Application Guidelines

ISS’ Small Grants Program for Cornell Faculty Members

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

We are particularly interested in jump-starting research by junior faculty. We support research by faculty teams spanning social science disciplines or units, interdisciplinary projects led or co-led by social scientists, and other multidisciplinary projects that could include the life sciences, but are led by social scientists. The goal is to fund research projects likely to lead to external funding or an ISS collaborative project proposal.

We provide funding for interdisciplinary conferences, held at Cornell, open to all Cornell faculty members, and publicized. Awards for conferences rarely exceed $5,000. We do not support conferences organized by non-Cornell affiliated entities.


The maximum small grant award is $12,000.  Faculty receiving a previous small grant award from the ISS are eligible for another award two years after their most recent award.

ISS approval is required for the principal investigator to reallocate more than 25 percent of the funds at any point after the award is issued. Funds not used within two years are returned to the ISS for reallocation to other small grant awardees. In the event, the principal investigator leaves Cornell, remaining funds are to be returned to the ISS.

The ISS and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Cornell University provide the funding for the ISS’ small grant program.

Eligible activities

Small grants support 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.

Examples of expenses ineligible for a small grant award are 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

Please submit applications in a PDF document that includes a cover page, seven-page-long maximum proposal narrative, budget justification, a three-page-long maximum CV for 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

The cover page should also answer the following questions:

  • 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 seven pages, should be double-spaced, and include:

  • A one-paragraph abstract written in the third-person for posting on the ISS website, if the project is funded.
  • A 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 funding 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 seven-page-long narrative length limit.

Optional: A brief bibliography (under one page), brief sample survey, or portion of a survey instrument may be included as an appendix and will not count against the 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. Contact if confirmation is not received.
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