Writing your First Digital Humanities Grant

July 16, 2013, 08:00 | Workshop, Regency A, Union


Designed for humanities scholars seeking assistance with their first grant, this workshop introduces participants to best practices in writing and submitting a grant. Participants will be provided with a series of online resources, including presentations, exemplar successful grants, and podcasts to help them complete a first draft of a proposal before they arrive in Lincoln. Those drafts will be circulated to other participants prior to the workshop and will serve as the core basis of our workshop discussions with the anticipation being that each participant will receive clear feedback from other attendees that will aid them in the revision of their proposal. Drafts will be encouraged to emulate the popular National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Startup Grant competition in order to provide the most flexibility for participants in their digital humanities endeavors. This seminar will be limited to 15 participants; additional seminars may be made available should demand necessitate.

Target Audience

The target audience for this workshop are primarily early career digital humanists, including graduate students and junior scholars, who will be submitting their first grant in the coming year. We choose to limit the workshop to 15 participants as the substantive nature of the discussion necessitates a smallgroup atmosphere. A session similar to this was successfully held at the Digital Humanities Winter Institute as part of the instructors’ project development class. That class had 20 participants, the majority of whom were digital humanists undertaking their first project. Additionally, Jennifer coled a similar session with Dr. Lisa Rhody at the Modern Studies Association that included neophyte digital humanists. That session benefited from its small size. Both sessions at DHWI and MSA were well reviewed and would be appropriate for firsttime grant writers in the humanities.

Workshop Logistics

Applications: Participants will be admitted on a firstcome, firstserved basis. Registration for this workshop will close on May 1st (or when the workshop reaches capacity). Participants will be notified of their admission on May 1st. Papers are due to the full group no later than June 15th. We set this deadline a bit early to allow participants time to not only read all papers but to complete any supporting reading they might elect to familiarize themselves with.

Papers should be 5 to 7 pages in length, doublespaced. We encourage participants to produce shorter papers to allow for greater commenting/consideration. Additionally, we want to encourage these papers to emulate the narrative section of the National Endowment for Humanities Digital Humanities Start Up Grants solicitation, as this competition focuses on humanities significance and innovation and is a likely funding source for early development projects.

We ask that every paper include the major elements of a project proposal, namely that the narrative should not assume specialized knowledge, and it should be free of jargon. It should clearly define technical terms so that they are comprehensible to a nonspecialist audience.The narrative should address the longterm goals for the project as well as the activities that the project would support.

Within the narrative, you should:

  • 1.) Provide a clear and concise explanation — comprehensible to a general audience — of the project activities and the ultimate project results, noting their value to scholars, students, and general audiences in the humanities. Describe the scope of the project activities, the major issues to be addressed, and their significance to the humanities. Show how the project will meet its objectives in innovative ways.
  • 2.) Provide a rationale for the compatibility of your methodology with the intellectual goals of the project and the expectations of those who would make use of the project products.
  • 3.) Provide a clear and concise summary of an environmental scan of the relevant field. The goal of an environmental scan is to take a careful look at similar work being done in your area of study. For example, if you are developing software to solve a particular humanities problem, please discuss similar software developed for other projects and explain how the proposed solution differs. If there are existing software products that could be adapted and reused for the proposed project, please identify them and discuss the pros and cons of taking that approach. If there are existing humanities projects that are similar in nature to your project, please describe them and discuss how they relate to the proposed project. The environmental scan should make it clear that you are aware of similar work being done and should explain how your proposed project contributes to and advances the field.
  • 4.) Provide a concise history of the project, including information about preliminary research or planning, previous related work, previous financial support, publications produced, and resources or research facilities available.
  • 5.) Complete a brief workplan that describes the specific tasks that will be accomplished during the grant period, identify the computer technology to be employed, and identify the staff members involved. Indicate what technical resources will be required.
  • 6.) Identify potential staff and collaborators.
  • 7.) Describe the plans to disseminate the project results through various media (printed articles or books, presentations at meetings, electronic media, or some combination of these).


Jennifer Guiliano received a Bachelors of Arts in English and History from Miami University (2000), a Masters of Arts in History from Miami University (2002), and a Masters of Arts (2004) in American History from the University of Illinois before completing her Ph.D. in History at the University of Illinois (2010). She currently is an Assistant Director at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland and a Center Affiliate of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. She has served as a PostDoctoral Research Assistant and Program Manager at the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (20082010) and as Associate Director of the Center for Digital Humanities (20102011) and Research Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina. Jennifer currently serves on the Association for Computing in the Humanities (ACH) Executive Council (20132016), as codirector with Trevor Muñoz of the Digital Humanities Winter Institute (DHWI), and has served as an instructor in Project Development and Grant writing by invitation at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, the Digital Humanities Winter Institute, as well as a number of individual universities. She has been primary author or primary investigator of over $3 million in externally funded grants.

Simon Appleford is Associate Director for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the Clemson CyberInstitute, and an Adjunct Lecturer in History at Clemson University. Simon received a Masters of Arts in Modern History and a Masters of Literature in Modern American History from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and is currently completing his PhD in History from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. Prior to joining Clemson University in 2011 he was Assistant Director at the University of Illinois’ Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science. His interests in digital technologies and American history have led to several publications including articles in CTWatch Quarterly and Toward the Meeting of the Waters: Currents in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina (University of South Carolina Press, 2007). He has served as primary author or primary investigator of over $3.5 million in externallyfunded research.