A reference letter is a requirement for most individual fellowship and career development award programs. This page provides information and resources concerning who needs to submit a reference letter, how a reference letter is submitted, and when the referee (the person providing the letter) should submit a reference letter.
A reference letter (or reference form for individual fellowship programs) is a letter of recommendation. Letters must be submitted before or on the application submission deadline for the grant application and can be submitted before the application itself, as early as the opening date of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). It is important to note that the applicant for whom the reference letter is written will only be able to see when the letter was submitted. The applicant will not be able to see the content of the letter.
Note: Referees do not need to log in to eRA Commons to submit their letter. They can access the online form from the eRA Commons home page. The applicant must supply to the referee the applicant’s eRA Commons User ID and the FOA number to which they are applying.
Link for submitting a reference letter:
An applicant can see that a reference letter has been submitted by accessing their Personal Profile (PPF) and opening the Reference Letters section. Here they can see when a letter was submitted, by whom it was submitted, and the opportunity it was submitted for.
Basic Tasks (step-by-step instructions from the online help)
Click on the thumbnail image to expand to full view.
Figure 1: The Submit Reference Letter link on the eRA Commons home page
Figure 2: The Submit Reference Letter form that a referee fills out
Figure 3: Reference Letters information for an applicant displayed on the Personal Profile Summary screen
Figure 4: Reference Letter information for a submitted application displayed on the detailed Status information screen
- NIH Grants Policy Statement: Letters of Reference
- NIH Grants Policy Statement: Letters of Reference for Ks
- NIH Grants Policy Statement: Letters of Reference for Fellowships (Fs)
- NIH Grants & Funding site: Reference Letters page (additional information including instruction documents to provide to referees)