Call for Pre-proposals: Collaborative Projects

Overview Requirements Decision Timeline
Project Goals & Timetable Pre-proposal Guidelines FAQ
Eligibility Final Proposal Guidelines ISS’ Projects’ History
Resources Budget Guidelines

Overview

During Summer/Fall 2017, the ISS will begin the search for the next collaborative project(s) commencing in July 2018. The ISS strives to promote cutting-edge collaborative social science research connecting faculty across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. For much of the ISS’ history, theme projects have drawn on faculty from different disciplines, including political scientists, sociologists, economists, and anthropologists to focus on a common research theme, such as immigration, land tenure, global poverty and inequality. This vision continues to serve Cornell and the social science community well.

Over the past few years, however, the ISS has also recognized the need to build bridges in other ways. For example, Cornell’s social science faculty are increasingly interested in collaborative projects outside of traditional social science disciplines. This includes new collaborative social science research in the biological sciences, such as work on the biological underpinnings of human behavior (e.g., behavioral endocrinology) or the use of the new magnetic resonance imaging facility at Cornell. Other social scientists are interested in the human consequences of climate change, bringing together scholars across campus in the life and physical sciences. Others are involved in “big data,” requiring close collaboration with scholars in information and computer sciences. All of these examples advance systematic, evidence-based knowledge of social processes by harnessing the potential of collaborative research while building bridges across disciplinary boundaries.

Starting in 2016 the ISS Collaborative Projects program took the place of ISS Theme Projects. Comprised of 4-5 team members chosen competitively through a peer review process, Collaborative Projects have a three year term.

Goals and Timetables for Projects

The goals of ISS Collaborative Projects are twofold: research and engagement.

All proposed teams are expected to dive in immediately with “shovel ready” projects. The majority of a team’s time will be devoted to “research production” activities (i.e., conducting collaborative research, writing grant proposals and other scholarly output, working with graduate students), rather than “research consumption” activities, such as hosting seminars and events. Investigators are expected to seek external funding from government agencies and/or foundations.

Collaborative projects also are to foster dialogue and engagement within Cornell across institutional boundaries of department, college, and discipline. This also includes enhancing communication among scholars located in different units across campus, but who share the same disciplinary backgrounds (e.g., psychology, economics, or sociology).

In the project’s first year, ISS faculty fellows will initiate their collaborative project and conduct research.

The second year is to focus on continuing the research program and preparing to seek external funding. During this year, the ISS faculty fellows will have offices at the ISS and are expected to devote at least 50 percent of their time and energy to the project in exchange for partial course and administrative relief. The ISS provides $5,000 to each project member’s department to partially offset course reductions ($10,000 for team leaders). In addition, the project will host at least one event that engages the campus community.

In the third year, each project concentrates on completing substantive scholarly outputs, as well as establishing a legacy for the project at Cornell. This can be broadly defined, but will include a major grant or external funding proposal and publications.

Although all tenure-track Cornell faculty members in the social sciences are eligible to propose collaborative projects, experience has shown that only in rare instances will team leadership be in the best career interests of assistant professors.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.

Eligibility

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 (NSF), 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.).

Social science research also includes social scientific research eligible for funding by programs jointly administered by a social science directorate and another federal program.  The National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and other agencies have different organizational structures and mandates, but the general “rule” still obtains: social science research that is eligible for funding from the federal government is also eligible for ISS support.

This does not mean that the faculty appointment of all team members 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 housed in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary departments across Cornell.

Finally, ISS supports social scientists who propose collaborative research with non-social scientists in the life sciences, physical sciences, or information sciences. However, the social scientist must assume the lead role in the application and the project must have a large social science component that is likely to lead to publications in peer-reviewed social science journals or other outlets.

Please note that proposed projects that received prior funding from the ISS should acknowledge that funding in the pre-proposal and describe the progress made.

Resources

Each proposal may submit a budget requesting up to $150,000 for project activities. (See budget section for more information.) The ISS Director will determine the final collaborative project budget in consultation with the Vice Provost of Research.

  • The team leader of each project will teach ½ of his or her unit’s normal annual course load in the residency year (second year) of the collaborative project. For projects with co-leaders, the co-leaders are  to decide how to divide this fixed resource. Because course release is involved, applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.
  • Team members will teach no more than two courses in the second year of the project. Because course release is involved, applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.
  • All team members receive full release from “heavy” administrative duties during the second year of the project (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.). Ideally, team leaders receive this administrative release during all three years of the project, but we recognize that in small units this may not be possible. Because administrative release is involved, applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.
  • During the second year, the team members’ departments will receive $5,000 to partially offset course reductions ($10,000 for team leaders). ISS faculty fellows whose appointments are split across units will work out an equitable division of this resource with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.
  • According to a March 2014 agreement with the College Deans, each ISS project will have the option of hiring one graduate RA for the team during one year of the project, usually the second year. One team member will take primary responsibility for supervising this RA, but the expectation is that it will be a shared resource for the team. The College of the RA’s primary supervisor will pay the tuition and associated allocated costs. The ISS project will need to fund the RA’s stipend and health insurance from the project budget (approximately $26,000 for a 9-month appointment and $34,000 for a 12-month appointment). The project should communicate to the ISS the year they hope to engage an RA so that the ISS can make plans in concert with other ISS projects.
  • Within the project budget, each team member is entitled to a $6,000 individual research stipend. To access these funds, the project member needs to submit a one-page outline of their research project(s) and projected budget to the team leader and ISS Director. These funds are part of the project budget and are generally transferred during the first year of the project.
  • During the second, in-residence year of the project, each team member will be provided with an ISS office, and a desktop Dell PC, if desired. The team will have access to a shared meeting room.
  • The ISS provides reasonable, but limited, administrative assistance to support project activities, but does not provide individual administrative support.

Requirements

  • Project leaders and members are expected to be in Ithaca and not on sabbatical or administrative leave during the three years of the ISS theme project.
  • Project leaders and members are expected to spend at least 50 percent of their time in their ISS offices during the second year of the project. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.
  • During year two (all three years, for the team leader), team members are prohibited from taking on significant administrative duties (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.) that would interfere with their ability to fully participate in all activities of the theme project. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the relevant parties (i.e., chairs and Deans) in advance of proposal submission.
  • Team leaders need to be organized, well versed in team facilitation and leadership, and able to manage administrative matters, such as budgets.
  • Team leaders and members are expected to work with the ISS staff to document and publicize the goals, progress, findings, and products of the team’s research. Teams will also be expected to produce regular internal reports about their progress and to work with ISS staff to make sure they remain on budget.
  • Teams must be collaborative and build connections across institutional boundaries. They must also be led by a social scientist, be committed to analyzing the project topic with social scientific methods, and devote the preponderance of ISS resources (including project membership) to social scientists and to research projects that meet the highest standards of social scientific inquiry. All core team members must be tenure-line faculty at Cornell.
  • Proposals to fund existing collaborative research projects must clearly identify or demonstrate the “value added” that comes from support from the ISS, as the ISS’ goal is to foster new research collaborations.

Pre-proposal Guidelines

All tenure-track Cornell faculty members are invited to propose collaborative projects. Faculty are encouraged to discuss their project ideas with Dan Lichter, the Robert S. Harrison Director of the ISS. Please contact Anneliese Truame (255-3304, amt58@cornell.edu) to make an appointment.

Pre-proposals are 5-7 double-spaced pages prepared in MS Word or a PDF. They include a draft budget; and an appendix that includes a 3-page bio sketch for each proposed team member. The budget, bio sketches, tables and figures, and references are not included in the 5-7 page proposal maximum. We prefer proposals in PDF format with all the parts of the application compiled into one document, or as few documents as possible. No hard copies, please.

The pre-proposal should include the following elements:

  • Focus and Significance: First, and foremost, the review committee wants to be convinced that the pre-proposal contains a scientifically interesting idea and that there is cutting-edge, significant, collaborative social science at the intellectual core of the project. This requires identifying a compelling research topic and making a case for how the project will advance knowledge about this topic. Please provide an overview (1-2 paragraphs) of the project’s thematic focus and significance. Be sure to contextualize the project. What literatures and debates does it engage and how will the project’s research move them forward? What research questions do you propose to answer?
  • Collaboration: Explain how your project will build bridges between researchers across institutional borders and the comparative advantage of the project to achieve closer ties.
  • Research Program: The review committee wants to be convinced that the team will make rapid progress on their research program and has a “shovel-ready” agenda. To this end, the bulk of the pre-proposal should be devoted to describing the proposed research project(s), including the specific research questions to be addressed, the proposed research design (including data sources, where relevant), and the project timeline.
  • Final Products: Successful pre-proposals will clearly specify how the project will improve the quality, stature, and intellectual resources for the social sciences at Cornell. The pre-proposal should also identify the project’s “legacy,” where possible examples include a major external grant (proposal or, better still, secured funding), a series of peer-reviewed journal articles, an edited volume or a book series, a new course or courses, etc. (This list is not meant to be exhaustive.)
  • Team Member List: The committee wants to be convinced that Cornell has the expertise to make significant progress on this idea and that the team will create or strengthen bridges across campus. Please propose a 5-person team, specifically identifying the team leader and three or four tenure-line Cornell faculty, who are able to meet the responsibilities of team members. Care should be taken to identify team members that cross disciplinary boundaries and administrative boundaries (departments, colleges). (Note that the ISS selection committee and ISS director reserve the right to suggest alternatives as a condition of funding; team leaders should phrase their initial inquiries to team members accordingly.) Briefly describe your proposed team’s comparative advantage as change agents to knit units closer together across campus. As an appendix, please include a three-page bio sketch for each proposed team member that details his or her education, relevant publications, presentations, grants, honors, and courses.

Finalists will be invited to submit a full, 15-page, double-spaced final proposal that describes the collaborative topic, research, expected products, and associated participants in greater detail. See Final Proposal Guidelines for more information on that process.

Final Proposal Guidelines

We prefer proposals in PDF format with all the parts of the application compiled into one document, or as few documents as possible. No hard copies, please.

Finalists are strongly encouraged to meet with the ISS director while preparing their final proposal. Please contact Lori Sonken (254-6771, ljs269@cornell.edu) to make an appointment with Dan Lichter, the Robert S. Harrison Director of the ISS.

The final proposal is composed of three parts: the project description, budget and justification, biosketches, and letters of support from the relevant chairs and Deans.

  • Abstract: Please provide a one-paragraph abstract of the project written in the third-person. This will be posted on the ISS website if the project is funded.
  • Project description: For the final proposal, prospective team leaders are asked to expand the narrative portion of their pre-proposal and to respond to feedback from the review committee. The maximum length of this portion of the proposal is 15 pages, double-spaced. Abstract, references, budget, biosketches and letters of support are not included in the 15-page limit for the project description.
  • Budget and justification: The final proposal should include the total amount requested, annual budgets with line items, and a justification of proposed expenses for the project. It is very important to include a specific and justified budget. Some budget items are mandatory. Please see the budget section for a list of required budget lines and some estimates for optional expenses.
  • Biosketches: Please include a three-page bio sketch for each team member as an appendix.
  • Letters of support from the relevant chairs and Deans for the project and the course/administrative release for the proposed team members.

Budget Guidelines

The final proposal should include the total amount requested, annual budgets, and a justification of proposed expenses for the project. It is very important to include a specific and justified budget. Below is a list of required budget lines and some estimates for optional expenses, where applicable.

Mandatory Expenses

  • Individual research stipend: $6,000 per team member
  • 1st year half-day kick-off organizational meeting: $125
  • 1st year team photograph: $125
  • 3rd year Capstone lecture: $1,125

Optional Expenses

  • Data collection
  • Traveling to and from research or training sites
  • Specialized hardware or software necessary to complete the research. This excludes general-use data sets, hardware, or software that are available through CISER.
  • Technical training
  • Graduate research assistant: standard Cornell social science stipend rate. Please see the Resources section for cost-sharing of 1 year of tuition.
  • Graduate research assistant (hourly, does not include tuition): $15 per hour
  • Undergraduate research assistant: $10-12 per hour
  • Grant-writing support
  • Editorial assistance and honoraria for edited volume
  • Open-access publishing fees for collaborative research produced as a direct result of ISS funding
  • Catering for 16 biweekly working team lunches: $1500
  • 1 or 1.5 day workshop at ILR Conference Center: $12,000-$15,000
  • Domestic visiting researcher (1-2 nights lodging, travel, meals, venue, honorarium): $1000-2000
  • International visiting researcher (2-3 nights lodging, travel, meals, venue, honorarium): $2000-3000
  • 1st year public kick-off lecture: $1,125
  • Books

Expenses not covered

  • General-use data sets, hardware, or software that are available through CISER
  • Conference or research travel costs for families or caregivers
  • Cornell faculty and/or staff salaries and benefits
  • Any expenses not allowed by the University

Please direct all inquiries to amt58@cornell.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered social science research?

Are assistant professors eligible to lead theme projects?

What is the course and administrative release policy?

What is the course offset policy?

What are the expectations for team leaders in each year?

What are the expectations for team members in each year?

Can a project have more than one leader? If so, how would the full year of course release be allocated?

Are assistant professors eligible to lead theme projects?

Although all tenure-line faculty members are encouraged to participate as team members, assistant professors will not be served well in the role of team leader. The team leader is responsible for organizing all project activities. These activities are extremely important, but they are also very time consuming, and are not the kind of activities that are generally rewarded in tenure and promotion evaluations. As such, assistant professors with an idea for a collaborative project are encouraged to have a senior colleague to propose the idea and take on the leadership responsibilities.

What is the course and administrative release policy?

Team leaders: The team leader of each project receives a half of a year of course release, during year 2, the in-residence year of the theme project. During the second year, the team leader’s department will receive $10,000 to partially offset course reductions. ISS faculty fellows who have dual appointments will work out an equitable split of this resource with their department chairs. In addition, team leaders will receive full release from “heavy” administrative duties (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.) during the 2nd year of the theme project.

Team members: As per the original ISS agreement with College Deans, team members will teach no more than 2 courses during year 2, the in-residence year of the theme project. During the second year, the team members’ departments will receive $5,000 to partially offset course reductions. In addition, all team members will receive full release from “heavy” administrative duties (e.g., department chair, director of graduate study, center or institute director, etc.) during the 2nd year of the theme project.

What is the course offset policy?

During the second year, the team members’ departments will receive $5,000 to partially offset course reductions. Team leader’s departments receive $10,000. ISS faculty fellows who have dual appointments will work out an equitable split of this resource with their department chairs.

What are the expectations for team leaders in each year?

It is expected that team leaders be physically present on campus (that is, not absent on leave) during the entire three-year period of the theme project. Given the responsibilities involved, team leaders may not take on any major administrative duties during the three years (e.g., department chairmanships, directorships, DGS, etc.). In year 1, team leaders are responsible for organizing and running team meetings to coordinate and conduct research. As such, the team leader should have excellent organizational skills, work well with others, and be a strong group facilitator.

During year 2, the in-residence year, the team leader is expected to spend 50% of each week in his or her office at the ISS. The team leader is responsible for directing the theme project’s research, moving the team toward its collaborative scholarly contribution, and preparing to seek external funding.

Finally, during year 3, the team leader will continue to work with the team to create and document their contribution. While year three is the final year, we clearly hope that the work begun during the project term will continue at Cornell through other means, such as research and major grants.

What are the expectations for team members in each year?

Team members are expected to be physically present (that is, not on leave) during the entire three year period of the theme project. In year 1, the team spends time planning its major research activities. As a result, during year 1 team members must be able to attend team meetings and devote time to planning.

In year 2, the in-residence year, it is expected that team members will spend 50% or more of each week in their ISS office. During this year team members will conduct research, build collaborations with each other, and host a few events. Time at the ISS is expected to help move project members toward their goal of a substantial scholarly contribution and external funding.

During year 3, team members will continue to work together to bring the project to a conclusion. While year three is the final year, we expect that the work begun during the theme project term will continue at Cornell through other means, such as research and major grants.

Can a project have more than one leader? If so, how would the full year of course release be allocated?

Faculty can share the project leader role, but they will also have to share the half of a year of course release. It is left to the project leaders to determine an equitable split of this resource.

Please direct all inquiries to amt58@cornell.edu.