National Endowment for the Humanities: Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites applications to the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants program. This program is designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. By awarding relatively small grants to support the planning stages, NEH aims to encourage the development of innovative projects that promise to benefit the humanities.
Proposals should be for the planning or initial stages of digital initiatives in any area of the humanities. Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants may involve:

  • research that brings new approaches or documents best practices in the study of the digital humanities;
  • planning and developing prototypes of new digital tools for preserving, analyzing, and making accessible digital resources, including libraries’ and museums’ digital assets;
  • scholarship or studies that examine the philosophical or practical implications and impact of the use of emerging technologies in specific fields or disciplines of the humanities, or in interdisciplinary collaborations involving several fields or disciplines;
  • innovative uses of technology for public programming and education utilizing both traditional and new media; and
  • new digital modes of publication that facilitate the dissemination of humanities scholarship in advanced academic as well as informal or formal educational settings at all academic levels.

Innovation is a hallmark of this grant category. All applicants must propose an innovative approach, method, tool, or idea that has not been used before in the humanities. These grants are modeled, in part, on the “high risk/high reward” paradigm often used by funding agencies in the sciences. NEH is requesting proposals for projects that take some risks in the pursuit of innovation and excellence.
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants should result in plans, prototypes, or proofs of concept for long-term digital humanities projects prior to implementation.

Two levels of awards will be made in this program: Level I and Level II.

Level I awards are small grants designed to fund brainstorming sessions, workshops, early alpha-level prototypes, and initial planning. In addition to early planning towards an innovative prototype, Level I proposals should identify a problem or research question, explore a research agenda, or discover appropriate methodologies or technologies. Outcomes for Level I projects would likely include reports, position papers, and plans for subsequent steps and future research or development. Level I projects may also fund conferences or workshops addressing specific topics related to the impact of technology on the humanities. Proposals should include specific plans for broad dissemination of project outcomes.

Level II awards are larger grants that can be used for more fully-formed projects that are ready to begin implementation or demonstrate proofs of concept. Level II proposals should therefore include a more articulated plan of work leading to concrete and tangible outcomes, such as working prototypes, test beds, or demonstration projects. Applicants must state in their narrative which funding level they seek. Applicants should carefully choose the funding level appropriate to the needs of the proposed project. See Section II, Award Information, for more details.

Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants support full-time or part-time activities for periods up to eighteen months. Support is available for various combinations of scholars, consultants, and research assistants; project-related travel; and technical support and services. Up to 20 percent of the total grant may be used for the acquisition of computing hardware and software. All grantees are expected to communicate the results of their work to appropriate scholarly and public audiences.
Successful applicants will be expected to create a “lessons learned” white paper. This white paper should document the project, including lessons learned, so that others can benefit from the grantees’ experience. This white paper will be posted on the NEH website.
All proposals will be required to include a data management plan that discusses how research data will be preserved. (Please see the Application and Submission Information section for more details.)
 
Types of projects not supported
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants cannot be used for
  • projects that mainly involve digitization, unless the applicant is proposing an innovative method for digitization;
  • the creation or conversion of a scholarly journal (however, the exploration of or planning for new models of scholarly publication is allowed);
  • the implementation or assessment of existing digital applications in the humanities (however, exploration of or planning for a new direction or tool for an established project is allowed);
  • recurring or established conferences or professional meetings;
  • acquisition of computer equipment or software in excess of 20 percent of the grant total;
  • creative or performing arts;
  • empirical social scientific research;
  • work undertaken in the pursuit of an academic degree;
  • the preparation or publication of textbooks;
  • projects that seek to promote a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view; or
  • projects that advocate a particular program of social action.
Providing access to grant products
As a taxpayer-supported federal agency, NEH endeavors to make the products of its grants available to the broadest possible audience. Our goal is for scholars, educators, students, and the American public to have ready and easy access to the wide range of NEH grant products. For the Digital Humanities Start-up Grants program, such products may include software code, algorithms, digital tools, reports, articles, and websites. For projects that lead to the development of such products, all other considerations being equal, NEH gives preference to those that provide free access to the public.
For more information, visit: www.neh.gov