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Research Fellowship Opportunities at the National Institute of Justice

Mary Jo Giovacchini; Tammi Fegusson; Howard Spivak

This webinar, held on September 19, 2016, provided an overview of the research fellowship opportunities provided by NIJ, including the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship, Visiting Fellows Program, New Investigator/Early Career Program, and Research Assistantship Program. These fellowships provide opportunities for early career as well as experienced researchers in the social and behavioral sciences and STEM disciplines. The overall goal of these fellowship programs is to increase and diversify the pool of scholars and disciplines engaged in research that addresses the challenges of crime and justice in the United States, particularly at the state and local levels.

Mary Jo Giovacchini: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar: Research Fellowship Opportunities at the National Institute of Justice,
sponsored by the National Institute of Justice. At this time, I would like to introduce Tammi Fergusson, program analyst with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Tammi Fegusson: Good afternoon, everyone. As she said, my name is Tammi Fergusson and I'm a Senior Program Analyst with the White House Institute on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

On behalf of our office and our acting executive director and deputy assistant undersecretary, Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, I'd like to welcome you to today's webinar. Our office is committed to connecting HBCUs and their students to federal opportunities and programs to ensure their success. One way we do this is through various outreach events throughout the year. This year, we are kicking off our first ever HBCU Back to School Week. This week-long celebration of students consists of virtual and in-person events designed to connect HBCU students to federal opportunities and agencies, as well as the committed staff that carry out their agency's mission.

Our hope is that you will learn useful information that will help you shape your future career path and that you will share this information with your fellow students and colleagues. For up-to-date information on our work with DOJ and the National Institute of Justice, as well as our 32 federal agency partners, please be sure to visit our website at sites.ed.gov/whhbcu.

While you're on our website, I also encourage you to sign up for our listserv to learn-- to learn about more internships, fellowships, and other special opportunities available for HBCU students. For the social media savvy, please follow us on Twitter @WHI_HBCUs and tweet this event using the #HBCUB2School.

Again, thank you for participating today and we wish you much success as you explore, grow, and learn during your educational journey.

With that, I will now pass it off to Dr. Howard Spivak, the Principal Deputy Director at the National Institute of Justice at the Department of Justice.

Howard Spivak: Good afternoon, everybody. It's really a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with all of you. And I want to start by saying that our investment in career development opportunities is a very high priority at the National Institute of Justice and enhancing diversity within this initiative is also a very high priority,
so it really is a pleasure to have this opportunity. Just in case some of you don't know what the National Institute of Justice is, NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. Some people don't realize that there is a research agency at the Department of Justice, but in fact, there is. And the commitment to science driving practice and policy in criminal justice is considerable. And we're dedicated to improving the knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through the use of science.

In this webinar, there are a number of areas I'm going to be touching on, although briefly, but at least to introduce you to these areas.

See Q&As about the Graduate Research Fellowship Programs.

First, I'm going to talk about our Graduate Research Fellowship Programs. We have one in both Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and also in Behavioral--Social Behavioral Sciences. Then I'm going to talk about the W.E.B. Du Bois Program on Race and Crime. Next, I'll be talking about our Early Career/New Development--New Investigator Program which is a program we actually just started in 2016. Then I'll be moving onto our Visiting Fellows Program, and finally, our Research Assistants Program.

Now, the goal of our Graduate Research Fellowship is to support doctoral students engaged in research that address the challenges of crime and justice in the United States.

There are two tracks as I mentioned earlier, one is the STEM track which is primarily the basic science track, and one is Social and Behavioral Sciences. And we're now actually accepting applications for the solicitations for both the STEM solicitation and the Social and Behavioral Sciences solicitation, both of which are currently out and available. And there will be a webinar on October 4th to learn more about this solicitation as well. So I encourage you if you're interested in registering for that October 4th webinar where you'll get more details about all of this.

Now, the STEM Graduate Research Fellowship provides $35,000 annual student stipend, that's up to $15,000 annually for tuition, fees, and research expenses,
and up to three years of support usable over a five-year period. The application requirements are that one is currently enrolled in a PhD program in a STEM field
and has a proposed thesis project relevant to criminal justice. In this past year, we've made 22 awards totaling $1.1 million, and our expectation is that we'll be in that same ballpark in the upcoming year as well.

The Graduate Research Fellowship in Social Behavioral Sciences provides up to $32,000 to support the final phase of dissertation research. So it is different from the STEM program. The requirements are that the applicant be enrolled in a PhD program in a Social Behavioral Science discipline and that students must have already completed their coursework, comprehensive exams, and must be advanced to candidacy. In fiscal year '16, so in the past year, we made seven awards totaling about $225,000. And again, our expectation is that we'll be in the same ballpark for this.

So there is a difference between the two fellowships. The STEM fellowship is up to three years. The Social Behavioral Science fellowship is really primarily a single year and it is more focused on the tail end of the PhD work as opposed to the STEM which is more mid-- in the mid-process of that work.

GRF Fellows

See the complete list of past and present GRF fellows.

I'd like to give you a couple examples of some of the fellowships we funded. We funded one related to the repetitive sequencing in the human genome. One related to forensic work around fingernails as evidence. So these are clearly examples of the STEM fellowships, but only two examples and there are many broader examples of this if you go on to the NIJ website which you'll get the site for at the end of this presentation. There'll be a link to looking at other awards we've given.

And then in the Behavioral--Social Behavioral Science, two examples are one is modeling the understanding of illegal narcotic markets, one is looking at women in prison and the transition from prison to home. Again, two examples of many that we've given over the years.

See Q&As about the W.E.B. Du Bois Program.

Now, moving on to the W.E.B. Du Bois Program on Race and Crime, this is a program that's been in place for, I believe, about a dozen years, maybe longer. And it's to further the department's mission in--by advancing knowledge regarding the confluence of crime, justice, and culture in various societal contexts. The Research solicitation looks or calls for proposals on the intersection of race, offending, victimization, and the fair administration of justice to both juveniles and adults.

Now, there are two components to the Du Bois Program. The longer standing one is the fellowship one which is actually the bottom part of this slide and this is focused on researchers who are early in their career and not tenured yet, generally within five or six years of receiving their degree. Although there's no specific requirement around that, but we're really looking to fund more junior investigators in this, and we provide up to a $100,000 of funding for secondary data analysis projects and up to a $150,000 in funding for research projects that go beyond just secondary data analysis, although they may include secondary data analysis as a component in the larger project. And as I said, this is the longstanding one.

The second part of the program is something we just started in the past year and this is focused on providing funding for more experienced and advanced scholars, and this is--requires that people be at least six degree-- six years post their term--receiving their terminal degree. So obviously, it's for more-- for more--for people that are more advanced in their careers. As a component of this, while it's not required, it is generally encouraged that to be a mentorship component in these projects so that the more senior researcher actually has at least one junior researcher that they're working with on the project and mentoring in the process. This provides up to a half a million dollars or more for research excluding secondary data analysis projects. So this is more extensive and comprehensive research efforts and not simply working with existing datasets.

  In the past year, we provided a little over $1.1 million in total funding for the Du Bois Program. That included two scholars grants for research on policing, traffic stops, and civilian review boards, and we funded five fellows grants on research on youth violence and immigration, restrictive housing in corrections, risk assessment and disparities in courts, and policing in LGBTQ communities. So again, it's quite diverse in terms of the kinds of things that we fund, but it's clearly focused on specific elements of race, gender, and culture with respect to crime.

Du Bois Fellows

See the complete list of past and present Du Bois fellows.

Some examples of past fellowship awards are two that are posted here. One is--looks at dispute-related urban violence among blacks and Hispanics in urban settings, and one looks at the Arab-American experiences with respect to crime and victimization. But again, these are only two examples and I encourage you on the NIJ website to look at other awards we've given in this area because it's been quite broad.

See Q&As about the New Investigator/Early Career Program.

Moving on to the New Investigator or Early Career Program, this is an initiative that we started just in the past year and it was specifically developed to give younger investigators the opportunity to apply to be principal investigators on grants where they're not in competition with the more experienced investigators where they're often closed out from the-- from receiving awards because they are less sophisticated in their grant writing. Now, that doesn't mean that we fund proposals that are not well-written or that aren't well-designed by any means, but what we try to do is remove the experience factor in the competition process to allow more opportunities for younger and more junior investigators. This is essential because experience is ultimately a factor in receiving funding, and so the more experience you have, the increase credibility you have in submitting proposals. Federal funding is hugely competitive, and again, it's hard to break into this when you're just starting out. And managing federal awards is complex and very time-intensive, so we want to create opportunities for people to learn how to do this.

2016 Awards

Review awards made under this program in 2016.

The eligibility is pretty straightforward and I'm just going to read these and I have to say that we're going to get questions about this, but the answers won't change.

You have to be a U.S. citizen. Last year, we got many questions about this that's not negotiable. You have to be a U.S. citizen and it doesn't matter if you're in a U.S. institution. You have to have received your terminal degree no more than four years prior to your submission. Be non-tenured as assistant professor, and not have previously served as a principal investigator on an NIJ award. Now, former fellows are eligible, former graduate research assistants are eligible, but you cannot have been a principal investigator on a regular NIJ grant.

The research that is sought is primarily in the social and behavioral sciences, criminal justice and criminology, public health, psychology, sociology, so it is not limited by any means just to criminal justice activities. Criminal justice research is very multidisciplinary and we are in fact trying to diversify the backgrounds of the people doing work under NIJ funding. It can also include law, economics, and STEM or physical sciences.

See Q&As about the Visiting Fellowship Program.

The Visiting Fellows Program is specifically designed to provide experienced practitioners and research a platform to develop innovative approaches to solving criminal justice issues. Now, there are a number of benefits to this. There's residence at NIJ for at least part of the fellowship, giving you an opportunity to work with the NIJ science staff. So there's access to federal subject matter experts and criminal justice partners not just in NIJ but in other federal agencies. There's participation in a wide range of collegial work within NIJ and beyond. And the point is that we want to get people here to develop projects that result in capstone efforts that either establish a new line of inquiry at NIJ or uses an innovative approach to advance existing criminal justice research priorities.

Visiting Fellows

Review a list of our Visiting Fellows.

So this is very much different from the other activities we do here, number one, because we are looking for practitioners as well as researches to participate in this, and the other is that this is a very--a particularly applied activity and exercise. Some of the Visiting Fellowship types are Policy & Practitioner Fellowships which are individuals with a significant experience as criminal justice practitioners or involved in criminal justice policy, advancing the administration of justice in the United States. Research Fellows would be individuals who work mainly on criminal justice issues in academic or other research settings, but by no means have to be-- have their degrees or experience solely within the criminal justice system. And then we also are looking for potential Partnership Fellows which would be a team of a practitioner and a researcher working together on a joint project. And again, I want to point out that N--that we are accepting applications from individuals from different fields who are bringing a multidisciplinary approach to approaching criminal justice problems.

See Q&As about the Research Assistantship Program.

The NIJ Research Assistantship Program is an effort to recruit research assistants who are full-time graduate assistants during the academic year, so that would involve 20 to 25 hours per week and work within their assigned program officer on research projects, which vary based on placements. Now, in this case, the universities are the ones who actually apply for the funding on the behalf of the student. So the university applies around a specific student, so it's not just generic, around a specific set of interests, but it's the university that actually receives the award on behalf of the student. Any U.S. accredited university or college may nominate one or more enrolled doctoral students, so university is not limited to a single nomination, and the universities and the National Institute of Justice will establish an agreement upon the selection of the various awardees or grantees under this.

Who can apply? U.S. Department of Education accredited universities and colleges can nominate doctoral students who are, again, U.S. citizens. So it doesn't matter if you're a foreign student or a foreign citizen in the U.S. institution, you have to be a U.S. citizen. Then you are able to work in Washington at NIJ during the academic year, are enrolled in a doctoral program and in good standing, are seeking a full-time assistantship with a minimum of one-year commitment with a potential for reappointment for a second year, and have demonstrated knowledge of science research skills with a desire to apply them in the criminal justice field. So your degree of work doesn't have to be in criminal justice science but does need to relate to criminal justice issues and agendas.

Now the benefits are considerable. Students will receive a stipend, tuition remission, health benefits, training, and travel funds. They're placement specific, the opportunity to work in one of NIJ's Science Offices or in the Office of the Director of NIJ. There are three Science Offices in NIJ. One is Research and Evaluation, which is the social and behavioral science area. One is the Office of Science and Technology, and one is the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences. It's a real career development activity for practical and applied research experience
where you can learn more about the research enterprise from a perspective of a federal science agency, and there's considerable access, increased access to criminal justice organizations, universities, professionals, policymakers, and practitioners on the federal, state, tribal, and local levels.

Research Assistants

View a list of past and present research assistants.

Some examples of research assistant--assignments have included undertaking the development of annotated bibliographies and literature-- and critical literature reviews, development and maintenance of compendium of research studies around a specific topic area, development and maintenance of-- and measurement and study of databases, completing comprehensive reviews of data sets, conducting qualitative and quantitative intramural research studies, assisting with evaluability assessments, coauthoring peer-reviewed journal articles, NIJ journal articles, book chapters, summaries, research briefs, fliers, and white papers, and coauthoring and presenting NIJ-sponsored presentations and webinars.

The last thing I want to touch on just briefly, and this is really geared to the more senior people that are listening on this webinar is that we are extremely interesting--interested in continuing to expand our pool of peer reviewers who review for us our proposals that are submitted under various solicitations and give us recommendations and feedback on the quality of those proposals. We are particularly interested in diversifying the backgrounds of the people that are part of our peer review process and diversity in all respects from different disciplines with respect to demographic differences, racial and ethnic differences, gender, the whole spectrum of diversity so that the input we get in the reviewing of our proposals is broad and represents different perspectives and different sets of experience. Diversity among peer reviewers is essential because the science of criminal justice serves an increasingly diverse population, and we also know that diversity in the development of proposals and then the review of proposals, generally, result in better proposals and better research and better work. So on the slide, there is a website, [email protected]. If you go to that website, you can sign up to be a peer reviewer.

I'm hoping that many of you are interested in this. I will also say for somewhat more junior folks that this is a great opportunity to learn more about the quality and kinds of proposals that NIJ accepts and so it gives you some insight into the kind of proposals that tend to be successful in being submitted to NIJ. On that note, I'm going to stop and I think we'll be opening things up for questions.

Questions and Answers

The following portion of the transcript is not taken verbatim from the video. These questions and answers have been edited for clarity and accuracy and arranged by category. We also have included answers to questions we were unable to address during the live event. 


Q: aside from the application, are there any other requirements such as a background investigation that a researcher needs to go through?
A: Research assistants and visiting fellows working on-site at NIJ and accessing NIJ systems will need to go through standard background checks. GRF and New Investigator recipients are not subject to background checks.
Q: Are the application deadlines for the different programs discussed in this presentation available at the NIJ website?
A: Yes. www.nij.gov.
Q: Will there be specific follow up sessions specific to the visiting fellow program?
A: Not at this time.
Q: What's the best way to learn more about NIJ strategic priorities?
A: NIJ’s previous funding investments and priority research areas are on NIJ.govWe also have begun developing 5-year strategic plans around some of our priority areas, also available on the website.
Q: Are there preferences for qualitative vs quantitative research (Social science opportunities)? If so, is quantitative research prioritized over qualitative?
A: NIJ simply prioritizes sound, innovative research that will inform and advance criminal justice policy and practice.
Q: What is the acceptance rate for fellowships? How many applicants does NIJ expect for each program?
A: The acceptance rate will vary from year to year, as will the number of applications. The rate is based partly on the quality of proposals NIJ receives and partly on the amount of funding NIJ has. If an applicant submits a good proposal, that is well written and well thought out in terms of the science, and a strong case is made that it will be an impactful project and will make a difference, the likelihood of the application being funded is pretty high. NIJ is looking to fund good proposals, not to eliminate bad ones. NIJ is looking to support careers and support good science, especially among people developing their careers.
Q: If someone received a Ph.D. in 2010 and an M.P.H. in 2016, is the Ph.D. or M.P.H. considered the terminal degree?
A: The Ph.D. is the terminal degree in this case. An M.P.H. can be considered a terminal degree among researchers, but here it is a second degree and the first terminal degree is the one considered. If some has an M.P.H. and then receives a doctorate, the Ph.D. would be the terminal degree because it is the more advanced degree. 
Q: Can one apply to both the W.E.B. Du Bois fellowship and the new investigator/ early career program?
A: You can apply for both, but not with the same proposal. The applications have to be substantially different.
Q: How much scientific background should be assumed in the application? Should it be primarily geared toward a scientist or a policymaker? 
A: Applications are reviewed by experts in the fields of study concerned, so they should be written to a scientific audience.  
Q: What is the timeframe between submitting the application and the response?
A: Most applications are due in the spring and all the awards are made at the latest by September 30 of the same year. Many new projects will start around January or February of the following year. The graduate fellowship awards are made sooner because NIJ is trying to notify people before the beginning of the academic year so that they can apply to the upcoming academic year, but that is the only one on the fast track.  The Research Assistantship program applications open in October and close in January; students will be notified in March or April.
Q: Are their preferences for qualitative versus quantitative research?
A: There are preferences for good science. There is good qualitative science and good quantitative science, and not-so-good quantitative and qualitative science. You need to write a good proposal and be thoughtful about your methodology.  That is the major component of the scoring you will get. So, a good idea is great and you will get points for that. But a good, solid scientific proposal, you would get a lot of credit for. The relevance and impact of the work you do is also important. You can propose a wonderfully solid scientific project, but if you do not make the connection to the impact and the relevance to the practice in criminal justice, then it will be difficult to get NIJ funding. 
Q: What is the best way to learn more about NIJ strategic priorities?
A: If you go to the main NIJ website, which is NIJ.gov, you should be able to link to a variety of strategic plans that NIJ has. There is a broad strategic plan for NIJ, in general, and then strategic plans for high priority topic areas. There are plans about policing, courts, corrections, and a variety of other high priority criminal justice issues. There is a lot of information the website, and there are opportunities to pose questions through the website that NIJ can respond to. 
Q: Can you fund a practitioner conducting research on a topic they propose? 
A: As an applicant for a research grant, your experience as a researcher, as well as your research idea, as well as the case you make that you can conduct the research effectively, are the criteria. You do not need to be specifically trained as a researcher. There are many people with law degrees and other kinds of practitioner degrees that are doing high-quality research. Keep in mind that the quality of the science in the proposal will ultimately drive the likelihood of getting funded. 
Q: Can a recent graduate from an undergraduate institution apply for a fellowship if he or she will be starting graduate school this upcoming fall? 
A: For the Graduate Research Fellowship programs and Research Assistantship, you have to be enrolled in graduate school at the time of application. If you apply before entering graduate school, you would not be able to meet the minimum criteria to be eligible.
Q: Does NIJ consider proposals that include funding fieldwork outside of the U.S., if the fieldwork contributes to the understanding of criminal justice in the U.S.?
A: Yes.
Q: Are there restrictions to working full-time in a practitioner position? 
A: It varies based on the solicitation. For the visiting scholar program, you do not need to be in an academic institution. If you are applying for the graduate fellowship, you need to be in a graduate program. Also, for the new  investigator, you need to be at a university. With the Du Bois fellowship, you do not need to be in a university. NIJ is looking for practitioner scholars. You need to review solicitations carefully and make sure that you meet the minimum requirements. Some of them will require that you are enrolled in or employed by a university, and others will not. 

Graduate Research Fellowship – STEM and SBS

Q: Does the Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF)– Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) program requirements begin at the time of the application or when the award is granted? 
A: SBS requirements must be completed by the time an award becomes active.
Q: Is there a program officer for SBS and STEM GRFs? (i.e., to help applicants with applications)
A: NIJ staff cannot assist applicants with the application process. Please contact NCJRS.
Q: For GRF STEM, for those working full time, can you be a part-time student and still apply? Or must you be enrolled in the institution full time?
A: You must be enrolled full-time
Q: How much scientific background should be assumed of the peer reviewers of GRF applications? i.e. should it be primarily geared towards scientists with expertise in your field or policy makers?
A: Proposals will be reviewed by scholars and criminal justice practitioners. The application should be written for an expert audience.
Q: The Graduate Research Fellowship Program 2017 award recipients for the Social/Behavioral Sciences are not listed online along with the STEM awardees. Will you be posting their names/affiliations soon?
A: The funding page has been updated with the FY16 GRF SBS awards.
Q: Would you sort a GRF application from a neuroscience Ph.D. candidate using electroencephlography as a STEM project or a SBS project under psychology?
A: NIJ cannot provide a specific response to this question. You are encouraged to speak with your dissertation committee and decide which program is the best fit for your research. You are also encouraged to review the research previously funded by NIJ under the GRF STEM and SBS programs.
Q: The GRF STEM grants are due much earlier this year. Can I ask the thought behind this change?
A: NIJ is working to ensure that grant recipients are notified with enough time to plan for funding for the coming academic year.
Q: For the GRF in SBS, is there any flexibility on the completed coursework requirement? My program is a fast tracked and is designed for students to take courses throughout the entire program. My comprehensive exams and dissertation topic already approved.
A: The requirements are firm however should you be interested in applying, you are encouraged to submit a detailed description of your program and its requirements and your timeline for completing the GRF requirements with your application for consideration.
Q: For the GRF SBS, are the peer reviewers in related fields, or should we write our proposal to a more general audience? Thanks!
A: Proposals will be reviewed by scholars and criminal justice practitioners. The application should be written for an expert audience.
Q: Does the NIJ favor proposals on contemporary issues over historical-comparative research for the GFRP SBS? *NIJ does not favor one over the other.
A: We encourage the submission of innovative research projects.
Q: To clarify for the SBS fellowship, must you complete your comps before applying, or before an award would be made? Thank you!
A: Comprehensive exams must be completed before an award is made.
Q: Clarification on SBS requirement question: it requires being ""done with classes."" - Does that mean ""done with required classes, QualExams and working on dissertation"" at the time of application?Can Ph.D. students taking optional classes/workshops still apply?
A: The GRF SBS programs has three requirements: students must have completed required coursework and comprehensive exams, and have been advanced to candidacy. The requirements must be met by the time an award is made. Students may take optional classes and workshops if they choose.
Q: For the GRF SBS requirements on page 2 of the fellowship add it says that the requirements are ""not necessary for the student to have completed the three requirements listed below at the time of the application due date."" can I apply while completing comps
A: Yes.
Q: Does a GRF SBS applicant need to have an approved proposal prior to applying?
A: No however please note that if an award is made and the research proposed in the GRF application has changed, NIJ should be notified.
Q: For the Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) – Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), is there a point at which a student is too far along to apply?  Could a student who has reached candidacy still be eligible? 
A: There is no point at which it is too late. Funding is for up to three years, but can be for less. 
Q: On the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) program, can a student take optional dissertation-related classes/workshops if they have completed required courses? Can they be working on their dissertation? Also, is that a requirement to apply, or for the anticipated time period of the grant? 
A: The funding that one gets under this award can be spent any way the recipient wants to spend it—for coursework, for salaries, or for any other activity related to the project. There is great flexibility with respect to how the money is used. It is something that needs to be negotiated with the university, the recipient of the funding. NIJ is open and flexible. 
Q: Is it possible to know who the peer reviewers are that will be reading the grant applications for Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) – Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) program? 
A: The peer reviewers are anonymous because NIJ need peer reviewers to be explicitly honest. Their names are not released. It is standard practice at science agencies for peer reviewers to be anonymous. Please note that if reviewers have a conflict of interest, they do not participate in that particular discussion and are not even in the room during the discussion.
Q: What, in detail, distinguishes Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) and Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) program? For example, if I am a graduate student in Family Studies in Human Development and use secondary data analysis in addition to various statistical analyses, do I identify with STEM or SBS?
A: There are certainly areas that bridge between the two grants. Applicants need to choose which they want to apply for. The STEM sciences tend to be more of the core sciences, and the social/behavioral sciences are more in the behavioral mold. It is the applicants’ call what they want to apply to. 
Q: Can a person in the first year of a graduate program apply for the NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship program? 
A: For the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), a student can apply and be awarded a fellowship as soon as they are enrolled in the PhD program. But the fellowship would not become active until they have a committee and the dissertation topic is approved. For social/behavioral sciences, they cannot because the social/behavioral science requires completion of all coursework and comprehensive exams, and advancement to candidacy. Essentially, the SBS program is meant for students who are in the tail end of the dissertation research with a specific focus on the last year of the doctorate program.
Q: Can you be a graduate fellow while being full-time employed? 
A: For the graduate fellowship, yes. If you are working full time and are in a graduate program, this is part of your graduate program and whether you are employed or not is not of our concern. For the assistantship program, you cannot be full-time employed and do the research assistantship because you need to participate 20-25 hours a week (hours are based on University agreements) (unless, perhaps, you work at night). You are encouraged to discuss employment issues with your university.
Q: Would a Graduate Research Fellowship application from a neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate using electroencephalography be a Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) project or a Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) project under psychology? 
A: NIJ cannot comment on the specific content of proposals. However, generally, it is strongly suggested that applicants think about which one they are more credible in. You cannot apply to both and have to make a decision as to which you think is the most credible for applying. 
Q: Can a part-time doctoral candidate apply for the Graduate Research Fellowship, Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) fellowship?
A: Students must be enrolled full-time in a doctoral degree program at an eligible academic institution. See page 5 of the FY17 GRF-SBS or GRF-STEM solicitations or for more information.
Q: Does NIJ have only one solicitation per year for the Behavioral Sciences Graduate Research Fellowship?
A: While some agencies have multiple cycles, NIJ only has a single cycle per year. If you miss the deadlines, there is nothing negotiable about that and, as a caution, your applications need to be totally complete by the deadline. NIJ does not accept additional materials once the deadline closes. 
Q: For the reviewing committees for the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) project and the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS)fellowships, will the committee members be from fields aligned to those of the application discipline?
A: The review panels are very multidisciplinary. NIJ reviews the proposals to make sure our peer review committees have the expertise necessary to properly evaluate each proposal. There is a bit of a lag time between the proposals, their deadlines, and the creation of the peer review committees, to assure we put the appropriate committees together.
Q: The social behavioral sciences proposal requires being done with one’s classes. Does that mean only required classes, qualifying exams, and working on your dissertation at the time of the application? In other words, can students taking optional classes still apply? 
A: You have to be done with the coursework that is required as part of your doctoral program before if an award is active.  You can certainly be taking supplemental classes.
Q: Is funding solely for Ph.D. candidates or can masters students submit an application, noting it would possibly be a simpler project? 
A: You have to be a Ph.D. candidate to be eligible for NIJ’s Graduate Research Fellowship programs. 
Q: If a student is awarded a graduate research fellowship, does that prevent them from applying for grants to fund the research they are conducting? 
A: No. It should not stop people from applying for other funding.

Except, if you have a graduate fellowship award, you have to declare that in your application for other funding so they know that you have funding from NIJ for the fellowship, and that is essentially to make sure there is not duplication in funding. If you are trying to get funding to do primary data collection around your dissertation and that is an additional cost to what you pay for through the fellowship, that would be perfectly fine.

Early Career/New Investigator

Q: A person that has received award from NIJ as co-PI (not as PI) is still legible for Early career/new investigator?
A: Yes.
Q: Is there currently a solicitation available for the New Investigator/Early Career Program?
A: No. Most NIJ FY17 awards will open in early calendar year 2017.
Q: Can you talk a little about how funds are distributed to researchers for the early career awards, and as a new award type, how specifically the funds can be used or not?
A: The technical applicant for the award is the institution of higher learning – funds are distributed to the institution through standard funding procedures.
Q: What is the timeline like for the New Investigator/Early Career Program? Have you already awarded the New Investigator/Early Career Program from last year? It would be helpful to know more about the timeline and the number of grants awarded
A: The new solicitation will likely open in early 2017. We are in the final stages of awarding the FY16 grants, and information on the recipients will be posted on the web shortly, including abstracts.
Q: Do you anticipate similar submission dates for the Early Career Program and Early Career Fellowship next year (i.e., May 2017)?
A: Perhaps earlier in 2017.
Q: Is someone doing educational policy research - but utilizes a multidisciplinary approach (law, policy, criminal justice, social work) - welcome to apply for the new investigator grant program?
A: Yes.
Q: Are nontenured staff scientists eligible for the new investigator award? Or is this restricted to those in faculty positions? 
A: It is restricted to those in faculty positions. One needs to be a nontenured, faculty-track individual to be eligible to apply for that funding. 
Q: What is the deadline for the Early Career Investigator? 
A: The solicitation is scheduled to be released sometime in early to mid-winter and its duration will probably be about 60 days, though it could be up to 90 days. Awards will be made sometime over the summer.
Q: Are legal residents working at a U.S. institution able to apply to the new investigator program? 
A: The official applicant is the institute of higher learning, which must be a U.S. institution.  The PI on the award must be a U.S. Citizen.
Q: Is someone doing educational policy research that utilizes a multidisciplinary approach (law, policy criminal justice, social work) welcome to apply to the New Investigator grant program? 
A: Criminal justice science is a multidisciplinary science. Whatever background you bring, as long as the work you do is relevant in some way to criminal justice practice or policy, then you can be as creative as you want to be. There are certainly education policy issues that are extremely important in criminal justice practice and policy. You can integrate and merge various approaches. NIJ is interested in people who are able to identify those kinds of links and make a case for the prospective they bring to the work.
Q: Is there a funding limit for the early career program? 
A: Yes, $150,000. That is total and can be for one year or more. 
Q: Can a person who has received an award from NIJ as a co-PI be eligible for the Early Career Program? 
A: Yes. You cannot have been a PI, but you could have been a co-PI. 

Visiting Fellows

Q: I know I can look at the past and present fellows page to get a better idea of what projects have been funded in the past. Other than looking at the publications from that award, is there a way to get a more detailed understanding of the funded projects?
A: Abstracts of funded projects are available on the NIJ.gov Visiting Fellowships page. Some visiting fellows projects have resulted in publications or continued investment that is publically available.
Q: can a recent Ph.D. graduate hold a university based diversity post doc and apply for the new investigators fellowship (sorry if this was covered already)
A: Applicants for new investigators must hold an assistant or associate professor position at the university.
Q: Do you have one solicitation per year for the behavioral sciences graduate research fellowship?
A: Yes.
Q: For the Visiting Fellows Program, is there a specific amount or percentage of time required for the residency at NIJ portion of the fellowship?
A: That is negotiable. The fellow needs to spend some time at NIJ. It could easily vary based on the work and product he or she is doing. NIJ has had fellows who have been there full-time and others only one week per month. The fellowship is not something that can be done totally from a distance. NIJ is looking for good candidates with good ideas, and the terms of the residency are negotiable.
Q: For the practitioner/faculty proposal is submitted, would this include support for the faculty to integrate or embed with the practitioner’s agency?
A: There does not seem to be a reason that it could not. You submit a budget as part of your application and would have to justify how the money would be spent. If, in fact, there is a cost (such as a salary cost) to being embedded in a practitioner agency, that should not be an issue.

Research Assistantship Program

Q: If a student receives a Research Assistantship starting in the Fall, then graduates at the end of the fall semester, can they still carryout the remainder of the assistantship in the Spring semester even though they will not be enrolled anymore
A: No, to be an eligible candidate, the students need to remain a full-time doctoral student in good standing with their University.
Q: When is the deadline for the research assistantship program? When would it begin?
A: You should always refer to the NIJ website for the up-to-date posting. For the 2017-2018 RA cohort, the deadline to apply is 1/27/2017. The position would begin at the start of the Fall 2017 academic year in accordance with your University.
Q: Is there any possibility of a summer research assistantship? (Is there any exception to the one-year commitment?)
A: Currently we do not offer a summer only position.
Q: If a faculty member has a doctoral student who receives a research assistant award, can the faculty member work on the student’s NIJ project? 
A: While NIJ encourages that research assistants and fellows receive mentorship from faculty at their home institution, it is important that the student be responsible for completing the work assigned to them and work with their project officer if it proves beyond their capabilities.  It is important to also note that these awards are designed to support the students and may not be used to fund involvement of a faculty member/advisor. 
Q: For the Research Assistant Program, if the university receives the award, why does the research assistant (RA) work in D.C.? 
A: The RA works in D.C. because a key component of the assistance is working with NIJ staff and that is hard if not impossible to do from a distance. The money can be used to pay yourself a salary or to cover the cost of living in Washington. 
Q: For the Research Assistants Program, how much time during the academic year will need to be spent in the D.C. area? Would time be split between D.C. and the applicant’s home institution?
A: The expectation is that the physical place of work is at NIJ 20-25 hours a week. Depending on where you live or where the university is, some degree of commuting or visiting the university may be possible. NIJ encourages communication and progression within your academic program and will work with the student to make that possible. The work is at NIJ because what is central to the program is close collaboration with NIJ science staff. 
Q: Can graduate students be nominated by their university for the Research Assistant Program at any time during the program? 
A: For the research assistantship program, yes, at any point (that is, in any of the years). NIJ has had assistants in their first year of their graduate program and has had assistants nearing the final years of their programs. It varies and is up to the program and the individual. 
Q: When would the research assistantship begin?
A: NIJ will announce the positions available in October (closing in January), and then conducts various sets of interviews in late winter and early spring. Decisions are made shortly after the interview process, typically in April. 

W.E.B Du Bois

Q: For the WEB Du Bois Program on Race and Crime, what kinds of things can the grant be used for (specifically for the scholars application)?
A: The W.E.B. Du Bois Program supports research on the intersections of race, offending, victimization, and the fair administration of justice for both juveniles and adults; NIJ’s solicitation seeks investigator-initiated proposals to conduct research on topics linked to race and crime in violence and victimization, crime and prevention, and justice systems (policing, courts, community and institutional corrections). Fellow applications may propose secondary data analysis and/or other research methods, but Scholar applications may not propose only secondary data analysis.
Q: A Ph.D. from 2007 but just started on a tenure line in 2013. Would I still qualify for Du Bois?
A: To apply under NIJ’s W.E.B. Du Bois Program solicitation, the proposed principal investigator must possess a terminal degree in their respective field. Additionally, proposed Scholars must have received a terminal degree prior to December 30, 2011; proposed Fellows must not be awarded tenure by December 30, 2017.
Q: What is the timeline for the W.E.B Du Bois Program on Race and Crime?
A: The solicitation is scheduled to be released sometime in early to mid-winter and its duration will probably be about 60 days, though it could be up to 90 days. Awards will be made sometime over the summer. 
Date Created: August 29, 2019