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, participant incentives, 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 title page should include all the following information, even if the answer to the question is no:

  • Name, email address, professorial title (Assistant, Associate, Full Professor), departmental and college affiliation
  • If you have a Co-PI, you must specify a lead PI
  • Proposal title
  • Total dollar amount requested
  • Proposal type: research, conference, or both
  • Resubmission: Is this proposal a resubmission to the ISS? If yes, please discuss your revisions in the proposal narrative.
  • Prior ISS lead PI funding: Has the lead PI on this proposal received an ISS small grant before as the lead PI (not as a co-PI)? If yes, please provide the funding round of the PI’s most recent award (e.g. Spring 2010).
  • Prior funding search: Have you already applied for other grants for this project? If so, when did you apply, where did you apply, for what amount, and what was the outcome (provide date of decision or pending decision)?
  • Future funding plans: Do you have plans to apply for other funding with results from this research? If so, where, when, and for what amount?
  • Potential reviewers: We try to match proposals with reviewers not in the PI’s department with expertise in the research area. To help us identify possibilities, please suggest 1 or 2 faculty you recommend and any other related feedback.

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
February 6, 2018  April 5, 2018
September 11, 2018 November 8, 2018
February 5, 2019 April 4, 2019
September 10, 2019 November 7, 2019

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