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Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies FAQ

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Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants

Q: What is the Supervisor Statement and what information should it provide?

Q: I have already spent one summer in China doing dissertation research. Do I qualify to apply?

Q: May my dissertation advisor submit the supervisor statement AND a letter of recommendation?

Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: Postdoctoral Fellowships

Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after November 9, 2016. May I still apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: I am not a US or Canadian citizen/permanent resident but have an affiliation with a university in the United States or Canada. However, my PhD degree is from an institution outside the US/Canada. Can I apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: I am not a US or Canadian citizen/permanent resident and I just graduated from a PhD program in the US or Canada. However, I am not yet affiliated/employed at a US or Canadian university. Am I eligible to apply?

Q: I am not sure if my affiliation with a university in the US or Canada meets the eligibility requirement for "a long-term regular research or teaching appointment." May I still apply?

Q: May I use the award in the United States or Canada for writing up research that I have already done in China or for a combination of writing and follow-up research?

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Q: What may Postdoctoral Fellowship funds be used for? May the award be used to fund a sabbatical semester?

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

Q: May a full fellowship tenure include one semester and one full summer (nine months)?

Q: My project, although focused on China, does not require any travel to China and it is not based on research done in China. The research materials I need can be found in the United States or Canada. Is travel to and research in China necessary to be eligible for this program?

Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: Collaborative-Reading Workshops

Q: Do all participants in the Collaborative-Reading Workshops need to read all of the materials in the original language, or is the reading and discussion of translated texts also acceptable?

Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: General

Q: Does the Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies support research on topics related to ethnic minorities within China? For example, would research concerning Tibetan topics using Tibetan-language texts and materials be eligible for funding?

Q: Does the ACLS/Luce program fund fieldwork and other research in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan?

Q: Can I find more information about the online aspects of the application without having to log into the online application?

Q: Do all Luce/ACLS China Studies Program competitions use the Online Fellowship Application (OFA) system?

Q: What kind of work gets funded? Are there some types of projects ACLS does not fund?

Q: I have not finished my PhD. Am I eligible for any Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies fellowships or grants?

Q: May I apply for more than one ACLS fellowship in the same competition year?

The Online Application 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: I might receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain nor do I know the exact amount. How should I fill in the application form?

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article (or book) accepted for publication or was invited to a conference. May I send the information to ACLS to have it added to my publications page?

Reference Letters

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

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

Q: May I submit my reference letters through a dossier service such as Interfolio?

The Review Process

Q: Who will evaluate my proposal?

Successful Proposals

Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in ACLS fellowship competitions? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?


Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants


Q: What is the Supervisor Statement and what information should it provide?

A: In addition to the letter of reference, we require a statement from the applicant's dissertation supervisor. The letter should comment on the applicant's need for, and readiness for, a summer visit to China prior to dissertation research. This may include work useful for development of the prospectus.

Q: I have already spent one summer in China doing dissertation research. Do I qualify to apply?

A: No. If you have already begun your dissertation research, you are not eligible.

The Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants are for graduate students who wish to conduct preliminary preparations in China prior to beginning basic research for the dissertation such as investigation of the research currently underway in Chinese archives and field sites, establishing contact with Chinese scholars, and securing necessary permissions for their own fieldwork or archival research.

Q: May my dissertation advisor submit the supervisor statement AND the letter of recommendation?

A: No. Your dissertation advisor may NOT write the supervisor statement and also submit a reference letter. Two letters are required; each must be separately authored.

Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: Postdoctoral Fellowships


Q: My PhD degree will be completed shortly after November 9, 2015. May I still apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: : No. You may not apply for this year’s competition. Your PhD degree must be completed (including defense and revisions) by the application deadline.

Q: I am not a US or Canadian citizen/permanent resident but have an affiliation with a university in the United States or Canada. However, my PhD degree is from an institution outside the US/Canada. Can I apply for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: No. An Applicant who is not a US or Canadian citizen/permanent resident must meet BOTH eligibility criteria:

  • Must hold a PhD degree from an institution in the United States or Canada.
  • Must have an affiliation with a university or college in the United States or Canada.

Q: I am not a US or Canadian citizen/permanent resident and I just graduated from a PhD program in the US or Canada. However, I am not yet affiliated/employed at a US or Canadian university. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes. However, to be eligible, a non-citizen/permanent resident who has just graduated from a PhD program in the US or Canada and is not yet employed/affiliated with a university in North America must in the Applicant's Statement state plans for a career in China studies in the United States or Canada. It will strengthen the application for these to include applications underway for academic positions, with names of institutions conducting searches.

The applicant may state his/her PhD institution as current affiliation in the application.

Q: I am not a US or Canadian citizen/permanent resident and I am currently a visiting scholar at a university in the United States or Canada. Am I eligible to apply?

A: No. You are not eligible. The “affiliation with a university or college in the United States or Canada” requirement for applicants who are not US or Canadian citizens/permanent residents refers to a long-term regular research or teaching appointment.

Q: I am not sure if my affiliation with a university in the US or Canada meets the eligibility requirement for "a long-term regular research or teaching appointment." May I still apply?

A: This eligibility requirement for non-US/Canadian citizens/permanent residents is meant to assure that the applicant intends to continue to contribute to the field of China studies in the United States and/or Canada. If you would like to make this case, we recommend that you apply. Please add a paragraph to the application essay stating what you see yourself doing five years from now. The selection committee will make its decision based on all the information you provide in your application.

Q: May I use the award in the United States or Canada for writing up research that I have already done in China or for a combination of writing and follow-up research?

A: Yes, the award may be used for writing in the United States or Canada; the writing must be based on research conducted in China.

Follow-up research during writing is also permitted.

The application essay should provide the rationale for time requested for fieldwork/writing, including any research the applicant has already done in China, along with any plans for follow-up research.

Q: I am an associate/assistant professor. Do I qualify for the Postdoctoral Fellowship?

A: You may apply as long as you meet all the program’s eligibility requirements, which include a PhD conferred no earlier than January 1, 2008.

Q: What may Postdoctoral Fellowship funds be used for? May the award be used to fund a sabbatical semester?

A: Stipends may be used for travel, living expenses, and research costs. Applicants are not required to submit a budget. A fellow may accept sabbatical leave or other grants but the total of these for the fellowship period may not exceed 125% of the academic year salary. Our policy is that ACLS fellowships provide salary-replacement stipends. The recipient must be on a full leave (i.e., not teaching, not serving on academic committees) for the period of the fellowship (minimum of one semester and maximum of two consecutive semesters).

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 to satisfy the PhD equivalency in itself, 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).

Q: May a full fellowship tenure include one semester and one full summer (nine months)?

A: A Fellow may request a full stipend for one semester and a full summer (nine months) only if the entire fellowship tenure is spent doing research in China.

A Fellow who plans to spend the fellowship tenure writing in the US or Canada based on previous research in China must take two semesters’ leave to receive the full fellowship (i.e., not one semester and summer).

Q: My project, although focused on China, does not require any travel to China and it is not based on research done in China. The research materials I need can be found in the United States/Canada. Is travel to and research in China necessary to be eligible for this program?

A: Yes, travel to and research in China are required for this program. The award may be used for writing in the United States or Canada. However, the writing must be based on research conducted in China by the applicant, either in the past or during the fellowship period.


Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: Collaborative-Reading Workshops


Q: Do all participants in the Collaborative-Reading Workshops need to read all of the materials in the original language, or is the reading and discussion of translated texts also acceptable?

A: All participants must have a reading knowledge of the texts to be discussed. The Collaborative-Reading Workshops are for in-depth discussion (close reading, translation) of texts in the original language/s.


Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies: General


Q: Does the Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies support research on topics related to ethnic minorities within China? For example, would research concerning Tibetan topics using Tibetan-language texts and materials be eligible for funding?

A: Yes. All topics and themes (in the humanities and social sciences) related to the history, societies, cultures, and languages in China in all periods are welcome.

Q: Does the ACLS/Luce program fund fieldwork and other research in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan?

A: Yes. Applications that propose research in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan are eligible.

Q: Can I find more information about the online aspects of the application without having to log into the online application?

A: You can find sample applications on the program's page on the ACLS website.

Q: Do all Luce/ACLS China Studies Program competitions use the Online Fellowship Application (OFA) system?

A: Yes.

Q: What kind of work gets funded? Are there some types of projects ACLS does not fund?

A: ACLS supports academic research in the humanities and humanities-related social sciences. 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 translations without a scholarly apparatus of commentary and annotation.

Q: I have not finished my PhD prospectus. Am I eligible for any Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies fellowships or grants?

A: Yes, if you are a doctoral student, and you meet the eligibility criteria. If you meet these criteria you may apply for the Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants.

Q: May I apply for more than one ACLS fellowship in the same competition year?

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


The Online Application 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 at least an hour, if not two. In addition, you will need to submit your application essay and supporting documents. You will also need to secure referees to write letters in support of your application. You should start the process at least several weeks before the deadline to determine what is required and to start preparing your materials.

The best advice is to start early.

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

A: No, you may work 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: I might receive sabbatical funding during the year I would be taking the fellowship, but I do not know for certain nor do I know the exact amount. How should I fill in 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 in the current year for your present research proposal. Should you be offered a Luce/ACLS fellowship, you will need to provide ACLS with the specific amount(s) for any other funding you will receive during the fellowship period.

Q: After submitting my proposal, I had an article (or book) accepted for publication, or was invited to a conference. May I send the information to ACLS to have it added to my publications page?

A: No. Your application will be evaluated as submitted.


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, well-informed letters on your behalf, preferably persons who can comment on the proposed project. ACLS reviewers sometimes have concerns about letters from colleagues in the applicants’ departments, and often prefer "arm's length" letters from scholars who can attest to the proposed project's significance to work in the field.

It is good to show that you have made a contribution to the field, not merely in the department or institution at which you are employed or did your graduate work. Think carefully about who can write the best letters.

Applicants at early career stages are more likely to rely on dissertation advisors as advocates. In any case, you will want your referees to be tenured scholars.

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

A: You can 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 should contact the writer of the missing letter. If one of your designated referees cannot write the letter, you may 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 a letter), 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 which then cannot be submitted.

Q: May I submit my reference letters through a dossier service such as Interfolio?

A: No, you may not. We do not accept letters from dossier services. Your reference letters must be submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship Applications system by your referees.


The Review Process


Q: Who will evaluate my proposal?

A: Proposals to the Luce/ACLS Program in China studies are read by experts in China Studies from a variety of disciplines in the humanities and related social sciences.


Successful Proposals


Q: What kinds of projects are usually successful in ACLS fellowship competitions? Do you have examples of successful proposals?

A: The projects utimately 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 information on previous awardees and brief project descriptions here. You may also benefit from asking an ACLS fellow whom you know to show you her or his proposal and from reviewing Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina M. Gillis.

Q: If I receive a fellowship from ACLS, can the fellowship monies be paid through my institution instead of being sent to me directly?

A: The fellowship is awarded to an individual scholar. However, we can arrange payment through the scholar’s institution upon request. In that case, the institution may not deduct funds for overhead or indirect costs from the individual's fellowship. See 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).