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Coaching Groups for Grant Proposal Writing

We offer four unique programs. Each model differs from the others in its target audience, eligibility requirements, duration, and training scope, but all share the same primary goal: Position early-career investigators from diverse backgrounds to submit high quality proposals that will advance their research agendas (in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, or health-related social science areas) and facilitate their retention and advancement within the biomedical research workforce.

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NRMN offers a series of four intensive coaching programs to support investigators from diverse backgrounds who are at a later training stage, specifically postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty.

Why were our coaching groups developed?

We developed our four programs in recognition of the following:

  • Research proposals are a genre of writing whose mastery is essential for the success of independent researchers. Some research trainees and junior faculty have the good fortune of being mentored by established scientists who engage them in the iterative development of proposals and expose them to the criteria by which proposals are judged, with ample opportunities for practice and feedback; others do not have access to such mentors. In reality, there is huge variability in such mentorship. Thus, many scientists are forced to hone their proposal writing skills by trial and error during their first years on the faculty.
  • Proposal writing is a complex skill but one that can be consciously taught and mastered. Researchers must not only identify research questions that peer reviewers and funders think are worth studying, but also craft an appropriate study design; obtain preliminary data to establish feasibility; and flawlessly present their ideas by using a writing style and document design that reviewers expect to see and that compels them to view the proposal favorably.
  • Brief exposure to proposal writing (e.g. workshops) is insufficient for developing the skills needed for funding success. Although workshops and short trainings in proposal writing abound (and many present valuable information), our experience shows that a more sustained coaching process is needed for weeks to months as research ideas evolve and writing is refined.
  • Supplemental professional development is beneficial for many investigators. During the proposal development process, many postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty desire opportunities to increase their skills in pre-requisite areas. These areas might include designing a research project, writing in the sciences, identifying suitable funding agencies, and planning a longer-term research agenda (beyond the immediate project) to advance their careers.

How are our groups different from workshops?

The NRMN Grant Writing Coaching Groups are time-intensive, rigorous programs that strive to provide investigators with tailored support that aligns with their current stage of professional development. There are four models. While each model is different, they all involve very direct, specific feedback on multiple iterations of a proposal over the 3-6 months it takes to write. Feedback is provided as each part of the proposal is being written, starting from an extended period of time crafting the Specific Aims page and progressing through each section of the proposal. Participants can work on most types of NIH proposals (e.g. F32, K99/R00, diversity supplements, other K- and R- mechanisms). Feedback at each Coaching Group meeting is provided by carefully selected and trained senior faculty members (coaches)  and by peers in the cohort. Participants are expected to be writing their proposals so that sections can be reviewed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Coaching Groups may provide some guidance on the scientific basis of the proposals, but they are ideally designed to complement input and feedback from colleagues and mentors working in the respective field.

Grant writing “workshops” typically are one-day events where participants are one of several people in the audience listening. Minimal to no feedback is given on individual proposals and participants are left to apply the workshop material to their proposals by themselves. Much of what is provided in grant writing workshops is also provided during the Grant Writing Groups in addition to ongoing feedback.

NRMN believes that grant writing can be better and more efficiently taught by successful researchers rather than self-taught or “picked up” along the way.   After being trained on the models as coaches, many senior faculty members have commented, “I wish I would have had this training 15 years ago, I had to learn it on my own!”

Who is Eligible and How to Apply

Postdoctoral Fellows & Rising Faculty Investigators – Join as a Mentee

Are you an early-stage investigator seeking to develop a competitive NIH grant proposal for a research project and/or research career development award in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences? Join a cohort of peers to participate in intensive coaching from NRMN faculty coaches in one of four program models offered throughout the country.

Experienced Faculty Investigators – Join as a Coach

Are you interested in assisting with one of NRMN’s grant writing coaching group models and the mission of NRMN? Join one of the upcoming groups as a “grantsmanship coach.” Or participate on an ad hoc basis as a “scientific or methodology advisor.” These opportunities are for mid- to late-career researchers with a track record of NIH funding and a commitment to the career advancement of investigators from diverse backgrounds.

How to Apply:

Select from one of the four program models listed below.

Four different and successful coaching models have been developed for dissemination through NRMN. The detailed program descriptions (below) provide the following: program-specific eligibility criteria, information about the program’s duration and structure, and an application link for mentees interested in becoming program participants and for experienced faculty investigators interested in becoming coaches. Meeting travel expenses are paid by the programs, up to the designated cap.

Questions? Email

Note: NIH funded the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) with the goal of identifying effective mentoring and networking strategies that promise to work for a diverse population of mentees, including those from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce. While the below programs are open to all individuals meeting the eligibility criteria, NRMN strongly encourages applications from individuals from groups identified as nationally underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences.  These groups include: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and women at senior faculty levels in biomedical-relevant disciplines. For more information, see the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity:

Resubmit an R01 proposal with guidance from a Coach

R01 Resubmission Consultation

Who can Apply?  Junior faculty
Grant Writing Experience Requirements Those ready to write at program start; preparing a resubmission of an NIH R01
Program Director Rick McGee, PhD
Duration 3-4 months

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Participate in a limited capacity as an Advisor

Scientific and Methodology Advisors

Each cohort of NRMN mentees and grantsmanship coaches is comprised of scientists from multiple, oftentimes different disciplines. Therefore, senior investigators with expertise in a specific research field are sometimes needed to offer advice on the scientific or methodological approaches of mentees’ grant proposals. For this purpose, NRMN engages “scientific or methodology advisors” at different phases of the coaching groups. Engagement occurs at three different levels, based on the extent and type of guidance needed:

  1. Scientific/Methodology Consultant
  2. Scientific/Methodology Coach
  3. Proposal Reviewer

How to Apply Click here for complete descriptions of each role, and to access the Scientific and Methodology Advisor online application. Participating in one of the above advisory roles does not require you to specify one of the four program models to participate in; once your application has been submitted, NRMN will contact you as opportunities arise that may be suited to your skills, experience and expertise.

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