Please note that the guidelines for the 2016 Complex Systems Scholar Award are also available in PDF form.
The JSMF Scholar Awards program derives from and is consistent with JSMF’s commitment to supporting high quality research and scholarship leading to the generation of new knowledge and its responsible application. For Scholar Awards the program's emphasis is furthering the science of complex systems via the continued development of the theory and tools used in the study of complex research questions and not on particular fields of research per se. JSMF is particularly interested in projects attempting to apply complex systems approaches to coherently articulated questions. In general, JSMF receives many more proposals than it can fund. Research projects outside the Foundation’s described area of interest will not be funded.
Scholar Awards in Complex System Science ( Scholar Awards-CS) provide largely unrestricted funding over a sufficient time period ($450,000 paid in four (4) $112,500 payments; funds expendable in no less than 4 and no more than 6 years) to allow investigators to pursue and develop new directions to their research programs. Scholars who do not fully expend the funds in 6 years will have the opportunity to request a 1 time no-cost extension of up to 2 years, but unless there are mitigating circumstances to justify prolonging the grant period the grant will be terminated and unexpended funds returned. It is JSMF’s intent that Scholars expend the funds to pursue a research program within the 6 year time period. Scholar Awards-CS are one-time support. Once you have received a James S. McDonnell Scholar Award, you are not eligible to receive another Scholar Award.
Researchers with prior grant support from JSMF are not eligible for consideration for a Scholar Award-CS. For example, researchers that served as principal investigators or co-principal investigators on a JSMF Research Award in Complex Systems are not eligible to apply.
Applicants submitting to the 2016 Scholar Awards-CS will not be eligible to submit an application to future Scholar-CS competitions until 2019. Read the "Once-Every-Three-Years" Eligibility policy.
JSMF funds internationally. Applications must be sponsored by a qualifying institution as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Tax Code. Institutions outside the United States should read carefully the additional information on tax requirements available here.
There are no restrictions on the number of submissions that may be submitted by an institution. However, considering the small number of grants awarded each year, we do ask that institutions limit their submissions to applications meeting both the letter and the spirit of the Foundation's guidelines.
Eligible Scholar Award principal
investigators must have completed all
doctoral, postdoctoral, or fellowship
training and hold an independent research
position. James S. McDonnell Scholar Awards
are not intended to serve primarily as
career development awards -- the intent is
to allow creative researchers to pursue
important research. It is
anticipated that successful Scholar-Award
applications will have principal
investigators between 5 and 15 years post
Ph.D. Please note the Foundation uses
calendar years when considering
We must emphasize that this is an international program for a limited number of awards. It is anticipated that competition for the awards will be intense. An international advisory review panel composed of scientists and scholars in the relevant fields will evaluate all applications that meet the eligibility requirements.
Applications will be reviewed by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and an expert advisory panel. The awards will be based on the importance and originality the research program described in the application, the quality of the essay, the thoughtfulness of the expenditure plan, and the PI’s qualifications to carry out the proposed research program. JSMF is unlikely to award more than 8 Scholar Awards-CS each year.
Applications must be submitted electronically via the JSMF website and are due on Friday, March 18, 2016, no later than 15:59 CDT (20:59 UTC). Electronic submission as a single PDF file is the only acceptable format. Applications will be accepted beginning February 18, 2016, at this link. It is the responsibility of the qualified institution to assure that submitted applications conform to the guidelines below. Please keep in mind that the Scholar Award guidelines were not written arbitrarily. Rather, the guidelines are designed for the applicant’s benefit. The intent of JSMF is to create a simple, fair, straightforward application process. Applications to the JSMF Scholar Awards that fail to meet both the spirit and the letter of the guidelines will be considered an inappropriate response to the posted request for applications and eliminated from funding consideration.
The application consists of the following components arranged in the sequence provided below:
___2.) An original, unpublished 3500 word essay prepared by the proposed principal investigator (PI). The first 500 words are devoted to an abstract (or an overview, or summary) suitable for posting on the JSMF website. We encourage the PI to explore the summaries of prior complex systems awards. The remaining 3000 words are used to describe the importance of the research direction the Scholar Award is will support.
Please note: Scholar Awards-CS are intended to support a program of research NOT a particular project. The essay should not resemble a research project proposal per se. Please use the essay to describe why, as PI, you are planning to pursue the lines of research you pursue, what you hope to learn, and what you plan to do in the coming years. You should also explain how your research program contributes to the continued development of complex systems science. Please describe explicitly why you consider your research program as complex systems science as defined in the context of this JSMF program. The essay should contain enough detail to allow the reviewers to make a principled decision about the merit of the proposed plan.
___3.) The application does not require a detailed budget; rather JSMF requests a brief narrative (no more than 750 words) explaining how the funds will be used. Please do not submit a detailed budget table as JSMF intends for Scholars to use funds flexibly as needed. The budget narrative should explicitly address how the funds will be used to advance the ideas described in the essay. Funds can be used for any JSMF allowable budget items. JSMF does not permit Indirect Costs. Read the Indirect Costs Policy.
___4.) Short-form curriculum vitae for the nominee. (We recommend following the NIH biosketch format.)
___5.) A nominating letter from the CEO of the qualified institution with the following information:
Applications will be reviewed in-house by JSMF officers and evaluated by members of the Studying Complex Systems advisory panel. Opinions of other expert reviewers may also be solicited by the Foundation. When constructing your application, please remember that the essay will be read by the entire Scholar review panel; not all will be expert in your subject matter.
Applications will be discussed during a meeting of the advisory panel in early June.
Final funding decisions will be announced in late June 2016 after the JSMF Board of Directors considers the advisory panel’s recommendations.
The Foundation recognizes that application preparation requires an investment of time and effort. The guidelines we have set forth are in place to a.) streamline the process on both the application and the review sides and – more importantly – b.) ensure an even playing field for all applicants. We have tried to keep the application guidelines specific enough to generate fair and competitive applications, but general enough not to limit or bias the nature and/or content of the research proposed.
Best of luck!
Is my current research program something you would fund?
We usually don't advise potential applicants on the appropriateness of their research ideas or programs. We prefer that you read over the program description, browse through past grants we have given in that program area, and then decide whether or not to apply.
I work for a state university in the United States. Are researchers at my institution eligible to apply for a grant since we do not have a 501(c)(3) status?
Non-profit, state and local organizations are tax-exempt by the US government with a status known as a "government instrumentality" or state exempt (public schools and universities, museums, libraries), which carries the same status as those groups holding the 501(c)(3) tax determination letters. This means your institution is eligible to receive JSMF grants. Your development office should have a copy of the government instrumentality letter or other supporting document from the IRS.
I'm preparing an application. What date should I use as the "start date"?
The Foundation will initiate the grant date and contract on September 1st. You may begin work on the grant at your own discretion.
I would like to apply with a collaborator or collaborators. Is that ok?
The JSMF Scholar Awards in Complex Systems (Scholar-CS) grant is to support an investigator's overall research program and not a particular project. If an application is funded, the research funds may be used to support collaborative research.
I am a member of an educational institution. Who would I utilize as a CEO for a nominating letter?
A letter from the office of the chancellor, president, provost, or dean will satisfy the requirement for a nominating letter from the qualified institution.
Should the nominating letter be used as an endorsement or recommendation of the application?
The supporting letter is intended to acknowledge consistency with JSMF funding policies as well as establish tax exemption status and any salary or effort information requested in the budget narrative. Any items other than those outlined in the RFA are beyond the intended scope of the letter and are likely to be disregarded in lieu of the applicant's essay.
Can I request salary support?
Yes, you can request up to 30% of the researcher's institutional base salary, commensurate with requested and available time and effort; this must be documented by the CEO of the sponsoring institution. A maximum institutional salary of $200,000 can be used for salary requests. See page 2 of this document for more information.
When can I submit a completed application?
Applications will be accepted beginning February 18, 2016, at this link.
I have a question not answered here. Whom should I contact?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.