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November 6, 2023+Team HxA
+STEM+Research & Publishing

Open Inquiry in STEM Disciplines Grant Program: Request for Proposals

With the generous support of Schmidt Futures, Heterodox Academy (HxA) is pleased to solicit grant proposals from its members as part of its Open Inquiry in STEM Disciplines Grant Program. HxA aims to make 5-10 small grants to support academic research on the topic of opportunities for and challenges to open inquiry in the STEM disciplines. HxA expects to award up to $50,000 in grants through this program.

Topical Scope

The overarching questions of this funding call are what is the nature of open inquiry in STEM disciplines, and what are the opportunities for and challenges to open inquiry in the STEM disciplines?

For the purposes of this funding call, we define the STEM disciplines as including the disciplines of physics, chemistry, cosmology, geology, atmospheric science, biology, biological anthropology, engineering, astronomy, pure and applied mathematics, medicine, public health, computer science, and similar fields. Applications are welcome from scholars in STEM fields and scholars in any field who study the history, philosophy, practices, ethics, and methods of STEM disciplines (e.g. sociology of science, medical ethics, bioethics, STS studies, metascience, economics of science, history or philosophy of science, science and law).

We define inquiry in the STEM disciplines as open to the extent that researchers are not subject to unreasonable constraints at four important stages of inquiry:

  • Posing research questions

  • Gathering relevant data and evidence

  • Formulating, testing, criticizing, and defending various potential characterizations, explanations, and models of the data and evidence

  • Reporting the results inquiry in scholarly and popular venues

Note that open inquiry does not generally mean faster or otherwise more efficient inquiry. Proposals for research on how to make STEM research faster or more efficient, but that do not touch on open inquiry, will not be considered. Proposals about open inquiry in general, which do not specifically address open inquiry in STEM, will also not be funded.

Here are some example research questions to consider:

  • What does open inquiry in the STEM disciplines look like? How might an “ideal state” of open inquiry in STEM disciplines be characterized?

  • What are the strongest arguments for and against open inquiry in the STEM disciplines?

  • What kinds of constraints on inquiry are common in the STEM disciplines? What are their sources? What sustains them? To what extent do these constraints threaten open inquiry?

  • What is the history of open inquiry in STEM disciplines? Are there long or short-term trends to consider?

  • What case studies shed light on issues of open inquiry in STEM disciplines?

  • How do structural and institutional features of the STEM disciplines encourage or inhibit open inquiry?

  • How do the social, political, and cultural environments affect open inquiry in STEM disciplines?

  • How might open inquiry be fostered in the STEM disciplines?

Project Design Parameters

  • Applicants may submit proposals as individuals or under the auspices of an organization with which they are affiliated.
    • If applicants choose to apply as individuals, they should consult with a qualified tax professional about any tax implications of receiving a grant from HxA.

    • If applicants choose to apply under the auspices of an organization, they should contact the appropriate office at their organization to ensure compliance with organizational rules and policies. Applicants must submit the name and contact information for a representative of their organization, who will sign a Grant Agreement if funds are awarded.

  • Teams of researchers are welcome to apply, but someone designated the Primary Investigator should submit the application. The Primary Investigator must either be a member of HxA or have a membership application pending.

  • Proposals should request between $1,000 and $15,000.

  • Projects should have a timeline not to exceed 12 months.

  • Funds may be used to pay for researcher time (in the form of salary support, honoraria, or teaching buyouts), data collection or analysis costs, research materials, or costs of research.

  • Funds may not be used to pay for institutional overheads.

  • Funds may not be used to pay for researcher convenings, e.g. workshops or conferences.

  • Funds may be requested for the purposes of paying travel and lodging costs to conduct research; however, no funds may be used to pay for travel and lodging to present research at workshops or conferences.

  • Proposals for pilot research to develop what may become a larger research project are eligible.

  • Proposals that seek support for existing research projects are also eligible.

  • Proposed research activities may include:
    • Conducting original theoretical, ethical, historical, or empirical research

    • Writing review essays of extant literature

    • Conducting meta-analyses of existing empirical research

    • Replicating extant empirical research

  • Proposals should promise concrete outputs such as:
    • Research articles to be submitted to peer-reviewed scholarly journals

    • Book manuscripts or proposals to be submitted to research publishing presses

    • Proposals for special journal issues or scholarly edited volumes

    • In conjunction with outputs like those above, proposals for grant funding that will be submitted to major public or private funders such as NSF, NIH, NEH, Simons, RWJF, Moore, JTF, etc.

  • Project teams are expected to submit progress reports at the halfway point of their projects or June 15, 2024 (whichever comes first) and then at the conclusion of their projects. All finished deliverables should be submitted to Heterodox Academy at project’s conclusion.

How to Submit a Proposal

The application window opens at 6AM EST on Monday November 6, 2023.

To submit a proposal, use the online form, which asks for the following information:

  • Name of Primary Investigator and contact email address.

  • Primary Investigator CV.

  • The names and contact information of other collaborators.

  • Whether the application is affiliated with an institution, and if so, that institution’s EIN, and the name and contact information of an individual at that institution who is authorized to sign a Grant Agreement with HxA.

  • A total request amount, in US dollars.

  • A brief description of how the funds will be allocated.

  • Start and end dates for your project.

  • What research question(s) will you investigate? Enumerate the research question or questions you will investigate. Concrete, focused research questions are best. The scope of your questions should match the timeframe and funding amount available in this mini-grant program. (100 words)

  • What hypothesis (or hypotheses) will you interrogate? Enumerate any hypotheses or provisional models you hope to test. (100 words)

  • What is the scholarly background of your research question(s)? Give some background on your research question(s), making sure to touch on previous relevant research and the importance of your research question(s). (250 words)

  • What activities will you undertake on this research project? Describe what you will do, including any methods you will take in the proposed research. (250 words)

  • What concrete deliverables will you produce? Examples include (but are not limited to) research articles to be submitted to peer-reviewed scholarly journals; book manuscripts or proposals to be submitted to research publishing presses; proposals for special journal issues or scholarly edited volumes; and, in conjunction with outputs like those above, proposals for grant funding that will be submitted to major public or private funders such as NSF, NIH, NEH, Simons, RWJF, Moore, JTF, etc. (100 words)

We advise applicants to gather information and write responses to these questions in advance, and then cut-and-paste them into the online form. Please adhere to the word-count limits.

We will accept only one application per individual or research team; however, an individual may be part of a research team on multiple proposals.

Proposals will be accepted only from HxA members, or individuals with pending membership applications. In the latter case, final award will be contingent on approval of membership. If you are not yet an HxA member, please consider applying for membership.

Application Review

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning November 13, 2023, and grants will be awarded until all funding is exhausted. All projects must conclude no later than 12 calendar months after they begin.

Proposals will be judged against the following criteria:

  • Whether its topic is significant and relevant to open inquiry in STEM disciplines

  • Whether it states a clear research question or questions

  • Whether the team has the requisite abilities and background to carry out the proposed research

  • Whether the project’s activities are suitable to advancing research on the proposed question(s)

HxA intends to make funding decisions as quickly as possible. In some cases, we may contact applicants with follow-up questions to clarify or elucidate additional information about their proposal, but if so, only one such round of follow up will occur.

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