The Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (DPDF) Program helps early-stage doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences formulate innovative dissertation research proposals through workshops, exploratory summer research, and writing guided by peer review and faculty mentorship. The program seeks young scholars who are interested in strengthening their dissertation research plans through exposure to the theories, literatures, methods, and intellectual traditions of disciplines outside their own. By the end of the fellowship, participating students will complete a draft dissertation research proposal that can be reviewed with academic advisors.
Workshops and Summer Research
During the DPDF fellowship period, fellows are required to take part in the following activities:
- Spring workshop (early June): Fellows work together to hone their research questions and design exploratory summer research plans to identify appropriate methods to answer those questions.
- Summer research (June to August): Fellows conduct a minimum of six weeks of research away from their home institutions to establish contacts, find sources, identify sites, review new literatures, and test the feasibility of their initial research questions, methods of investigation, and analytic approaches.
- Writing (late August to early September): Fellows draft dissertation research proposals, using an online and interactive DPDF peer-review platform to critique one another’s drafts, in preparation for the fall workshop.
- Fall workshop (mid-September): Fellows share their progress and challenges, critique one another’s latest research plans, and begin final revisions of their dissertation research proposals.
Workshops are led by humanities and social sciences faculty with extensive experience helping doctoral students across diverse disciplines refine research proposals. Participants work primarily with the same faculty and small multidisciplinary groups throughout their fellowship.
The DPDF program covers all travel, lodging, and meals expenses related to mandatory attendance at both workshops. Applicants may request up to $5,000 to support summer research expenses, including travel, lodging, meals, and some necessary equipment and supplies. Guidelines for allowable expenses can be found in the Summer Research and Financial Support section of the DPDF Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Applicants.
All applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Applicants must be currently matriculated in PhD programs at accredited universities in the United States.
- Applicants may be US citizens or noncitizens.
- Progress within graduate program:
- Applicants must have completed at least two full years of graduate study (MA and/or PhD) by the end of June 2016.
- Applicants must be on track to obtain approval of their dissertation proposals after the September 2016 DPDF workshop but before the end of the 2016-2017 academic year.
- Applicants must commit to attend the spring and fall workshops in their entirety and to conduct at least six weeks of summer research away from their home institutions between the 2016 spring and fall workshops.
- Students who have already submitted dissertation research proposals to their departments for approval or to funding agencies for support of their dissertation research are not eligible to apply to the DPDF Program.
Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the following:
- Potential significance of proposed dissertation topic. The application should explain how the proposed dissertation project seeks to build upon and add to theoretical or interpretive understandings of current scholarship by posing an innovative research puzzle or question and applying insightful methods of research and analysis.
- Applicant’s readiness for proposal development. Application materials should demonstrate the applicant’s readiness to develop and refine a dissertation proposal for an academic department or research funding agency. The most competitive students will likely have completed courses, written papers, or made public presentations related to their dissertation topic.
- Interest in and potential benefit from other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Applicants must make clear their interest in, and potential for, strengthening their research proposals through exposure to the theories, literatures, methods, and intellectual traditions of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences outside their own.
- Connection between summer research plans and proposal development.Applicants must explain how undertaking exploratory empirical investigations—using one or more qualitative, quantitative, archival, library-based, or other methods of investigation—can contribute to the development of their dissertation proposals, including how they might explore and evaluate alternative methodologies.
Application Requirements and Procedures
All applications to the student competition must be submitted through the SSRC application portal, where applicants can find instructions for electronic submittal.
The deadline for submitting applications is 5:00 p.m. EST, October 15, 2015.
Each completed application must include:
- the DPDF online application form;
- unofficial transcripts from all graduate schools the applicant has attended or currently attends;
- a reference form, which must be completed and submitted through the application portal by the applicant’s primary advisor or, if the applicant does not have an advisor, by the faculty member most familiar with the applicant’s academic training and research interests.
For more information, visit: SSRC DFDP Website