This article seeks to demystify the competitive grant recommendation process of scientific peer review panels. The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRICGP) administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Cooperative State Research, Extension, and Education Service (USDA-CSREES) serves as the focus of this article. This article provides a brief background on the NRICGP and discusses the application process, the scientific peer review process, guidelines for grant writing, and ways to interpret reviewer comments if a proposal is not funded. The essentials of good grant writing discussed in this article are transferable to other USDA competitive grant programs.


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