Research and Scholarship FAQs

Writing a Letter of Intent/Interest or a Letter of Inquiry

While the acronym LOI can refer either to a Letter of Intent or Interest or a Letter of Inquiry, the aim of both is to generate interest from a grant provider.  

Letter of Intent or Interest

The Letter of Intent or Interest (LOI) might be represented as a brief unsolicited narrative to an agency's Program Officer in which an interested researcher/investigator offers a synopsis of his/her proposed project to an identified Program Officer to get some initial feedback as to the Program Officer's/agency's interest. The LOI can help the investigator explore appropriate funding that aligns with the research as well as provide the sponsor’s program officer/gatekeeper with a description of the project plan to determine whether the research aligns with the agency’s mission/goals.

The Letter of Intent/Interest is a one-page (occasionally 1-3 pages though brevity is always preferred) comprehensive sketch of your proposed project’s purpose, the need/problem being addressed, a description of the project plan, and its intended outcome/impact. 

Typically, the brief LOI narrative should respond to the following:

  • What is the current state of the problem and how will your proposed research explore it in a novel way or provide forward-moving steps toward reducing the problem?
  • A very brief overview of the problem and why there is a gap or a need to know more specifics. What implications will your research have for your field and for others?
  • What is your plan, your methodology, your hypotheses (if you’ve framed these), and your aims (at this early stage)?
  • What preliminary studies have you completed? Why are you the expert to perform this research? (This content lends itself to the proposed project’s feasibility and your credibility as an investigator).
  • What are the broader applications of your study?
  • How will you disseminate this study’s results?

Letter of Inquiry

A mandatory Letter of Inquiry (LOI) differs from an Letter of Intent or Interest. Funding agencies may require the submission of a brief (approximately 2-3 pages) Letter of Inquiry rather than a full proposal. The funding agency reviews these letters so that only projects of interest to the project agency are invited to submit a full proposal.

The funding sponsor usually provides an outline for the Letter of Inquiry.  While this outline may vary from agency to agency, one possible outline might consider the following:

  • A Brief Proposal Summary, which is typically a one-paragraph summary that describes the problem you intend to address, what activities you will undertake, what deliverable you will provide, and the impact your expect the project to have.
  • A Project Description, which details the work/activities that you will undertake in your project.
  • A Project Timeline.
  • A Statement of Significance  
  • A Statement of Capacity for Success that explains why your team and/or organization is positioned to be successful in yourproject.  
  • A Narrative Description of the Outputs/Deliverables you intend to produce.
  • If requested, a Brief Budget Explanation.