Application Now Open

Development Economics Research Fund

The fall call for proposals is now open until 11:59pm CST, Friday, December 30, 2022

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Exploratory Travel and Pilot Grants

While there may be exceptions, funding will typically not exceed $5,000 for exploratory travel and $10,000 for pilot grants.

Research Grants

  • PhD Students – In the past, funding has generally not exceeded $15,000, and while there may be exceptions, future funding will typically not exceed $25,000.
  • Faculty – In the past, funding has generally not exceeded $35,000, and while there may be exceptions, future grants for tenured and tenure-track faculty will typically not exceed $45,000. Priority will be given to funding junior faculty.

Eligibility

Though priority will be given to PhD students and junior faculty, any of the following members of the University of Chicago development economics community are eligible to apply, provided they meet the other criteria outlined below:

  • PhD students –  must be enrolled at the University of Chicago in a PhD program in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, the Harris School of Public Policy, or Chicago Booth and actively engaged in economic research.  In addition, the student must include a letter of recommendation from a faculty member at Booth, Harris, or Economics at the University of Chicago and have sufficient time to devote to completing the project before graduating.  Grants will not ordinarily be provided to support new projects started by PhD students during their last year of the program.
  • Postdoctoral fellows and non-ladder faculty – only eligible if they have already obtained a ladder faculty position at the University of Chicago.
  • Faculty – must be ladder faculty at the University of Chicago working on research projects on economic issues that affect developing countries. Instructional faculty and research faculty are not eligible.

Project Guidelines

The Development Economics Research Fund (DERF) is financially supported by Becker Friedman Institute (BFI) and the Development Innovation Lab (DIL) and aims to sponsor research in the field of development economics at the University of Chicago.

The Program only funds research in low and middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank. This includes countries, regions, or populations with per capita GDP below $11,000 in current USD, with a preference for supporting work in countries, regions, or populations with per capita GDP below $5,500. Countries’ GDP per capita is determined according to the most recent data available from the World Bank Open Data portal.

The Program does not fund research in high-income countries, even on low-income populations within these countries.

Application Instructions

Deadlines

  • Fall 2022 call for proposals closes at 11:59pm CST, Friday, December 30, 2022. If a proposal is time sensitive, please indicate in the application and by emailing deveconcenter@uchicago.edu

Option to Submit Proposals Prepared Using Other Funders’ Formats

The DERF Committee encourages applicants to submit their proposals to multiple organizations. Those eligible for DERF who have already developed a proposal for another funder may use the previously submitted documents (or a revised version in the original format) along with an introductory statement (400 words max) of the response received and status of the project. Any responses or reviews received from the other funder along with responses drafted by the (co-)PI(s) should also be submitted as a separate combined .pdf. The submission must still address all information required for a standard submission either in the alternative format or as a supplement. As with any proposal, the committee will retain the right to also request and require additional information prior to making a decision.

Documents for Standard Submissions

You will need the following documents to complete your application:

  • CV for all PI’s and Co-PI’s (.pdf)
  • Budget following the template provided here (.xlsx)
  • Narrative Proposal describing the project in sufficient detail to allow reviewers to determine its feasibility and potential impact on the development economics literature:
    1. Exploratory Travel and Pilots (.pdf, max 2 pages)
    2. PhD Student Research Grant (.pdf, max 5 pages)
    3. Faculty Research Grant (.pdf, max 5 pages)
      (Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, 1-in margins)

Student submissions also require the following:

  • Unofficial transcript for all student PI’s and CoPI’s (.pdf)
  • Narrative summary of research background and evidence of ability to complete the project (.pdf, one page max)
  • Letter of recommendation provided by advisor

Finally, if your proposal is a Revise and Resubmit from a previous round, you will also be asked to:

  • Upload a document with your responses to the committee comments and how the proposal has been changed (.pdf)

  • Narrative Guidelines

    Exploratory Travel and Pilots: While there may be exceptions, funding will typically not exceed $5,000 for exploratory travel and $10,000 for pilot grants.

    Provide a concise summary of the objectives of the exploratory travel or proposed pilot.

    Submissions must comply with the following parameters:

    • Use the following naming convention: last name of primary PI, then
      • “_F_21_ET.pdf” (e.g., Smith_F_21_ET.pdf) for exploratory travel, or
      • “_F_21_PIL.pdf” (e.g., Smith_F_21_PIL.pdf) for pilots
    • Include the following components
      (Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, 1-in margins, total page count should not exceed 2 pages, excluding appendix):

      • One paragraph summary of the entire proposal
      • Concise background and motivation
      • If applicable, describe the individual(s) and/or organization(s) with which the researcher plans to meet and what communication the researcher has already had
      • If applicable, provide the following:
        • Description of research methods
        • Availability of data

    PhD Student Research Grant: In the past, funding has generally not exceeded $15,000, and while there may be exceptions, future funding will typically not exceed $20,000.

    Describe the project in sufficient detail to allow reviewers to determine its feasibility and potential impact on the development economics literature. The introduction and background section is to be concise. The proposal should focus on the technical details and analytic elements of the study. For example, if the project includes a survey, description of survey content (and survey questions, if these have already been developed), and details about the data collection approach should be provided; if the project involves implementing a lab-in-the-field game, the game design should be described in sufficient detail for reviewers to judge it. Submissions must comply with the following parameters:

    • Use the following naming convention: last name of primary PI, then “_F_21_PhD.pdf” (e.g., Smith_F_21_PhD.pdf).
    • Include the following components and each section should be shorter than the maximum section page limits specified below (Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, 1-in margins, total page count should not exceed 5 pages, excluding appendix):
      • Abstract (0.5 page)
      • Introduction and background (0.5 page)
        • Very concise background and motivation
        • An outline of the research hypothesis
        • Contribution to the literature
      • Methodology and research approach (3 pages)
      • Timeline and budget (1 page)
        • Project timeline
        • Budget narrative
      • Appendix (optional). This can contain tables, figures, survey questions/instruments, protocols, devices used, etc. Appendix will not count towards page limit but may not include a continuation of the proposal narrative.

    For empirical proposals, be sure to describe the following in the “Methodology and research approach” section:

    • Availability of data
    • Description of the dataset (including descriptive statistics if already available)
    • Outcome variables and their measurement

    For proposals intended to estimate a causal effect, be sure to describe the identification strategy.

    For randomized controlled trials (RCT), further include:

    • power calculations
    • sample size
    • level(s) of randomization and (if applicable) explanation of clusters
    • explanation of stratification (if applicable)
    • timing of implementation
    • timing of data collection

    Faculty Research Grant: In the past, funding has generally not exceeded $35,000, and while there may be exceptions, future grants for tenured and tenure-track faculty will typically not exceed $40,000. Priority will be given to funding junior faculty.

    Describe the project in sufficient detail to allow reviewers to determine its feasibility and potential impact on the development economics literature. Submissions must comply with the following parameters:

    • Use the following naming convention: last name of primary PI, then “_F_21_FAC.pdf” (e.g., Smith_F_21_ FAC.pdf).
    • Include the following components and each section should be shorter than the maximum section page limits specified below. (Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, 1-in margins, total page count should not exceed 5 pages, excluding appendix):
      • Abstract (0.5 page)
      • Introduction, background and contribution (0.5 page)
      • Methodology and research approach (3 pages)
      • Timeline and budget (1 page)
      • Appendix (optional). This can contain tables, figures, survey questions/instruments, protocols, devices used, etc. Appendix will not count towards page limit but may not include a continuation of the proposal narrative.
  • Budget Guidelines

    Use the naming convention “Name_F_ 21_budget.xlsx” (e.g., Smith_F_21_budget.xlsx].

    Eligible costs

    Typical expenses covered include personnel, data collection or acquisition, equipment, travel, dissemination, and conference attendance.

    The fund cannot be used to support graduate student salaries while they work on the project.

    Budget and budget narrative

    The proposal is to include a budget spreadsheet (in Excel) describing the anticipated budget, including project costs and sources of funding obtained or requested.

    The budget narrative should include brief justification/context for the main budget items such as enumerator or RA costs (including appropriateness of the level of compensation). It should also describe the contributions expected of the research partner(s) (e.g., NGO, government, for-profit firm), if any, whether monetary or in-kind.

    A budget template is available for your use here.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Student applications also require a letter of recommendation provided by an advisor:

    1. The recommendation letter will be requested via the online application form. Submitters will include their advisor’s name and email address.
    2. A request will be sent directly to the advisor who can upload the recommendation letter through the online portal.
    3. Please ask your advisor to use the following naming convention: last name of primary PI, last name of recommender, then “F_21_rec” (e.g., Smith_Doe_F_21_rec.pdf).
  • Evaluation Criteria

    Projects will be judged based on:

    • Potential academic contribution to the development economics literature, broadly defined
    • Feasibility of the proposal to be successfully implemented including, for students, ability and track record of the applicant(s)
    • Appropriateness of the budget and alternative sources of funding being adequately pursued
    • Past history of funding by DERF

    Funding provided by the Development Innovation Lab (DIL) is to primarily support research aimed at testing development innovations and taking demonstrated innovations to scale, and therefore, additional consideration will be given for projects that:

    • Rigorously evaluate an innovation.
    • Take demonstrated innovations to scale.

    Finally, for students, the committee will also consider:

    • Letter of recommendation
    • Research experience and ability to implement project as proposed
    • Unofficial transcripts

    Submissions will be reviewed, and grants will be awarded on a rolling basis. The review committee will evaluate each submitted application and respond with one of the following:

    1. approve project funding
    2. decline the request
    3. ask the applicant to revise and resubmit a full proposal either in the same round, or the following round

    It is the applicant’s responsibility to comply with any procedures mandated by University of Chicago; DERF is unable to provide assistance or extensions to accommodate these internal processes.