Scholarly Communications Research Grants

About the Scholarly Communications Research Grants The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is allocating $30,000 in the 2020 fiscal year to offer grants of up to $5,000 each for new research in areas suggested by ACRL’s 2019 report Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future (available for download or purchase). This program is one of several developed by ACRL’s Research and Scholarly Environment Committee (ReSEC) to support ACRL’s strategic goal that the academic and research library workforce accelerates the transition to more open and equitable systems of scholarship. ACRL invites applications from librarians and information professionals seeking to conduct research that will contribute to more inclusive systems of scholarly communications. Proposed research projects should build on the foundations of the ACRL research agenda Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future and fill gaps in existing literature. The committee invites proposals using any investigative methods appropriate to the research questions. These include but are not limited to standard quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as critical evaluations, case studies, reflective essays, and (auto)ethnography. Proposals that involve collaboration between librarians and other higher education stakeholders (such as institutional researchers, faculty, early career researchers, administrators, or students), community partners, or other participants in formal and informal systems of scholarly communication are particularly welcome. More information is available on the ACRL website:

Administered by:

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Award and Frequency

This award is given out on an annual basis.


  • Each application must include at least one researcher who is a member of ACRL throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Each application must include at least one person who is employed as a librarian or information professional in a university, college, community college, or research library at the time of application for the grant.
  • Grants should not be sought for tuition or other degree-related expenses.

Applicant Responsibility

Researchers should expect to provide evidence of the progress and outcomes of their work. Grant recipients must:

  1. Complete and sign an agreement form for funds to be disbursed.
  2. Report on the progress of their research six months into the project.
  3. Disseminate results publicly and freely within one year of completion.
  4. Provide ACRL with a summary of the research results that may be disseminated online, for example as part of a blog post or other update to the community.
  5. Acknowledge ACRL’s support in any publication or presentation resulting from this research.

Application Instructions

The application should be submitted by the principal investigator or project lead, and it should include:

  • A completed application form with your name, contact information, ACRL membership number and expiration date (for project lead or at least one collaborator. Unsure? Call ALA customer service toll free at 800-545-2433 or direct line 312-944-6780), and, if applicable, names and contact details of collaborators.
  • A single PDF (up to 16 MB) attached to the application form with:
    1. CV or résumé for project lead and collaborators, if applicable.
    2. brief abstract of the project (maximum 200 words).
    3. Proposed budget, using the worksheet provided (download .docx file). The research budget should total no more than $5,000, unless additional funding has been secured. The budget should itemize costs related to carrying out the proposed research. Possible budget items include: wages for personnel, travel for work on the project, research tools and materials, and technology services. General operating or overhead expenses, and other indirect costs are not funded and should not be included in the budget request.
      • Indicate whether you have applied for or received any other funding for this project. No additional financial commitments by the institution are required, but they will be weighed in the evaluation of the proposal.
      • Costs related to dissemination (conference travel, etc.) should not be part of the budget. All grant recipients will be eligible to receive reimbursement for up to an additional $1,500 in dissemination costs to present their research in an approved venue beyond the usual ACRL and ALA conferences in order to expand the reach of the research. To access these funds, recipients will need to submit a brief plan to ACRL outlining the dissemination venue and rationale for choosing it, along with an itemized budget. If approved, ACRL will issue a reimbursement for these costs. This additional funding must be expended by August 31, 2021. More information is in the frequently asked questions; details on the process and timing to request this additional funding will be provided to grant recipients.
    4. project proposal (maximum 1000 words), following the guidelines outlined below.

Proposal Requirements

The proposal should include:

  1. Statement of the research objectives and question(s): These should align with the priority areas identified in the Open and Equitable Scholarly Communicationsreport. Critical perspectives are welcome. The committee would particularly encourage work related to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion and that amplifies the perspectives and knowledge of historically underrepresented groups
  2. Methodology and analysis strategy for answering the question(s): Identify the methods that will be used, why they are appropriate for addressing the research question(s), and how the results will be assessed.
    • If the research involves human subjects, explain why the population of participants selected for the project is most appropriate for the question(s) being explored, and how the research process and results will benefit the participants. Applicants are encouraged to, as appropriate, employ participatory research methods.
    • Explain any ethical considerations including how you will protect the rights of participants in your research, if applicable. If your research may be subject to an IRB, address that process here.
  3. Planned research activities: This section should contain a detailed description of how the research project will be organized and implemented, including a timeline of activities. These activities should relate to the stated budget. It is expected that the project should be completed within 12 months, though dissemination of results may take longer.
    • If the proposed research constitutes a piece of a larger project, please address how the work funded by this grant fits in and what results will be achieved within the time allotted.
    • For collaborative projects, state how each team member will contribute. Why are the chosen team members the right mix of people given the research topic? What do their positions and experience bring to this project? Briefly explain the team members' professional backgrounds for undertaking the research proposed. Explain the strengths, skills and attitude the project leader will bring to facilitating the work of the team. Team members may come from different institutions.
  4. Expected outcomes and plans for dissemination: This section should describe plans for sharing the results of the project. Grant recipients are required to disseminate their research outputs in a form of their choosing. Regardless of format, results of the project are required to be publicly and freely disseminated in order to reduce barriers to access. (Exceptions to this requirement may be granted if public access to the research products would constitute a breach of the terms of research participants’ consent agreements or would otherwise discourage individuals or communities from participating in or contributing to the research.).
    • Possibilities include: a conference presentation, a peer-reviewed article, a book or book chapter, a webinar, or a digital project.
    • In any publication or presentation of results, the grantee should acknowledge that support for the project came from ACRL.
    • As stated above, grant recipients will be eligible to request an additional $1,500 to cover dissemination costs.
  5. Benefit of this research: Articulate the contribution this research project will make to advancing a more open, equitable, and inclusive system of scholarly communication.

Contact Information

Selection Criteria

A subcommittee of members from the Research and Scholarly Environment Committee will review proposals. In selecting recipients, they will have the following criteria in mind and will seek a diversity of research questions, methods, researchers, and institutions.

  • Alignment with objectives: How well does the proposed project align with the priority areas suggested in the Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications report? How well does it align with the Research and Scholarly Environment goals and objectives and ACRL's Core Commitment to creating diverse and inclusive communities as stated in ACRL's strategic plan? If this research takes a critical perspective, does the proposal explain how it will further debate in the field and deepen our understanding?
  • Need for support: Is this monetary support necessary for this research to be undertaken? Is the proposed research original enough to justify funding?
  • Need for research: Will this research help fill an existing gap in the literature? Does it investigate or provide new ways of thinking about the research environment and scholarly communications systems? Are the ideas well-conceived, developed, and articulated?
  • Project design: Is the proposed project clear and intriguing? Will the proposed methodology enable effective research? Is the research process participatory and do the results benefit the participants? Is it feasible within the proposed timeframe and budget? Are the proposed outcomes realistic?


All applicants will be notified of their status by Monday, November 28, 2019. Grant funds will be disbursed within one month following completion of an agreement form.