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Science & Society (S&S) Program

Proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants submitted to the S&S Program must comply with or have information about the following bulleted items:

Target Date: February 1, August 1

Project Budget: The usual limit on a dissertation award is $ 8,000 for research in North America. The usual limit for international research is $ 12,000. No indirect costs are allowed.

Proposal Title should read, "Doctoral Dissertation Research.”

Project Description must not exceed 15 single pages.

The major professor should be listed as the Principal Investigator. The dissertation student may be listed as the Co-Principal Investigator.

All proposals must be submitted electronically via Fastlane.

Proposals which violate these regulations in an attempt to squeeze in more information antagonize reviewers and may be returned without consideration.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Program Directors :

Ronald Rainger, 703 292-7283

Priscilla Regan, 703 292-7318

John Perhonis, 703 292-7279

Dissertation Advice to Students

Doctoral students eligible to apply have to be enrolled in U.S. graduate programs and must have passed -- or will pass -- the qualifying exams and completed all course work required for the degree prior to receiving the award . It is also preferred that students should have had their Ph.D. topic approved by their Ph.D. dissertation committee prior to receiving the award. These awards provide funds for dissertation research expenses not normally available through the student's university. Follow the proposal preparation guidelines in the Doctoral Dissertation Program Announcement, and the NSF05-588 S&S Program Announcement especially the instructions for spacing ( single or double-spaced), length (15 pages for the project description), font size (12 point is best, no smaller than 15 characters/2.5 cm), CVs (2 page maximum biographical sketch), and proposal summary (1 page maximum). The summary must address in separate paragraphs the "intellectual merit" and the "broader impacts" of the proposal (See the NSF Grant Proposal Guide).

Awards are not intended to cover the full costs of a student's doctoral dissertation research. Funds may be used only for valid research expenses for conducting field research in settings away from campus that would not otherwise be possible. Those include data collection and sample survey costs, payments to subjects or informants, specialized research equipment, analysis and services not otherwise available, supplies, travel to archives, specialized collections, and facilities or field research locations, and partial living expenses for conducting necessary research away from the student's university. Funds are to be used exclusively for the actual conduct of dissertation research. These funds may not be used as a student stipend, for tuition, textbooks, journals, or for the typing, reproduction, or publication costs of the student's dissertation. Funds may be requested for research assistants only in very special circumstances, which should be carefully justified.

The proposal must include a letter from the faculty advisor. This document is not intended as a traditional recommendation, but should evaluate the student's promise as a researcher, the student's capabilities for undertaking this project, and the value and status of the proposed research. It should also discuss the student's current progress in the graduate program, affirming when the student passed -- or will pass -- the qualifying exams, completed all course work required for the degree, and had the dissertation topic approved. If the doctoral student will use the award for travel expenses to work at a particular facility (library, archive, field site, etc.) the proposal should provide a justification for this choice and a letter from the institution allowing the student to conduct research there. These requirements must be met before an award will be made. Letters should be submitted in the Supplementary Documentation section of the FastLane proposal.

The Project Description section should describe the significance of the work, including its relationship to other current research, and the design of the project in sufficient detail to permit evaluation. It should also present and interpret progress to date if the research is already underway. The Results from Prior NSF Support section is not required with these proposals.

Outstanding proposals are those that will generate new knowledge and new interpretations. Such projects should advance our understanding of the topic as well as make an important contribution to the discipline as a whole.

Use a clear and concise writing style. Reviewers will include scholars from a variety of specialty areas. It is possible that no specialist from your particular area of research will be on the panel. Defining key terms and keeping your proposal free of jargon will ensure that all reviewers will be able to understand your proposal and evaluate it fairly. One of the areas in which the proposal will be evaluated is "Research Competence of the Student." You can provide information to reviewers in the body of the proposal as well as in your CV. Be sure to include any other information which can help reviewers evaluate how well prepared you are to conduct the research.

The following are suggested criteria for the Project Description. These are not hard-and-fast rules but indicate what reviewers carefully consider when reading and evaluating a proposal.

A clear statement of the research problem, hypothesis or theory, and your aims and expectations.

Research plan or design. Based on the research question that you are asking, what are the important topics, themes or issues that you will be examining. Readers should be able to gain a clear understanding of what the researcher is going to do. The major research question, the plan or means for addressing that question, and the method employed should all be tightly linked.

Describe the research site (s) where you will be working, and how and why they are
relevant to the project.

Describe the methodology you will be employing, and be specific. If you are doing archival research describe the collections you will be examining and explain their relevance to the project. If you will be conducting interviews describe the questions you will be asking. If you will be conducting a survey or doing ethnographic research, define the populations you will be studying. As one example the term "participant observation" is extraordinarily general and should be unpacked into its specific components and related to the information you are seeking to obtain and to the research design.

References or bibliography. These may be done either as notes or bibliography, but in addition to citations to the literature, reviewers want to know that you are engaged with the literature and can situate your work in relation to the literature.

Research schedule

Budget. Be able to justify your budget, especially in relation to travel, and provide an itemized budget of anticipated expenses.

Reviewers are well aware that there are no perfect strategies for conducting research, but will be looking for evidence that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the approach selected. In a competitive review process where only a subset of excellent proposals can be funded, reviewers need to be told how your particular study will advance our understanding of the topic, yield new knowledge, and significantly contribute to the discipline.

* Note: Students doing international research, having a formal affiliation with a foreign research institution, may be eligible for additional funding. Please contact the appropriate program in NSF's Office of International Science