FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Research » FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

SANDEE Research -- Frequently Asked Questions
Updated - February 2010

Are SANDEE grants mainly for economists or can non-economists apply?
Who is eligible to apply for a SANDEE grant?
Are SANDEE grants restricted to academic researchers or can NGOs apply?
Can teams of researchers apply for SANDEE grants?
If a team of researchers applies for the grant, does it need to be a multi-disciplinary team?
Does SANDEE provide grants for South Asians living outside South Asia?
Does SANDEE provide grants to non-South Asians seeking to undertake research in South Asian countries?
Can SANDEE grants be used to support trips overseas for conferences, internships etc?
How important is it for the proposal to follow SANDEE's page limits and guidelines?
Do I need to include a draft questionnaire to the proposal if I am undertaking a field survey?
What is the process for getting a SANDEE grant?
What are some common mistakes to avoid in developing a proposal for SANDEE?
Does SANDEE provide training to its researchers?
How large a research budget does SANDEE support ?
Does SANDEE provide technical support to funded projects?

Are SANDEE grants mainly for economists or can non-economists apply?
SANDEE seeks to promote economic analyses of environmental problems. Thus, most of the grants we support have economists as principal investigators. SANDEE has also worked with non-economists to develop their analytical skills in economics, but our preference is to have an economist leading the research.

Who is eligible to apply for a SANDEE grant?
SANDEE grants are generally made to individual researchers. SANDEE encourages junior and mid-career economists from an academic - teaching or research institution, and non-profit institutions to apply for grants. We also encourage post-graduate students working on Ph.D. dissertations to apply. Sometimes, a combination of young researchers with a senior academic is also considered. Teams of researchers can jointly apply; team composition will be evaluated based on the needs of the research being proposed.

Are SANDEE grants restricted to academic researchers or can NGOs apply?
SANDEE's focus is to strengthen rigorous academic research. NGOs can apply for SANDEE grants. However, these grants are made to individuals or a team of individuals, which sometimes makes it difficult for NGOs to seek our support. We, however, encourage researchers to work with NGOs and policy makers.

Can teams of researchers apply for SANDEE grants?
Yes, a team of researchers can apply. However, the team will need to include an economist, who is preferably, the principal investigator. The team composition will be evaluated based on the research being proposed. Multi-disciplinary teams are particularly encouraged to apply if the research proposed requires it.

If a team of researchers applies for the grant, does it need to be a multi-disciplinary team?
Yes, and the proposal needs to be very clear about how each person and discipline contributes to the study.

Does SANDEE provide grants for South Asians living outside South Asia?
Grants are made available to South Asians outside South Asia only if they are graduate students attempting to undertake field research for their dissertation. This is done to encourage students studying abroad to focus their dissertation research on a topic relevant to their country or region.

Does SANDEE provide grants to non-South Asians seeking to undertake research in South Asian countries?
No. However, we will provide support for South Asians working with non-South Asians. The proposal will need to be written by the local research collaborator for his/her work.

Can SANDEE grants be used to support trips overseas for conferences, internships etc?
SANDEE grants may be used, under certain circumstances and with prior approval of the secretariat, for travel within South Asia. For example, a Nepali researcher may need to visit Delhi to do a literature survey - this is acceptable if a strong case is presented in the proposal. However, SANDEE grants generally cannot be used for conference travel or study tours outside their own country of research. SANDEE offers other opportunities for travel to conferences to researchers who already have a SANDEE grant.

How important is it for the proposal to follow SANDEE's page limits and guidelines?
Very important. We sometime receive long proposals - this actually works to the disadvantage of the researchers since reviewers, who review a number of proposals, find this tedious. Please add appendices if you need to - however, the most important information you want to convey should be in the main text of the proposal.

Do I need to include a draft questionnaire to the proposal if I am undertaking a field survey?
Yes, our reviewers would like to see draft questionnaires if you are invited to submit a full proposal.

What is the process for getting a SANDEE grant?
SANDEE generally solicits research proposals two times each year. At the first stage a pre-proposal is sought within a specified deadline mentioned in the announcement. Once you meet the deadline, pre-proposals are recorded and acknowledged by email. Under some circumstances, pre-proposals are solicited throughout the year and this information is provided on the SANDEE website www,sandeeonline.com. After screening of the pre-proposals, a select few full proposals are invited.
Proposals are first reviewed by the SANDEE's Secretariat and the best proposals are sent out for external review. Each proposal that is sent out for review is generally reviewed by 2-3 senior researchers of international repute. Based on reviewer comments, research applicants receive a letter that will either ask them to re-submit for the next round of grants, reject their application, or ask them revise their proposal and re-submit within a month's time so that they can defend their proposal at a SANDEE Research and Training meeting (R & T) held twice a year.
Invited researchers to the R & T will need to discuss their proposals with advisory committee members and peers. Based on the researcher's presentation and the discussion that follows, SANDEE's advisory committee will make a final decision about the grant. All researchers who are denied a grant are eligible to re-submit their proposal for the next round.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in developing a proposal for SANDEE?
There are several simple changes that can improve the chances of a proposal receiving a grant. The most common and very important drawbacks are:

a. Long and detailed introduction
Researchers sometimes write 2-3 pages of introduction when 2 paragraphs would suffice. Reviewers get lost when they read such long-winded introductions and it is hard to identify the real issues involved.

b. Broad goals and research questions
Sometimes, research goals are presented so broadly (they extend through entire paragraphs) that reviewers have to actually interpret what the research questions are. This is a big drawback and makes one wonder if the researcher really has a clear idea about what he/she is proposing. Research questions/goals should be simple, direct and clear.

c. Over-ambitious research studies
This is a key problem in most proposals. In many proposals, researchers lay out a number of goals/questions and don't really address how each of those goals will be answered in the study. Another subset of proposals first identify a long list of goals and then really discuss only a subset of these goals. Neither model is appropriate. The former indicates that the proposal is over-ambitious and, the latter confuses the core issues that the researcher is trying to address. SANDEE funds studies that are simple but are well done. We request researchers to identify a small number of sharp goals (it can be even one research question), to really follow them through in the proposal and, to show the study will actually answer these question(s).

d. Long and detailed description of the study area
This is equally problematic. Researchers often feel they have to write everything they know about a study area in their proposal. Much of this is completely irrelevant to the question they are asking. More, in this case, is definitely, not better. Researchers need to include only what is needed to show that the researcher really understands the local context and the question he or she is raising in the proposal.

e. Irrelevant literature survey
Proposals often include lengthy literature surveys rather than literature reviews - this is inappropriate. The literature review should:
» identify who (internationally or nationally) has worked on the type of questions the researcher is trying to address;
» identify any theoretical literature that may be relevant to the study;
» discuss what some methodological concerns may be and how other studies have dealt with these issues; and, be based on at least a small number of peer reviewed journal articles that provide leads for the methodology that will be used in the research study.

The literature review should not:
» Provide references to environmental economics theory in general or to broad-based text books in the field.
» Should not provide references to or details about every study that has been undertaken. For example, often    researchers refer to practically every important study on poverty-environment that has been undertaken without clearly saying why this is relevant to their study.
» Should not include references unless they can add a few sentences showing the link between the reference and their study.
» Should focus on new work rather than studies undertaken years ago, unless they are referring to a classic study.
» Should not include just a list of references - this does not tell us anything.

f. Adding information in the theoretical section even if the researcher has nothing relevant to say
SANDEE tries to encourage research that really understands the theoretical and empirical aspects of the study. This is why we have included a theory section in our proposal format. However, if the researcher does not have anything significant to say in the theory section, he/she should say nothing.

g. Very broad hypothesis Hypothesis should be testable. If they are broad and laden with sub-hypothesis, then this should be acknowledged. The researchers should then try to test the sub-hypothesis. Hypothesis that are broad statements are more likely to be opinions rather than testable hypothesis. This may lead to rejection by peer reviewers. If hypothesis are identified, the proposal should then follow through and discuss how they will be tested and what data are required for this.

h. Weak methodology section Many proposals start out strong but it isn't clear from the methods section that the researcher knows (a) the data requirements or (b) what he or she is likely to do with the data that is proposed to be collected. Often, the researcher proposes to collect lots of data and suggests that somehow the data will be analysed using econometric techniques. This creates doubts in the reviewers mind that the researcher is unsure of the methodology. The proposer needs to present at least a preliminary idea of what some methodological concerns may be and how he/she will try to solve these concerns. What equations will be estimated? What tools will be used to estimate this? How will the proposed estimation answer the research questions and so on.

i. Lack of links between research questions, hypothesis and research analyses This is a common problem in many proposals. The hypotheses needs to follow directly from the research questions. The researcher then needs to show that the analysis will actually help test the hypotheses presented. Often, researchers start with strong hypothesis but say little about how these hypotheses will be tested - this should be the focus of the methodology section.

How large a research budget does SANDEE support ?
Sandee grants have been in the range of USD 7000 to 25000. SANDEE's program is a small grants academic program and consultancy type proposals and budgets are not considered. The budget discussion takes place after proposals have been screened and budgets are further re-fined at the grant approval stage.

Does SANDEE provide technical support to funded projects?
Technical support is a very important aspect of SANDEE grants. SANDEE assigns advisors to each project and grantees meet their advisors every six months at a biannual research workshop. Advisors guide research projects and help finalize research manuscripts. SANDEE's advisors are identified on www.sandeeonline.org.

Does SANDEE provide training to its researchers?
Funded researchers are offered a number of opportunities to improve their technical skills through SANDEE organized training programs and through external workshops and conferences. Researchers are expected to act as peer-reviewers for other researchers.


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