The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Predissertation Research Award

The Department of Anthropology awards a limited number of grants to graduate students under our Pre-Dissertation Study award program. The competition is open to students in all subfields. The Graduate Studies Committee critically reviews grant proposals. Grants are meant to enable students to undertake a feasibility study that will be conducted prior to beginning dissertation research. The purpose of the pre-dissertation study might include visiting research sites and establishing necessary contacts, refining research questions and collecting pilot data and testing research methodologies. The application procedures and accounting for the awards are designed to give students practice in all aspects of grant preparation and reporting. Well-conceived pilot studies are expected to produce information that can form the basis of grant proposals. If any dissertation data or information is to be collected from human subjects/informants during the course of this research, prior clearance from the UMass Institutional Review Board for working with human subjects is required. Students interested in applying for these awards should consider the following:

  1. The grants are for a minimum of 2-8 weeks. They are not to fund Ph.D. research but rather the feasibility of carrying out the Ph.D. fieldwork (e.g. refining research questions and collecting pilot data, testing research methodologies, visiting research sites, establishing research contacts). While it is not the priority of the grants, language training may be supported in the case of languages that cannot be studied at UMass or nearby.
  2. The maximum grant is $3,000 but normally they will be less than this amount. Students are normally awarded only a single feasibility grant, but should the dissertation project prove infeasible, or should circumstances beyond the student's control change so that the dissertation project becomes untenable, a second award may be granted. No student will receive more than $6,000 total, nor will any student be funded for more than two grant periods.
  3. Assessment will include a consideration of the student's academic record and progress towards a degree.
  4. Award will depend on whether the proposal describes a dissertation topic that is well developed enough that preliminary research will provide a foundation for further work, including a grant proposal.
  5. Priority will be given to students who have submitted prior grant proposals for external funding, and who provide evidence that pilot data or other aspects of a feasibility study will increase the chance of obtaining external funding.
  6. Proposals require a rationale and justification of the location(s) and duration of the pre-dissertation study.

Application Guidelines

A. In 2-3 pages (single-spaced), provide brief narrative answers to the following questions:                

1)  What is the focus of your investigation and your goal for the research? (including the location of the study)
2)  Briefly discuss the major scholarly literature on your topic (mention at least several scholars whose work is relevant), and suggest how you hope to contribute to the discipline of anthropology.
3)  What are your proposed methodologies for conducting your pre-dissertation study?
4)  How will you investigate the feasibility of your project?
5)  Explain what contacts, arrangements, or on-the-ground knowledge you already have, and how you will initiate your investigation.

6) Proposal require a rationale and justification of the location(s) and duration of the pre-dissertation study.

B. Complete the questions below (full sentences not required).                                              

1)  What language skills do you have that are relevant to your research?
2)  What permissions do you have or need?
3)  What transportation is available that you can use?
4)  Who is your advisor?  Has he or she read and approved this and written a recommendation?
5)  BUDGET (itemize and explain)                                                                                                                            

C. Attach (as an appendix): 1) a CV; 2) a brief letter of support from your advisor; 3) any previous proposals submitted and reviews received.

Human Subjects, Animal Care, Biosafety

The Department of Anthropology requires that you obtain approval(s) from the appropriate institutional boards if you are conducting research with human subjects, archives of human subjects, animals or biological materials. The GSC may require proof of IRB approval before an award will be made. For information on seeking IRB approval please consult:

Deadline: Submit a proposal and supplemental material to Shelley TBA. Proposals will be reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee and announced within 2-3 weeks after the deadline.

Post-Award Requirements:  Students who receive research grants will be expected to:

1) write regularly to their Academic Advisor

2) prepare a brief written report of the summer activities (suggested length of 500-1,000 words)

3) present a short (e.g., 15 minute) presentation at a department colloquium

4) prepare a financial accounting of the money. A copy of the written report and financial accounting should be sent to Shelley Silva, Academic Program Assistant, Department of Anthropology. The report will be made available to the Graduate Studies Committee for review and eventual placement in the student's file.  Courtesy suggests that the student also submit a copy of the report to their advisor. The report should include period of research (i.e., dates), place of research, and expenses for travel, per diem, and miscellaneous. Reports will also help the GSC assess whether the pre-dissertation funding is adequate.