Grant FAQs

  • 1Who is qualified to apply for a MEDSL grant?

    The competition is open to Ph.D. candidates who are initiating or already conducting dissertation research and faculty members at American colleges and universities.

    Although the study of elections and election reform have historically been the purview of political science and public administration, the Lab encourages research in elections that might be centered in other social sciences (e.g., psychology, anthropology), the natural sciences (e.g., mathematics), engineering (e.g., computer science), and professional fields (e.g., management science).

    Priority in the selection of grantees will be given to Ph.D. candidates and to junior faculty members. Individuals and research teams of two or more individuals are eligible.

  • 2What kinds of research projects are eligible for consideration?

    The Lab’s main interest is to encourage new approaches to the scientific study of elections and election reform.

    Topics that might be proposed include, but are not limited to: factors that influence turnout and registration; campaign finance; redistricting and apportionment; voting technology; polling place practices; the maintenance of voter registration rolls; the funding of elections; design of ballots and election materials; election audits; and election forensics.

    The Lab looks to fund projects that can be investigated and reported within one year. Therefore, the types of proposals that are most likely to be successful are those that seek, for instance, to expand analysis already planned in a dissertation; investigate a new, emerging issue that may later be expanded into a larger project; or contribute a new case or approach within an ongoing research project.

  • 3What could a research grant pay for?

    A grant can cover almost any aspect of a qualified research project, such as costs associated with travel to conduct research away from the researcher’s campus; costs associated with data-collection activities, including the conduct of surveys, questionnaires, and/or focus groups or the purchase of existing data; costs for payments to research subjects; and costs of clerical, secretarial, research, or transcription assistance.

    Specifically excluded from funding are the purchase of equipment, textbooks, tuition support, salary support for the principal investigator(s), indirect costs or institutional overhead, travel to professional meetings, and publication subsidies.

    Grants are awarded to individuals on a competitive basis; each individual grant is capped at a maximum of $20,000. Grants extend for a maximum of one year.

    Grants are normally paid directly to the recipient, with the recipient responsible for the payment of any taxes associated with the grant. If potential recipients prefer to have payments made to a university on their behalf, they must submit with their proposal a letter from the responsible official stipulating that no indirect or overhead costs will be charged against the grant.

  • 4How do I apply?

    The application window for 2019 grants closed on March 3, 2019. Application requirements for future grants will be available when applications reopen.

  • 5What is the timeline?

    The application window for 2019 grants closed on March 3, 2019. Recipients will be notified in April, 2019.

  • 6 How are recipients selected?

    Proposals are judged by the significance of the research project; the project’s design, plan of work, and dissemination; the applicant’s qualifications; the relationship of the project to the Lab’s goal of encouraging research that is relevant to the improvement of elections; and the appropriateness of the budget request for the project’s requirements.

  • 7What are the obligations if I receive a grant?
    • Acknowledge the support given by the MIT Election Data and Science Lab and its funder, the Madison Initiative of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
    • Provide evidence of IRB approval before the disbursement of funds, for projects requiring such approval.
    • Propose a paper or poster for presentation at the Election Science Summer Conference based on research supported by this grant. (If accepted, the Lab will reimburse related travel costs of up to $1,000 to attend the conference.)
    • Provide the Lab a one-page summary of the work supported by the grant, which will be published on the Lab’s Website and used to support the grant program’s outreach.
    • Provide a financial report at the end of the grant period (a reporting template will be provided). All unused funds must be returned to MIT.
    • Notify the Lab of any books, articles, papers, or other publications based on research supported by the grant.
    • Make any dataset created by the grant available to open public dissemination through the Lab on a non-exclusive basis, within six months of the end of the grant period.
Claire DeSoi


Interested in our past recipients? Click below to learn more about the great work they are doing in election science.