Small Research Grant Instructions

Proposals are reviewed by skilled researchers and sometimes by persons knowledgeable in the pertinent field of study. If necessary, feedback is given in order to strengthen the chances of funding. Below are three criteria used in evaluation of a proposal. We suggest that you consider these criteria in writing your proposal.

Checklist of Needed Documents for Small Research Grant Application

  1. Cover Page - A student must include the signature of the faculty member who is supervising the research. The signature shows that the faculty member has read the student's proposal, considered it in relation to the Small Grants review criteria, and is available to assist as needed. The signature of the Budget Unit Head is required of all proposals submitted by Gallaudet faculty and staff members.
  2. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval Letter (email letter from IRB is acceptable) - When the study involves human research volunteers, either on the Gallaudet campus or elsewhere, funding of a study is contingent upon approval by the University's IRB. IRB approval is not required before submitting an application for Small Grants funding. However, funds cannot be made available until the applicant provides a copy of the IRB letter of approval. Participation of Clerc Center students as volunteers requires additional approval from Clerc administrators. For information on the IRB, see
  3. Abstract of the Study - In 200 words or less, the Abstract should state the explicit purpose or question of the study, explain the significance of that question, and describe the methods and activities that will respond to the research question. Do not include citations. For tips on writing a scientific abstract, are given on this website: Please be informed that if your study is funded its abstract will be shown in the University's Annual Report of Achievements.
  4. Study Proposal - A suitable proposal has well-defined and feasible objectives, explicit methods of data collection and analysis, and a clear timeline. Please define the terminology that may not be known to those from outside the field of study. The proposal may be up to six double-spaced pages, using a 12-point font size.
  5. Budget Summary - The online application has a budget form showing commonly requested items. You should identify the specific costs associated with completion of all tasks. Proposed expenditures should be allowable according to Gallaudet and Program policies, cost-effective, and within the specified funding limit. Please try to use your Department's resources when available, including equipment, copying and office materials. Only ask for what you really need! Typically, the award will be given less than the maximum. The investigator and grantee's department may be expected to contribute toward the study.
  6. Budget Justification - An overall Budget Justification that explains the expenditures must be included in the proposal. The key elements that should be included in the budget justification are:
    • A description of the expense or service
    • How it relates to and benefits the study
    • Breakdown of the anticipated cost. Example: "There are 40 subjects to be interviewed; each subject will participate for 2 hours and will be given $20 compensation."

Small Research Grant Funds Can Be Used for:

  • Participant payments - $10-20 is a common participant compensation amount for about one hour of each participant's time. Compensation for short surveys that require less than one hour to complete should be lower
  • Travel expenses for the purpose of collecting data (transportation, lodging, meals)
  • Specialized supplies - All equipment items purchased with the grant are the property of Gallaudet University. The assignment of equipment after completion of the project is negotiated by the Fund Officer and the grantee's Department Chair.
  • Food/drink under the University's entertainment policies. Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable
  • Other expenses that are indispensable in conducting the study may be considered

Small Research Grant Funds Cannot Be Used for:

  • Full cost of equipment, accessories, hardware, software (durable equipment and specialized software are sometimes lent to the investigator or a cost-sharing arrangement may be made with the applicant's department)
  • Equipment such as an iPad or iPhone, computers, laptops
  • Salaries, wages, stipends
  • Course release time
  • Hiring students as assistants to students
  • Hiring students as assistants to faculty, unless the study meets criteria (see Related Policies below)
  • Cost of travel to present research findings at professional or school meetings
  • Presentation and/or conference fees>
  • Cost of typing or preparing a manuscript
  • Cost of publishing a research report
  • Payment to specialists or technicians for completion of work customarily expected of the investigator
  • Hiring others to do the work for the investigator unless it is determined that a component of the study cannot be conducted by the investigator for a specific and justifiable reason (e.g., because of language or other limitations)
  • Training and curriculum development studies
  • Costs for typing or editing a manuscript
  • Out of pocket expenses incurred prior to the date of the grant award

Evaluation of a Small Research Grant Proposal

Proposals are reviewed by skilled researchers and sometimes by persons knowledgeable in the pertinent field of study. If necessary, feedback is given in order to meet a generally accepted standard for a study research proposal. Below are three criteria used in evaluation of a proposal. We suggest that you consider these criteria in writing your proposal. Students should consult with their faculty adviser in designing their research study.

Criterion 1: Clearly defined research purpose or question.

  • Is the research question or purpose that guides the study clear?
  • Has sufficient and specific information been given as to what the study will test, determine, learn, and/or describe?
  • Is it feasible within the limitations of funding and time?

An effective proposal articulates a specific and narrowed research question or purpose that can be accomplished within the Program funding limits and within the time limit of one year. Careful articulation of the research question or purpose is crucial, because it is the reviewer's primary basis for appraising the effectiveness of the research methods presented in the proposal. The statement of the study's research purpose remains the same throughout the proposal. The proposal presents concepts and defines terminology needed for the reviewer to understand the study's purpose. A proposal that does not respond well to this criterion leaves the reviewer with appreciable uncertainty about the precise focus of the investigation; key terminology may be undefined. An inadequate proposal also may state a purpose or multiple purposes that are beyond the scope of what can be accomplished within the limitations of time and funding.

Criterion 2: Significant research question/purpose.

  • Has it been clearly stated how the study addresses a gap in theoretical or practical knowledge?
  • Is the potential gain worth the investment?

This section should emphasize the contribution that the study will make to the field. What is the uncertainty or information gap in the academic field that justifies the investigation? An effective proposal makes a persuasive case that the findings from the research will constitute a worthwhile contribution to the field, justifying the investment of effort and/or resources. The significance may be based, for example, on potential contributions to improved professional practice, resolution of an arguable gap or inconsistency in the literature of the field, or the addition of authentic new knowledge to the field, including by extension or replication of existing knowledge. When appropriate, the proposal grounds the study in a larger theoretical context in a manner that is selective given the page limits of the proposal. When the application is by a student, there are indications that the study is likely to foster a productive educational experience. If the study is a pilot study, the proposal makes a case for the need for such preliminary work prior to a more complete future study. An inadequate proposal fails to state a rationale for consuming time and resources in order to address its research question.

Criterion 3: Effective research methods.

  • Are the procedures suitable for the research questions?
  • Is the data collection and analytic approach explained in detail?

The proposal should identify, define, and justify the procedures that will be used to accomplish the research purpose or answer the research question of the study. The methods of the study can include such components as site selection, choice of archives, sample characteristics, data collection methods, experimental design, and data analysis. When judging the merit of study methods, proposal reviewers must evaluate whether each component of the methodology addresses the study's stated purpose. Thus, a well articulated purpose or question is crucial to a determination of whether the study's methods are effective. An inadequate proposal fails to describe the methods with sufficient detail for the reviewer to judge whether they respond effectively to the research question/purpose. A proposal also may be inadequate either because a component of the methodology is inappropriate for responding to the research question, or because a necessary component is missing.

Criterion 4: Major conclusions and implications.

  • What are the key points you want to make in your analysis? What are the important or unexpected implications that can be drawn from your research?
  • What are your thoughts on the larger meaning of your study?
  • Are there possibilities of new or expanded ways of thinking as a result of your research?

The most important part of any research project is the meaning and implications of the results. The results will need to be interpreted with the research question and hypotheses in mind and consider all possible outcomes. Even if the outcome that was hypothesized was not found, there may be particular meaning with that and it should be explored. It should also set up questions and considerations for future research projects under the topic.

Pre-Award Related Policies

  1. If you receive an SRG grant, you and your department agree to collaborate in expending funds and documenting expenditures in a manner that is consistent with University administrative and financial policies. Selected policies and procedures for RSIA-administered research grant funds are available here.
  2. Only One Principal Investigator Per Study. One faculty member may apply for funding of a study.  If faculty or staff members seek to build a research team, consider applying for external funding.  You may also consider applying for a Priority Research Fund grant (PRF) that can support multiple investigators and assistants.
  3. Submission of a Final Report. The applicant agrees to submit a brief final report that describes the activities of the study and explains how those activities have responded to the research question or purpose of the study.
  4. Submission of an Annual Report of Achievement. Prior to receiving the award letter, you must provide a summary of your research project to the "Gallaudet Research and Scholarship Database." This information will be listed in the university's Annual Report of Achievements (ARA). Please see the ARA Submission Information page.
  5. Hiring Students as Assistants. The hiring of student assistants under this Fund is generally not permitted. These small grants are intended to support individuals in conducting their own research study.  We want the primary investigator, whether a faculty or staff member or student, to be fully engaged in the research activity. In general, engaging research assistants is not appropriate for the spirit or the dollar level of SRGs. Nevertheless, we may, on rare occasions, allow the use of SRG monies to hire students as research assistants to faculty or staff researchers.  The conditions for such approval include our judgment that:
    1. The monies are being used for a distinct research study (not merely supporting an ongoing operation, work relationship or general research agenda);
    2. The researcher has mastery of the field of study and as such offers students a unique opportunity to learn from the researcher. We have assurances that the student will substantially benefit from the relationship and participation in the research activity;
    3. The inclusion of the student as co-principal investigator or for the student to solely conduct the study by himself or herself is not appropriate.
    4. The learning objectives for the student to be engaged in the study have been specified and the principal investigator agrees to assess the student's progress by the end of the study.
  6. Establishing learning objectives for students involved in research. As part of our consideration of a request for student wages, we will require researchers to determine learning objectives for the student research assistant using the "General Inventory of Research Skills" (GIRS). This determination must be done to satisfaction before a grant is awarded. In short, the researcher will specify the tasks that the students will do during the study and to identify what the student will learn about research. The response of the researcher to the task of adapting and applying the rubric on research learning will be used in our decision-making on funding. The "general inventory of research skills" (GIRS) may be seen here. After the grant is awarded, the learning objectives may be tailored to the individual student who is hired. The learning objectives become the baseline for later assessment of the student's progress in learning about research. We require that the researcher assess the student's progress afterwards, and report to us. In turn, RSIA will report on findings about students learning of research to the university's Office of Academic Quality.