Art Works Blog

Taking Note: Now Accepting Arts Research Grant Applications

It's grant application season in the NEA's research office! This week, we officially release our FY15 Research: Art Works grant guidelines. Below is a summary of what's new, what's different, and what's important to know as a potential applicant.

BIG Changes to the FY15 Research: Art Works Grant Program

Not too many come to mind, actually. One major change, however, relates to the process for submitting an application. Last year, all application materials were submitted within Grants.gov. This year, the process is just a little different. Check out this timeline.

Graph explaining NEA's art research grant application process

For one thing, the deadline for submitting the application is EARLIER than it was last year; for another, there are two deadlines instead of one. By October 21, you will need to submit your SF-424 within Grants.gov. This step effectively functions like a "letter of intent": you're telling us who you are and providing a couple sentences about what you intend to study.

Then, in November, the second submission site (NEA-GO) will be available to all eligible applicants who have successfully submitted the SF-424 by the deadline. In this November submission (due November 18), you get to tell us in detail what you want to investigate, why the research topic is important, what the field already knows about your research question, how you are going to add to the literature, what you expect to find (if applicable), how you are going to do that research, and what you expect to do with your findings once the project has completed. Indeed, the NEA-GO submission is the meat of your proposal.

Minor Changes or Updates to the FY15 Research: Art Works Grant Program

While there aren't many big changes, there are a couple of minor tweaks to the program.

For example, we tried to clarify some of the language in the grant guidelines to make them easier to understand. We specify that the NEA will allow project proposals that focus on translational research that moves scientific evidence toward the development, testing, and standardization of new arts-related programs, practices, models, or tools that can be used easily by other practitioners and researchers. And, as an agency-wide addition to all grant programs, we are requiring between one and three statements/letters of support. (Tip: an IRB approval letter could technically serve as a letter of support, and we encourage you to have institutional review board approval prior to applying).

This year, we also have a number of new resources to assist you in thinking about your project. For one, we now have a Frequently Asked Questions section, and we have updated our list of Publically Available Data Sources. Earlier this year, we also released several grantee final research papers that resulted from FY12 Research: Art Works grant funding, and we have been periodically updating this page with new FY12 grantee papers as well as FY13 grantee papers.

Importantly, all grantees who are awarded an NEA Research: Art Works grant are required to author at least one final paper that would be shared with the public. Many of the papers available on our website give you an idea of what a final grantee research paper might look like. This page can also serve as a resource for finding out what research has been done in the past as well as who did it, and may provide a starting place for thinking about how to build off of older research and develop future studies. Keep an eye on that page as we continue to upload research papers and products that were funded by Research: Art Works awards.

Additional sources of inspiration may be in grants that we have awarded but haven't received the final papers for yet, such as those that were awarded for FY14. One of the biggest changes to the program for FY14 was permitting applicants to propose primary data collection projects. The results yielded a number of funded projects that used randomized-controlled designs or matched-comparison group designs and that focused on outcomes related to health and human development, such as projects from Penn State University Hershey Medical Center, George Mason University, and Global Writes.

Of equal merit, we also helped to support some large-scale quasi-experimental projects, such as those from Indiana University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Chicago. And we also funded projects that incorporated case-study designs, such as those from the Urban Institute and North Carolina State University (both of which were focused on issues pertaining to urban planning/design and economics). Descriptions of these projects as well as other funded projects can be found through our grants search tool.

Other Reminders

As always, competitive applications are those that appropriately address each of the review criteria. The proposals are clear and they speak to a diverse and interdisciplinary audience; they demonstrate research rigor in terms of both the conceptual framework and the analytical methods; and they involve staff or consultants that have the appropriate qualifications and certifications.

Competitive applications also demonstrate how the project promotes and expands research on the value and/or impact of the arts through interdisciplinary activity and by holding potential implications for policy and practice. Applicants also should demonstrate appropriate performance measures for their project and appropriate dissemination plans such as making their project accessible to the public and to a variety of stakeholders. They should include an appropriate data management plan (such as how data is stored, how researchers are protecting sensitive data, and whether the researchers plan to share their data), and they should attend to budgetary details (remember: the Research: Art Works program requires grantees to provide a 1:1 match).

Cheers and good luck!

Upcoming Events for the Office of Research & Analysis:

The NEA is involved in two sessions at the 2014 American Psychological Association Convention tomorrow, August 8: The Arts, Creative Expression, and Psychological Research: Bringing Intellectual Clarity to Emotional Chaos: Part I and Part II. If you are attending APA this year, check it out! If you can't make it to the live sessions, there will be a recording of the sessions available on our website. In addition, there are a number of arts-related presentations at the convention, many of which are affiliated with Division 10.

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