Office of Graduate Student External Grants and Fellowships | GradFund

Yes, You Do Need Money to Conduct Your Dissertation Research

by | Oct 1, 2018 | Advice, Dissertation Research


As a student of American politics, I have often heard from colleagues who are thinking of applying for research grants, “I just don’t know what I’d put in my budget proposal.”

Many small research grants in the humanities and social sciences are tailored to students who need to fund things such as travel expenses for ethnographic work, or archival research. But what if you don’t need to travel? What if you can conduct your research in the comfort of your home without any expensive equipment? What if you don’t need money to conduct your dissertation research right now?

Stop right there.

If you believe your research is important enough to pursue, then it is important enough to apply for funding. You may not need money to complete your dissertation, but chances are, there are ways that adequate funding will lead to a better, more comprehensive project – and that’s what funders are looking for.

What could you do with an extra $1,500? $3,000? $5,000?

Perhaps you can build a larger, more detailed dataset by hiring undergraduate research assistants. Perhaps you can use that funding to purchase a voice recorder for your interviews instead of relying on the free app on your phone. Professional transcribers cost money. So do subscriptions to important news and journal sites.

The point is, you do need money to conduct your dissertation research, even if it might not seem that way at first. Don’t let a modest dissertation budget stop you from applying for research grants. Instead, think to yourself: What is the value added to this project if I were to receive this funding?

My advice to you is this: Take an hour out of your day to write down each step of your research plan. Where do you see yourself accruing small costs? Which aspects of your research would be made easier if you could hire someone to help? Never undervalue your research – If you need help searching for opportunities or preparing an application, schedule an appointment with a GradFund advisor, and let’s talk!

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