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ACLS Fellowships FAQ (the central fellowship program)

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Eligibility

Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?

Q: May I apply to more than one ACLS fellowship or grant program in the same competition year?

Q: If I am currently in a PhD program or will have finished my PhD by the time I would start the fellowship period, am I eligible for this fellowship?

Q: May I apply if I have the equivalent of a PhD?

Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible?

Q: What is meant by a "supported research leave”? Am I eligible if I have had a supported research leave in recent years? What if it was a postdoctoral appointment?

Q: I had a fellowship for a semester/year less than two years ago, but I did not have a job at the time, so does that count as supported leave?

Q: Am I eligible if I will be on sabbatical and earning sabbatical salary during the fellowship period?

Q: Can the fellowship be deferred to the following year? Can it be postponed if I find out I have to teach in the fall semester? What if I find out I have to teach in the spring semester?

Online Fellowship and Grant Application (OFA) process

Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?

Q. What is the application deadline for the ACLS Fellowship program?

Q: I'm not sure right now whether I should apply for a six-month or a 9-12 month ACLS Fellowship. What should I do?

Q: I may receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain or exactly how much it will be. What should I fill in on the application form?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article/book accepted for publication. May new information be added to my publications list?

Q: How can I make sure I receive notification about my application or that I receive responses to queries using the “OFA Help” link within the online fellowship and grant application (OFA) portal? How can can I make sure that my letter writers receive ACLS’s email?

Reference letters

Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Q: Do all my reference letters have to be in the system before I submit my application?

Q: What should I do if one of my referees does not send in the letter s/he agreed to?

Q: Does ACLS accept reference letters from Interfolio or university-based dossier services?

Review process

Q: Who is reading my proposal?

Q: What other proposals will my application be judged against?

Q: Since my application will be read by both experts in my area and in a range of humanistic fields, how should I pitch my proposal?

Q: How much of the proposal should be devoted to explaining methodology, the project's significance, theoretical framework, work plan, etc.?

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the ACLS Fellowship competition? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?

Stipend

Q: If I receive this fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of my receiving the funds directly?


Eligibility


Q: What kind of projects does this program fund? Are there some types of projects this fellowship program does not fund?
A: ACLS Fellowships support academic research in all fields of the humanities and related social sciences. In order for social science applications to be eligible, they must employ predominantly humanistic approaches and qualitative/interpretive methodologies. The ultimate goal of the project should be a major piece of scholarly work by the applicant.

ACLS does not fund creative work or the performing arts (e.g., novels, films, performance, or musical composition), nor does it fund textbooks or pedagogical projects, or work that deals purely with translation.

Q: May I apply to more than one ACLS fellowship or grant program in the same competition year?
A: Yes, an applicant for this fellowship may also apply to as many fellowship and grant programs as are suitable, with the exception of the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. However, not more than one ACLS or ACLS-joint award may normally be accepted in any one competition year.

Q: If I am currently in a PhD program or will have finished my PhD by the time I would start the fellowship period, am I eligible for this fellowship?
A: No, your PhD degree must have been officially conferred at least two years before the application deadline. If you are a doctoral student, you may be eligible for one of the ACLS dissertation fellowships.

Q: May I apply if I have the equivalent of a PhD?
A: If you have published scholarly work on a par with the academic work required by the PhD degree, you may apply. You need to have completed a substantial academic project that required a sustained period of research, similar to a dissertation, in the humanities or humanities-related social sciences.

Please note that we do not consider a JD in itself to satisfy the PhD equivalency unless it was accompanied by a) a record of scholarly publications that are humanistic in nature (as opposed to case studies or technical legal issues) and b) a substantial academic project that required a sustained period of research (such as a dissertation or book).

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Q: Do I have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible?
A: You must be either a US citizen or a US permanent resident. You need not, however, be employed at an academic institution located in the United States.

Q: What is meant by a "supported research leave”? Am I eligible if I have had a supported research leave in recent years? What if it was a postdoctoral appointment?
A: "Supported research leave" is defined as the equivalent of one semester or more of time free from teaching or other employment to pursue scholarly research or writing, supported by sabbatical pay or other institutional funding, major fellowships and grants, or a combination of these.

  • To be eligible for an ACLS Fellowship in the 2016-17 competition, an applicant must not have held a "supported research leave" during the two years ending September 1, 2017. This means that your most recent leave must have concluded prior to September 1, 2015. Do not take or initiate a leave in the 2016-17 academic year if you wish to remain eligible for an ACLS Fellowship in the current competition.
  • If your institution uses quarters rather than semesters, a "supported research leave" is defined as two consecutive quarters free from teaching.
  • A postdoctoral appointment counts as a supported research leave if you are fully released from teaching responsibilities.
  • The requirement that you have not had a supported research leave during the two years ending September 1, 2017 pertains only to the central ACLS Fellowship program (and its subfellowships), not to any other ACLS fellowship competitions.

Q: I had a fellowship for a semester/year less than two years ago, but I did not have a job at the time, so does that count as supported leave?
A: Yes, the policy regarding "supported research leave" applies equally to individuals regardless of whether or not they were employed at the time.

Q: Am I eligible if I will be on sabbatical and earning sabbatical salary during the fellowship period?
A: Yes, the fellowship may be taken in conjunction with your sabbatical. The fellowship stipend level may be reduced so that the combination of stipend and sabbatical salary does not exceed the amount of your full academic year salary.

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Q: Can the fellowship be deferred to the following year? Can it be postponed if I find out I have to teach in the fall semester? What if I find out I have to teach in the spring semester?
A: An ACLS Fellowship cannot be deferred to the following academic year. Fellowship tenure is for a period of six to twelve consecutive months, which can be initiated between July 1, 2017 and February 1, 2018. Tenure must be concluded by December 31, 2018.


Online Fellowship and Grant Application (OFA) process


Q: May I edit an application submitted in a previous competition and resubmit it for this year?
A: No, you will need to start over with a new online application.

Q: How long does it take to fill out the application?
A: This will vary, depending on how much work you have prepared before you begin the application process. Simply filling in the form will probably take an hour if not two, plus you will need to submit your proposal and supporting documents. You will also need to secure referees to write letters in support of your application. We highly recommend that you start the process several weeks before the deadline to get a sense of what is required and start preparing your materials.

Q: Do I have to complete the application all at once?
A: No, you may work on it in multiple sessions, though you will need to save your work after you finish each section of the application. Once you have submitted the application, you cannot work on it again.

Q. What is the application deadline for the ACLS Fellowship program?
A. The deadline to submit completed applications for this fellowship is 9 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, September 28, 2016.

Q: I'm not sure right now whether I should apply for a six-month or a 9-12 month ACLS Fellowship. What should I do?
A: We are flexible on this issue. We suggest you indicate the longer period. Should a fellowship be awarded, the tenure period can be adjusted at that time.

Q: I may receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain or exactly how much it will be. What should I fill in on the application form?
A: You may estimate the amount you expect to receive, or fill in nothing. You can enter this amount in the section asking you to list other major funding sources to which you are applying for your present research proposal. Should you be offered a fellowship, you will need to provide a specific amount for any other funding you will receive during the fellowship period.

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Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article/book accepted for publication. May new information be added to my publications list?
A: No, your application will be judged as it is at the time of submission.

Q: How can I make sure I receive notification about my application or that I receive responses to queries using the “OFA Help” link within the online fellowship and grant application (OFA) portal? How can I make sure that my letter writers receive ACLS’s email?
A: Notifications and other correspondence are sent via email from “acls.org” addresses. In order to prevent ACLS emails from being blocked, we suggest that applicants and letter writers:

  1. Add the relevant ACLS email addresses (e.g., ofahelp@acls.org, fellowships@acls.org, mgoldfeder@acls.org, and references@acls.org for letter writers) to their address book or safe senders list.
  2. Check spam or junk mail folder for notifications and correspondence, if you are expecting them.
  3. In the event that you continue not to receive ACLS emails in either your inbox or spam/junk folder, it may be that your institution (“.edu”) or internet service provider (“.com” or “.net” email) is blocking these emails before they reach you. Please contact the appropriate personnel, e.g., your IT department, so that they may resolve the issue.

Reference letters


Q: Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
A: Your main priority should be to secure letters from referees who can write strong, specific letters on your behalf, preferably those who can comment on the proposed project. Reviewers sometimes have concerns about letters from colleagues in your department or from dissertation advisors, and often prefer "arm's length" letters from scholars who can attest to the significance of your work in the field and have less personal interest vested in your success. It's good to be able to show that you have placed yourself in the field, not merely in the department or institution where you are employed or did your graduate work. Think carefully about who can write the best letters and weigh that against personal connections. Applicants at early career stages will rely more on dissertation advisors as advocates. In any case, you will want your referees to be tenured scholars.

Q: Do all reference letters have to be in the system before I submit the application?
A: No, but note that the deadline for reference letters is the same as the application deadline. The system will continue to accept letters for a few days after the deadline and will add them to your application at the earliest possible time, though we cannot guarantee that they will accompany your application in the first stage of review.

Q: What should I do if one of my referees does not send in the letter s/he agreed to?
A: You should check online to see if your references have been submitted. If one or more of your letters has not been submitted by the deadline, you may wish to contact the letter writers. If one of your designated referees cannot write the letter, you can ask someone else to write for you and submit the appropriate information on your reference form. However, please note that once the required number of letters has been submitted for your application (regardless of which of your referees submits them), no more will be accepted. Think carefully, then, before requesting replacement letters. You would not want to put a referee in the position of writing a letter for you and then not being able to submit it.

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Q: Does ACLS accept reference letters from Interfolio or university-based dossier services?
A: No. ACLS requests that reference letters contain specific elements targeted to this fellowship program. Peer reviewers have expressed strong reservations about letters from dossier services since they are necessarily general and thus less helpful in assessing the merits of the proposed project. This information is particularly crucial for proposals that reach the final round of selection where they are evaluated by multi-disciplinary committees. ACLS understands the demands placed on senior scholars and has sought to moderate that burden by reducing both the required number and the length of reference letters to minimum essential levels.


Review process


Q: Who is reading my proposal?
A: Proposals will be reviewed in two stages. At the first stage, three established scholars in your discipline (and/or regional area of study) will judge your proposal. These reviewers may or may not specialize in the particular sub-field(s) covered in your proposal. The first stage of review determines which applications will go on to the final stage. At that point, applications are reviewed by a panel of scholars whose collective expertise covers a range of disciplines in the humanities and humanities-related social sciences.

Q: What other proposals will my application be judged against?
A: At the first stage, your application will be reviewed in the context of others at your rank in the profession (assistant, associate, or full professor or equivalents) in your discipline. In the second stage, your application will be judged against others at your rank, but in various disciplines.

Q: Since my application will be read by both experts in my area and in a range of humanistic fields, how should I pitch my proposal?
A: To address experts in your field, explain why this project offers insight into the issues of your discipline, and make clear what question or problem is being addressed. In addition, though, be sure to explain any terms that might not be familiar to those outside your field or subfield, and discuss the significance of your project within your field. In a section of the application separate from the body of the proposal, you are also asked to address the significance of your proposed project for the humanities.

Q: How much of the proposal should be devoted to explaining methodology, the project's significance, theoretical framework, work plan, etc.?
A: The portion of the proposal that should be devoted to its constituent parts varies according to the proposed project. An important part of the application process is gauging the most central elements of your project and presenting those elements to your best advantage within the specified word/page limit.

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Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in the ACLS Fellowship competition? Do you have examples of successful proposals?
A: The projects that are ultimately selected vary widely. While there is no one model to follow for a successful application and we do not provide examples of proposals that receive funding, you are encouraged to view previous awardees and brief project descriptions here. You may also benefit from asking an ACLS Fellow that you know to show you her or his proposal and from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.

Q: Can I receive reviewer comments on my application?
A: Yes. Comments are released at the discretion of the reviewers. Hence, comments may be available from some, though not necessarily all, of the reviewers who assessed an application. Requests for comments from the 2016-17 competition must be submitted in writing (to fellowships@acls.org) by August 31, 2017.


Stipend


Q: If I receive this fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of my receiving the funds directly?
A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. ACLS can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. However, institutions may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. For more information, review Information for Institutional Administrators.

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Related Links

For answers to questions not addressed here, please contact us at fellowships@acls.org.

For questions pertaining to technical support, please consult the FAQ in the online fellowship application (OFA).