Adapted ODH Level II Start-up Guidelines for ClioWired, Fall 2011

Abstract and statements of innovation and humanities significance

Provide a one-paragraph (up to one thousand characters) abstract written for a nonspecialist audience, clearly explaining the project’s principal activities, and its expected results. This paragraph also may be used in the Project Information field in the Application for Federal Domestic Assistance—Short Organizational form (see below).

After the abstract, provide the following two brief (no more than five hundred characters) statements:

Statement of Innovation: using the description of innovation found in the Frequently Asked Questions document as a starting point, briefly explain—in terms comprehensible to a general audience—how and why the project is innovative.

Statement of Humanities Significance: briefly explain—in terms comprehensible to a general audience—the humanities significance of the proposed project (i.e., what the project will contribute to a particular discipline or field, and what it will contribute to the humanities more generally).


The narrative should not assume specialized knowledge, and it should be free of jargon. It should clearly define technical terms so that they are comprehensible to a nonspecialist audience.

Applicants should provide an intellectual justification for the project and a work plan. For Level I Start-Up grants, the narrative section should not exceed three single-spaced pages. For Level II Start-Up grants, the narrative should not exceed six single-spaced pages. All pages should have one-inch margins, and the font size should be no smaller than eleven point. The narrative should address the long-term goals of the project as well as the activities that the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant would support. Applicants should keep in mind the criteria (listed below) used to evaluate proposals. Applicants must state whether they are applying for a Level I or Level II grant.

Provide a detailed project description that addresses the following topics.

Enhancing the humanities through innovation

Provide a clear and concise explanation—comprehensible to a general audience—of the start-up activities and the ultimate project results, noting their value to scholars, students, and general audiences in the humanities. Describe the scope of the project activities, the major issues to be addressed, and their significance to the humanities. Show how the project will meet its objectives in innovative ways.

Applicants should provide a rationale for the compatibility of their methodology with the intellectual goals of the project and the expectations of those who would make use of the grant product. NEH views the use of open-source software as a key component in the broad distribution of exemplary digital scholarship in the humanities. If either the start-up project or the long-term project is not predicated on generally accessible open-source software, explain why and also explain how NEH’s dissemination goals will still be satisfied by the project.

Environmental scan

Provide a clear and concise summary of an environmental scan of the relevant field. The goal of an environmental scan is to take a careful look at similar work being done in the applicant’s area of study. For example, if you are developing software to solve a particular humanities problem, please discuss similar software developed for other projects and explain how the proposed solution differs. If there are existing software products that could be adapted and re-used for the proposed project, please identify them and discuss the pros and cons of taking that approach. If there are existing humanities projects that are similar in nature to your project, please describe them and discuss how they relate to the proposed project. The environmental scan should make it clear that you are aware of similar work being done and should explain how your proposed project contributes to and advances the field.

History and duration of the project

Provide a concise history of the project, including information about preliminary research or planning, previous related work, previous financial support, publications produced, and resources or research facilities available. It is anticipated that work on projects initiated during the term of a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant will continue after the period of the grant. The applicant should describe plans for that work and probable sources of support for subsequent phases of the project.

Work plan

Describe the specific tasks that will be accomplished during the grant period. Include a schedule of important tasks and milestones for the duration of the project. Describe each task in some detail, noting which team members will be involved.

Describe plans for evaluating the results of the start-up activities. This evaluation should both look back on what the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant accomplished and look forward to how the long-term project goals will be achieved.


Briefly identify the project director and collaborators who would work on the project during the proposed grant period and describe their responsibilities. Project directors must devote a significant portion of their time to their projects. All persons directly involved in the conduct of the proposed project—whether or not their salaries are paid from grant funds—should be listed, their anticipated commitments of time should be indicated, and the reasons for and nature of their collaboration should be explained.

If the project has an advisory board, provide a statement of its function and a list of board members in the biographies section of the application, which is discussed below.

Final product and dissemination

Describe the plans to disseminate the project results through various media (electronic media, presentations at meetings, journal articles or books). Applicants should also discuss how the project’s ultimate product is likely to be disseminated and what provisions will be made for the long-term maintenance of the product.

Projects developing new software are encouraged to make the software free in every sense of the term, including the use, copying, distribution, and modification of the software. Open-source software or source code should preferably be made publicly available through an online repository such as SourceForge.

Applicants should discuss how their white paper will detail the activities of the project and how it could be useful to the field.

Data management plan

Applicants should prepare a data management plan for their project. The plan should describe how the project team will manage and disseminate data generated or collected by the project. For example, projects in this category may generate data such as software code, algorithms, digital tools, reports, articles, research notes, or websites. Include as an attachment (not to exceed one page) a description of the project data management. For further guidance on the content of this plan, please see Data Management Plans for NEH Office of Digital Humanities Proposals and Awards.


If applicable, include wireframes, screen shots, or other project schematics. Materials in this section may not exceed ten pages.