Grants: Science of Free Will (2011-2013)

Grants offered through Florida State University supporting empirical research on the nature, extent, and limits of free will.

Research Grant Announcement

The Big Questions in Free Will Program offers funds for scientific investigations of free will (up to $600,000 per two-year grant). Grants will support work that investigates the reality, scope, and limits of free will, or such related matters as behavioral effects of beliefs about free will, primarily as these issues are studied within the fields of neuroscience and social psychology. Interdisciplinary research teams and younger researchers are especially encouraged to apply.

Florida State University, with the support of a generous grant from The John Templeton Foundation, is pleased to announce the “Big Questions in Free Will: The Science of Free Will” program for 2010-2013. Florida State University invites teams of researchers to apply for funds for research into the reality, scope, and limits of free will, or such related matters as behavioral effects of beliefs about free will, especially as these issues are illuminated by work in the fields of neuroscience and social psychology. Interdisciplinary research teams and younger researchers are especially encouraged to apply.

Letters of Intent (LOI) are due by September 1, 2010. Successful applicants at the LOI stage will be notified by October 15 and asked to submit full proposals no later than January 15, 2011. Final award decisions will be issued by March 31, 2011 for research to begin no later than September 1, 2011.

Project Director: Alfred Mele, Florida State University

Research Grant Description

In the area of the science of free will, the Big Questions in Free Will program provides two-year grant awards in amounts not to exceed $600,000. Average award amounts are anticipated to be $350,000. Grant recipients (the PIs plus one other member per team) will be expected to attend research colloquia in 2011-13 (three colloquia in all) to present proposed research as well as findings.

All award recipients are expected to complete and disseminate the results of their research through publications, lectures, or presentations at academic conferences within a short time after the end of the research grant period. Award recipients are required to submit a report to the Director describing the effects of the funded research on the direction of their research within a year following the end of the grant period, and to send the Director notice of presentations, as well as copies of any papers and books resulting from research conducted during the award period. Award recipients are also required to submit two financial reports – one at the end of the project and one at the mid-way point.

Application Instructions

Award recipients are chosen from applicants in a worldwide open competition administered by Florida State University.

Letter of Intent (LOI) Stage

Applicants are required to submit the following material:

  • A complete curriculum vitae of both the Principal Investigator and major project team members.
  • A letter of intent, not to exceed five single-spaced 12-point-font pages, that includes a description of the research to be carried out and a simplified budget with accompanying narrative. The description must include a statement of the nature of the work to be conducted and the role of inter-disciplinary team members (where appropriate).

Authors of all letters of intent (along with subsequent full proposals, where invited) will be required to use a lexicon of key terms. The lexicon aims to provide useful definitions of key terms in the study of free will.

Application materials should be submitted by e-mail attachment, if possible, to BQFW@admin.fsu.edu. The word “Science” should appear at the top of all proposals and in the e-mail subject line. Acceptable file formats: Word and PDF only. Questions about the application process can be sent to the same address. All application materials associated with the LOI, including CVs, must be received no later than September 1, 2010.

Full Proposal Stage

Applicants are required to submit:

  • A cover letter specifying title, amount requested, duration of project, and who is involved.
  • A project summary not to exceed 500 words, explaining the work and its significance to non-professionals, suitable for publishing on the web or inclusion in press releases should the proposal be funded.
  • A detailed description of the proposed research not to exceed 15 single-spaced 12-point-font pages. This should explain the questions addressed and the methodology. It should also include a statement of expected outcomes, including publications, presentations and other approaches to dissemination of research findings. This statement should indicate what can be accomplished during the grant term and what is expected to result after the grant term has ended.
  • A detailed time-line including proposed outcomes.
  • A detailed budget over the life of the award, with justification for budget items. Grant funds cannot be used for major equipment purchases; and overhead is limited to 15%.
  • Two letters of recommendation (to be sent to us by their authors; see FAQ).
  • A completed “Full Proposal” form (available as PDF and as Word document).

CVs submitted at the LOI stage will be saved.

Full proposals should be submitted by e-mail attachment, if possible, to BQFW@admin.fsu.edu. The word “Science” should appear at the top of all proposals and in the e-mail subject line. Acceptable file formats: Word and PDF only. Questions about full proposals can be sent to the same address. Full proposals must be received no later than January 15, 2011.

Grant Eligibility

Applicants must have a Ph.D., and be affiliated with an accredited college or university. Applicants should be able to demonstrate strong promise of or an established record of successful publication.

Timetable

Date Event
September 1, 2010 Deadline for LOI submission
October 15, 2010 Invitations for full proposals issued
January 15, 2011 Deadline for invited full proposals
March 31, 2011 Award announcements issued
December 31, 2013 Research concludes

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not answered below, please contact us at BQFW@admin.fsu.edu.

What kinds of research project may I work on?

Three examples of topics (among a much broader range of possible topics) are the following:

  1. To what extent do neuroscientific data support or undermine the claim that human beings have free will or important components of free will?
  2. To what extent do social psychological data support or undermine the claim that human beings have free will or important components of free will?
  3. Are there important effects of belief or disbelief in free will?

May grant funds be used to purchase equipment and for travel?

Only modest requests for equipment and travel will be considered.

Are there rules about overhead?

Yes, overhead cannot be more than 15%.

May I be a member of more than one grant proposal team?

No. Applicants may be a member of only one such team.

How should letters of recommendation be submitted?

Authors of letters of recommendation should submit them by e-mail to BQFW@admin.fsu.edu or send a printed letter to BQFW, Attn.: Karen Foulke, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1500 USA.

What should letters of recommendation discuss?

Ideally, letters of recommendation will discuss the quality of the proposals and the quality of the principal investigators’ work, especially on topics relevant to the proposals.

By what date must applicants have a Ph.D. and an affiliation with an accredited college or university?

Applicants must have both by the time they submit a LOI.

If a reference section or bibliography is submitted as part of a LOI, may it be appended to a five-page document (so that the total number of pages is greater than five)?

No. But an extensive bibliography or reference section is not useful at this point in the process.

In my LOI or my full proposal, should I request funds for travel to BQFW colloquia?

No. Should you be a grant winner, your reasonable travel expenses for attendance of BQFW colloquia (including accommodations and some meals), will be reimbursed by the BQFW project.

Under “Full Proposal Stage,” I see various requirements — a cover letter, a 500 word project summary, a detailed description (not to exceed 15 pages), and so on. Do all of these things have to fit into 15 pages?

No, the 15 page limit is specifically for the detailed description of the proposed research.

Do all elements of the full proposal need to be parts of a single document?

No. For example, if you have any difficulty putting your budget or full proposal form into the same document as the rest of your material, you can send the budget, the full proposal form, or both as separate documents. And, of course, the letters of recommendation will be sent separately.

I will include a reference section as part of my detailed description of the project. Can I include it as an addendum that does not count as part of the 15 pages?

No. Any reference sections or bibliographies are part of the detailed description and governed by the rules for the detailed descriptions.