Applying for grants can be quite a stressful moment in one’s semester. In order to provide you with some much needed support, we’ve asked Alyssa, who applied for and got the SSHRC grant, to come up with a list of pointers that could help you out during the process of grant application writing. Here’s what she came up with. Good luck!
So you’re thinking of applying for a SSHRC eh? Great idea! Below I’ve compiled a few pointers, tips, tricks and hot-leads to get your started and help you on your way.
1. Attend workshops!
· GradProSkills offers two types of workshops for the SSHRC:
o The first is a general sort of “this is what it is,” which included students discussing the proposal writing process, employees from the Awards office and previous SSHRC judges. This one was helpful, but also just made me very worried. It remains, however, a good overview of what you’re getting yourself into and worth attending. Plus, I think there were free snacks last year.
o The second is a peer-review group. This was very helpful because it allows you to share your work with other applicants in a multidisciplinary environment. It’s especially great because people feel less inclined to sweet talk your work, and instead give you honest advice. These fill up fast, but add your name to wait lists or send them an email and the good people at GradProSkills will try their best to organize more.
2. Contact your referees as early as possible.
· I highly recommend returning to the referees that you used for your application to the MA program. I was strongly advised to include reference letters from potential supervisors in my application, but seeing as I had barely met my new professors, I felt uncomfortable entrusting them to give an accurate portrait of my abilities and interests. All that to say, you be the one to decide who will speak for you.
· Once you have secured your referees, send them your latest draft and, indicated as clearly as possible, the information needed for them to submit your reference letters, such as:
o the accompanying information form;
o where to send it;
o how many copies, and so on.
· You want to make it as easy as possible for them as they are doing you a service, and the beginning of the term is busy for everyone!
3. Know your deadlines.
· Yes, know your deadlines, but really have everything ready at least a couple of days before. Due to miscommunication and mailing delays, one of my reference letters came in a day late. I was able to get the letter to our Graduate Program Director in time via the magic of email, however these kinds of delays can seriously threaten your application. So, just to be safe, have it done a couple of days early.
· Also, in addition to the paper package that you submit to the school, you also have to complete an online application through the SSHRC website. You can begin filling out the application before you have completed your proposal. It’s really best to do so as soon as possible since these websites are known to crash due to high user traffic around the deadline.
4. Rally your readers!
· Call on past professors, current professors, friends, family, colleagues, whoever! It is important that your proposal makes sense to people both within your discipline as well as outside of it. The councils who will be reviewing your application don’t necessarily know what “acousmêtre” or “Acid Westerns” mean, so it’s better that your mom tells you its unclear while your writing than when it’s being scrutinized by SSHRC.
5. Know that you will not produce something incredible right away.
· Gone are the days of writing something the night before and getting top marks (no, you’re not an exception). Your proposal will go through many, many drafts. You’ll review it, rewrite it, reorganize it, and question it endlessly until you’ll eventually decide that it works or time has run out and you’ll hand it in.
6. Remember to listen to yourself.
· When seeking the opinions and advice of others, it is very easy to discount your initial idea. While having readers is very important to the writing process, it is still your proposal for a project, so be sure to make it your own. You can only take so much of what everyone tells you into account, and then it is up to you to synthesize and make sense of it.
Remember, completing the application process is an accomplishment in its own right. Godspeed and you’ll be great!
But, how does it work, anyway?
The names of the awards on the SSHRC website are confusing, so just so we’re all on the same page, it’s the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program Master’s Scholarship (could it be longer?).
The SSHRC process is divided into three stages of approval:
1. the faculty
2. the university
3. the SSHRC council
You will submit a hard-copy of your proposal to the faculty, who are the first to review it. If your application is approved, it is sent to the University’s SSHRC Master’s committee, who evaluate your application alongside all other Master’s SSHRC applications within the University. Concordia can only recommend 45 applications to SSHRC (this number ranges depending on the University).
When your application makes it through (because of course it will!), you will receive an email notification. The status of your application over the 8 month process will unfortunately remain very vague. Notification for attaining the SSHRC council will arrive around the end of January, and the award announcement will be around the end of May.