Office of Graduate Student External Grants and Fellowships | GradFund

Looking to apply for the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship (SSRC IDRF)? Recently, GradFund hosted an information session on the IDRF presented by its Program Director Daniella Sarnoff. The presentation provided a wealth of information on what SSRC reviewers are looking for as they assess the applications. Check out part one of this visit for more detail.

Components of grant applications that are unique to a particular grant usually tell you a lot about the kind of scholar the funder is interested in.

-The “Relevance of Research to the IDRF” section of the application is read at every stage of the review process and provides crucial insight into the kind of scholar SSRC wants to fund. This section asks applicants to explain their scholarship at three scales: their discipline, related disciplines that intersect with their topic, and the humanities writ large (and if their PhD is fundamentally interdisciplinary then the first two questions provide double the opportunity to describe their how their research intersects with a number of related disciplines).

-A key mission of The Mellon Foundation (the organization that funds the SSRC IDRF) is to bolster the role of the humanities in society. The “Relevance of Research to the IDRF” section of the IDRF speaks to the SSRC and Mellon Foundation’s interest in fostering a community of scholars that are making original contributions to their discipline, can work across disciplinary boundaries within the humanities and humanistic social sciences, and can convince a broad audience of the importance of humanities for addressing key questions about society and the human condition.

-The IDRF review panel will comprise some scholars who intersect with your disciplinary and regional specialties, and others that don’t. It may help to think of each of the three Research Relevance Section questions as privileging a different audience: The first question is primarily speaking to other specialists (in ways that non-specialists can understand). The second question is speaking to the non-specialist reviewers, while the third question is giving IDRF reviewers the material they would need to explain the significance of your research to someone outside the humanities.

The point here is not that interdisciplinarity and key concerns in the humanities must be the focus of your doctoral research, but it is a key opportunity to signal that you can communicate effectively to an audience beyond your specialty.

Visit the SSRC IDRF website to learn more.


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