Graduate Student Research Grants

Information for Research Grant Advisors

from the Committee on Research Grants

The Committee would like to clarify the role of advisors in the preparation of research grant applications by students under their supervision. One of the main intents of the GSA grants program is that the preparation of a research proposal should be an educational experience for the student. The funds available through GSA are modest, and seldom determine whether or not a project is actually completed. Rather, learning how to prepare a proposal, and thereby learning about the scientific method, is as important to the student's long-term development as is the acquisition of funding. For this reason, the Committee feels strongly that a disservice is done to a student if an advisor writes a proposal for her/him. The advisor is strongly encouraged to thoroughly read the student's proposal and provide feedback. Furthermore, the Committee recognizes that there are students for whom English is a second language, in which case, they may need additional feedback with their writing. The legitimate role of an advisor is to make suggestions and criticize a student's proposal as it is revised. The proposal must, however, originate with and be the product of, the student's research, just as a thesis or dissertation must be. A student who has independently prepared a proposal that is funded by GSA receives a special satisfaction that s/he has accomplished one of the important tasks of a scientist, namely, convincing other scientists that her/his research is worthy of financial support. Help your advisees accomplish this, but don't write the proposal for them, or allow them to copy portions of research proposals prepared for other funding agencies like NSF! When the student submits a proposal to GSA, they are certifying that the text is original, is not copied from other proposals, and is written by the student and not anyone else.

A separate matter needing clarification is that GSA awards are clearly intended for support of the research presented in the proposal during the year of the award. Any delay in use of the funds or any change in the research proposal must be approved by GSA before the money is used for different purposes. Otherwise, the award will be canceled.

These two matters are of concern not because transgressions are numerous, but because they particularly run counter to the goals of the Research Grants Program. A few isolated instances of abuse or misunderstanding have occurred, and the Committee felt that clarification was needed. The Committee welcomes your comments and suggestions in our continuing efforts to improve an already excellent program for the benefit of your students and our science.

Appraisal Forms

  • The purpose of the appraisal is not for the advisor to simply further explain the student's research proposal. 
  • Appraisal forms are due  8 February 2024, 11:59 p.m. (MST).
  • One appraisal from the primary advisor is required with each application. Advisors do not have to be members of GSA or come from the same institution as the applicant.
  • The Appraisal Forms must be submitted by the advisors electronically through the online application system.  
  • Applications missing the appraisal form will not be eligible. The applicant is responsible for ensuring their advisor submits the appraisal form.
  • Appraisal Worksheet : Advisors are encouraged to use this to compose their responses to all appraisal questions.
  • If you do not receive the GSA email message requesting an appraisal, please check your "Junk Mail" folder, as some university systems will filter the email out as spam. You may also want to “white list” GSA e-mail addresses, using these “white list” instructions.

Serve on the Research Grants Committee

  • GSA is seeking professional geoscientists like you to serve on its Research Grants Committee.
  • The primary function of this committee is to evaluate approximately 800 graduate student research grant applications and award specific grants to chosen recipients.
  • Committee members may come from any sector (academia, government, industry, etc.) and should have experience in directing research projects and in evaluating research grant applications. 
  • GSA strongly encourages nominations of geoscientists from diverse backgrounds and institutions, particularly from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
  • Extensive time commitment required 15 Feb.–15 April; each member reviews approximately 40 applications. 
  • Learn more about the committee and nominate yourself or a colleague to participate.