silhouette of a person standing against a starry sky

Law and Science Dissertation Grant

An LSDG application has five components

Components one and two are online forms for you to fill in.

Components three and four are files that you will upload. Each of these files has several required sections.

Component five, the budget, is an excel spreadsheet based on a template that you should download, complete, and then upload.

The following instructions describe what belongs in each component. You should read them carefully so as not to omit any necessary information.

To complete the online forms and upload the other files, click on this link:

Complete Online Forms

This component contains some basic information about you. We seek to have as diverse and inclusive an applicant pool as possible, as does our funder, the National Science Foundation (NSF). Collecting this information enables us to characterize the applicant pool as a whole; it will not be included with the proposals that are sent to reviewers.

The form will ask you to provide the following information:

  • Applicant/PI first and last name. Your name—i.e., the graduate student whose dissertation this is.
  • Gender, age, race/ethnicity, disability and veteran status, and nationality. You may leave any of these entries blank, if you are uncomfortable answering, with no penalty; but we hope that you will contribute to our efforts to keep track of how well we are doing at reaching our goals of diversity and inclusion.
  • Completed comps/qualifying exam? Answer YES or NO. If NO, you must complete it prior to your award’s start date.

This component contains basic information about your proposal/project.

The form will ask you to provide the following information:

  • Applicant/PI name. Your name—i.e., the graduate student whose dissertation this is.
  • Co-PI name(s). Your faculty sponsor; normally the chair of your dissertation committee, but it can be another faculty member if that person is the primary supervisor of the research. If you have co-advisors, you may list them both.
  • Institution. University where you are enrolled as a student. It must be a U.S. institution, though you do not have to be an American citizen. 
  • Proposal title. A straightforward, descriptive name for the project. 
  • Requested amount. Total amount of funding you are requesting, up to a maximum of $20,000. The amount plays little role in the evaluation of the proposal; you should request what you need and can justify—no more, no less. 
  • Requested start date. When you anticipate needing available funds to begin your project. Keep in mind that it will take approximately 4-5 months from the submission deadline for you to receive a decision from us; and if the decision is to make an award, several additional weeks to issue the funds. You may, of course, begin the research before hearing from us. However, you should bear in mind that any funds awarded are intended for new expenses and are not designed to reimburse you for expenses already encumbered. If an award is made, the start date will correspond to the date on which payment is issued.
  • Research involving human subjects? Answer YES or NO. If YES, you will need to provide proof of IRB submission (e.g., an IRB proposal number); and you will need to provide proof of IRB approval prior to our issuing any funds in the event of an award. 

This component has multiple sections; all of these sections, which comprise the main body of your proposal, are required. As described below (in parentheses), most sections have length restrictions.

You should combine the sections in a single .doc, .docx, or .pdf file, which you then upload at the link provided at the top or bottom of this page.

  • Project summary (1 p, single-spaced). This is a brief description of the project, as well as its contribution in terms of the merit review criteria. Labeled subsections should include 1) an Overview of the project, 2) the project’s Intellectual Merit, and 3) its Broader Impacts.
  • Project description (10 pp, single-spaced). This section is the meat of the proposal. Broadly speaking, it should explain the proposed work, its relationship to present knowledge in the field(s), and its expected significance. You may include subsections, tailored to the particular features of your project. Keep in mind that LSDG is an interdisciplinary program, so you should write for a broad audience of scholars, some of whom might not come from your own particular discipline.
  • References (no page limit). You may use whatever citation system is the norm within your primary discipline.
  • Budget justification (3 pp, single-spaced). Explain what various categories of funds listed in the Budget will be used for, and why you need them. Funds must be for research expenses, and not a salary or personal stipend for any of the PIs.
  • Data management plan (2 pp, single-spaced). How you will manage and share the products of the research, including types of data generated by the research, data and metadata format and security, preservation of human participants’ anonymity/confidentiality, period of data retention, dissemination plan, etc. In the interest of open science, the plan must provide for sharing and archiving of de-identified data, including when (normally within one year of project completion, unless there is a compelling reason for a longer delay) and where archiving will occur (normally a national, publicly accessible repository, like ICPSR, QDR, or OSF; and not an institution-specific one, though you are free to archive data in multiple locations). Refusal to share data or sharing data only on request is generally insufficient. The importance of data sharing applies to both quantitative and qualitative data; data should be de-identified and, if appropriate, may be redacted further to protect vulnerable participants. The expectation is that at least some data will be shared, even if it is not feasible to share all of the raw data. Failure to share as much of the data as practically and ethically feasible in a timely fashion could preclude the making of an award. For additional guidance, see the National Science Foundation policy and procedures page.
  • Because there are length limits for most of these sections, all elements of Component 3 must conform to the following formatting requirements:
    • 8.5 x 11” paper size
    • Margins of at least 1” in all directions
    • Page numbers, either continuously paginated or paginated within each section
    • One of the following fonts/sizes:
      • Arial or Courier New, at least 10-pt font size
      • Times New Roman, at least 11-pt font size

This component also has multiple sections. As noted below, some of these sections are required, whereas others are optional.

You should combine the sections in a single .doc, .docx, or .pdf file, which you then upload at the link provided at the top or bottom of this page. For the Current and Pending Support and Conflict of Interest documents, you must use our templates. For other sections, you should create your own document (e.g., in Word), but it must contain all the information specified below.

NSF-formatted biosketch(es) (3 pp apiece; required). See the PAPPG 23-1. Anyone listed as a PI, co-PI, or consultant should include a biosketch. Must include the following components:

  • Professional Preparation (Institution, Location, Major/Area of Study, Degree (if applicable), Year)
  • Appointments (From-To, Position Title, Organization, and Location)
  • Products (Products Most Closely Related to the Proposed Project)
  • Other Significant Products, Whether or Not Related to the Proposed Project
  • Synergistic Activities

Letter of Agreement from faculty sponsor (1 p; required). This person will ordinarily be the student’s dissertation committee chair, who serves as the co-PI on the LSDG proposal, but it does not have to be. The letter should not be a letter of recommendation for the student and therefore should not talk about how important, transformative, etc., the project is. The letter should only stipulate the following:

  • agreement to supervise the project
  • the student has achieved doctoral candidacy (or will prior to start date)
  • the institution has adequate facilities for the project
  • any other unique circumstances relevant to the project

Current and pending support (no page limit; required). Download the Current and Pending Support template here: Current and Pending (doc). You may also use NSF's template from the PAPPG 23-1. List of other grants you currently have or have applied for and are waiting to hear back on. Anyone listed as a PI, co-PI, or consultant should include a list of current and pending support. If none, list “none.”

Conflicts of interest (no page limit; required). Download the Conflicts of Interest template here: Conflict of Interest (doc)  You may also use NSF's COA template from the PAPPG 23-1. Persons or institutions with whom you have a close personal (e.g., family), institutional (e.g., employer), or financial relationship. Anyone listed as a PI, co-PI, or consultant should include a COI form. List names and institutional affiliations for the following:

  • spouse or family members who conduct related research
  • institutions that have provided you with financial compensation within the last year, other than your current institution(s)
  • collaborators within the past 4 years, whether or not the collaboration resulted in any publications
  • co-editors of any books, journals, etc., that you have edited within the past 24 months; also editors of any books in which you published a chapter, within the past 24 months
  • all present or past faculty advisors (for student PIs); all present or past PhD students (for faculty co-PIs)

Revision cover letter (1 p; optional). If you submitted this project to LSDG previously, you may include a brief (1 p max) cover letter outlining the changes you have made for the current submission. Please be aware that revising and resubmitting is no guarantee of success; your proposal will be reviewed anew, and not necessarily by the previous reviewers.

Letter(s) of collaboration (1 pp apiece; optional). If your project requires others’ involvement, such as providing access to proprietary documents or data, you should include signed letter(s) indicating their agreement to provide you with what you need. These letters should simply state their agreement to do whatever it is you specifically need them to do; they should not talk about how wonderful and important your project is. Letters of Collaboration are only necessary if someone’s permission is required for an essential aspect of your project.

Recommended reviewers (1 pp; optional). Include email address and institutional affiliation of persons you believe are especially well-qualified to review the proposal. Do not list anyone with whom you have a COI. You may also list persons you would prefer not to review the proposal. The decision whether to follow these recommendations remains with LSDG.

Enter expenses on the appropriate line. The maximum total request is $20,000. There are no indirect costs. Request what you genuinely need to perform the project: no more, no less. Avoid “padding,” as well as unrealistic cutting. The description below gives an overview of the major expense categories; note that each category has subentries, which you should use as appropriate. Items should be listed under the most specific category possible. Every project is different; you may not have expenses for every category on the spreadsheet. For any lines or entire categories that are not relevant to your project, just leave the cell blank. All expenses should be explained in your Budget Justification, which is part of Component 3.

Download the budget template here: LSDG Budget Template Upload your completed budget at the submission link provided at the top or bottom of this page. 

  • Personnel. Although you cannot pay yourself a stipend, you may pay others whose work is necessary for successful completion of the project, such as a computer programmer or undergraduate RA. Note that hiring others to perform work could have tax implications; LSDG is not able to provide tax advice.
  • Fringe benefits. Institutions normally charge these on grants awarded to them directly; they might or might not be appropriate here. You should check with your Department and/or Research Office to see if they are necessary for this kind of award.
  • Travel. This would include things like costs associated with travel to a research site or to a professional conference to present findings.
  • Participant compensation. Payments to research participants (e.g., if paying 200 people $5 apiece to participate in an online survey, you would enter $1000 under Stipends).
  • Other direct costs. Equipment (e.g., hardware or software), hiring a consultant (i.e., personnel not listed under Section A), subawards, etc. A Subaward is when you would be transferring a portion of your award directly to another institution or organization; this would be rare for a dissertation award. Use Other (E.6) for any expenses that do not fit into one of the other categories; if an item does seem to fit another category, then you should use the more specific category instead.

Deviations from these guidelines, without prior approval, could result in your application’s being returned without review.

To complete the online forms and upload the other files, click on this link:

Complete Online Forms