Earlier this year, I was the lucky recipient of a FRQSC (Les Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et Culture) doctoral award to fund my research on videogame afterlife, hacking, and intellectual property law. This was both a thrill and a relief for me when it occurred, but rather than simply sitting out this year’s application cycle, I thought I would share my prior application to aid folks who are still involved in the yearly grant application grind. Although this is an example of a successful application, I really do want to stress the randomness that goes along with these sorts of awards. These competitions are somewhat arbitrary and opaque and it often takes multiple attempts to even get considered (I applied three to SSHRC three times, for example, with little success). If you didn’t receive an award on previous attempts that doesn’t mean your research isn’t valid!
For my application year, FRQSC requested three documents in addition to the usual transcripts and proof-of-residence: a research proposal, a bibliography, and an experience and achievements page. The latter two documents are relatively straightforward, but I would like to put forth three suggestions for the research proposal based on what I’ve seen in successful applications. First, I would really encourage you to use headings for different sections rather than writing one long application, mainly for clarity’s sake. Second, include a concrete timeline (maybe even based on your program’s own internal timeline) as it shows that you have a plan for tackling your research. Third, remember that your research title has to be in French, and have a couple fluent folks help you with translation if you struggle with the language. I am always of the belief that good formatting and a potent title can be quite persuasive.
Unlike some grant applications, FRQSC provides some pretty direct feedback on your application. While I can’t provide deep insight in regard to average score or ranking cutoff point, I can at least gesture toward two aspects of my own FRQSC feedback. First, your evaluation committee will provide you with a rank within your group (translation: “the members of the evaluation committee reviewed 22 applications and ranked your folder third”). Second, you will be provided with a score out of 100% that is weighted equally between your general competency – determined by your experience, achievements, and grades – and the strength of your research proposal. I somehow managed to attain an 88.23% on the application, likely spurred on by my high grades and some good luck with my evaluation committee.
If you’re a TAG member (or will be in the Fall), I will be likely co-hosting a virtual funding workshop to help folks who are working on their SSHRC and FRQSC applications. The workshop is meant to be a little more personalized that this blog post, as we will be able to help you with specific concerns regarding the application system, document formatting, and materials gathering. Check my Twitter feed for details in early September!