Citations in SBIR/STTR Proposals

Citations in SBIR/STTR Proposals

by Christie Bell, CLP

While citations are not required in SBIR and STTR proposals, application authors who choose not to cite the sources of their content significantly lower their chances of being funded. Appropriately cited applications help to assure agency reviewers that the principal investigator is well-versed in the literature that supports their hypothesis.

It is customary to cite facts, figures, or ideas that are not commonly known. Of importance is to give credit where credit is due by citing the ideas, words, exact language, and theories developed and published by other people.

The way citations are written is often determined by the academic discipline under which the subject matter falls. APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences and is standard for SBIR and STTR proposals.

Citations in SBIR or STTR proposals usually contain in-text citations that are detailed in a separate references section or paper. An in-text citation occurs in line with the narrative text as in the following example:

“Researchers from Montana State University have developed a non-invasive method for treating carpal tunnel syndrome where drugs, cryotherapy and bracing have been unsuccessful (Keith, 2002).”

The full detail for this citation, “Keith, O. K., (2002). Ultrasonic treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. Journal of Neural Health, 23(4), 245-259,” should be included in a list of references per the agency’s solicitation instructions.

Regardless of the writer’s preference or customary style, the SBIR or STTR guidelines take priority. Some agencies offer specific instructions, while others allow the author to select a style. If there is a cap to the number of citations allowed, include only those that directly support the thesis. An exhaustive reference list is not necessary and may inhibit the reviewer’s ability to efficiently judge the content.

Additional information can be found at Montana State University and the University of Montana websites and

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