SSHRC Proposals

Hopefully by now we’ve all had the chance to do some work on our SSHRC proposals for next week… or at least to spend some time thinking about what we’re going to write. How is it going for everyone? What are you research questions/ideas? Has anyone here ever written a SSHRC proposal before, and if so, do you have any advice? I personally haven’t, though I wrote a proposal for my OGS application last year, which was somewhat similar, albeit less detailed. I didn’t get the scholarship, though, so I’m probably not the best person to ask for tips.

I know that our strength so far, as a group, has been more in the individual posts than comments or discussions, so I thought I’d set up this space to talk about our progress and maybe get some feedback from each other before the deadline. I’ll definitely be replying with updates on my progress (when I make some), and I hope the rest of you aren’t too busy to do the same.


7 thoughts on “SSHRC Proposals

  1. hannahmasterman

    I finished the first draft of my proposal yesterday. I kept putting it off and putting it off. Eventually, yesterday morning I sat myself down at my computer and told myself I couldn’t leave until I had 2 pages of type, whatever the quality.

    I’ve never applied for SSHRC before either, so it was very hard to start. But I think it helped to think of this as just practice elucidating my question, rather than an attempt to win an award. My topic is the information needs of asexuals during the self-identification process. (I changed it from my last blog post). There’s been a bit of stuff investigating the info needs of other LGBTQ groups, but nothing so far on them which I think is sort of a shame because they are a group of the population that (I would argue) have very specific needs, and their relative invisibility in society means that (I imagine) it’s quite difficult to satisfy those needs. I’m in the sexual diversity collaborative program, and the factors that influence psychosexual identity development really interest me.

    Anyway, that’s my topic. For the proposal, I just used it as a mini-lit review/methods discussion. I actually found writing the section on my background to be the hardest in some ways. I thought before that we could only talk about academic background stuff, which would be difficult as I’ve very little relevant academic stuff to say. I spoke with Glen last week, and he said to include anything that might be relevant to your topic. So I added in a sentence about volunteering at an LGBTQ support organization. That sort of thing is okay to add, for anyone else struggling with background.

    Glen also suggested that it’s not unusual for research question to evolve over the course of the term. So, after you write this assignment, it’s okay to fine-tune or even completely alter your focus for assignment 4. Which is good: less pressure.

    Good luck everyone.

  2. yshereck

    I also found it difficult to get going on this assignment and I also had to make myself think of it more as practice than a real bid for a scholarship. Actually, the more I got into the assignment the more relieved I got that it really is only practice for me. My topic explores the use of art libraries by studio art and design students and as interesting and engaging as I find the issue and the possibilities involved in researching it, I can’t help being a bit relieved that I will not actually be conducting the study. I am accustomed to studying history and doing my research almost exclusively through textual analysis so I find this new type of research extremely daunting. How do you guys feel about designing the study versus actually performing it? Is anybody here actually doing the thesis option and applying to SSHRC for real?

    1. Brett Phillipson Post author

      I’m definitely thinking of mine as practice as well. I don’t actually qualify for SSHRC right now anyway (this is my second Master’s), but I know that I’m going to have to do this kind of thing in the future. It’s something that I’ve always been pretty bad at, so I’m really looking forward to getting some actual feedback. Having said that, though, I’m far from being done, thanks to my terrible habit of doing everything at the last minute. I’ve given it a lot of thought, though, and I have a pretty good idea of which sources I’m going to cite in my mini lit review.

      The one thing I worry about, and I’ve mentioned this before, is that my research is still going to be predominantly (maybe entirely) textually based, which isn’t something we’ve covered yet in class or in the readings. I feel like as a result anything I have to say on methodology is going to be pretty weak. I guess it will be a learning experience, but I still don’t know how I’m going to approach that.

      1. miloanderson

        Hi Brett,

        Knight had some interesting things to say on documentary analysis and post-empirical research, which made me think of you because I know your background is in history. You may not have gotten to it yet when you posted this (neither had I, just read it in fact, I’m the worst procrastinator there is).

        Basically, he’s confirming what most of us probably assumed — that there can be significant value in just doing library research. There’s a tremendous amount of research work that has already been done, and it’s presumptuous to assume that all of it has been given its proper consideration. Also, although ideas are cheap, sometimes insight is key and it takes the right person looking at the right material to get at it.

        Although it’s probably not much use to you now, as there’s not much time to completely rethink a proposal. Could be something to think about as we move forward into other assignments.

        As I’m coming down the home stretch on my proposal (10 p.m., plenty of time), I’m also realizing justifying my methodology is slightly more complicated than I thought it would be. Common sense is a recurring enemy because when it comes time to actually write everything down, saying “you know, like you do” doesn’t fly. One thing I took away from my meeting with Glen on Friday is that we don’t need a ton of detail on methodology in a two page proposal. A general description is OK.

      2. Brett Phillipson Post author

        I am the worst at doing things at the last minute. I just finished my second and not quite (but almost!) final draft. I haven’t had a chance to do the Knight reading yet (looks like I’ll be getting up early tomorrow morning) but I did check out Luker’s bit on content analysis, which was actually really helpful. I’ll definitely try to read Knight in the morning and see if there’s anything I can add to the proposal, though I’m hoping not to make too many more changes. It’s nice to actually have some methodology stuff from the readings in my proposal. When I first started I felt like I was making everything up.

        Also, I did kind of end up rethinking my proposal at the last minute. About halfway through my second draft I realized I was really unhappy about it and ended up narrowing my topic a bit. It was stressful, given how much I had already written, but I ended up still being able to use most of my content and I think it’s a much better proposal now. I hope I still think so in the morning.

        Thanks to everyone for your input. Good luck, and I’ll see you in class tomorrow.

  3. yshereck

    There are short sections in both Knight and Luker about content analysis. I don’t know if that is the type of textual research you are doing but it seems like a very flexible method and perfectly valid to discuss as a methodology. There is an article by Marilyn Domas White and Emily E. March called “Content Analysis: A Flexible Methodology” which talks about how content analysis can be used in both quantitative and qualitative research. I found it useful for my own proposal which involves a website analysis component.

  4. jessstarr88

    The SSHRC application was definitely a challenge for me since I’ve never written anything like this before. A friend recommended that I use subheadings to divide my application up, and ultimately I think that that was what helped me get through it. I think I am going to apply for the SSHRC since I feel like I don’t really have anything to lose, and also because I think it will be really beneficial to gain some experience through the process. Like Brett I am looking forward to getting some feedback since I still feel a bit unsure about what is expected in the application.

    This is a bit of an aside, but I am having a really hard time using the SSHRC website at all – like, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to create a profile, or even find the application guidelines. I guess that means that I don’t deserve a SSHRC (maybe the tricky website is just another way of weeding out the inadequate) but if anyone can offer some helpful tips I would really appreciate them!

    Good luck to everyone on finishing your applications! See you tomorrow 🙂


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