Friday, July 22, 2011

Researchers, Scholars: The Best Reference Book You Probably Never Used

Yesterday, we got our new edition of the Annual Register of Grant Support (44th), and I was struck anew with 1) what a good resource it is for people searching for scholarships, fellowships, and research money and 2) how the format and indices suck.  For that second reason, you have probably never used it, preferring such fee-based items as the Foundation Directory Online, the Foundation Directory of Grants to Individuals Online,Grantselect, the PEN website (if you're a writer), and free sources like GrantsNet, (for science researchers), the New York Foundation for the Arts website for artists, or Scangrants in the biomedical field.  They are all electronic, and have better indexing than the cumbersome, paper ARGS.  But hear me out. 

It has over 2900 listings of annual grant opportunities by private foundations, state and federal government agencies, universities and colleges, for-profit companies, museums, fraternities and sororities, nonprofit groups and professional associations.  FDO does mostly companies, public charities and for-profit companies.  The federal and state are covered (to some extent) in Grantselect, and other subject specialized listings cover some of the others.  But if you are trying to track down every bit of cash possible, you should try their 1) subject index 2) organization and program index (if you know or suspect the name of a program or organization or 3) geographic index (it's not great--only breaks it down by state).  For instance, you will find both awards granted to historians of Spanish colonial Texas history by the Sons of the Republic of Texas, (not available in FC products)  and research money put forth by the Buildings and Fire Research Laboratory (ditto), for the purpose of research into the mechanics of fire, or the American Headache Society (a fellowship in headache treatment and prevention). There is a good amount of overlap in Foundation Center products and ARGS.  But enough is unique to make it worth your while. 

The book is divided up into humanities, international affairs and area studies, special populations (women, minorities, etc.), urban and regional affairs (covering human services, crime prevention, and social welfare), education, social sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, and technology and industry (applied sciences like engineering, mining, nutrition, home ec, etc.).  It is NOT a resource merely for individuals--like many grant directories, it leans towards funding organizations.  But there are enough post-secondary and research grants, from sources not covered by other directories, to make it worthwhile.  Don't whine about the dead tree format.  Suck it up, spend a few hours looking through it at your public or university library, and you probably won't be sorry.

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