Evaluation Criteria for the Scholarly Quality of GRRI Proposals
All proposals will be evaluated by general standards of evaluation of scholarship, including (depending on their applicability to the specific fellowship in question) the following:
Does the proposed study address an important problem or question in research on global religion?
Does it account for and build upon the most important findings of prior research?
If successful, how will scientific knowledge about religion be advanced?
What will be the effect of this study on the concepts or methods that currently define the research on religion or other important areas of inquiry?
2Approach and Methods
Are the conceptual framework, research design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, specified, rigorous, and fitting for the specific questions and goals of the project?
Does the project seek to understand real causal mechanisms involved in religion and not merely the association between observed variables?
Is the applicant aware of potential problems and challenges involved in their approach and have they thought of responses and considered alternates?
Is the researcher(s) well qualified to execute the project, including demonstrating a genuine interest in the study of religion?
Do the investigators have the ability to communicate the significance of their research findings well, perhaps even beyond academia?
Does the project involve recruiting or training young scholars in religion research?
4Potential Scholarly Influence
How publishable will the results of the project likely be?
What scholarly networks or communities will the results engage and influence?
In what ways might the project help to build larger momentum of interest in research on global religion?
Do the financial aspects of the proposals convey reasonable uses of funds and smart budgeting for the proposed scope of the project?
Does the project employ effective collaborative arrangements or take advantage of special opportunities or available synergies in the research enterprise?
6Institutional and Collateral Support
Is there evidence of real institutional support for the project?
Are resources available to leverage support for the possible longer-term development of an ongoing research project?
Does the project employ fresh and creative substantive focuses, concepts, approaches, or methods?
Does it challenge or innovate upon existing frameworks or develop new methodologies or analyses in appropriately creative ways?
One final note on GRRI substantive topics and research question(s). A key rationale for competitive research funding programs is that the best ideas tend to come not top-down from central funding agencies but bottom-up from diverse scholars with various specializations and perspectives working on the ground in many different locations. Therefore, the GRRI has set the parameters for funding broadly only to require that proposed projects involve empirical social science research focused on contemporary religions beyond the North Atlantic region — other than that, we wish for applicants to propose and justify the details of why their specific topics and research question(s) are important, interesting, and make valuable contributions.
At the same time, another central purpose of the GRRI is that the research and writing funded by the six programs speak and make important contributions to the mainstream concerns of social science disciplines, theories, and advancing knowledge. Topics and questions that are not arguably central and important in the disciplines will not likely be funded, however intrinsically interesting they may be. Instead, GRRI prospective grant and fellowship recipients should ask themselves how their research and writing under these programs can help make the study of religion more relevant and useful to their many colleagues who do not study religion. Toward that end, while the GRRI hesitates to suggest substantive topics of research for funding, perhaps a few examples would suggest the larger set of possibilities. Such examples might include religions as they relate to democracy and governance, religious pluralism and freedom, integral socioeconomic development, human rights, institutional corruption and honesty, just reductions in socioeconomic inequality, advances in public health, and conflict, war, and peace-building. This list is obviously very brief and only somewhat suggestive, however, of the much vaster range of important and interesting possibilities. For proposals offering the best of those, we rely upon the experiences, expertise, and insights of applicant scholars. The possibilities are wide open, about which grant and fellowship proposals simply must make clear and solid arguments for the merits of funding.
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