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Tessa L. Dover




Committee Updates:
Inside SPSSI’s Grants-In-Aid Selection Committee

Tessa L. Dover, Portland State University


For the past few years, I have had the pleasure of serving on (and chairing) SPSSI’s Grants-In-Aid award selection committee. In my time on the committee, SPSSI has allocated over $150,000 in small grants to about 125 awardees. I have a great fondness for the Grants-In-Aid funding mechanism, and not just because I’m on the committee. It allows researchers at all career stages to cover the costs of projects that can be challenging to fund through other avenues—those focused on social justice, unique samples, qualitative methods, and understudied populations. Support from GIA can be the difference between relying on a student sample and recruiting a more representative or purpose-driven sample. It can be the difference between a great idea that a graduate student has to keep in their back pocket and a great idea that becomes a great dissertation.

GIA accepts applications for two main funding rounds: Fall (due October 15) and Spring (May 15). You can also submit a Time Sensitive application if a research opportunity arises that just can’t wait. The application requirements are pretty simple: a 5-7 page proposal, a budget, a CV, and a letter of support if the applicant’s still a student. GIA funds up to $1000 for pre-Ph.D. applicants and up to $2000 for post-Ph.D. applicants. Many—but not all—applications have multiple investigators, and funds can be used to cover participant compensation, translation or transcription services, software, training, and other research costs (but not travel or stipends).

Our committee makes funding decisions by rating applications on several key criteria: applicability to SPSSI’s goals, theoretical and practical implications, methodological soundness, timeliness, feasibility, and the suitability of the researcher for the project. Each application is reviewed by 2-3 committee members, and priority for funding is determined by compiling ratings across the reviewers and ranking them highest to lowest.

Successful applications tend to have strong policy implications, have clear and bounded research questions, and have a well-defined methodological plan. We prioritize funding projects put forward by junior and underrepresented researchers, researchers from institutions with limited research support, and projects that are actual, not pilot, studies. We also love funding field-based projects with clear implications for justice and/or practice.

To give you a taste of what we tend to fund (and to get you exposed to some awesome research), I’d love to share some of the funded applications from the past several years that were unanimously supported by our committee:

This Spring, H. Annie Vu from Rutgers received funding for the project, “A System Justification Perspective on Opposition to Anti-Racism Education,” in which racial system justification is proposed as a potent predictor of opposition to policies like those enacted in Florida (and proposed in localities around the country) that limit the ability of schools to discuss important issues like race and inequality. Talk about relevant to SPSSI’s goals!

Last Spring, Kunalan Manokara and team from the University of Amsterdam received funding for their project, “Restorative Function for Liberals, Reactionary Response Amongst Conservatives: Power Distance Amplifies Political Orientation Divides in Anti-Migrant Sentiment.” This project investigates how different conceptualizations of power can have drastically different impacts on attitudes toward migrants depending on political orientation.

The Fall before, Devon LaBat from Florida International University won funding for the project, “The Effects of Perspective-Taking on Juror Decisions in Police Excessive Use of Force Cases,” in which perspective taking is explored as justice-enhancing mechanism for legal decisions about cases of police violence.

This is just a taste of the many successful proposals funded through SPSSI’s Grants-In-Aid mechanism. I strongly encourage you to consider applying in the coming rounds!

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