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Peer reviews

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Review and Awarding - Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The number of GRF awards will depend on the availability of funds and quality of applications. For 2020, NIJ anticipates that up to $3,000,000 will be available annually for approximately 20 new fellows. See a list of past GRF awards.

Independent external peer review panels evaluate all responsive GRF proposals. Reviewers from across the social, physical, and life sciences and engineering fields are chosen for their scientific expertise and experience in advising graduate students. These external reviewers assess the merits of each application against the specific criteria outlined in the solicitation.

Peer review results are presented to the NIJ Director, who has the final authority to make awards. NIJ strives to fund as many quality fellowship applications as possible, given available funding.

The application review process, including peer review, decision-making and other considerations, may take up to six months. All notices of award are made no later than September 30. Notices of award and non-award are sent by email to the university Authorized Representative and Point of Contact (POC) identified on the application. The POC is typically an Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) administrator, so students are encouraged to maintain communication with their OSP.

GRF grants require:

  • Quarterly financial reports from the university.
  • Annual progress reports. See the NIJ guidance for following the RPPR format. Typically, the student drafts the report, the committee chair reviews, and the grant POC (often a university Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) official) submits.
  • An official signed copy of the defended dissertation. 

NIJ recognizes that it is not uncommon for universities to allow, or even require, enrollment in a reduced credit load in the advanced stages of a degree program. To accommodate this practice, NIJ GRF does not require full-time enrollment during the fellowship term. But please note that the fellowship may only draw funds while the student is actively enrolled in the degree program and carrying out the dissertation research proposed in their fellowship application. Should certain unforeseen and/or temporary circumstances arise that preclude the fellow from actively pursuing the dissertation research, the fellow is expected to notify NIJ via his/her academic institution representative. The fellow’s award funding may be temporarily suspended at the discretion of NIJ.

NIJ doesn’t prohibit fellows from obtaining additional employment. Nevertheless, the intent of the program is that fellowship support should allow the student to devote primary effort to the dissertation research. Students should check whether their universities have policies limiting outside employment while receiving fellowship funds.

Yes, a student can receive other awards or stipends. However, any other funding or support must be disclosed (e.g., research or teaching assistantships, positions held under an advisor's grant, other private or government fellowships, grants, stipends). NIJ may seek to avoid duplicative funding, if appropriate.

No. Fellowship funds may be used to support only the originally reviewed and awarded GRF fellow, and are not transferable to any other student.

Doctoral students who have already started their dissertation research are encouraged to apply. Any student enrolled full-time in a qualifying Ph.D. program and proposing a dissertation topic with relevance to criminal justice may apply at any stage in their graduate career.

If a student’s dissertation committee has already accepted the dissertation topic proposed in the GRF application, the student would be eligible for release of fellowship funds as soon as all other administrative requirements are met. Commencing research before submitting an application or while the application is under review does not necessarily impact the likelihood of receiving an award.

Yes. In this case, a “resubmit response” statement should be included with the program narrative. This statement should include the title and submission date of the earlier application, and describe any changes made to the proposal in response to prior peer review comments.