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What are the key information that should be included in a letter of support on a grant application? What information should I avoid?

I'm a theorist and I am planning to list my expertise and experience in similar problems. But I don't know how to convey that I would actually support the project if funded.

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A good letter of support, in my mind, should:

  • Convey a clear understanding of the proposal in question;
  • Demonstrate that the letter writer is in a position to support the application—in other words, she has the requisite experience to contribute;
  • Clearly indicate what the writer will do to support the grant in the event it gets funded.

I recently contributed such a letter for an educational grant. I cited my research, which was a fit for the program; and conveyed support for the program as the academic administrator of a summer program as well as a mentor in that same program. I also clearly conveyed my intention to support the program by directly mentoring a program fellow.

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There are usually specific guidelines for letters of support. For example, the NSF discourages letters of support for typical grant applications unless the support letter lists concrete things the letter writer will be contributing to the project (and then those things need to be listed). Since you're writing a letter for someone else's application, it's best to ask them.

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Avoid writing anything negative in the letter, even if it is constructive criticism. Some committees processing grant applications will use any evidence they can find to kill a proposal.

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