University of Minnesota
interdisciplinary studies of writing
center for writing

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Research grants to support inquiry into writing in and across the disciplines

The Center’s Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing program offers grants to support the research of University of Minnesota scholars and teachers—from departments, disciplines, and Centers across the University—into writing and literacy.

ISW research grant–funded projects investigate what happens at the intersections of teaching with and learning through writing—whether within or across disciplines. Teacher-scholars use ISW funding for focused research projects that address educational needs or research gaps in their field(s) or discipline(s); these focused research projects are a good fit for an ISW research grant when they also contribute to a larger understanding of big questions about writing pedagogy and practice, such as the following:

In what ways does writing support student learning in and across the disciplines?

When we teach with writing, where do theory and practice collide?

As we conceive of “writing” much more broadly than just words on paper, in what new ways does writing foster learning?

How might we teach writing in ways that interrupt or eliminate systemic barriers to students’ full, equitable participation in and across disciplines?

Click here for examples (in pdf form) of project summaries from successful ISW grant proposals.

Selection criteria

  • Clarity of stated educational need or research gap: What is the need or gap that the research project will address? This issue or problem should be comprehensible to non-specialist readers.
  • Engagement with relevant literature: Where and how is the research project grounded in a larger published conversation in disciplinary journals, pedagogical literature, or education research?
  • Effectiveness of method(s) to address the research question: We welcome methods from a wide variety of disciplines and epistemologies. Successful applicants will explain how both how the particular method they’ve chosen enables them to address the research question/problem they’ve identified and why this method is the appropriate choice for their research question.
  • Feasibility: Does the proposal provide a specific timeline for completion and make clear how funds will be spent within that timeline? In other words, is the project “doable” given the available time and resources?
  • Meaningful participation by undergraduate or graduate Research Assistant(s) (if applicable): If some or all of the funding is designated to support the work of an undergraduate or graduate research assistant, how does the work advance that student’s professional development?
  • Significance: ISW grants are designed to support the improvement of teaching and learning while contributing to a larger understanding of big questions about writing pedagogy and practice. What difference will this project make? What concrete things can happen in the teaching of or learning through writing as a result of this research? How might this research contribute to a more equitable and accessible University of Minnesota?  
  • Plans for sharing results: How do the proposers plan to share what they learn with a wider audience?

Preference will be given to proposals from applicants who have not received ISW grants in the past.


Principal Investigator must be a University of Minnesota faculty or P&A staff member. Graduate students may not serve as Principal Investigators nor as Co–Principal Investigators; however, they may serve as Research Assistants on ISW grants. For funding opportunities solely for graduate students, please see information on our Literacy and Rhetorical Studies minor and its associated grants and fellowships.

Amount and expenses

Award amounts are variable, depending on merit of proposal and availability of funds, but typically between $2500 and $6000.

expenses permitted

Research grants from ISW primarily cover the salary and fringe of graduate and undergraduate Research Assistants whose contributions are part of their professional development. Other fundable expenses may include equipment and supplies; research and consultation costs associated with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), the Office of Measurement Services (OMS), or the like; and publication/documentation costs.

expenses not permitted

ISW grants do not fund faculty release time or the work of Teaching Assistants. No Facilities and Administrative/Indirect costs are permitted. Unlike the Literacy and Rhetorical Studies Minor summer fellowship, the ISW program does not provide financial support for dissertation or thesis research. For funding opportunities solely for graduate students, please see information on our Literacy and Rhetorical Studies minor and its associated grants and fellowships.

How to apply

Letter of Intent: Friday, March 6, 2020
Full application (if invited): Monday, April 13, 2020


Monday, May 4, 2020