Yes, including references throughout your text is strongly encouraged for SBIR proposals. It is best to provide a reference whenever you make a claim in your proposal, and references to peer-reviewed journals are preferred over websites or “personal communication” references. Using references helps you support statements in your Research Strategy and will show reviewers that you are up to date on the science in the field you propose to work in, and references can highlight your Key Personnel accomplishments and strengths in their biosketches. In fact, a bibliography (compiling all references used throughout your Research Plan) is a required document for a complete submission.
Some additional guidance for NIH (NIAID in this case) can be found here: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/grants-contracts/add-bibliography-appendix
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