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Ssrc Fellowship Application Essay

This page contains historical information and is preserved here as a matter of record.

Overview

The Dissertation Proposal Development Program began in 2006 as a fellowship program for early-stage doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences to help them formulate innovative dissertation research proposals. The Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, or DPDF, provided workshops, exploratory summer research, and writing guided by peer review and faculty mentorship.

Between 2006 and 2014, the DPDF was thematic, with several interdisciplinary research fields selected annually though the program’s faculty field competition as the basis for student training workshops. Through the DPDF's student fellowship competition, graduate students then applied to participate in one of the thematic training workshops offered in a given year, which were led by senior faculty from each selected research field.

Following the 2014 fellowship cycle, the DPDF was reconfigured to engage with a broader cross section of graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. This reconfiguration eliminated the faculty field competition and thematic workshop components while becoming accessible to more students in the humanities and social sciences, regardless of topic, who were in the early stages of dissertation proposal development.

As of fall 2016, the DPDF as a fellowship program for individual graduate students will be discontinued. Instead, the Dissertation Proposal Development Program will shift toward providing resources and guidance directly to universities to help them establish interdisciplinary dissertation proposal development trainings on their own campuses.


Legacy

Over its 10-year span, nearly 650 graduate students from universities both in the US and abroad received the Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, allowing them to refine their dissertation projects and conduct exploratory research in more than 110 countries across the globe.

In assessing the fellowship program's benefits for students, program staff found that alumni were, on average, significantly more successful in winning dissertation research grants and quicker in obtaining doctoral degrees than were students who did not participate in the program. DPDF alumni also reported overwhelmingly that the program's activities helped them to develop professional skills in writing clearly and explaining their research to broad audiences, giving and receiving critiques from colleagues, and developing academic networks that furthered their career advancement.

Please visit the Resources links for more information on the training components and financial resources the DPDF provided, as well as the fellowship competition's eligibility and criteria.

The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) offers nine to twelve months of support to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who are enrolled in PhD programs in the United States and conducting dissertation research on non-US topics. Sixty-eight fellowships are awarded annually. Fellowship amounts vary depending on the research plan, with a per-fellowship average of $21,000. The fellowship includes participation in an SSRC-funded interdisciplinary workshop upon the completion of IDRF-funded research.

Eligibility

The program is open to graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences—regardless of citizenship—enrolled in PhD programs in the United States. Applicants to the 2018 IDRF competition must complete all PhD requirements except on-site research by the time the fellowship begins or by December 2018, whichever comes first.

The program invites proposals for dissertation research conducted, in whole or in part, outside the United States, on non-US topics. It will consider applications for dissertation research grounded in a single site, informed by broader cross-regional and interdisciplinary perspectives, as well as applications for multi-sited, comparative, and transregional research. Proposals that identify the United States as a case for comparative inquiry are welcome; however, proposals that focus predominantly or exclusively on the United States are not eligible. 

Applicants from select disciplines within the humanities (Art History, Architectural History, Classics, Drama/Theater, Film Studies, Literature, Musicology, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Political Theory, and Religion) may request three or more months of funding for international on-site dissertation research in combination with site-specific research in the United States, for a total of nine to twelve months of funding. All other applicants (for instance, those in Anthropology, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology, among others) must request nine to twelve months of on-site, site-specific dissertation research with a minimum of six months of research outside of the United States. Research within the United States must be site-specific (e.g., at a particular archive) and cannot be at the applicant’s home institution unless that institution has necessary site-specific research holdings. Please note that the IDRF program supports research only and may not be used for dissertation write-up.

Applicants who have completed significant funded dissertation research in one country by the start of their proposed IDRF research may be ineligible to apply to the IDRF to extend research time in the same country. Eligibility will be at the discretion of the IDRF program, depending on completed research time and funding. The IDRF program expects fellows to remain at their research site(s) for the full nine- to twelve-month funding period. The IDRF program will not support study at foreign universities, conference participation, or dissertation write-up. The program does not accept applications from PhD programs in law, business, medicine, nursing, or journalism, nor does it accept applications in doctoral programs that do not lead to a PhD. For more information on the 2018 IDRF competition, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

Selection Criteria

The IDRF competition promotes a range of approaches and research designs beyond single-site or single-country research, including comparative work at the national and regional levels and explicit comparison of cases across time frames. The program is open to proposals informed by a range of methodologies in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, including research in archives and manuscript collections, fieldwork and surveys, and quantitative data collection.

Applicants are expected to write in clear, intelligible prose for a selection committee that is multidisciplinary and cross-regional. Proposals should display a thorough knowledge of the major concepts, theories, and methods in the applicant's discipline and in other related fields, as well as a bibliography relevant to the research. Applicants should specify why an extended period of on-site research is critical for successful completion of the proposed doctoral dissertation. The research design of proposals should be realistic in scope, clearly formulated, and responsive to theoretical and methodological concerns. Applicants should provide evidence of having attained an appropriate level of training to undertake the proposed research, including evidence of a degree of language fluency sufficient to complete the project. For more information on the 2018 IDRF competition, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

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