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Exemplary CRF and Sabbatical Applications with Examples from the Sciences and Humanities

We provide here four exemplary Calvin Research Fellowship and sabbatical proposals that can serve as guides for all faculty members, young and experienced, who intend to write such applications. Although they are divided between CRFs and sabbaticals, any of these examples can be a model for either type of proposal. These documents share several important characteristics. They are skillfully written, well-organized and concise. Note that a successful proposal need not be lengthy. The essential background information is provided, gaps in knowledge are identified and the purpose or hypothesis is clearly stated. The approach and methodology are precisely outlined.  A clear outcome is described, with outlines for books provided. Most importantly, each of the applicants has been mindful of the fact that the members of the Faculty Development Committee represent many different departments. Each of these proposals is written so that the importance and goals of the project can be appreciated and understood by a reviewer from any academic discipline. 

 

Calvin Research Fellowships:

Christina van Dyke  - Beatified Bodies: Mysticism, Philosophy and Ultimate Happiness

This is an example of a well-written proposal that clearly explains a subject that might otherwise seem esoteric to a non-philosopher. She begins by placing the work in the context of previous work and clearly states the goals of the project. The proposal is for a book length manuscript, and the proposal clearly and concisely states the subjects of the three sections of the book. A question often asked by reviewers is, “What is new about this work?” This proposal makes it very clear what gaps in this area of study the book is intended to fill.
(.pdf of application)

John WertzCultivation and Characterization of Microaerobes from the Human Microbiome

This proposal is written in a tone and wording that makes it very understandable to a reviewer who is a scientist and also accessible to an educated non-scientist. It is also well organized in that the background to the problem is concisely explained and a hypothesis is clearly stated (essential in a research proposal). Most importantly, the specific aims of the project are clearly stated with a concise description of the experimental methods. Finally, there is an explanation of how the outcomes of the project will be used in future research. The applicant has essentially followed the model for a successful grant proposal, and his skill in structuring a proposal has indeed resulted in his being awarded an NIH grant.
(.pdf of application)

Secondary

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Sabbaticals:

Michael BoltThe Mobius Geometry of Hypersurfaces

High level research in mathematics is conducted at a level far above the understanding of those whose experience in mathematics usually ends at the level of introductory calculus or less. As such, mathematics proposals are often very difficult to read and evaluate. This proposal is written in a way provides fairly understandable explanations of terms and concepts to which a reader who has had a course in geometry can relate. The applicant knows that his field is highly technical and has taken pains to present the background material and state the problem in a way that gives the lay reviewer confidence that this is a worthy proposal. Most importantly the specific problems to be addressed are clearly outlined. The applicant has followed the model for a successful grant application, and this project has been awarded funding by NSF.
(.pdf of application)

 

James BrattAbraham Kuyper: a Life in Religion, Politics and Culture

This is an example of a well-organized proposal for a book. The subject is clearly described and placed in the context of previous work. The need for this book is explained in the context of problems existing in the field of scholarship on Kuyper that the applicant intends to address. Two aspects of the proposal show that the project has been carefully planned. A list of the five main goals of the book is concisely stated and a table of contents for the book is outlined.  It is clear why this project ultimately was selected for a Fulbright fellowship.
(.pdf of application)