American Sociological Association

ASA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

ASA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant Program (ASA DDRIG)

New Deadline: November 2, 2020 (11:59 p.m. EST) 
Application Link

Frequently Asked Questions

The ASA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (ASA DDRIG) program supports theoretically grounded empirical investigations to advance understanding of fundamental social processes. Up to 25 awards of a maximum of $16,000 will be given each year.

Topics can include, but will not be limited to, organizations and organizational behavior, health and medicine, crime and deviance, inequality and stratification, population dynamics, social movements, social groups, labor force participation, stratification and mobility, family, social networks, socialization, gender, race, ethnicity, and the sociology of science and technology. Projects that explore new methodologies, including but not limited to computational sociology, big data, large scale modeling, and innovative use of emerging technologies, will also be welcomed.

Grant funds can be used for costs directly associated with conducting research, such as dataset acquisition, statistical or methodological training, equipment, payments to research subjects or research assistants, data transcription, and costs associated with conducting archival research or field work. Living expenses, including dependent care, are also allowed, as are travel expenses to attend professional meetings, including the ASA Annual Meeting. Indirect costs are not permitted. 

Webinar: An Introduction to the ASA DDRIG for Students and Advisors 

  • Introduces ASA DDRIG program staff.
  • Provides an overview of the ASA DDRIG program and how it connects to ASA’s initiatives in support of graduate education in the discipline.
  • Reviews the application and submission process, including tips on how to use ASA’s grant platform.
  • Outlines the review and award timeline.
  • Discusses strategies for successful grant writing.
  • Includes responses to participants' questions.

Click here to watch (60 minutes).


Doctoral students attending PhD-granting institutions of higher education accredited in, and having a campus located in, the United States, are eligible to apply. ASA DDRIG projects must be undertaken by a team composed of a research scholar and a research sponsor. The research scholar is the doctoral student whose dissertation research will be supported and should be the one to submit the application. Doctoral students who have previously received an NSF DDRIG grant are ineligible to apply for additional funding through this program. Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is a priority for ASA. We are committed to recruiting a diverse applicant pool and supporting doctoral students from underrepresented groups and institutions. 

The research sponsor must be a faculty member at the institution where the doctoral student is enrolled. In most cases, the research sponsor will be the student’s primary dissertation advisor. There is no limit on the number of times that a person can serve as a research sponsor, either during a specific funding round or over the course of the faculty member’s career. There are also no restrictions on the number of applications that can be submitted by a single institution. ASA Officers (as defined in Article IV of the ASA bylaws) are not eligible to be research sponsors on ASA DDRIG proposals. If successful, grant funds will be distributed through the student’s home institution. 

Proposal preparation and submission

Applications must be submitted online through ASA’s dedicated grants submission platform. The link to the ASA DDRIG grant application will be made available on or before September 1. Instructions for preparing applications are provided below so students and advisors can begin preparing their materials.

Project details.  The application includes sections that ask for name and contact information for the Research Scholar and Research Sponsor, followed by project details, including the title of the project. The title should emphasize the primary scientific question or contribution that will be addressed by the project, be that theoretical, methodological, or both. The title should not suggest that the outcome of the research is a foregone conclusion. The title should be understandable to a scientifically literate reader with no prior knowledge of the specific area of study. Frequently the title of the project will not be the title of the dissertation itself.  Applicants must also list primary place of performance, total amount requested, and proposed start and end dates for the grant. Start dates can not be before May 1 nor after  December 1, 2021.

Project summary. A one-page overview of the proposed project, the summary describes how the project fits within--and aims to extend--the existing literature. It should also succinctly explain the methods and planned activities and include a clearly labeled section called “intellectual merit,” addressing the potential of the project to advance knowledge, and a section called “broader impacts,” addressing the potential of the project to benefit society.

Project description. Offering a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and the intended scientific contribution, the project description should position the project within the relevant literatures and theoretical frameworks and identify the gap in existing scientific knowledge that it aims to address. A full description of the methods that will be used should be included. For projects using hypothesis testing, it should be clear that the hypotheses could be disproven with the chosen methods. For projects using exploratory epistemological approaches, such as grounded theory, it should be clear that the methods allow for the emergence of unexpected findings and that the validity of findings will be tested through approaches such as triangulation. The intellectual merit and potential broader impacts of the project should be explicitly addressed in the project description with clearly labeled sections for each. The project description can be no longer than 10 pages. An additional five pages can be used for an included interview guide or survey instrument; no other information is allowed.

References cited. This should be a separate section immediately following the project description. Citations should use ASA format.

Biographical sketches. Two-page sketches should be provided for the research sponsor, research scholar, and any additional faculty advisors or senior personnel who will be contributing to the project. The biographical sketches should include the name of the individual, their professional preparation, employments listed in reverse chronological order, up to five products (including publications, presentations and datasets) that are most closely related to the project, as well as up to five additional products. If appropriate to the project, a list of up to five synergistic activities is also allowed. Applicants may use this NSF template or a similar one from their institution.

Budget and budget narrative. The proposal must include a separate budget for each year of support requested. Applicants may use this budget template (note, there are 2 sheets) or a similar one from their institution. The budget justification (3 pages maximum) should address each budget line and provide detailed information about the planned use of the funds, how the amounts were determined, and a timeline for expenditures.

Current and pending support. Current and pending support for each member of the team should be listed, including the research sponsor, research scholar, and any additional faculty advisors or senior personnel who will be contributing to the project. The DDRIG proposal is considered pending and should be listed. For each current and pending source of support, the total amount of the award should be listed, as well as the person-months per year that are committed (even if no salary is associated with that time). Applicants may use this NSF template (do not do the in-kind contribution section) or a similar one from their institution.

Facilities, equipment and other resources. If there are facilities, equipment or other resources available that are likely to support the completion of the project, they should be listed in narrative form. A dollar amount should not be associated with any of these items. If there are no relevant facilities, equipment or resources, that should be stated in the proposal.

Data management plan. In two pages or less, the data management plan should specify the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials that will be produced; standards for data and metadata format and content; plans for protecting of identifiable data and intellectual property; and plans for sharing appropriately de-identified data. In keeping with NSF policy (PAPPG NSF 19-1, 2019: XI-18), proposers are especially encouraged to specify how they intend to make data, software, and other products of the research readily available to potential users through institutionally-based archives, repositories, and/or distribution networks so that the products may be accessed on publicly available sites by others over long periods of time. 

Statement on departmental context and expectations for research sponsor and research scholar collaboration. In a separate section of no more than one page, applicants should describe the context in which the work will take place, detailing if and how the work will benefit from the exchange of ideas and feedback from an intellectual community within and beyond the department. This section should also describe specifically how the research scholar and research sponsor collaborated in the development of the proposal, and how they established shared expectations for their ongoing collaboration, including but not limited to details such as the frequency of written and face-to-face communications, what each party will do at specific project milestones, how often and in what form feedback will be given, and expectations for authorship, research presentations, and publication.

Statement from Research Sponsor. The faculty member serving as the research sponsor for the proposal must submit the statement below, using the exact wording provided, as a supplementary document uploaded with the rest of the application:

To: ASA DDRIG Program Officer
From: [insert name of research sponsor]

By signing below, I acknowledge that I am the listed Research Sponsor on this proposal, entitled “[insert title of project]”, with my doctoral student advisee [insert name of Research Scholar] as the Research Scholar.

I affirm that should this proposal be selected for an award, the doctoral student is at a stage in her/his graduate program that makes it very likely that the student will be able to undertake the dissertation research described in this proposal soon after a DDRIG grant is made.

I affirm that I have read this proposal, and I believe that it makes a strong case for support.

Signed: ____________________________
Institution: __________________________
Date: ______________________________

Collaborators and other affiliations. Letters or emails from outside individuals or organizations with whom the research scholar will collaborate are allowed as supplemental materials submitted along with the proposal. Such statements should simply express willingness to collaborate with the research scholar in the ways outlined in the project description. It is not appropriate for these statements to include any discussion of the merits of the proposed project. Collaborators are encouraged to use the following template for their statements:

To: ASA DDRIG Program Officer
From: [individual and their organization]

By signing or electronically sending this statement, I acknowledge that I am listed as a collaborator on the proposal titled “[insert title],” which is a doctoral dissertation research project to be undertaken by [insert name of research scholar and research sponsor]. I agree to collaborate with the doctoral student by undertaking the tasks associated with me as described in the project description of this proposal.

Signed: [letter author’s name and institution]
Date: [the date letter is signed or electronically submitted]

Ethics and Human Subjects. Applicants will be required to acknowledge that the research scholar and research sponsor have read and agree to adhere to the ASA Code of Ethics. The application will also provide space to explain whether and how the project involves human subjects, and if applicable, noting when Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval or exemption was obtained or if such certification is pending. For projects involving human subjects and requiring IRB review, funds will not be released until documentation of a successful review is provided to ASA.

Proposal font, spacing and margin requirements. For all sections of the proposal, a clear and simple font should be selected, such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri. Font size should be 11 points or larger. Font sizes of less than 11 points may be used for formulas, figure labels and tables. No more than 6 lines of text per vertical inch are allowed. Margins should be 1 inch on all sides. Paper size should be 8.5 by 11 inches. These requirements apply to all sections of the proposal. The guidelines are designed to assure fairness in the application process by requiring that all submitters describe their projects within the same space limitations. All submissions will be reviewed by the ASA DDRIG Program Officer for compliance to assure fairness. Failure to comply with these requirements may lead to a proposal being returned without review.

Funding criteria

The ASA DDRIG program aims to support a broad range of scientifically rigorous projects that will create new knowledge and enable breakthroughs in the field of sociology. The two primary criteria for funding are intellectual merit and broader impact. Following the definitions established by the National Science Foundation, intellectual merit “encompasses the potential to advance fundamental scientific knowledge” and broader impact “encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.”

Proposal review process

Proposals will be evaluated by a review panel composed of PhD sociologists representing the full range of diversity within the discipline, including demographic, institutional, methodological, and substantive interest areas.  

Award structure

Most ASA DDRIG grants will be awarded for one year, although disbursement of funds can be extended across two years if justified by the structure of the dissertation project. The full dissertation does not need to be completed during the grant period, but all awarded funds should be used during that time. Awards will be disbursed through the research scholar’s graduate institution. Disbursements will be made once each year.

Application link

Due date

Application deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST on November 2, 2020.

For questions, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact: