Strohl Grants: Guidance for Preparing Stellar Applications

On October 17th, applications are due for the 2014 Fall Strohl Undergraduate Research and Senior Thesis Grants.  The purpose of the Strohl Grant Program is to encourage students in the humanities and/or social sciences to pursue independent, engaged research outside of their normal coursework.  These independent projects should be mentored by a faculty member and should expand the experiences, perspectives, and skills of our students.

As the administrator for this program, I get a lot of questions about the program’s intent and what makes a great Strohl Research Grant proposal.  I’ve sat down to collect some of the best bits of advice to help guide you as a student or a mentor in preparing a successful application.

Critical information:

  • Your project must be a defined research project.  We want you to have exciting, transformative experiences during your time at Lehigh.  Such experiences could encompass many different opportunities and interests.  For this specific program, that experience should focus on research in the field of humanities and/or social science (including pure mathematics and economics) and have a defined research purpose.
  • Having a specific aim is not the same thing as having a definite outcome.  The purpose of research is to explore.  Your application should convey some guiding questions and how you hope to go about seeking answers to those questions, but you are allowed and encouraged to explore.  Prepare your application as a guiding document to give the faculty committee confidence that you are prepared to embark upon the project meaningfully and realistically, but with the freedom to discover, as well.
  • At least one of your majors should be in the humanities/social science, and this includes interdisciplinary programs such as Science, Technology, and Society, as well as IDEAS.  If you are uncertain, just ask us if you qualify.
  • Preparing a budget is usually something everyone gets a bit stuck on, so do not hesitate to ask for help.  Think about what you would need the grant to cover and list out all of those things.  Books to guide the research?  Transportation to interview participants?  Supplies for a project that has a creative output?  Licensing fees?  Each discipline has its own requirements for materials and support, so you have to be the expert on what is needed to make this project happen.  For some guidance on preparing a budget, check out this resource from NIH.
  • International and domestic travel are both considered reasonable uses for research funds, if they pertain to a specific project.  And remember: if you are traveling abroad, make sure that the Study Abroad Office is alerted to your travel plans.  They will help prepare you pre-departure on issues ranging from health to financial security to personal safety.
  • Finally, the safety of your, our Lehigh student, and those of the research participants you may recruit is paramount.  If you are conducting Human Subjects Research (i.e. psychological surveys, educational interventions, etc.), make sure that you are going through the IRB process to assure ethical, respectful research practices.  More on that can be found here.

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