Qualitative Funding Workshop


Earlier this month, the Society for Anthropological Studies (a student group for those interested in anthropology) organized a workshop on qualitative research funding for graduate students across Teachers College. The workshop featured two professors from the programs in anthropology,  Juliette de Wolfe and Nicholas Limerick. Here, readers can check out some of the funding opportunities available. While most are geared towards students of anthropology, the workshop also covered some general tips and processes in applying for funding for all students and young scholars. Some of those tips include the following:

First, there are often “demographic” characteristics that particular fellowships and organizations look for. Make sure to keep in mind requirements regarding citizenship status, enrollment status, area of research, and length of study. For example, some funding opportunities are looking only for full-time, doctoral students who are U.S. citizens, while others restrict their pool of candidates to those studying in a particular area or discipline, without constraints on citizenship or enrollment status.

Second, it’s important to critically think through your research questions and why other people should care about the outcomes of your research.  During the workshop, there was time to present and discuss research questions in small focus groups. It became evident that some students had never thought about how to position their research question in different ways to different audiences. Such exercises can be helpful when thinking about what sorts of projects the funding organization is looking for and whether/how your own projects fits into such a framework. What do you hope to contribute to your field? Similarly, you should know where your body will be and what it will be doing – what is your setting and who are your participants?

In closing, here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply for funding opportunities in general, followed by tips to keep in mind.

How to apply:

  1. Read EVERY direction listed in the program description
  2. Begin to collect necessary materials
    1. project description (intro/significance/contributions/methods, etc.),
    2. Curriculum Vitae (and maybe one from your advisor if necessary),
    3. proposed budget,
    4. letters of recommendation (ASK FOR THESE EARLY AND CREATE INFORMED WRITERS)
  3. Ask at least two other people (one from your field and one not) to read your proposal and give you feedback
  4. Do not wait until the last minute to submit your materials. Unexpected technological glitches/snafoos can occur.
  5. Plan for IRB approval
  6. Plan for travel needs (visas, immunizations, institutional approval, etc.)


  • Make sure the funding cycle and your research timeline align
  • Start with a WOW statement!
  • Follow with a brief introductory paragraph that ends with a clearly articulated thesis statement, briefly explaining your research topic. You will also have to mention your methods and anticipated outcomes in the intro.
  • You are writing to a group of reviewers who may be only marginally familiar with the technical writing or concepts of your field. Avoid jargon.
  • Write for that specific audience.
  • You will be held accountable for your budget.
  • Make sure that your methods section is detailed. Reviewers should be able to picture exactly what you plan to do (and some want to know your timeframe for doing it)
  • Describe your research question, participants and setting in brief detail. You should use no more than a few sentences.
  • Workshop your research question with your group. Consider:
    • Is the question clear?
    • Can you empirically answer the question with your methods?
    • Do you understand the language/vocab?
    • Are the participants and setting appropriate for the question?

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