Framing your research
Most grad students have had at least some practice writing about the major disciplinary contributions of their dissertation. Indeed, a dissertation proposal defense requires in-depth knowledge of how your project speaks to major research conducted in your field. More challenging is figuring out if and how to highlight some of the smaller contributions your project makes. But understanding the various ways you can frame your dissertation can open the door to funding opportunities you might have otherwise overlooked. While many funders accept projects from broad areas of the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, others are looking to fund projects that fit more specific criteria.
One way to find these types of awards is to create a list of keywords that relate to your dissertation. What concepts does your dissertation touch on, even if you don’t think they are central to your project? Use those keywords to search our GradFund databasefor fellowships and grants that might be related to your dissertation.
Here are some other types of questions to think about when searching for awards:
Could your dissertation have any real-world policy implications? (If so, perhaps check out these fellowships from the Center for Engaged Scholarshipor the Horowitz Foundation).
Does your project relate to women in some way? (Even if you aren’t in a women’s studies program, the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studiescould be a good option for you).
What are the broader, ethical implications of your research? (Take a look at the Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship).
If you’re still stuck, schedule a planning meeting with one of our GradFund advisors. We’ll walk you through a list of awards we think you might be eligible for. Sometimes, reading the description of an award first can inspire you to frame your project in a way you had not previously thought to frame it.
Overall, it is important to be open to new ways of thinking about your research. Remember that you have the potential to expand your funding opportunities by being flexible in the way you frame your dissertation.
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