What Should I Include in the Project Summary/Abstract?

When writing an NIH grant application, remember that the Project Summary/Abstract will be viewable to the public on RePORTER if the application is funded.  Keep in mind the following guidance:

    • Limit length to 30 lines or less of text
    • Include the project’s broad, long-term objectives and specific aims
    • Include a description of the research design and methods for achieving the stated goals
    • Do NOT include proprietary or confidential information, or trade secrets
    • Write in plain language, so even a non-scientist can understand the importance of the project
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19 thoughts on “What Should I Include in the Project Summary/Abstract?

  1. Hi,
    Does the 30 lines of text include the first line which states “Project Summary”? Or are the 30 lines exclusively for the description of the summary? Thank you!

  2. In applying for grants I have found that most initial applications limit you to 500 words total. This means the Project Summary, Target Population, Goals, Outcomes, and Timeline have to be concise and interesting enough to get your reader to turn the page.

  3. For the grants not funded, would the Abstract be published as well? If funded, when will the Abstract published? The info will be helpful for us in preparing Summary with information that has patent application pending (not yet filed).

  4. Can we include facts in NIH proposal abstracts that require a reference and site that reference (Smith, 2016) in the text and also on the reference list at the end? Or should references not be in the abstract?

    • The summary is meant to serve as a succinct and accurate description of the proposed work, and if the application is funded, the Project Description will be entered into an NIH database and made available on the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT, available at http://report.nih.gov), without the reference list. Thus, we do not recommend including citations in the summary/abstract. For more information, visit the application guide.

  5. Just to further clarify the response to the first question from 2015; would the header “Project Summary/Abstract” be included in the 30-line count?

  6. In terms of K01 award, should the project summary includes candidates research/career development plan? Or just summary for research plan?

    • When applying to the parent K01, in addition to summarizing the research project to be conducted under the career development award, the project summary should describe the candidate’s career development plan, the candidate’s career goals, and the environment in which the career development will take place. The entire “Project Summary/Abstract” attachment is limited to 30 lines of text. Please see the NIH application guide and career (K)-specific instructions for more information.

    • NIH recommends text only to convey the project summary. If the application is funded, it will appear as text only in some of our systems (e.g. the NIH RePORTER database).

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