Seed Grant FAQs

For a printable version of this RFP, please click here.

Who Can Apply?

We welcome proposals from graduate students at any stage of their training, and who are enrolled in any social science field at Cornell. However, priority will be given to graduate students who are enrolled in Soc 5190 and/or who have demonstrated a commitment to CSI in the past (e.g., by attending events, taking classes from CSI affiliates, etc).

Graduate students who have received small grants in the past are welcome to apply for support for a different project, although we reserve the right to prioritize first‐time applicants.

Proposals to conduct research in collaboration with other Cornell graduate students are welcome, although the $1000 award cap per project will still apply. Proposals to conduct collaborative research with Cornell faculty or with scholars outside of Cornell must demonstrate that the graduate student is taking the lead intellectual role on the project, not acting (implicitly or explicitly) as the senior or external scholar’s RA.

How are Proposals Evaluated?

We invite proposals for grants that will support research on inequality by Cornell University graduate students in any department or college. The proposed research projects will be judged on academic rigor, social scientific merit, engagement with the inequality literature, and potential scholarly contributions.

Proposals should be consistent with the intellectual mission of CSI:  To advance research on the patterns, causes, and consequences of social and economic inequalities, how inequality varies across time and space, and how it is perpetuated or mitigated through day‐to‐day interactions, families, schools, neighborhoods, prisons, employing organizations, local and national labor market institutions, the law, politics, and the state.  In the past we have received many proposals that have no clear relationship to inequality and/or that demonstrate little familiarity with relevant existing literature on the topic; these proposals do not get funded regardless of the quality of their research design.

Proposals are reviewed by an internal panel, which includes the director of CSI.

How Large are the Awards?

They do not exceed $1000. Proposals that include hiring and training undergraduate research assistants are eligible for a “top up” of up to $500, for a maximum of $1500.

The total resources allocated to the program is $5,000. These funds are generously provided by the College of Arts and Sciences.

What is the Proposal Deadline?

February 15, 2019. Awards will be announced in April or May, and the funds will be available as soon as we can process the paperwork.

What Activities are Supported?

Grants may support specialized research materials and equipment, software that is not already available through CSI or CISER site licenses, undergraduate research assistance, experimental subject incentives, travel to and from research sites (as a supplement to, not replacement for, travel funds provided by the Graduate School or individual departments/fields), and other direct expenses of data collection and analysis. Requests for data purchases should be directed toward CISER first.

Grants cannot be used to cover travel to conferences or workshops to present the results of research (see Graduate School conference travel grants); computer or related hardware purchases; academic year or summer stipends; health care or related benefits; student fees; or publication fees; or payments of any kind to Cornell faculty or staff or to external faculty, staff, or students.

If you have a question about whether a specific expense is allowable, please contact CSI.

How to Submit a Proposal

Proposals should include the following:

  1. Cover letter with the name of applicant, netid, field of study, faculty advisor, anticipated graduation date and a brief overview of the proposal. If this the proposal is for a collaborative project, include the names and academic affiliations of all collaborators.
  2. Body of the proposal must include: title, description of research, objectives, planned activities, and expected outputs.
  3. The research objectives and research design should be as specific as possible. The description of objectives identify the core contributions of the proposed project relative to the existing literature, engaging it in a meaningful and not just perfunctory, fashion.
  4. A budget with an itemized list of, and justification for, expenses. Please review the information on which activities are supported (above)
  5. A timeline for the research
  6. Plans for follow‐up research and, if relevant, external funding proposals
  7. Curriculum Vitae

Not including the CV, the proposal should not exceed 1700 words. IRB approval (or evidence of exemption) is not required before you apply, but we will not release the funds until it is secured.

Please email the proposal in one document (.pdf or .docx) to Mary Newhart by February 15, 2019.

How Will Award Recipients Receive the Funds?

Funding for undergraduate research recipients will be transferred to your field department. You must contact your department’s administrative manager to arrange for the hiring of research assistants. All other funds will be made through a single transfer through the Office of the Bursar.

What Strings are Attached?

All funds must be used within one year of the award date.  Recipients will be required to

  1. submit a brief, final report on the use of the funds and the outcome of the research, and
  2. acknowledge CSI support in all presentations or publications that result from the funded