Skip to main content

Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences (ERSS)

NOTICE: The ERSS is currently being reviewed as part of the College-wide strategic planning recommendation to establish a Research Academy and a Center for the Arts and Humanities. A final announcement will be made once the review process is completed. For the time being, this program and its associated competition are suspended. If you have questions, please address them to the CLA Office of Research at Thank you.

With the objective of fostering innovation and excellence in the social sciences at Purdue University, the Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences program seeks to encourage faculty to aim for what the University’s strategic plan labels as “breakthrough advancements” that give Purdue a national and international reputation in the social sciences. 

Our primary goal is to support innovative, high-performance research that has the potential to generate grant proposals for highly prestigious organizations, such as NSF, NIH, NCI, DARPA, DoD, or highly prestigious philanthropic organizations of national and international stature that support scholarship in the Social Sciences. In view of this, the program seeks to stimulate innovative social science research efforts, especially for collecting and analyzing pilot data necessary for preparing and submitting external grant proposals.


ERSS Submissions should describe the following:

(a) conceptual and/or methodological innovation, 

(b) significant contribution to the social science literature, and 

(c) planned future external funding sources and programs of the proposed study 


Research projects to be supported with this grant can take any of the following forms:

(a) research proposed to be conducted in the social sciences by individual faculty members; 

(b) collaborative projects among faculty in the social sciences within the College of Liberal Arts; and 

(c) collaborative projects between faculty in CLA social sciences, and faculty in other colleges/disciplines at Purdue University


In all categories, proposals should demonstrate the potential to produce externally funded programs of research. 


A faculty committee appointed by the CLA Dean will evaluate the applications. The CLA Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education will also serve on the committee. The CLA Dean may ask other faculty inside or outside of the college or university to serve as ad-hoc reviewers, where their participation would give the committee the expertise needed for reviewing specific proposals. In making the final decisions on grants, whether a faculty member received one of these grants previously may be considered. In judging the proposals, reviewers will be asked to use several criteria: 


(a) conceptual and/or methodological innovation proposed; 

(b) significance of contributions to the social science literature; 

(c) the quality of the applicants' previous research in the social sciences; and 

(d) the degree to which the proposed activities will increase the applicants' success in future scholarship and applications for external funding 



All CLA tenured and tenure-track faculty who have plans for research projects in the social sciences are eligible to apply. A faculty member may submit only one application per year. 


Level of Funding: 

The proposals may solicit up to $35,000. Each grant will be for one calendar year.



The starting date for funded projects will be January 1, and all funds must be expended by the last day of December (or the balance of funds returned to CLA).


Project Report:

All previous recipients of Internal Purdue CLA Research Grants must submit a brief 1- to 2-page report of the outcomes of their previous grants to the Associate Dean of Research in the CLA Office of Research and Graduate Education ( within 6 months of the close of their project period or before submitting another internal funding proposal.

Reports must include information about all grant and fellowship proposals and awards submitted since the funded grant application as well as the status of any publications, exhibitions, presentations, and/or other outcomes of the funded project. Previous recipients of Internal Purdue CLA Research Grant Awards greater than $10,000 must have subsequently submitted external grant/fellowship application requests that total at least $15,000 before another award may be granted for funding from the Enhancing Humanities, Exploratory Social Science, or Global Synergy Grants programs. 


Allowable Expenses:   

Faculty may request funding for a wide variety of research expenses related to data collection, data analysis, and writing - including for grant preparation. Examples of allowable use of funds include travel to research sites, compensation for research participants, commissioning data collection through research firms, purchase of existing secondary data, payments to undergraduate research interns, graduate research assistant support, and summer salary support. 

Funds may be requested for the expenses of participation in workshops or conferences that are necessary for conducting the proposed research and for discussion or dissemination of the outcomes of the research. No funds will be provided for faculty salaries during the academic year. 

(All travel activities should comply with current Purdue COVID and travel policies. Before applying, applicants should become familiar with current Protect Purdue and Travel policies.) 


Submission Deadline: October 17, 11:59 PM. See below for submission Link.


Submission Process: 

The application will be submitted as a single PDF file via InfoReady (which is accessible by clicking the on the APPLICATION INTERFACE link below).  Please write your proposal as a draft Word document in advance of starting the submission process. Your progress on this form can be saved prior to submission. The sections of the proposal are listed below.  

Before submission, please present a draft of your proposal to your department head, and get their approval. When you submit your proposal, the DH endorsement will be solicited as part of the submission process.

Please make sure you enter the Purdue Alias of your DH (if different from their email address; this can be checked via the Purdue Directory) – as InfoReady will not recognize anything other than PU Alias, and may fail to notify the DH of the need for an endorsement.


ERSS applications should include the following: 

  • Project Title
  • PI Name, Rank/Title, Department, and Expertise Area
  • Co-PI Name(s), Rank(s)/Title(s), Departments, and Expertise Area(s)
  • Short Bios or CVs for PI (and Co-PI or PIs, if applicable)
  • Proposal body (maximum 30,000 characters - including spaces)
    • Abstract (maximum 1,500 characters)
    • Motivation/Significance (maximum 4,000 characters)
    • Scientific Literature/Literature Review (maximum 6,500 characters)
    • Research Questions or Goals (maximum 1,500 characters)
    • Description of Work to be Accomplished (maximum 5,000 characters)
    • Deliverable(s) (maximum 2,500 characters)
    • Team Qualifications and Responsibilities (when >1 investigator) (max 2,500 characters)
    • Work Timeline (with Dates and Descriptions) (maximum 1,500 characters)
    • Bibliographical References (maximum 5,000 characters)
  • Amount of Funding Requested
  • Budget Table (available below)
  • Budget Justification (available below)
  • Future Work Description
  • Grant Sources to be Solicited in the Future
  • URL of Future Grant Solicitation (if available)


*Before submitting an application, please make sure you have updated the Primary Organization and Secondary Organization fields in your InfoReady User Profile!*   Instructions


Budget instructions: 

A budget worksheet and budget justification field will be embedded in the body of the form. To facilitate your budget drafting work, the following two documents demonstrate what to expect when you complete the form. The documents do not need to be uploaded or directly used in the form - only the final numbers for overall categories will be needed (personnel, fee remits, fringes and benefits, and other expenses). 

Budget Justification with Instructions 

Budget Example 

Also, this Budget Calculator can be used to determine the numbers for the budget. 

For more budgeting information, view this CLA Internal Budgeting Workshop Video presented by Jessica Williams, Pre-Award Specialist III, of Sponsored Program Services. For help related to the grant application process, email