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Project Description Questions

Applicants must answer five project description questions.

Question 1: Describe the purpose of your research. 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 you research question, hypothesis, or objective.  Ask “why,” “how,” or “what” about an issue of significance to anthropology. 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 the answers were already known.  Demonstrate that the proposed research will answer (or test) the question/s (or hypothesis).
  3. Be realistic about what you can achieve.  Many applications fail because they claim their research will answer a wide variety of questions without convincing us that their investigation will answer any single one fully and carefully.


Question 2: How does your research draw inspiration from existing scholarship in anthropology and other disciplines? Whose findings will you be building on? Give specific examples of the various lines of work with which you are in dialogue and which you are seeking to advance. [Limit: 1000 words]

It is important to clearly demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of the anthropological literature, as well as other disciplinary literature, relevant to your topic. Be explicit in showing how your research will expand on previous work. 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.

Primatologists should note that to be competitive they should clearly demonstrate how their research is derived from and will contribute to anthropological debates dealing with humanity's cultural and/or biological origins, development, and/or modern variation. It is not sufficient to merely cite primatological literature and primatological debates in answer to this question.

Question 3: What evidence will you need to collect to answer your research question? How will you go about collecting and analyzing this evidence? [Limits: 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.

Provide a timeline for your research. Demonstrate that you 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. Please note that the Foundation does not fund trips home to consult with supervisors/colleagues, to carry out preliminary data analysis or to attend conferences, nor do we fund follow-up trips to the field to verify or augment data, etc.

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 4: How have you prepared yourself to do this research? Describe your language competence, technical skills, previous research, and any other relevant experience. Describe any work you have already done on this project and how this research relates to other research you have done. You may be working with 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 will pay close attention to your preparation. Do you have the required language skills or relevant expertise needed for your project? Have you developed a network of local contacts and/or arranged academic affiliations? 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 5: What contribution will your project make to anthropological theory? Please note that the Foundation's mission is to support innovative research in anthropology.  We are interested in supporting work that does more than simply add to an existing body of knowledge.  Describe how your project will bring new insights to the field as a whole. [Limit: 500 words]

The Wenner-Gren Foundation defines anthropology in its broadest terms as a discipline that advances knowledge about humanity's cultural and biological origins, development, and variation. A successful application is one that emphasizes the proposed project's contribution not only to the specific area of research being addressed but also to the broader field of anthropology. Be explicit about what your research will add to wider anthropological conversations.


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