Grant Writing and Digital Projects

Ode to the beloved grant application–being forced to engage in that awkward dance of showcasing your brilliant project proposal while featuring why you, with all of your skills and experience, are the ideal candidate to execute your project without gloating too much or simply regurgitating your CV in narrative form. Though most seem to sigh and groan when thinking about grant applications and find excuses to work on any other looming deadline, some have to enjoy developing and fine-tuning them, right? Maybe? Any takers?

Perhaps if we frame the grant writing process as an opportunity, we can make it a bit less burdensome, if not appealing. Grant proposals provide opportunities to brainstorm about how to apply one’s digital skills to academic or non-academic communities.

Some grants, such as the Fulbright Research and Fulbright-Hays Grants, want applicants to demonstrate how they will contribute to the local, national, and global communities. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) dissertation grant supports scholars generating research across disciplines and seeks to link researchers with policymakers and citizens.

Digital scholarship proposal ideas:

•Invite researchers, scholars, activists, policymakers, etc. to contribute to a collaborative digital project. These might include an online blog where participants can contribute articles, primary sources, artistic projects, or be featured in interviews.

•Invite researchers, scholars, activists, policymakers, etc. to participate as guests in a podcast series. If possible, upload a transcript in different languages for greater accessibility and visibility. *Make sure to clearly outline for participants what the podcast entails and to acquire proper permissions prior to publishing materials.*

•Develop an oral history archive accessible online with the assistance of other researchers, scholars, and community members. If possible, upload a transcript of the interview in different languages for greater accessibility and visibility. *Again, make sure to clearly outline for participants what the oral history archive entails and to acquire proper permissions prior to publishing materials.*

•Collaborate with interested scholars and community members in digital mapping projects, and make them accessible to others who share an interest in the research or topic. The Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, demonstrates the potential of an expansive collaborative digital project. It provides a multi-source data set from original documents and historical publications about some 36,000 slave voyages that occurred between 1514 and 1866. *Digital mapping projects are very labor-intensive. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the ultimate objectives of the project and a plan for developing and maintaining the project*

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)-Mellon grant in the humanities or related social sciences funds dissertation research using original sources

Digital Scholarship Proposal Ideas

•Researchers working in archives may encounter materials that have yet to be clearly documented or organized and remain inaccessible to other scholars.  This is often the case at institutions that do not have the financial means to hire archivists or the resources to digitize the materials themselves. See if you can collaborate with administrators to help digitally archive the materials or create an online searchable database.  *Make sure to highlight any prior skills with archiving and digitizing materials to reinforce your credibility.*

•Develop an interactive mapping application that connects specific locations with textual descriptions, primary documents, and historical photographs. The Battle of Atlanta Tour App, which provides an interactive account of the July 22, 1864 victory by Union forces over Confederate soldiers, is a model to consider.

Library Travel and Research Grants:

Some examples include the Rubenstein Library Grants and Fellowships at Duke University and the Library Research Grants at Princeton University

Digital Scholarship Proposal Ideas 

•Library administration and staff often appreciate the additional visibility that researchers can bring to their collections. Therefore, you can use photos (if permitted) of primary source materials in your digital projects, such as blogs and interactive maps, and note their origin.

•You can also use these sources in undergraduate teaching. Digital projects that integrate materials from library collections can be engaging pedagogically and help students learn new digital skills. Some projects could include interactive timelines, classroom websites, text-mining, and resources like Readux to annotate and publish materials.

Grant applications allow you to use your creativity by proposing unique ways to use your digital skills. Perhaps by thinking about the possibilities that exist for collaboration and greater access to new knowledge, the grant writing process will seem a little less daunting.