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Social Sciences Research InstituteSocial Sciences Research Institute

Dissertation Research Improvement Grants (DRIG)

Dissertation Research Improvement (DRI) grants are awarded annually to support or partially support dissertation research projects proposed by graduate students in the School of Social Sciences who have completed their coursework and who have advanced to candidacy or will advance to candidacy by the time the awards are made.  All subject areas and methodologies within the School will be considered equally.  The proposals must be written with a multidisciplinary audience in mind, because they will be evaluated by the School’s Faculty Advisory Committee, a 14-member panel which consists of two members from each Social Sciences department.  Funds may support research-related travel, human subject payments, supplies, special computer needs (e.g., laptop computers, software, printers, etc.), if the need is clearly tied to the project, and other miscellaneous research expenses.  Graduate students’ financial needs for dissertation research vary widely across projects and disciplines; we therefore welcome those applications asking for a modest amount of funding (e.g., requests for supplies, participant recruitment costs, or other miscellaneous expenses) as well as applications that have more intensive funding needs (e.g., research-related travel requests or special computer equipment needs not supplied by the department).  The maximum amount for which a student may apply is $5,000, and there is no minimum.  Applicants must provide a concise budget justification outlining the anticipated expenses so that the reviewers can determine the feasibility of the project proposed.  All proposals must include a detailed letter of support from the applicant’s dissertation advisor that confirms the student’s proposal has been approved by his or her committee and which discusses the impact and feasibility of the research the student is proposing and the merits of the budget being requested.  This letter can be submitted with the other application materials or submitted separately, as long as it is received before the deadline.  We encourage students to seek other funding for their dissertation research in addition to what the DRIG program can provide, and we request that the planned submissions or already pending proposals be identified in a separate document in the application packet, if applicable.  The number of awards provided in a given year will depend on a number of factors, including the number of applications, the amounts being requested, the quality of the proposals, and the amount of funding available, which is limited for any given year. Please note that students may only receive one DRI 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 Friday, April 6, 2018.  Notifications will be made prior to the beginning of the fiscal year that begins on 7/1 of the award year, and U funds will be available at that time assuming any applicable approval information (for example, IRB approval) has been received.  Awards will have a start date of July 1, 2018, and they will expire on the last day of fiscal year 2019, or June 30, 2019.  No-cost extension WILL NOT be granted, and any remaining funds will be reclaimed by the SSRI.  Questions related to the application preparation should also be directed to Chris.  Please note that the application materials should be prepared using a minimum of 11-point Arial or Times New Roman and one-inch margins.   

1. A cover sheet signed by the applicant (click here for cover sheet); 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 other funding agencies to which the proposal will be submitted, if applicable; the funding source and total funding that has been or will be requested should be identified, at a minimum


SSRI awards are for research-based expenses.  The primary criterion is the quality of the research itself: the significance, sophistication, innovation, and application 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 well presented and justified?
3. Is the student aware of the existing literature of the field?
4. Is it demonstrated that the project can be completed and in the available time?
5. Is the end product defined, and is it reasonable for the project?

Successful Applications:

Awardees are required to submit two pieces of information:

1. Those who receive a DRI grant are required to submit a 1-2 page research report within 60 days of the expiration of the award, and any remaining funds will be returned to the SSRI at that time.  There is no specific report format that must be followed, but reports typically include information such as a summary of the research performed and the findings, if and how your anticipated findings differed from the actual findings, and if and how the project evolved over time.  At this time, the SSRI does not require a specific accounting of how the funds were spent, but your report could also discuss how funds were generally spent and why it might have been different from your proposed budget.

2. If additional support for your dissertation project is received, please notify Chris as soon as possible. 

Past Grant Recipients