View grantees in the Image Library

Project Description Questions

All applicants must answer six project description questions.

Question 1: This program supports research that combats inequality and promotes the flourishing of human and non-human worlds through the mutual production of anthropological knowledge with goal of informing policy, benefiting communities, and producing positive change.  Describe the purpose of the research you and your partners will undertake. What will be the focus of your investigation? What is your main research question? What other questions will you need to answer to address it?  [Limit: 1000 words]

The single most important characteristic of a successful proposal is a well-developed research question, hypothesis, or research objective. You should follow these three major guidelines:

  1. Narrowly focus your research question, hypothesis, or objective.  Ask “why,” “how,” or “what” about an issue of significance to anthropology and the communities involved in your research.  Do not present a vast question as the object of investigation; instead, develop answerable questions (or testable hypotheses) in the context of the larger research topic.
  2. Do not present your research questions as if you and your partners already knew the answers.  Demonstrate that the proposed research has the potential to produce results that lead to new knowledge
  3. Be realistic about what you and your partners can achieve.  In other words, avoid claiming that you will address a wide variety of topics without first establishing the core questions that the investigation will answer.


Question 2:  How does your research combine inspiration from insights from anthropology, other academic disciplines, and non-academic sources?  Whose thought will you be building on? Give specific examples of the various lines of work with which you are in dialogue, both within and beyond existing scholarship, and which you are seeking to advance. [Limit: 1500 words]

It is important to clearly demonstrate that you have a strong grasp of the anthropological literature that is relevant to your research question, as well as other disciplinary literature that is relevant to your topic.  Be explicit in showing how your research will expand upon previous work in the field. Wenner-Gren prioritizes research that is theoretically driven, and Question 2 allows you discuss the broader conversations that have guided you in formulating your research questions. It is not enough to just cite literature in answer to this question. Please provide a clear and comprehensive discussion of the issues at stake and demonstrate how your work fits into current debates in the field.

At the same time, it is important to clearly demonstrate that your project is drawing on conceptual resources from outside existing scholarship.  These should include non-academic genres and sources of knowledge that have inspired you and your partners.  Insight springs from bringing unexpected interlocutors into conversation.  In the case of your project, who are these interlocutors and what kinds of knowledge do they bring to the table?  How have you brought together academic and non-academic perspectives to formulate your research question and develop an approach to answering it that is compelling and new? 

Question 3: Describe your collaboration.  Who are the partners?  What constituencies do they represent?  How did they decide to undertake this research?  Who will be responsible for completing the different phases of the project?  Describe the process used to identify the research question and design methods for addressing it.  As part of this application, we require you to provide documentary evidence of commitment from the stakeholders involved in the collaboration.  Please explain why the evidence you are providing is appropriate, given local norms. [Limit: 1000 words]

Convince us that your project entails the mutual production of knowledge.  Explain how the academic and non-academic partners worked together to develop this proposal.  Get into the details.  How often did you meet?  Who set the agenda?  Were there pre-existing protocols for research that you and your partners had to follow?  What did the partners do to ensure that this project accords with the values and expectations of the people who will be affected by it? 

Question 4: Research methodology. What evidence/data will you need to collect to answer your research question? How will you and your partners go about collecting and analyzing this material? Who will provide oversight?   What mechanisms will you and your partners use to respond to problems and opportunities that arise in the course of this work?   [Limit: 1000 words]

Applicants are strongly advised to clearly and explicitly demonstrate that the evidence gathered and the analytical procedures proposed will realistically support the research goals expressed in Question 1.  At the same time, they need to provide strong evidence of how the collaboration that gave rise to this proposal will carry forward into the next phases of the project, including the collection and analysis of evidence.  

Provide a timeline for the research. Demonstrate that you and your partners can complete your planned activities in the allotted time and with the available funds. Come up with a feasible research plan with clearly defined procedures.

If you are planning to conduct the research in phases, provide a timeline and explain why separate trips to the field are necessary.

If you have already received funds from other sources and are applying to Wenner-Gren for either top-up funds or funds to support subsequent phases of the research, you must provide a strong justification for your research.  It is not enough merely to say that you will use the additional funds to collect more data.  Explain clearly and completely why you are unable to achieve your research objectives with the funds already in hand.

The Foundation supports projects using all appropriate methods of data collection and analysis commonly employed in anthropology, including both qualitative and quantitative methods, laboratory, archival and/or museum research, and fieldwork involving archaeological, survey, or ethnographic techniques.

Question 5: Describe the role of the individuals who will participate in the project.  How have you and your partners prepared yourselves to do this research? Describe your language competence, technical skills, previous research, and any other relevant experience. Describe any work you and your partners have already done on this project and how this research relates to other research you and your partners have done. You may be working with additional academic and non-academic collaborators.  If so, please describe their role in this project and how it will relate to yours. [Limit: 1000 words]

In assessing your project we pay close attention to the skillset you and your partners will bring to the project.  Please be specific when it comes to describing the expertise each of the individuals involved are bringing to this work.  Do you and your partners have the language competence and technical training needed for the project?  What steps have you taken to prepare?  Have you already carried out a pilot project? If so, what data/results are already available? Have you encountered any safety or access issues related to your research? If so, how will you manage them? What are the ethical issues raised by your research? How will you address them?

Question 6:  Through this program, the Foundation seeks to demonstrate how engagement can foster innovation and further anthropological thought.   What contribution will your project make to this mission? Describe how your project will bring new insights to the field as a whole and to the constituencies with a stake in this work. How and with whom will you and your partners communicate your findings, including, for instance, to policy makers, activists, political leaders, and the communities affected by your work? [Limit: 1000 words ]

Your project should expand the horizons and change the mindset of anthropologists, when it comes to their understanding of your topic and the power of engaged research in addressing it.  But it should also have the goal of expanding the horizons and change the mindset of your research partners and the broader constituencies they represent.  Above all, in some sense, your findings should be actionable: they should contribute to bringing about positive change.  For this to happen, you and your partners must have a plan for communicating and acting on your results.  You may not be able to describe your plan in detail at this point, but you should have some sense of how you will collaborate in this final phase of your research.