How to Apply for an Award
What We Support
The Foundation's awards are restricted to support for basic social science research within our announced programs. Our website, biennial reports, and other publications provide descriptions of each of these programs and examples of the research we have supported in the past. We provide support primarily for analyzing data and writing up results, but we occasionally consider larger awards for projects that are highly relevant to the Foundation's program goals.
Our Project Awards typically range between $35,000 and $200,000. Additionally, our Presidential Authority Awards program offers a limited number of small grants each year. The budget for these awards must be $35,000 or less, with no overhead or indirect costs allowed.
Applications for external awards must be preceded by a brief letter of inquiry (~3 pages in length) to determine whether the Foundation's present interests and funds permit consideration of a proposal for research. The Foundation does not generally consider unsolicited project proposals unless otherwise specified in a request for proposals.
Letters of inquiry should summarize the project's importance, the major questions to be addressed, the work plan, the qualifications of persons engaged in the research, and must include an estimated budget. All letters of inquiry should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letters of inquiry are generally reviewed within 2-4 weeks. If a full proposal is invited, the proposal is ordinarily submitted to outside peer review, either by a standing advisory committee for the program to which the proposal is submitted, or by ad hoc reviewers, or both.
All Project Awards must be approved by the Foundation's Board of Trustees, which meets to consider proposals only in June and November. Unless otherwise specified in the request for proposals in a particular research competition, the deadline for submitting letters of inquiry for the November funding round is August 1, and for the June round is March 1. Invited proposals will be due by September 1 and April 1, respectively.
There are no formal deadlines for Presidential Authority Awards, which are reviewed throughout the year subject to the availability of funds.
Preparing a Proposal
Proposals should answer the following questions:
- What is the problem under study and why is it important?
- What are the principal hypotheses or questions that will be examined?
- What kinds of data will be used in the study and how will the data be acquired?
- How will the data be analyzed to inform the questions under study: what methods, analytic models, or interpretive strategies will be used?
- Finally, how will the results of the investigation be reported: articles, a book, other?
No fixed format is required. Proposals are ordinarily between 10 and 20 double-spaced pages of text; additional materials may include references, tables and figures.
A complete application will include:
- An RSF cover sheet (Download RSF Cover Sheet)
- The proposal (including references and supporting tables/figures)
- Current CV for all principal and co-principal investigators
- A budget and budget justification or narrative
- A project work-plan, and
- A letter from your home institution stating that they will act as a fiscal agent.
Please submit an electronic copy of the application to email@example.com.
Please indicate when the project will begin, how long it will take, and what sort of work schedule you anticipate with major tasks and accompanying timeline.
If the successful completion of the project depends on access to data sources that are not publicly available, the proposal should also include a time table outlining your plan to gain access to these data. If approved, the award will be contingent on written confirmation of access to these data sources.
Please list all professional participants in a project and indicate what division of labor is anticipated. Please include current CVs for all professional participants. All nationalities are eligible to apply but all principal investigators must hold a Ph.D. Awards are not made for the support of undergraduate or graduate degree work, nor for institutional support.
Although recent articles or unpublished papers can be submitted with a proposal, the proposal should not assume knowledge of any supporting materials since they will not be sent to reviewers. All conference volume proposals must include a 1-2 paragraph summary of each proposed chapter contribution, preferably written by the prospective author of the chapter.
A simplified budget is acceptable. List all participants for whom salary support is requested, the time they intend to devote to the project, their current salary level, and the fringe benefit rate of the home institution. In addition, list any anticipated expenses for research assistance, data acquisition, data processing, and necessary supplies. We ordinarily do not pay for equipment unless it is clearly required to carry out the project; and in no case can more than $10,000 be allocated to equipment. We will pay for travel to conduct the proposed research and provide limited support for travel to scholarly conferences for the presentation of research findings. RSF will consider requests for summer salary of up to 1/9 regular salary for time devoted specifically to research on the proposed project, but we sharply restrict the amounts allocated for release time during the academic year.
The budget justification or narrative should succinctly explain and clarify the budget. Budget requests should be limited to funds that are absolutely essential to complete the project. Padded budgets may jeopardize acceptance of a proposal.
Russell Sage allows up to a maximum of 15% overhead for indirect costs on Project Awards (above $35,000).
No overhead or indirect costs will be paid on Presidential Authority Awards (under $35,000).
Data Release Plan
As a condition for providing substantial support for new data collection, the Foundation requires that the investigators make their data sets publicly available to the social science research community. Before issuing the award, the Foundation will negotiate the terms for data release (e.g., timing, documentation, etc.).
We expect our grantees to publish the results of their research and as a social science publisher of longstanding, the Foundation reserves the right to consider all book length manuscripts resulting from the research it supports for publication under the Russell Sage imprint.
Intellectual Property Rights
With the exception of book-length manuscripts (covered in the preceding paragraph), the Foundation may reserve usage rights over intellectual property produced with Foundation support. The Foundation will negotiate intellectual property agreements with principal investigators (and their host institutions), when it has made a substantial investment in the research underlying the product and has a substantial interest in the widespread distribution of the product to advance the Foundation's charitable mission and/or its own future initiatives. The Foundation will not require such an agreement if the investigators (and host institution) agree to distribute the product on principles consistent with those of the Foundation.