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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Arts and Humanities FAQs

WHO FUNDS THE RESEARCH COMMITTEE FALL RESEARCH COMPETITION?

The Research Competition is funded by a gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).  Since its founding in 1925, WARF has served the UW–Madison scientific community by patenting research discoveries at the UW–Madison and licensing such technologies to leading companies in Wisconsin, the U.S., and worldwide. WARF distributes the income from these commercial licenses in an appropriate manner between the UW–Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE), the inventors, and their departments. The Research Committee Competition one means by which the OVCRGE distributes the gift to faculty and permanent PI’s on campus.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED ‘RESEARCH’ FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE FALL COMPETITION?

In general, faculty submit proposals for the type of research and scholarly activities for which they were hired, on which they will receive tenure, or which further new developments in their fields. In the Arts, such activities might mean creating original works of art, expanding repertoire for a musical instrument, or developing new methods of set design. In the Humanities, it is more likely to involve the research and writing of an article or a book chapter. Note that since WARF explicitly supports the research mission of the University rather than instruction, applications must be for research and not classroom projects. In general, there is tremendous variety in the research done on campus. The Research Committee gives preference to original scholarship/research/creative activity but takes into consideration the type of research products that are appropriate for individual disciplines and fields. If you have questions about the appropriateness of your project for the Fall Research Competition, please contact Associate Vice Chancellor Florence Hsia, florence.hsia@wisc.edu.

HOW ARE PROPOSALS REVIEWED?

After the application deadline, your file will be assigned to a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Committee, who will contact you or your department administrator about setting up an appointment for an interview. At the interview, your assigned reviewer will seek more details about your proposal. You should be sure that your reviewer understands your project as well as possible. In the case of junior faculty, the reviewer will also speak with the department chair.

In the meeting of the Research Committee meeting, the reviewer will present your proposal and answer questions from other committee members, who will have also reviewed your written proposal.  Decisions for funding are made by committee vote. You will be notified via email prior to winter break whether your proposal has been funded.

HOW CAN I BEST PRESENT MY PROJECT IN THE LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE ON THE APPLICATION?

In writing  your project description, employ these subheadings:

  1. Specific aims/research questions
  2. Significance
  3. Approach (design, methods, and analysis)
  4. Expected products
  5. Future directions

Be sure to describe what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and what product is likely to result. Indicate your qualifications to undertake the project and specify your expected outcomes and contributions.

As you write your proposal, remember that it will be read by artists and scholars from a range of disciplines. Many may not be familiar with your field, and it is unlikely that anyone on the committee will be an expert in your particular research area. The proposal should make clear to the reader the value of your research in the context of your field and explain your project with a minimum of jargon.

In the budget section, please provide a detailed justification for the budget requested. Make clear how the budget items and amounts are needed for the research you plan. The interviewer and the committee must be able to understand why you need the resources you request.

In your CV, mark peer-reviewed publications with [P]. For publications in languages other than English, provide English translations of the titles of publications related to Fall Competition awards received in the last three years.

HOW CAN I SUBMIT ADDITIONAL SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION BEYOND THE ONE-PAGE FIGURE OR DOCUMENT ALLOWED AS PART OF THE APPLICATION?

Please contact Associate Vice Chancellor Florence Hsia (florence.hsia@wisc.edu) for approval and to provide you with a link to a Box folder.

HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER HUMAN SUBJECTS APPROVAL IS NEEDED?

You must indicate if a proposed project involving human participants will require human subjects approval (Human Research Protection Program). In most cases the IRB must decide whether a project is exempt; the PI cannot make this decision. Contact the IRB to get a preliminary assessment before you check this box. If you receive a Research Committee award, award activation will be contingent on your obtaining any required approvals.

HOW DOES THE RESEARCH COMMITTEE SUPPORT LONG-TERM RESEARCH PROJECTS SUCH AS SCHOLARLY MONOGRAPHS?

The Research Committee prefers to fund ambitious projects, such as monographs, that will have a major impact on the applicant’s field of research. For monographs, the application should describe the book project as a whole and then specify what is to be completed during the award period (people usually propose intensive research and/or the completion of a chapter during a summer). You must also upload a chapter breakdown and bibliography with your application. Please make sure your interviewer understands what has been accomplished already and what remains to be done. Bear in mind that the Research Committee is unlikely to fund two long-term projects simultaneously: it is necessary to finish one project before requesting funding on another.

HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW?

Have any publications or other materials that might help explain your project available to show your reviewer, who may share some of these materials with the entire committee. Be prepared to explain your budget and your priorities. Remember that your reviewer is not so much your advocate on the committee as the member who has become most knowledgeable about your project. Equip your reviewer with the information needed to present your proposal as clearly and concisely as possible. Please note that the interview is not meant to correct for a hastily written proposal. In evaluating your proposal, the committee will give the greatest weight to the written application.

CAN I APPLY FOR A SEMESTER OF RESEARCH LEAVE?

Most requests for salary support are funded at the level of one or two ninths of summer support. However, the Arts and Humanities Research Committee invites applications for one semester of research leave (4.5 ninths salary support) through the Fall Competition. Up to two awards will be made each year. Proposals should be for ambitious and innovative new projects for which the applicant also seeks major external funding. Senior faculty members with distinguished records of publication, exhibition or performance are particularly invited to apply. Proposals will not be considered without a brief letter from the Chair attesting to the department’s willingness to release the applicant from teaching a semester. Prospective applicants should consult with Associate Vice Chancellor Florence Hsia, florence.hsia@wisc.edu,  in advance of the Fall Research Competition deadline.

SHOULD I PLAN TO APPLY FOR EXTERNAL RESEARCH FUNDING?

The Fall Competition application asks you to list active, pending, and “to be submitted” awards. The Research Committee expects applicants to investigate and pursue other sources of funding and to make applications for external support whenever possible. Be knowledgeable about what is available and be prepared to speak with your reviewer about the opportunities you have explored.

The Research Committee particularly welcomes Fall Research Completion proposals for pilot studies or exploratory research that will strengthen applications to external agencies. In addition, faculty should be aware that programs are in place to supplement external fellowships and awards. If you have questions see the supplementation program website or contact Associate Vice Chancellor Florence Hsia, florence.hsia@wisc.edu.

WHAT IS ‘INSURANCE’ FUNDING FOR AN EXTERNAL PROPOSAL?

Asking for ‘insurance’ funding through the Fall Research Competition commits you to apply for external funding. If your external application is not successful, your Fall Competition ‘backup’ award will be activated. If your extramural application is successful, you do not need any backup funding and your Fall Research Competition award will not be released. You may only ask for backup funding if you will have a funding decision about the extramural proposal in time to expend funds when the Fall Competition award would begin, that is, by next July. In most cases, this means that your external proposal must have been submitted by this summer or fall. In your Fall Competition application, you must enter the dates of the expected submission and decision for your external proposal.

THE APPLICATION ASKS HOW I HAVE USED RECENT RESEARCH COMMITTEE AWARDS. WHAT SHOULD I PUT IN THIS SECTION?

This section is the equivalent of a progress report on prior Fall Research Competition funding. The Committee wants to know what was accomplished with previous grants and what outcomes ensued. For each award that you have received over the past three years you should list outcomes directly relevant to the award, including conference presentations, papers published, in press, or under review, performances or exhibitions, and any grants that have been awarded or submitted. Full citations must be provided for publications, performances and exhibitions.

WHAT IS AN AVERAGE AWARD IN THE FALL COMPETITION?

Award amounts vary greatly. For the 2019 Competition, the average award was $25,634, which included amounts for fringe benefits for salary and tuition remission for graduate student PAships.

CAN I ENTER THE COMPETITION IF I HAVE A PREVIOUS AWARD FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VCRGE THAT I HAVE NOT YET SPENT (START-UP, RETENTION, ROMNES/KELLETT MID-CAREER/NAMED PROF) OR A VILAS AWARD?

Faculty members will be expected to justify their Fall Competition requests in the face of substantial balances in existing OVCRGE and Vilas accounts. The Research Committee typically does not support new Fall Research Competition requests made by faculty who have a substantial balance (more than 25% of the original award) in an existing start-up, retention, Named Award, or Vilas account unless they have well-formulated plans for spending those balances down within a limited time period. If you are a new faculty member who started after July 1, 2020, please contact Associate Vice Chancellor Florence Hsia (florence.hsia@wisc.edu) to discuss whether you should apply to this year’s competition. Faculty in the first or second year of a Vilas Associate Award should not apply to the Fall Research Competition for salary support; in extraordinary cases applications for a graduate PA or RA will be considered.

WHAT IS A PA? RA? HOURLY WORKER?

A project assistant (PA), can be requested to help on aspects of the project that require graduate-level training or research expertise. Project Assistants are usually 33.3% or 50% appointments for 4.5 months (one semester), 9, or 12 months. A research assistant (RA) carries out research that also contributes to the graduate student’s own professional training. An hourly worker need not be a graduate student. Be sure to indicate clearly on the application how the student will contribute to the project.

Note that PA and RA request must include tuition remission. Summer assistantships are possible, but require more attention to details regarding a student’s previous support, level of funding, and enrollment in courses. We strongly advise you to consult with your departmental payroll officer while preparing your proposal so that you understand any requirements or restrictions.

HOW IS SALARY ELIGIBILITY CALCULATED?

Faculty members and permanent PIs on a 9-month pay cycle are eligible for a maximum of either 1 semester (4.5 months) or 2 summers (4 months) from the Office of the OVCRGE during any 3-year period. If you are on a 12-month appointment, contact the Fall Research Committee Administrative staff to clarify your eligibility. Your eligibility rolls over each year. Consult the Research Committee Policies for how to calculate your eligibility.  If you received summer salary as part of your start-up package or elected to use a portion of your start-up funds for summer salary that usage does not count towards your eligibility (start-up funds are “non-pre-judicial” with regard to the 4.5 month limit).

DO I NEED TO BE IN RESIDENCE FOR MY AWARD?

No, not if your research takes you elsewhere. The expectation for salary support, however, is that you are carrying out full-time research during the time of the salary award. The policy means that when you are receiving salary support from the OVCRGE, you must be working on research full-time rather than combining research efforts with other obligations such as teaching or administration. Thus, if you are awarded a month of summer salary, it is the expectation of the OVCRGE that you will not be the instructor of record for a course offered during that month. In addition, Research Committee salary support is an investment in tenured or tenure-track faculty and Permanent PI development. It is available only for persons who will be UW–Madison staff members in the semester following that support.

ONCE I HAVE WON AN AWARD, CAN I MOVE FUNDS BETWEEN CATEGORIES?

Transferring funds to new categories is sometimes possible, although the Research Committee usually insists that graduate student funding be protected. It is common to redirect summer salary toward academic year salary supplementation of another research award. An early start to an award is also possible. Contact Associate Vice Chancellor Florence Hsia, florence.hsia@wisc.edu, if you are contemplating one of these options.