Department of Politics - Princeton University Princeton University

Multi-Center Graduate Student Competitive Dissertation Award

Graduate Student Competitive Dissertation Award:

The Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice in conjunction with the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University announce a new graduate competitive dissertation grant to be awarded to the most promising graduate student dissertation research projects. These awards, ranging from $15,000-20,000, will be offered to up to one qualifying Princeton doctoral student in each of the following sub-fields: American politics, Comparative politics and International relations. Application deadline is Thursday, November 16. Proposal and submission guidelines will be found below.

Note that students may simultaneously apply to both this grant program and the regular twice-per-year Bobst graduate dissertation and pre-dissertation research grants.


Guidelines for the Multi-Center Graduate Student Competitive Dissertation Award:

Research proposals must contain:

  • A clear argument, testable hypotheses, with attention to alternative explanations
  • A research design
  • Clear statement of the question that the project will try to answer. Devising a clear and feasible research question is often the toughest part of the job. Remember that a question ends with a question mark; it is not an allusion to a broad topic area. “I want to understand why some people decide to vote while others do not” is a question, while “voting behavior” or “turnout” are both topics.
  • A paragraph on the significance of the project. Social resources are scarce. Why is it important to find an answer to the question you have posed? Does the question have policy significance? Will it produce insight important to a lot of people? To whom does your answer potentially matter? Have others pointed to the importance of the subject?
  • A well-developed literature review that outlines the answers others have offered to this question or to related questions and a note about why you consider these answers inadequate. In a short proposal, we do not ask you to go into great detail, but no one should offer a proposal without having done some investigation first. In a few rare instances we may accept proposals that simply state your thoughts about the likely answer to the question, but in almost all instances reviewers want to see that you have done some homework.
  • Your own tentative answer, hunch, or hypothesis and why you think it holds promise.
  • A detailed description of the research design, including data collection strategies and supplementary materials (questionnaires, datasets, open-ended interviews, etc.). What information must you obtain to determine whether your favored answer is wrong or whether alternative plausible answers are wrong? How will you secure this information? Through case histories? Small surveys? Examination of patterns in client records?
  • Remember that interviews and surveys usually require university human subjects clearance, under federal law. Please consult the university websites on this subject (OPR). If you are using publicly available historical materials or survey data, you may not need this clearance but pending the identifying information of subjects, you might. It is your responsibility to become familiar with the rules and prepare your project for review. If you do not have clearance by the time the committee makes its decisions, the Center may make an award pending receipt of the IRB waiver or approval.
  • If you propose to carry out work abroad, you are required to register in accordance with University regulations before your departure.
  • A working bibliography and/or footnotes that clearly show you know the scholarship related to your topic even if you have not read everything on the subject.
  • A budget which offers a reasonable description of expenses related to your research (transportation, survey costs, accommodation and meals, visa costs. Any travel-related expenses must conform to the University’s travel expense policy found here:

 Note to Graduate Students

  • Please make sure you discuss the proposal with at least two advisors who can provide letters of reference.
  • If your budget includes the payment of research assistants who are members of the Princeton University community, that portion of the award will be held and paid out for you within the University’s financial systems. The disposition of the remainder of the award will be determined by you: either it will be held internally so that you may have your own University credit card for your research expenses, or the funds will be transferred to your bank account via direct deposit.
  • There is a twelve page limit for your proposal submission, including your budget page.


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