Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative: What’s the Difference and What to Include

When writing an NIH grant application, applicants are asked to develop a Project Summary/Abstract and a Project Narrative, two sections that, if funded, are made available on RePORTER to help the public understand the value of NIH-funded research. Check out the table below to see how they compare and what to include.

Project Summary/Abstract Project Narrative
A succinct and accurate description of the proposed work Communicates the public health relevance of the project to the public
30 lines of text or less No more than 2-3 sentences
Use plain language understandable by a general audience Use plain language understandable by a general audience
Include: the project’s broad, long-term objectives and specific aims, and a description of the research design and methods. Do not include: proprietary or confidential information, or descriptions of past accomplishments. Describe how, in the short or long term, the research would contribute to: the fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems, and/or the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.
If the application is funded, the summary/abstract will be available on RePORTER If the application is funded, the narrative will be available on RePORTER

For more guidance, see the Application Guide for Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative.

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2 thoughts on “Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative: What’s the Difference and What to Include

  1. Why not change the name of the “Narrative” to “Public Health Statement” to more clearly guide applicants?

    • Your suggestion makes perfect sense, Jed, and we would love to do that. But the form is a fed-wide form used by the research agencies, many of which do not have missions associated with public health, so the field name needs to be generic.

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