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Social Sciences Research InstituteSocial Sciences Research Institute

Pre-Dissertation Research Grants (PDR)

The Social Sciences Research Institute provides Pre-Dissertation Research (PDR) grants annually to support or partially support expenses related to preliminary dissertation research for second or third year graduate students in the School of Social Sciences at Rice.  All subject areas and methodologies within the School will be considered equally. The proposals must be written with a multi-disciplinary audience in mind, as they will be evaluated by the School’s Faculty Advisory Committee, a six-member panel that consists of one tenured faculty member from Anthropology, Economics, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology.  Proposals should discuss the preliminary research being proposed, anticipated future dissertation research plans, and how the PDR funding will enable the student to prepare a stronger dissertation and/or complete the dissertation more quickly and/or submit more competitive dissertation research applications to other funding sources.  If the student does plan to apply for dissertation research support in the future, a list of anticipated funding sources is requested as part of the application.  A letter of support from the student’s advisor which discusses the impact and feasibility of the research the student is planning and the need for the preliminary research support is also required.  This letter can be submitted with the other application materials or submitted separately, as long as it is received before the deadline.  Examples of allowable grant expenses include but are not limited to research-related travel, human subject payments, supplies, software, data set purchases, and other miscellaneous research expenses.  Conference travel and inclusion of meal costs in the budget is prohibited.  The maximum amount for which a student may apply is $2,000, and there is no minimum. There were be a total of five (5) PDR grants awarded each competition year.  It is anticipated that award notifications will be made by mid-December/early January. Awards will have a start date of January 1st, and they will expire on the last day of the awarded calendar year (December 31).  No-cost extension WILL NOT be granted, and any remaining funds will be reclaimed by the SSRI.  Please note that students may only receive one PDR grant during their graduate career at Rice.


Application Packets:

Submit the following to the Social Science Research Institute Office (Baker 180-I) or to Chris Rodriguez (carod@rice.edu; 713-348-2985) no later than 5:00 pm on Monday, October 2, 2017Please note that all application materials should be prepared using a minimum of 11-point Arial or Times New Roman and one-inch margins.  Questions related to the application preparation should also be directed to Chris.

1. A cover sheet (click here to download) with a completed budget signed by the applicant; an electronic signature is acceptable if the proposal is being submitted via email
2. An abstract (200 word maximum)
3. A proposal narrative, single-spaced, maximum of three pages
4. References/Bibliography
5. A budget justification describing costs outlined on the Cover Sheet
6. A curriculum vitae, maximum of two pages
7. A letter from the student’s advisor, submitted as part of the application or submitted separately; see description above for details about what the letter should include
8. A description of anticipated funding sources to which the student plans to apply in the future, if applicable. 

Evaluation Criteria:

SSRI awards are for research-based expenses. The primary criterion is the quality of the research itself: the significance, sophistication, innovativeness, and consequences of the proposed research. The following criteria will be used by the committee to assess proposals, and applicants are strongly urged to consider them when writing the proposal narrative:

1. Are the leading ideas and their significance clearly articulated, and in a manner that is understandable and appreciated by a non-specialist, academic audience?
2. Are the research methods clearly presented and justified?
3. Is the student aware of the existing literature of the field?
4. Is it demonstrated that the funds will help the student prepare a stronger dissertation and/or submit more competitive dissertation research applications to outside funding agencies in the future?
5. Is the end product defined, and is it reasonable?

Successful Applications:

Those who receive a PDR grant are required to submit two additional pieces of information:

1) A 1-2 page research report should be submitted to the SSRI within 60 days of the expiration of the award.  There is no specific report format that must be followed, but reports typically include information such as a summary of the research and results, how the actual results differed from the expected results (if applicable), and how the preliminary results have impacted the dissertation plans.  It is not necessary to provide a detailed financial report of how the funds were spent, but it is helpful to include a summary of how budget needs changed during the course of the research in the report. 

2) If additional dissertation support is received from an outside agency or a Rice funding source after the SSRI PDR grant is received, please notify Heather and provide award information (sponsor, amount received, etc.).