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CAS research shares research opportunities for the humanities

The Associate Chair of English, Laura Runge, will be preparing a monthly column in support of research in the department. This feature will include information on research matters at USF, advice and news about research conducted.

Laura L. Runge is a professor of English and the associate department chair. She can be reached at

This first column is an interview with Sandra Justice, Senior Research Administrator for the College of Arts and Sciences.

What is a Research Administrator and what work do you do with faculty of CAS?
The role of the research administrators is to support the faculty as it relates to their research engagement. Research administrators support faculty during every stage of the grant’s funding cycle, and through this support, reduce faculty burden and provide technical expertise as it relates to compliance. Research administrators at the University of South Florida are specialized administrative staff in departments and colleges, many of which are internally trained and USF Certified Research Administrators.

The USF College of Arts and Sciences is home to two dozen academic departments and non-academic units, comprising approximately 700 faculty and staff housed within 16 buildings. The CAS Office of Research and Scholarship was established in 2001 to provide this high level of expertise paired with a professional diplomacy in our modest team of an Associate Dean for Research and supporting research team, as a go-to resource for researchers and scholars in every area of the research enterprise at the USF College of Arts and Sciences. The complexity of research administration requires knowledgeable, highly adaptive, and skilled professionals who have expertise in an ever expanding variety of areas characterized today by evolving regulatory requirements and a need for managed risk. Success in this knowledge economy depends on organized and effective collaborative teams to remain competitive, streamline processes, and drive innovation. Our team of five highly-dedicated research administrators is positioned to provide grant support for both pre- and post-award.

Research administrators help identify funding opportunities, assist with the preparation of your competitive application, develop budget pieces, help with uploading into agency-specified interface (such as or FastLane), and navigate university process to submit. Upon award, research administrators assist with establishing the award, spending and grant management including regular reporting to reconcile spending; helping understand final reporting requirements and closeout processes. Research administrators also shepherd faculty through compliance processes that may be new to them, such as Internal Review Board (IRB) for studies that include human subjects, and understanding rules around Conflict of Interest, Intellectual Property, Export Control and Effort Reporting.

Are research grants important for humanities professors?
Yes! Securing funding for your research is a performance benchmark – for faculty toward tenure, for the department or college in negotiating for their annual budget, and for the university seeking state funding based on performance milestones established by our Board of Governors. If you apply for an APS grant, let your research administrator help you navigate the USF process so that you and your department get credit. Let us help you to receive funding from the Franklin Research Grant to travel to the British Academy where you can leverage their libraries and resources, collaborate with local scholars, and do your research. Your scholarship is important work! Your research leads to publications, elevates awareness of your scholarly expertise, and raises the profile of the university. Your scholarly contribution includes articles in journals, edited collections, blogs, digital archives and variety of media forms. To get there, to underwrite and support your scholarly effort, we are here to support your effort to win grants and fellowships. How research grants matters to the humanities is well articulated on the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) website Mellon and ACLS); and prestigious awards (Fulbright, Guggenheim). NEH has made significant investment in digital humanities, collaborative research and highly prestigious fellowships.

What’s the probability of getting a humanities grant?
As illustrated on the NEH Matters website, there is waning financial support for humanities funding. That said, each funding opportunity identified has funding expectations. For example, the NEH Collaborative Research grant notes on the following program statistics: in the last five competitions the Collaborative Research program received an average of 128 applications per year. The program made an average of 13 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 10 percent. As compared to the NEH Challenge grant program statistics: in the last five competitions the Challenge Grants program received an average of 103 applications per year. The program made an average of 18 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 17 percent.

Why should an English faculty member apply?
Another question on funding for English faculty may be: What do you want to do with your research? Or, Can you do your research without funding? Even though we have a 21st century advantage with the Internet and the ever increasingly available ancient texts and primary source documents needed for good research—many scholars seek financial support to: visit resources of distant libraries, historic sites; travel to collaborate with colleagues; embed in a culture/environment of study; and, establish a blog or network of collaborators (conference, symposia, invited talks, tours, exhibits, etc.). From a budget perspective this could include: travel dollars, release time, student support, infrastructure funding and more.

Can you help an English professor get a grant?
Yes! All CAS faculty are invited to work with the team or research administrators in the CAS Office of Research and Scholarship. Your key words can become the guiding steps that are helpful to identify grant opportunities in funding databases. Examples of external funding sources for humanities faculty include: • The Foundation Center: • PIVOT: • • Institute of Museums and Libraries: • National Endowment for the Arts: • National Archives:

The College of Arts and Sciences is rare (compared to other USF colleges) in the depth and breadth of investment of faculty research and scholarship via the CAS Internal Awards Program. This pivotal funding program offers grants for faculty travel, pilot projects, and acquisition of small equipment. Funding for the CAS Internal Awards is offered in two competition cycles: Fall and Spring. Other internal funding available to CAS faculty include: USF Internal Awards, Humanities Institute grants, and USF World travel grants. These internal awards help develop foundational work that will then be applied to a larger project, collaboration, grant, or publication.

What advice do you have for planning a grant into the work cycle for humanities research?
The first and most important part of your research grant is the “idea” or “question.” From a purely logistical perspective, I try to start with the end in mind, such as a book or manuscript, a digital humanities project, new curriculum or tenure. What do you want to do or have at the end of your grant? This will help define the type of grant that would fit with your research goals.

What other support is available to help faculty get research grants?
USF’s Office of Sponsored Research provides oversight for all proposal preparation and grant support, including compliance with federal regulations, state statutes and university policies, and financial administration of all funded grants. The college employs full-time grants accountants whom the USF faculty work with on grant related activity. All grant accounts are strictly separate and auditable. All financial records are available for sponsor review at any time. The PI, co-PI and support staff have a P-Card and have received training in compliance. USF has state contracts with various vendors to obtain the best possible pricing for the waiver of taxes and shipping and handling charges whenever possible.

The USF Office of Research and Innovation is made up of divisions dedicated to where they serve on the grant lifecycle. • All proposals for external funding should be submitted to the sponsor/agency through the USF Division of Sponsored Research. • Awards are established and spending managed in concert with Research Financial Management. • USF Research Foundation manages gifts toward research. • Division of Integrity and Compliance oversees federal regulations and university policy for research at USF (IRB, IACUC, Export Control, COI). • Patents and Licensing is just that, intellectual property, translational discovery and research innovation.

What steps does the professor need to take before contacting you?
The CAS Office of Research & Scholarship is home to many talented research administrators. To work with us, simply send us an email to set up a time for a brief meeting to discuss your research goals and map a funding strategy. Our contact information is the CAS Office of Research & Scholarship website.


Filed under:English Arts and Sciences Research   
Author:Laura Runge