The University of Utah Grant Writing Coaching Groups Study

Are you an early stage researcher ready to write a new or revised NIH-style proposal and interested in receiving coaching support while you write? If so, we invite you to apply for participation in the University of Utah Grant Writing Coaching Research Study, funded by the NIH Common Fund (grant U01 GM132366; administered by the NIGMS). This study will compare variations of an established grant writing group coaching process to identify features that influence its effectiveness.


Key Dates for Cohort 6

  • Due date for applying to Cohort 6: March 24, 2022

  • Acceptance into study confirmed: June 15, 2022

  • Virtual study kickoff: August 10-12, 2022 (Attendance is mandatory)

  • Regular dose group coaching: August – December 2022 (biweekly coaching sessions)

  • Applicant’s planned grant proposal submission date: January March 2023 (preferred) or April – July 2023

  • Periodic follow-up data collection: January 2023 – July 2024

  • Extended dose one-on-one coaching (for participants randomized to this study arm): February 2023 – June 2024

What is the Study About?

The University of Utah was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (grant #U01GM132366, IRB approval # 00113440) to study interventions aimed at  refining the proposal writing skills of early stage investigators and increasing their success in receiving NIH grants. The interventions being tested are rooted in an intensive group coaching model for investigators who are actively writing, or poised to begin writing, a research grant application.  The study will compare variations of the group coaching intervention to identify features that influence its effectiveness.

Who Can Participate in the Study?

  • Participants in this study are postdoctoral associates and research-intensive junior faculty/new investigators who are seeking to develop a competitive NIH-style research grant proposal. Individuals who have already been awarded R01-level funding are not eligible.

  • The study is ideal for researchers who are preparing their first major NIH proposal or who have submitted a previous NIH proposal that was not selected for funding. Researchers who already have been awarded a K-series award are eligible to participate in this study if they are now writing an R-series proposal.

  • We are particularly interested in enrolling investigators who are preparing R-/SC-series proposals (e.g. R01, R21, R03, R15, SC1, SC2, SC3) or research career development K-series proposals (e.g. K99/R00, K01, K08, K23, etc.) in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences.

  • For Cohort 6, participants must be targeting an NIH submission deadline of January – March 2023 (preferred) or April – July 2023.

How is this Study Designed?

Study participants will engage in a writing-intensive, small group, coaching experience designed to refine their proposal writing skills and facilitate timely submission of their proposals, led by an experienced grant writing coach (senior investigator). The intervention begins with a 2-day long virtual kickoff, followed by 5 months of bi-weekly virtual group coaching meetings, and concluding with a virtual mock study section. Participants are asked to select a Scientific Advisor (mentor or experienced colleague), typically at their home institution, to provide them with field-specific feedback on the proposal’s content during the study.

There are four intervention arms to which a participant and their Scientific Advisor might be randomly assigned. In all arms, participants will experience the core 5 month grant writing coaching process. Depending on randomization, some Scientific Advisors will be asked to engage more directly and in a more structured fashion with the coaching group process, and some participants will have access to individualized coaching options for an additional 18 months after the initial 5 month group coaching experience.

Intervention arm 1: Each Participant and their Scientific Advisor will determine their own approach and the level of engagement needed to prepare a grant proposal;

Intervention arm 2: Scientific Advisors interact with both the Participant individually as well as the other members of the coaching group;

Intervention arm 3: Intervention 1 plus access to additional coaching after the completion of the 5 months of coaching group activity;

Intervention arm 4: Intervention 2 plus access to additional coaching after the completion of the 5 months of coaching group activity.

What will study participants be asked to do?

  • Participants will attend a 2 day kickoff event.

  • Participants will develop drafts of core sections of their own proposal, then meet as a small group every other week (approximately 8 two-hour virtual meetings) to receive critical feedback on their work-in-progress from skilled coaches (senior investigators) who understand reviewers’ expectations.

  • At each session, participants will review and provide feedback on one of their peers’ drafts.

  • Participants will work with their identified Scientific Advisor to receive field-specific, scientific feedback on their proposal’s content.

  • Participants will complete online assessments at pre-, post-, 12-month, 18-month, and 24-month periods to update the program on their proposal submissions and other aspects of their career progression. They will also complete a semi-structured interview to assess their experiences in the coaching intervention.

What are the Full Eligibility Requirements and Exclusion Criteria?

  • Participants may not be enrolled in more than one concurrent NRMN Grant Writing Coaching Group Study.

  • Career level* and Proposal Type:

    • Junior faculty/new investigator developing a new or revised K-, R- or SC-series NIH proposal (or similar national-level proposal);

    • Postdoctoral fellow developing a K99/R00 NIH proposal; or

    • Postdoctoral fellow developing a different K-series NIH proposal designed to promote the transition to a faculty position.

  • Citizenship – U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Proficiency needed to write a grant proposal in good scientific English.

  • Readiness to write – Scientific ideas and preliminary data for the proposed research are sufficiently developed so that proposal writing can realistically begin a few weeks prior to the study kickoff.

  • Research background – Applicant has a sufficient record of prior research training and publications to deliver a convincing argument for readiness to lead the proposed research.

  • Timing of proposal submission – Applicant intends to submit the proposal at or near the end of the group coaching intervention, or within 6 months after completion. (Note: Applicants whose intended submission date occurs substantially before the end of the program are not eligible.

  • Quality of Scientific Advisor – Applicant identifies an appropriate Scientific Advisor who commits to providing critical feedback on the proposal’s scientific content during its development and engaging with the coaching process as required by the study protocol.

  • Sufficient time for the program – Applicant commits to full participation in all sessions, activities, and assignments as detailed in the schedule.

  • Institutional support for research – Applicant is from an institution with sufficient resources (technical, scientific, administrative, etc.) to support the proposed research, or has a strong collaboration with one or more scientists at such an institution.

*Due to NIH restrictions on providing funding and resources to employees or contractors of the NIH Intramural Program through extramural funds, postdoctoral fellows currently working at NIH are not eligible to participate in U01-supported Grant Writing Coaching Groups.

How do I apply?

We are now accepting applications for Cohort 6. Participants in this cohort are expected to:

  • Be actively developing an NIH or similar national-level proposal for a submission deadline of January – March 2023 (preferred) or April – July 2023.  If you plan to submit your grant proposal BEFORE January 2023, you are NOT eligible for Cohort 6. 

  • Identify a Scientific Advisor (mentor or experienced colleague) who agrees to provide you with feedback on the proposal’s scientific content during the study. Participants and their Scientific Advisors are enrolled as dyads in the study.

  • Attend the kickoff event on August 10–12, 2022 (Attendance is mandatory)

  • Participate in group coaching sessions from August through December 2022 (8 sessions + mock review session)

Cohort 6 Application Deadline: March 24, 2022

In the application, you will be asked to provide a summary of your proposed research, similar to the content of a specific aims page required for a grant application.

The application will prompt you to upload additional documents:

  1. Your NIH-style biosketch

  2. A signed “Scientific Advisor” Form, which both the applicant and Scientific Advisor must sign

  3. Your Scientific Advisor’s NIH-style biosketch

Applicants will be notified of their status by June 15, 2022.


Download and complete Scientific Advisor Form-3 HERE