Blog Post

Tips for ACLS Fellowship Applications

The Center for Humanities and Public Sphere at the University of Florida invited Matthew Goldfeder from ACLS to provide an overview of ACLS fellowships. Goldfeder and the respondents gave some great tips on how to write successful applications that I wanted to share with the HASTAC community.

Goldfeder first noted the importance of the three components on the key first page.

  1. The title must be eye-catching.
  2. The abstract should explain the whole project without leaving something out.
  3. The broader significance should not promise too much or not enough.

Goldfeder and the respondents also gave some specific tips about making your application successful and stand out:

  • The application should specifically refer to a project, not just an idea. Furthermore, there should be a clear argument, not just a description.
  • Treat your application as your chance at mastering the art of storytelling. Make it compelling and riveting for your readers. When outlining the significance of your project, be able to explain its urgency, or kairotic moment. Consider a gripping metaphor to help your readers understand the impact.
  • Write with the confidence that says you believe your project is the most exciting and deserving of funding.
  • Make sure that you include a feasible, realistic timeline. If you over-promise, it will appear that you do not understand how long each element will take, but if you do not promise enough, it will not seem worth granting a large amount of money.
  • Always be honest on your application and do not overinflate your CV.
  • The kiss of death is to explicitly state that you are using this fellowship to turn your dissertation into a book.
  • Because your application will first be reviewed by experts in the field and then passed to an interdisciplinary committee, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. You will want to demonstrate that you understand how your project is intervening in your field, but avoid using jargon for the readers that are in other fields.
  • Show your application to people in other disciplines to get their outside perspective. They can more clearly identify jargon or elements that they do not understand than someone close to your project.
  • Choose your reference letters very carefully.

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