By social science research, we mean research that is eligible for funding from social science directorates of the major federal funding agencies. At the National Science Foundation, for example, this includes the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, the Directorate for Social and Behavioral Sciences, and their subsidiary organizations (e.g., Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, Social and Economic Sciences, Law and Social Sciences, Human Resource Development, etc.).
The ISS funds social scientific research eligible for funding by other federal agencies. For example, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and other agencies all support social science research. In general, the ISS follows their lead and any social science research project eligible for funding from a federal agency is also eligible for ISS support.
This does not mean that your faculty appointment needs to be in a department that carries the name of one of the disciplines NSF identifies as a social science: anthropology, communications, economics, linguistics, government/political science, psychology, or sociology. Indeed, the ISS strongly encourages participation by social scientists who are housed in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary departments across Cornell.
Finally, we support social scientists engaging in collaborative research with non-social scientists, as long as the social scientist has a lead role in the project (e.g., PI or co-PI) and the project has a large social science component likely to lead to publications in peer-reviewed social science journals or other outlets. For example, ISS would consider funding a social scientist who is co-leading, along with a geneticist, a study of the relationship between gene activation and social environments. It would not support a geneticist who is the sole investigator on a study of the relationship between gene activation and social environments.
A detailed budget justification gives the review committee a clear idea of what the funds will support and includes sources for cost estimates. For example, list the model of equipment or software to be purchased and its cost from a particular vendor, like Buy.com. How much does a ticket cost on Expedia or from AAA for car rental or air travel at the same time you estimate you will be in the field? How many hours at what rate per hour do you plan to hire a research assistant, based on what precedent?
Do all the research project’s team members have to be at Cornell?
The lead PI must be a Cornell tenure-track or tenured faculty member. However, the entire research team does not have to be on Cornell’s faculty. The team can include non-tenure track research associates, post-docs, and graduate students participating as collaborators or hired research assistants. ISS grants do not, however, pay for tuition, stipends, or student fees on graduate assistantship lines. Small grants cannot be used for graduate student research projects.
The PI is asked to complete an award transfer form. Once the award transfer form and any additional paperwork is submitted to the ISS, small grant awards are typically transferred by the end of the month. ISS small grant awards must be transferred by the end of the fiscal year when the award is made.
Awards are ideally spent within a year from when they are awarded. At the end of this time frame, the PI is asked to file a brief report to the ISS director regarding the research progress and disposition of the small grant funds. Funds that are not used within two years are returned to the pool of funds that the ISS uses to award small grants. The PI can, of course, reapply with the same project, as long as s/he is outside the 2-year reapplication window.
PIs need ISS approval to reallocate more than 25 percent of the funds at any point after funding.
We strive to have two peer scholars, outside the applicant’s department, evaluate each proposal based on the following criteria: quality of social science scholarship (including theory and methodology), the importance of the core ideas and whether they are innovative, whether the work is likely to inspire future research, and whether the budget is appropriate. We also consider whether the research design is methodologically sound, if the research is likely to result in publication in peer-reviewed journals, and if the project is likely to obtain external funding at some point. For conferences, we want to make sure the conference topic will of interest to social scientists across the university, and whether the budget will primarily support Cornell social science faculty members as opposed to faculty at other institutions.
Faculty who have previously received an ISS small grant as a lead PI or received ISS Faculty Fellow funding can re-apply for funding after a two-year wait. In other words, if ISS funding was received in Fall 2012, the faculty member may reapply in the Fall 2014 round.