Having reviewed tool development proposals for NIH study sections before, I know that evaluating proposals for software tools is quite difficult. If the paper proposal is all you have, then you make your best guess as to the value of the work and the likelihood of success. But it’s extraordinarily more convincing when the proposed tool already demonstrates widespread use in the community.
For the initial BioGPS proposal, we went a little bit overboard with this idea. We posted an “open call” for Letters of Support on SymAtlas (the predecessor to BioGPS) for two weeks. And during that time, we received 60 letters from our loyal users — everyone from endowed professors to postdocs to graduate students; scientists from academia, industry and government; anything ranging from 3-4 sentences to a page and a half. And we submitted all forty-five pages of them with our proposal.
Needless to say, this strategy worked. Reviewers noted both the quantity and the enthusiasm of our users in their written comments. And I am confident that those letters were a key factor in eventually getting our proposal funded.
Now, we’re prepping for our renewal and we need your help again. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, share with us why you use BioGPS, what impact it’s had on your research or what you’re particularly excited about in our plan moving forward. Email your letters to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and feel free to contact me with any comments or questions. Your letters of support are essential for us to continue providing innovative tools for biomedical research. I look forward to hearing from you.
UPDATE: Many of you are probably reaching this page through the big, bold, and red link we put on the front page of BioGPS. Rest assured, we don’t plan on leaving that link there forever. In fact, it will only be there until the end of the month. So please take a moment now to send us your letter of support. Thank you.