Commonly Asked Questions

Interdisciplinary Grants

Q: Why wasn’t my proposal funded?
A:

  1. Lack of a solid, detailed, and convincing justification of the interdisciplinary nature of the research.
  1. No explanation of the exact role and responsibilities of each of the listed investigators. It is of particular relevance for interdisciplinary grants to clearly justify how the expertise each investigator supports the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed research.
  1. No explanation of results from previous support. When the investigators have already received funds from the Research Council and/or are submitting more than one proposal to the Council, it is important to explain (1) how the proposals relate, and (2) briefly summarize the outcome of past research in terms of papers published and grants submitted (even if rejected).
  2. Language (usually by scientists or engineers) that was difficult or even indecipherable for non-specialists in the field. This includes both jargon and extremely dense prose.
  3. Lack of specificity within the proposed budget about precisely what all the funds would be used for.
  4. A failure to make clear what the significance of the research would be–particularly for readers from other disciplines.

Faculty Seed Grants

Q: Why wasn’t my proposal funded?
A:

  1. Overly technical language (usually by scientists or engineers) that was difficult or even indecipherable for non-specialists in the field. This includes both jargon and extremely dense prose. The item “written in language appropriate for an interdisciplinary audience” deserves a lot of attention. Failure on this point will probably lead to lower scores on the high-ticket items “track record” and “quality of expected outcomes”. Some disciplines are by nature more obscure and technical than others, and applicants in these disciplines must make an extra effort to communicate to a diverse audience. Consider including a glossary of technical terms. A clear explanation of how the proposed project and the applicant’s past research fit into the landscape of the discipline is very helpful.
  2. Weak track record (for applicants two or more years beyond the Ph.D.). No evidence that prior support from the Research Council led to success in acquiring outside competitive support. An applicant in a relatively well-funded discipline, who has been unable to obtain external funding over a several-year period (or who has made no efforts at obtaining such funding), will lose points on “track record” as well as “quality of expected outcomes”.
  3. Weak justification. It is crucial to explain how successful completion of this project will lead to improved chances of obtaining external funding. It must be clear that the proposed research is significantly different from what is currently supported by external grants or internal support. Any overlap between the proposal and any pending external grants should be explained. Applicants who work in disciplines for which there is very little chance of external funding should consider applying for a Grant-In-Aid rather than a Seed Grant.
  4. Inadequate budget explanation. Lack of specificity within the proposed budget about precisely what all the funds would be used for. For example, if partial funding is expected from other sources, be sure to specify which items are proposed for Research Council support. Fully justify all proposed expenses.
  5. “Padded” application. Additional pages beyond the limits or other documents, e.g., letters of support for the project, are neither expected nor welcome.

Grants-in-Aid

Q: Why wasn’t my proposal funded?
A:

  1. Overly technical language (usually by scientists or engineers) that was difficult or even indecipherable for non-specialists in the field. This includes both jargon and extremely dense prose. Some disciplines are by nature more obscure and technical than others, and applicants in these disciplines must make an extra effort to communicate to a diverse audience. A clear explanation of how the proposed project and the applicant’s past research fit into the landscape of the discipline is very helpful. Consider including a glossary of technical terms. Proposals are generally not successful if they are a ‘retooled’ version of a federal proposal (e.g., NIH) that had not been translated into non-technical language for a non-specialist panel.
  2. Weak record of accomplishments (for applicants two or more years beyond the Ph.D.). No evidence that prior support from the Research Council led to scholarly activity. An applicant in a relatively well-funded discipline, who has been unable to obtain external funding over a several-year period (or who has made no effort at obtaining such funding), will lose points on “track record” as well as “quality of expected outcomes”.
  3. Inadequate budget explanation. Lack of specificity within the proposed budget about precisely what all the funds would be used for. If partial funding is expected from other sources, be sure to specify which items are proposed for Research Council support. Also projects are less successful when the narrative argued that financial support is needed for certain expenses (equipment, graduate assistants, etc) and the project budget used the funds for other expenses. Finally, projects are less successful if the expenses requested in the budget seemed relatively unimportant to the project. Fully justify all proposed expenses.
  4. Lack of clear outcomes. Projects are rated less favorably if the narrative does not clearly specify what the result of the project will be (e.g., papers, presentations, grants) or if the outcomes seemed inadequately ambitious. Also projects are less successful if the same author has received prior Research Council support to produce the same product, and still has not completed it.

Visiting Scholar Grants

Q: What does the Research Council expect in a successful grant proposal for Visiting Scholars?

A: A fundable proposal should be written in a language easily understood by an interdisciplinary audience. The proposal should be complete with such detailed information as description of the program, program schedule/itinerary, description of the visiting scholar, scholar’s resume, and itemized budget.

Q: What should be included in the program description?

A: The description should include, besides general information on the program, the extent to which the scholar’s visit will aid scholarship and enhance research at UNL. The targeted audience will be inter-departmental or university-wide. It is important that the program emphasizes research, rather than teaching.

Q: Are there any specific requirements for the program schedule?

A: The proposal needs to indicate how the scholar’s time will be utilized at UNL with specific title, dates and times of the lecture(s)/performance(s). The scholar will have an opportunity to have direct contacts with undergraduate students and/or graduate students. There must be at least one advertised and free-to-the-public lecture/performance.

Q: What is expected from the scholar’s description?

A: The primary gatekeeper is the quality of the scholar. The description is to provide information of the scholar’s scholarly/creative achievements, along with their quality, significance and impact. The scholar’s curriculum vitae is required to be abbreviated to no more than three pages.

Q: What are the requirements for the budget?

A: Budget should be itemized in detail, accurate and well-justified. Since the maximum amount the Research Council can award is $800, the proposal should include how the remaining sum of the program funds will be sought or secured to guarantee the success of the program. A Visiting Scholar award covers transportation, 2-day stay ($130 daily), but no honorarium. The Research Council will award up to 4 Visiting Scholar grants per department.

Symposia/Distinguished Lecturer Grants

Q: What does the Research Council expect in a successful grant proposal for Symposia/Distinguished Lecturer?

A: A fundable proposal should be well-written, in a language easily understood by an interdisciplinary audience, with such detailed information as description of the program, program schedule/itinerary, description of the prominent achievements and qualifications of the invited distinguished lecturer, lecturer’s resume, and itemized budget.

Q: What should be included in the program description?

A: The description should include, besides general information about the program, the extent to which the scholar’s visit will aid scholarship and enhance research at UNL. It is of vital importance that the proposed Symposia/Distinguished Lecturer have a strong inter-departmental appeal, and it is clearly indicated that the invited lecturer will interact with members of the UNL community in more than one department or discipline. The program is to emphasize research, rather than teaching.

Q: Are there any specific requirements for the program schedule?

A: The proposal needs to indicate how the scholar’s time will be utilized at UNL with specific title, dates and times of the lecture(s)/performance(s). There must be at least one advertised and free-to-the-public lecture/performance, so the program will have an opportunity to reach the entire University faculty, students and public.

Q: What is expected from the lecturer’s description?

A: The most important criterion is the extent to which the invited lecturer has distinguished him/herself in their field. The description must justify the designation of the lecturer as a Distinguished Lecturer, which is normally considered as one level above the Visiting Scholar. The criteria used to justify stature include academic rank and institution, the quantity, quality, significance, and impact of the invited lecturer’s scholarly publications or artistic works/productions, honors and/or honorary degrees received, and research grants and contracts secured. The lecturer’s curriculum vitae must be abbreviated to no more than three pages.

Q: What are the requirements for the budget?

A: Budget should be itemized in detail, accurate, and well-justified. Request for an exceptionally large honorarium should be justified in considerable detail. The proposal should provide information about any external funds required to cover a portion of the budgeted expenses. Symposia/Distinguished Lecturer Grants award up to $3,000.

Funding Opportunities

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