SPARC: Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity
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2014-2015 SPARC Request for Proposals
Application Due Date: October 8, 2014 by 5:00pm



Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the SPARC Graduate Research Grant is a merit-based award designed to ignite research and creative excellence across all disciplines at USC. The students are required to write a grant proposal. Those found meritorious will receive up to $5000 to fund innovative research and creative projects. The grant may be used to support the student in a variety of ways, including salary, supplies, travel and other costs essential to promote research, creative and scholarly activity.

The overall objective of the SPARC Graduate Research Grant is to provide support and to encourage outstanding students to pursue new and exciting directions during their graduate career at the University of South Carolina. Importantly, the process of applying for a SPARC Graduate Research Grant will train students to write competitive research proposals, which will lead to more students with the skills and background necessary to seek national fellowship awards from the Federal Government and Private Foundations.


Doctoral students from all disciplines are eligible to apply. International students are also eligible to apply. Master's students in terminal degree programs with a thesis requirement are also eligible to apply (those degree programs include the Master of Fine Arts and the Master of Arts in Public History). Applicants must be current students at the time of application and must be enrolled during the year the SPARC Graduate Fellowship is to be awarded. MFA and MA in Public History students may apply in their first year of graduate study at USC. Doctoral students may apply no earlier than their second year of graduate study at USC.

Funds Available

Applicants may request up to $5000 with a project period of up to 15 months. Applicants should provide a detailed justification for the requested funds and are encouraged to request less than the maximum amount.

Required Application Workshop

Prior to applying, students are REQUIRED to attend a short application workshop. Applications received from students who did not attend the workshop will be automatically rejected. Several SPARC workshops will be offered throughout the Fall Semester; dates, times and the location of workshops are posted here. Students who are unable to attend any of the workshops should contact Dr. Lauren Clark for alternatives.

Proposal Structure

Details regarding the submission process will be discussed at the Application Workshops.

Proposals should be single spaced with one-half inch margins on all sides. The font must be Arial, 11 point font size.

Supporting Documentation (not counted in the narrative page limitation)

The proposal and supporting documentation will be submitted through USCeRA by the Faculty Advisor.

*Approval for Vertebrate or Human Subject Research*

If the student's research involves Vertebrate Animals or Human Subjects, they can apply for IACUC or IRB approval after a SPARC Grant award notification is received. However, the student must produce IACUC or IRB approval prior to receiving any SPARC funds and before starting the proposed research project. If these protocols have been approved for the mentor, they can produce those documents after the award notification with a letter from the mentor indicating the previous approval of protocols.

Budget Information

General budget categories can be found in the budget form available online and are explained in detail in the Application Guidelines. Detailed justification is required for each line item. Although the review committee intends to fund projects as closely as possible to the requested amount, it reserves the right to recommend a reduction in the amount funded depending on the budget justification provided in the application. Departmental matching funds are encouraged, but not required.

Application Review Process

All completed applications from eligible students that are submitted by the deadline will be reviewed. Applications submitted after the deadline will be rejected. All proposals will be scored based on a rubric. All proposals will be reviewed by 2-3 USC faculty members using the 2014-2015 SPARC Graduate Research Grant Review Criteria.

Dissemination of Results and Award Administration

SPARC Graduate Research Grantrecipients are REQUIRED to present their work at Graduate Student Day the year after their award notification. Students are strongly encouraged to present their work at a national or international conference or exhibition. Students receiving awards will also be required to participate in yearly online surveys. These surveys will enable the Office of Research to track the student's progress and to document publications, presentations and awards which result from the SPARC Graduate Research Grant support. Any publications or presentations produced as a result of this grant must contain an acknowledgement of USC's support such as: "This work was partially supported by a SPARC Graduate Research Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina."

For More Information

Please contact Dr. Lauren Clark, Research Program Manager, Office of the Vice President for Research via email or at (803) 777-3929.


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