LINGUIST List 10.1727

Sun Nov 14 1999

Support: NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Ball, Catherine, NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants

Message 1: NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants

Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 21:05:24 -0500
From: Ball, Catherine <>
Subject: NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants

Dear Students and Colleagues at U.S. Institutions,

The National Science Foundation has a special category of grant for
dissertation research costs. The NSF Linguistics Program has had
relatively few submissions: only 19 proposals were submitted for the
Fall funding cycle. I want to encourage greater participation in this
program. Our next target date is January 15th, for funding to begin as
early as June. Here's how it works.

First, the proposal should be submitted through your office of sponsored
research, typically by the faculty member who will be supervising the
student's dissertation. There are no nationality restrictions, by the
way. The project description is limited to ten pages, so it will
generally be a very concise version of the student's dissertation
proposal (more about this below). The budget is limited to $12,000 of
dissertation research costs.

What kinds of things are supported? The NSF Linguistics Program supports
scientific research that focuses on natural human language as an object
of investigation, which covers most of Linguistics. During this funding
cycle, we saw proposals for dissertation research in a variety of areas,
including formal linguistics, language acquisition, sociolinguistics,
computational linguistics, and psycholinguistics. In terms of budgets,
we saw requests for costs of equipment, software and supplies needed for
the research; payment to informants, subjects and transcribers; and
travel to research sites and subsistence in the field (stipends and
generic expenses of graduate study aren't covered).

Let me say a few encouraging words to students before offering some
guidelines. The dissertation phase of your career is a good time to
begin working with NSF and other funding agencies. First, you have to
prepare and submit a proposal anyway: your dissertation proposal.
Learning the nuts and bolts of grant submission now will also make the
next submission easier and less intimidating. Finally, you'll get
feedback on your proposal from a range of reviewers. It's all completely

As to the proposal, the Linguistics Panel wants to see evidence that the
student is qualified to conduct the research, and it should also be
clear that the student and the faculty supervisor worked together in
developing the proposal. Beyond that, the qualities of a good
dissertation proposal are also qualities of a good NSF proposal: an
interesting and important problem, a clear and concise problem statement
that situates the issues within a theoretical framework and identifies
the contribution to knowledge of the proposed research, a review of the
relevant literature, a well-thought out research plan and appropriate
methodology, and so on.

To get started, you can download or read the current Grant Proposal
Guide on the web at Please
e-mail me at if you have any questions.
- -------------------------------------------------------
Catherine N. Ball || Program Director, Linguistics
Division of Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences
National Science Foundation
Rm. 995, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22230
Phone: 703-306-1731 Fax: 703-306-0485 ||
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