Residential Fellowship Opportunities for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars at Research Institutions

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 8:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom VI (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Diane Dillon, Newberry Library
Diane Dillon will provide an overview of residential fellowship opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at independent research libraries, museums, and other institutions.   These site-specific fellowship programs are typically designed to promote the use of the sponsoring institution’s collections by advanced researchers.   The fellowships fall into two general categories:  long-term fellowships (which are most often awarded for one semester or a full academic year) and short-term fellowships (which may range from a week to three months).   At many institutions, the long-term fellows are expected to become core members of a community of scholars and take an active role in in-house seminars, conferences, and workshops in addition to pursuing their own research.   They usually have abundant opportunities to present their work-in-progress and receive feedback from the other scholars in the community.  Short-term fellows also participate in the intellectual life of the institutions, but short-term awards rarely carry specific obligations to do so; rather, these fellowships are intended to give scholars access to materials that are unavailable closer to home and the fellows’ primary obligation is to their own research.

Competition for both types of fellowships is keen.  At most institutions, applications are reviewed by a panel of distinguished scholars from the academic world.  Successful proposals are typically penned in engaging prose, offering a concise overview of the scholar’s larger project and the contributions  it will make to the field as well as a specific research plan for the fellowship period .  The latter section should describe in detail the collection materials to be consulted and explain their importance to the project.  The proposal should communicate the significance of the project to reviewers who may not be specialists in the applicant’s field.