We recommend that you offer to draft a letter of support for your consultant(s)/collaborator(s) to ensure that all deadlines are met.
In addition, by providing a draft letter of support, you ensure two things:
That the letter of support will contain all of the information you need
That you will get the letter back from your consultant(s)/collaborator(s) in a timely fashion (assuming you give them enough lead time! We suggest 2-3 weeks)
Drafting your own letters of support also serves another important purpose. It can give both parties an early warning of unrealistic expectations. It is a vehicle for negotiating exactly what services, reagents, or expertise will be provided to support your work.
The goals of a letter of support are to:
Specify what the consultant(s)/collaborator(s) will contribute to the research
Convince the reviewer that the consultant(s)/collaborator(s) will fulfill the request
Convey enthusiasm for the work
Lend credibility to your proposal
As long as your letter demonstrates specifically what your collaborator(s) will be contributing to the project, there is no right or wrong way to draft a strong letter of support in the absence of funding agency guidelines. One format that you might consider in the absence of such guidelines follows.
Example Letter of Support Format:
Letters of support should be:
Unique and written from the point of view of your collaborator(s) or consultant(s)
Printed on institutional letterhead and signed by the appropriate party (someone authorized to make the commitment of support)
Addressed either to the PI of the proposal or to the granting agency – check the guidelines of the specific grant and/or agency
Address any specific guidelines (e.g., particular assurances) required by the funding agency or the university, as outlined in the Request for Application (RFA) or as requested by your Research Administrator
Follow any other guidelines (e.g., page limits) required by the funding agency
First Paragraph (1-3 sentences)
Statement of support for the project/research – use words that convey enthusiasm
Identify the research project by name/title
“I am pleased to support your research proposal titled xxxx.”
“Your proposal to do xxxx has my enthusiastic support.”
Body Paragraphs (1-3 paragraphs, or more as necessary)
If applicable, state how the goals/research of the collaborator(s)/consultant(s) are well-aligned with the goals of the proposed research. What is the collaborator’s motivation to work with you?
State as specifically as possible the role of the consultant(s)/collaborator(s) in the project.
State why this collaborator/consultant is the appropriate person/organization/lab to perform the work.
What is their relevant experience/expertise? Have they previously worked on a similar project? Do they have a successful track record?
Do they have specialized equipment or reagents? Other resources?
If you have worked with this collaborator before, be sure to say so! It demonstrates that a productive relationship has already been established.
Last Paragraph (1-3 sentences)
Include a cordial closing. The level of formality should be determined by the level of personal relationship between the PI and the collaborator/consultant. If you know each other very well, it can be less formal.
“I look forward to collaborating with you on this work.”
“Best of luck with your grant application.”