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ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships


The program description below is for the 2016-17 competition for which the application deadline has passed. Information on ACLS’s 2017-18 fellowship programs will be provided on the website in summer 2017.

Fellowship Details

  • Award: Amount will depend on the number of collaborators and the duration of the research leaves but will not exceed $201,000 for any one project.
  • Tenure: up to a total tenure period of 24 months, to be initiated between July 1, 2017 and September 1, 2019
  • Completed applications from all collaborators must be submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship and Grant Application system (ofa.acls.org) no later than 9 pm Eastern Daylight Time, September 28, 2016.
  • Notifications will be sent via email by early February 2017.

The information below is a summary of the program, and details eligibility, the application process, application requirements, evaluation criteria, and lists types of projects that the program does not fund. Please read carefully through the material and accompanying FAQ.


ACLS invites applications for the ninth annual competition for ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships, which support small teams of two or more scholars collaborating intensively on a single, substantive project in the humanities and related social sciences. The goal of the project should be a tangible research product (such as joint print or web publications) for which at least two collaborators will take credit. The program is funded by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Fellowships provide up to $60,000 in salary-replacement stipends for each collaborator to take a semester- or academic year-long supported research leave, as well as up to $21,000 in project funds, which may be used for such purposes as travel, materials, or research assistance. The total amount of a fellowship for any collaborative project will vary depending on the number of collaborators and the duration of research leaves, but the total amount of stipends may not exceed $180,000 for any one project. The fellowships are for a total period of up to 24 months, during which time project funds may be expended, to be initiated between July 1, 2017 and September 1, 2019. Collaborator’s research leaves may be taken during any semester or year within the overall award period, and leaves need not be concurrent.

Collaborations need not be interdisciplinary or inter-institutional. However, the aim of the fellowship program is to support scholarship that highlights the intellectual significance and innovation of collaborative research. Thus please note that applicants from the same discipline may face increased scrutiny from peer reviewers about how each collaborator’s expertise contributes to the project and collaborators from the same institution must demonstrate why local funding is insufficient to support the project. Collaborations among untenured faculty members or that involve untenured faculty are particularly encouraged. Up to eight awards will be made in the 2016-17 competition.


A collaborative project must be constituted of at least two scholars who are each seeking salary-replacement stipends for six to twelve continuous months of supported research leave to pursue full-time collaborative research and writing during the fellowship tenure.

  • The Project Coordinator must have an appointment at a US-based institution of higher education; other project members may be at institutions outside the United States or may be independent scholars.
  • Applicants must hold a PhD degree or its equivalent in publications and professional experience.

Application Process – please review carefully

One member of the project team must be designated as the Project Coordinator (PC). The PC is responsible for starting the application, entering the names and email addresses of the other collaborator(s), completing the project sections of the application, uploading the proposal, entering information for two project reference letters, and ensuring that all collaborators in the project have submitted their elements of the application. It is anticipated that the PC's institution will administer the funds for collaboration costs. Please note that for the purposes of this program, only scholars who are requesting ACLS funding for research leaves are considered collaborators. If the project includes other participants (not requesting funding for a research leave), please list them in your proposal document and explain their roles in the project. (However, large research clusters that do not produce jointly authored publications should not apply to this program.) 

Once the PC has entered the list of collaborators into the application, each scholar will receive an email with registration information and a code to access the group application. Each collaborator will have to complete the individual sections of the application (including personal and professional information) and upload a publications list. In order for an application to be considered, all project collaborators (PC and additional collaborators) must have their application in SUBMITTED status by the application deadline of September 28, 2016.

Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted online and must include:

  • Completed application form
  • Participant information sheet, listing all collaborators (and identifying PC) and additional project members
  • Proposal (no more than 10-pages, double spaced, in Times New Roman 11-point font). The proposal should describe the intellectual significance of the research project and explain in detail the process and product of the collaboration. It should make clear the goal of the collaboration, its structure, how credit and acknowledgement would be determined, and how the process and project of collaboration would be mutually informing. Finally, the proposal should explain how collaboration enables research that is intellectually innovative and produces a final outcome that would be more valuable than the sum of individual efforts of the project members.
  • Bibliography (no more than two pages)
  • Research plan, including timeline of proposed research activities. The plan should specify the location, duration, and names of individuals involved in each stage, and may be in the form of a graphic timeline or narrative description.
  • Budget statement, outlining salary replacement and project funds, which may include such items as research assistance, travel, and research materials. (See sample budget.)
  • Publications lists, one for each collaborator (no more than two pages each)
  • Two reference letters. Letters should address the proposed collaborative project and all collaborators explicitly.

Evaluation Criteria

Peer reviewers in this program are asked to evaluate all eligible proposals on the following criteria:

  1. Intellectual significance of the project, including its ambition and scope, and its potential contribution to scholarship in the humanities.
  2. Relevance of the research questions being posed, appropriateness of research methods, feasibility of the work plan, appropriateness of the field work to be undertaken, the archival or source materials to be studied, and the research site.
  3. Qualifications, expertise, and commitment of the project coordinator and collaborator(s).
  4. Detail and soundness of the process and product of the collaboration, including dissemination plans.
  5. Degree to which the proposed collaboration represents intellectually and methodologically innovative practice in the applicants’ disciplines and sub-fields, and will produce a final outcome more valuable than the sum of individual efforts of the project members.
  6. Potential for success, including the likelihood that the work proposed will be completed and will lead to distinct results within the projected timeframe; where appropriate, the collaborators’ previous record of success; and the size and allocation of the proposed budget in relation to anticipated results.

It is hoped that projects of successful applicants will help demonstrate the range and value of collaborative research and inquiry in the humanities, and model how such collaboration may be carried out successfully.

What the Collaborative Research Fellowship Program does not fund:

  • Large research clusters that do not produce publications jointly authored by all project collaborators
  • Collaborative projects that result in an anthology or edited volume of secondary scholarship
  • Projects that are not primarily focused on research
  • Projects whose primary aim it is to transform existing research results into digital format
  • Projects whose primary emphasis is on organization of events (workshops, lectures, exhibitions)

Please also refer to What ACLS Does Not Fund.