Man jotting down in journal pagesOnce you have identified several possible funding sources, verified that your idea is 1) original, irresistible, and fundable, 2) comes from an established background, 3) offers a vertical advancement and more knowledge to the field, and 4) the general need/topic has not been funded recently, you are ready to write your specific aims page. This is a one page document that will set the stage for the entire grant proposal and project over the funding period.

Introductory Paragraph:

Create an opening sentence that is interest-grabbing and immediately establishes the relevance of your proposal to human health.

Establish a need by covering the current knowledge to help the less expert members of the review panel get up to speed from the most important, older knowledge to the edge of the field as it exists today. Only key citations should be provided.

Then progress to the gap in knowledge base/unmet need that will drive your application. Introduce them to what is missing and therefore, holding back the field. Finish with a statement of need and objective evidence for its existence.

What, Why, Who Paragraph:

State your Long-Term Goal of your research overall for the next 5-10 years. It should reflect the niche area that you intend to systematically develop as your own.

Describe the objective of this application, what it seeks to accomplish, which must be either to fill the gap or meet that need that you delineated in the first paragraph.

Add a sentence or two about your central hypothesis and link it to the objective, and then how the central hypothesis was formulated—how you focused on this starting point.

Close with your rationale to convey why you want to undertake the proposed research.

Specific Aims Paragraph:

The aims are the tasks that must be completed, in the order that they must be undertaken, to obtain the objective. You should limit your aims to no more than three or four and each should be of equal weight and contain an equal amount of work. Each must flow into the next; however, it is important that none of your specific aims are dependent on specific excepted outcomes of a previous aim.

Payoff Paragraph:

Write the first few lines on your expected outcomes. These are the payoff items the funding agency can expect if they fund your application. There should be at least one important expected outcome for each of your aims. There must be a clear linkage back to the specific aim that produced them.

Then, you need to write the final few general closing lines about the positive impact of your proposed research. Summarize the general impact of the expected outcomes that, collectively, will advance your field vertically, as well as contribute to the mission of the funding agency and the award that you are targeting.