Application Guidelines

ISS’ Small Grants Program for Cornell Faculty Members

The ISS’ biannual small grants program supports social science research by Cornell faculty members.  All tenured and tenure-track Cornell faculty in the social sciences are eligible for research awards of up to $12,000 for research, and $5,000 for conferences.

We are particularly interested in jump-starting research by junior faculty. We also support research by faculty teams that span social science units, interdisciplinary projects led or co-led by social scientists, and faculty research projects likely to lead to external funding or an ISS collaborative project proposal.

The ISS Small Grants program funds interdisciplinary social science conferences held at Cornell. The conferences are to be open to all Cornell faculty members and should be publicized  to encourage attendance. Awards for conferences rarely exceed $5,000. We do not support conferences organized by non-Cornell affiliated entities.

Small grants are funded by the ISS and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Cornell University.  Faculty receiving a previous small grant award from the ISS can apply for new funding after two years.


The maximum small grant is $12,000.   ISS approval is required for the principal investigator to reallocate more than 25 percent of the funds at any point after funding. Funds not used within two years will be returned to the pool of funds for subsequent small grant wards. The PI can, of course, reapply with the same project, as long as s/he is outside the two-year reapplication window. If the PI leaves Cornell, remaining funds are to be returned to the ISS.

Eligible activities

Small grants are intended to fund direct research expenses. Examples include the costs of collecting data, traveling to and from research or training sites, meetings with collaborators or potential funders, undergraduate or graduate research assistance supporting the faculty project, and specialized hardware or software necessary to conduct the research.

Small grants cannot be used to pay for publication fees or other costs associated with disseminating research (e.g., conference travel), faculty and/or Cornell staff salaries, travel costs for caregivers, or general-use hardware or software. We also do not pay training, such as on an econometric technique. We also are unable to support undergraduate or graduate student research projects with faculty small grant funds.

Proposal format

Applications are to be submitted in one PDF document. The PDF should  include a cover page, 7-page maximum proposal narrative, budget justification, a 3-page maximum CV of the PI, as well as CVs (maximum three pages each) for up to two additional investigators. Each CV should list the researcher’s education, major appointments, and most significant publications, presentations, grants, and honors.

The cover page should include:

  • Name, email address, professorial title (Assistant, Associate, Full Professor), departmental and college affiliation
  • Proposal title
  • Total dollar amount requested
  • Proposal type: research, conference, or both
  • Is this proposal a resubmission to the ISS? If yes, please discuss your revisions in the proposal narrative.
  • Has the PI received an ISS small grant before as the lead investigator? If yes, please provide the funding round of the PI’s most recent award (e.g. Spring 2010).
  • Have you applied for other grants for this project? If so, where did you apply, for what amount, and what was the outcome? If not, do you have plans to apply for other funding? If so, where and for what amount?

The proposal narrative should not exceed 7 pages, double-spaced, and should include:

  • one-paragraph abstract of the project written in the third-person.  If the proposal is funded, the abstract will be posted on the ISS website. Short sentences are appreciated to improve readability.
  • comprehensive description of proposed activities and their significance, including details about the research design (if applicable)
  • plans for future research
  • plans for pursuing additional funding, if any
  • plans for developing an ISS collaborative project proposal, if any

The budget justification should include the total amount requested, a list of the individual expenses and a brief explanation of each expense. (For details, see budget info.) The budget justification does not count against the 7-page narrative length limit.

Optional: A brief bibliography (under 1 page), brief sample survey, or portion of a survey instrument may be included as an appendix and will not count against your narrative page length.

Proposal Submission

  • Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. on the day of the deadline.
  • Please submit proposals by email to and expect confirmation within two days. If confirmation is not received, contact
Application Deadlines
Awards Announced
September 12, 2017 November 9, 2017
February 6, 2018  April 5, 2018

For more information, see the frequently asked questions page. If you have a question, contact