any adjustments he feels are necessary and then sign it. Many people offering letters of reference will agree to this process because you are taking the time and effort to make their job easier.

Keep in mind that these letters should be from individuals who are familiar with your work, where your interests lie and, of course, your training. The letter should also express how what you’re proposing to accomplish with your research is original. And why it’s going to move your field forward. The letter should also address why you are competent to conduct the research that you’re proposing.

In the future, if you’re looking for reference letters, you should to ask for them at least four weeks ahead of the deadline. Experts often advise having the letters in hand at least two weeks before the submission deadline simply because of circumstances that may be beyond somebody’s control.

If they are due during the summer, like now, not everyone is available. You have to consider vacations, end of term and the time between semesters.

The bottom line is, you have to take into account the time frames of everyone involved when you’re working against deadlines. Also keep in mind that your dean may want to review your completed application before it’s submitted.

You can find additional information on Letters of Reference in NIH's SF424 R&R; Guide, section 7.3, I-129: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/SF424_RR_Guide_General_Adobe_VerB.pdf.

Expert comments by Jerrold Harris, PhD, Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.

Comments (1)
written by ReferenceHelper, June 07, 2011
I've written letters of reference before, and the people I wrote them for really appreciated it. They made a few changes to express their own points of view, but overall agreed with what I said. One thing to keep in mind is that you can't use a cookie-cutter approach to these letters if you're writing them for more than one person. Each has to be individual for the person your writing it for. Otherwise, it just looks like a form letter.

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