When requested or permitted by the solicitation, investigators have the opportunity to highlight contributions or collaborations by including a letter from the individual, institution, or organization. There are multiple types of proposal support letters including letters of: institutional support or commitment, external (non-funded) collaboration or support, available college/department resources, and available resources for the conduct of research projects (e.g. assurances). Well written letters should reinforce attributes of your proposal, such as the interdisciplinary team or successful mentorship program in place within your department, and align with the proposal narrative. Letters provided by the Provost, College Dean, or Research, Innovation & Impact can also provide and reinforce institutional support for the project and how your proposal aligns with UA’s institutional research, discovery and education mission.
Requesting RII Support for Your Proposal
For assistance on letters of institutional commitment, please contact Research Development Services. Please note that in order to provide the best service, requests should be made at least 3 weeks prior to the deadline. To ensure the best service, include the following information in your request:
- Name of the program to which you are applying
- Link to the solicitation (or attach a PDF of the solicitation to the request)
- Submission deadline of the program to which you are applying
- Your final proposal title
- A brief abstract of your proposal
- Description of the solicitation requirements for the letter, e.g. the solicitation specifically requires a letter from the Vice President for Research
- Principal Investigator Biographical Sketch or link to current CV
- Compiled departmental and college commitments (see Financial Commitments below)
- Whether this is a resubmission, and if so, comments that need to be addressed
- Draft letter in .docx
If a proposal requires institutional financial commitments, the investigator should contact their college dean and department head to secure initial support. The dean’s office will then coordinate with Research, Innovation & Impact and Vice President for Research Development (John O'Neil, Ph.D.) to obtain the financial commitment. Requests for financial assistance should be made as soon as possible. Letters for financial commitment should also be coordinated through RDS during the drafting phase.
For assistance on letters of support, please contact Research Development Services. Please note that in order to provide the best service, requests should be made at least 3 weeks prior to the deadline.
Goals for a Letter of Support
Generally, the goals for a letter of support are to:
- Highlight how the proposal contributes to leading research and/or education in the field;
- Specify the contributions of the team member/project;
- Communicate enthusiasm for the proposal; and
- Provide quantifiable support for the proposal.
For letters of collaboration, the goals are to emphasize the:
- Collaborator and the assets they bring to the team;
- Existing relationship with the investigator; and
- Unique contributions of the collaboration.
The guidelines below can be utilized for either a letter of support or collaboration. It is strongly recommended that you customize each letter, unless otherwise specified by the funding solicitation or agency. By providing a draft letter you can ensure a more timely response as well as align the letter to the proposal narrative.
Guidelines for a Basic Letter of Support (or Collaboration) Document
Ensure that you follow all guidance within the funding solicitation regarding context, formatting, and page length. Print the letter on institutional letterhead. The following guidelines offer suggestions for drafting a basic letter of support, deviations from this format may be necessary to fulfill the goals of your letter.
Determine the appropriate addressee for the letter, typically the project’s principal investigator or the granting agency. There's not a hard and fast rule for all letters about who should be the addressee, as it depends upon the type of letter. If the letter details how the institution will provide support for the project, the addressee should be the granting agency, preferably a specific program officer affiliated with that funding opportunity. Otherwise, if the letter is from a collaborator committing their own support for the project, you may still chose to address the letter to the program officer, but you could also address it to the PI. Try to be as specific as possible and avoid “To Whom It May Concern.” It may also be helpful to identify the funding solicitation and title using a “Re:” line.
- Define the letter writer's role and the entity represented (see the "Goals" text above).
- Emphasize why the letter is being written, e.g. to support the proposal and research/academic goals or to commit resources or cost share/matching funds.
- State the details of the proposal being submitted and reference the funding solicitation including the principal investigator's name, title of the proposal, type of proposal (i.e. research, training, workshop), and where the letter is going (i.e. the funding agency or lead institution).
- Describe the strengths of the proposal, e.g. by explaining the science and/or education approach and its relevance or cutting edge approach, emphasize the team leadership strengths, promote a strong track record of mentorship, highlight the appropriate achievements of the team such as publications, or if part of a larger proposal, address how integral this component is to the overall project.
- Link the strengths of the proposal to the organization or institution, e.g. alignment to with the university/college/department research or education goals, or the research expertise and resources at UA to support this proposal.
- Provide a summary that includes the commitment of resources (including quantifiable details, if applicable), how the work reflects the importance of the project to the institution and/or UA, and reiteration of support of the proposal.
- The proposed Principal Investigator for the University of Arizona is <insert PI's name here>, with such role being subject to and conditioned upon required compliance and regulatory reviews and/or approvals, including conflict of interest and conflict of commitment.