Spring 2015: March Update

During spring 2015 we’ll provide a monthly update, including upcoming events, noteworthy deadlines, tips for searching and applying for funding or other useful information. These updates are designed to provide highlights so be sure to check other resources posted to this blog for more comprehensive information.

72749_438069952943719_326566882_nEvery grant application begins with a blank page. Thinking about where to being can be daunting, but the opening paragraph of any grant application or research proposal actually follows a fairly simple formula. There are five main points to address with a sentence (or two) each:

  •  What is the focus of your research? [larger issue/topic]
  • What is the problem you will address? [complication, disruption]
  • What is the impact of this problem? [consequence]
  • How might your research contribute or help? [response]
  • Why does this matter? [potential significance]

Crafting your first paragraph with this formula provides two advantages. First, it gives you (and your reader) a roadmap for the rest of the proposal. You are essentially providing teasers for your literature review, methodology, and research impacts; when you write those sections you will already have a clear starting point.

Second, reviewers generally move quickly through applications. If your first paragraph doesn’t wow them, they may simply stop reading and move on to the next application. The first paragraph is often referred to as the “hook” paragraph because, when written well, it can hook the reader in, leaving them wanting to read more.

Here’s an example of a hook paragraph, following the formula outlined above:

Service learning experiences are becoming wide-spread in US colleges and universities. [common ground/background] However, the students who participate are predominantly Caucasian and often middle-class, while the communities they serve are largely minority groups and poor. [complication] As a result, this dominant model for service-learning programs may reproduce the race and class power dynamics in the larger society. [consequence] This study will analyze a service learning initiative, offered at a large state university, where students worked with ethnically and linguistically similar youth and communities. [response] This study will offer feasible alternatives to traditional service-learning models and thereby help disrupt the current practices which perpetuate race and class domination. [response – potential contribution to consequence]

Happy writing!

Upcoming Events
Registration information and full descriptions can be found on our Spring 2015 Events page.

  • Fellowship Opportunities for Graduate Students of Color, Thursday, April 2, 12-1:30pm, Bartlett 107, Co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR)
  • Info Session: National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Monday, April 6, 2:30-3:30 pm, Goodell 5th Floor Lounge (outside room 538)

Upcoming Deadlines
The Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) Department in the UMass Amherst Libraries is accepting applications for fellowships in digital humanities. Graduate students from any department enrolled at UMass Amherst are eligible to apply. Fellows will receive an honorarium of $500, plus hourly compensation for 150 hours of work. Applications are due Friday, April 17, 2015; more information available here.

Du Bois Library Fellowships offer up to $2500 for four weeks in residency at UMass’s Du Bois Library. Applications are welcome from scholars researching the major themes that characterize Du Bois’s scholarship and activism, including the history and meaning of racial, social, and economic justice; the problems of democracy and political inclusion; the role of capitalism in world affairs; and the global influence of African cultures. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applications are due March 31, 2015; more information available here.

The US Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program offers funding and other forms of support for students conducting doctoral research on topics that address scientific challenges central to the Office of Science’s mission. Applications are due April 14; more information is available here.

The Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) Department in the UMass Amherst Libraries is accepting applications for fellowships in digital humanities. Graduate students from any department enrolled at UMass Amherst are eligible to apply. Fellows will receive an honorarium of $500, plus hourly compensation for 150 hours of work. Applications are due April 17, 2015; more information available here.

Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grants are available for research that will make a significant contribution to the field of anthropology. You do not need to be enrolled in an anthropology graduate program to apply. Grants are for up to $20,000 and are due May 1, 2015; more information available here.