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Catalyst Awards

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Request for Proposals : Catalyst Faculty Awards

The University of Cincinnati’s Digital Scholarship Center (DSC) is seeking proposals for Catalyst Faculty Awards ($12,000) to fund a number of transdisciplinary projects across the university as part of the DSC’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation award. We invite proposals for three phases of award funding: Fall 2020, Fall 2021, and Fall 2023. Submissions are open to all faculty members from any of the 14 colleges who are keen to engage in a team science approach to research through our digital scholarship model. A total of 15 projects will be awarded, 5 for each of the three phases of award funding.  


The University of Cincinnati’s Digital Scholarship Center (DSC), launched in September 2016 as an academic center, is a joint venture of University of Cincinnati Libraries (UC Libraries), the Vice Provost for Digital Scholarship, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The DSC uses technical innovations in machine learning and data visualization on large, unstructured humanistic datasets in text, image, audio, and video formats to investigate complex, crosscutting research questions that call for collaboration among humanists, social and natural scientists, librarians/information professionals, and others. We have positioned our digital scholarship center as a catalyst - an intellectual partner making new forms of digital research possible by lowering the technical barrier to entry for faculty to investigate their research questions, and by creating transdisciplinary teams to work in partnership through the entire research lifecycle. 

Successful transdisciplinary partnership is made possible through our team science approach, which emphasizes collaboration built on the strengths and expertise of each individual team member to address complex problems. The efficacy of such an approach hinges on leveraging the differences in knowledge and training of each researcher to achieve a truly holistic view of the problem, therefore breaking out of more narrowly-defined, discipline-specific methodologies and opening the door to an enriched research process that harnesses the finest elements of each discipline into one project. As an intellectual partner, the DSC supports digital project conception, design, and implementation, and works with the other members of the team to acquire the appropriate datasets, conduct data analysis, perform hypothesis testing, develop plausible arguments, and disseminate the research findings in analog and digital forms. 

Eligibility Requirements 

FTE faculty and staff of University of Cincinnati 


Up to $12,000 per catalyst award 

These funds will acquire datasets relevant to the project, integrate the data into our cloud platform, purchase processor time on AWS, allocate dedicated faculty or student time to conduct the research, and will support other relevant requests from team members to support the project’s successful outcome. Overall, the new Catalyst Award structure funds fewer awards per year, but increases our capacity to support each project with more funding per award to complete their work successfully. Supporting 5 projects per year also allows us to dedicate more time and resources to each individual project, permitting for focused implementation of our digital scholarship model for each team. 

Review Process:  

• the scholarly merit of the proposed faculty research questions, 

• the extent to which the faculty project would benefit from the DSC’s transdisciplinary digital scholarship approach, and 

• the feasibility of investigating the research questions with existing datasets and archives, and given the proposed budget.  

Elements of Proposal 

Proposals will include the following items in their one-page proposal: 

  1. Project Title 

  2. Project Description—This should include some context about the research question or problem to be addressed in the project, a description of what the project plans to achieve, as well as an explanation about how the project would benefit from the DSC’s digital scholarship model. 

  3. Deliverables—This section should outline the expected outcomes of the research project. 

  4. Timeline—The timeline should detail the phases of the research project, when those phases will commence and end, the tasks to be completed during each phase, and who will be responsible for said tasks. 

  5. Budget—This section should describe how the faculty member/s intend to use the award to complete their research project. Note: All expense types must follow university policy and Mellon Foundation Grantmaking Policy. 


Email submissions to



Catalyst FAQs

What expenses can be covered?
Will EXC (Extra Compensation) be allowed on the grant?
Can I use the grant fund for travel?
Can I use the grant fund to hire students?
Can adjunct faculty apply?
Can a student be a co-author on the grant?
What are the reporting requirements?
Can we collaborate with other institutes other than University of Cincinnati?
What happens if I don't spend all the catalyst award before the end of the grant phase?
Do applicants have to comply with SRS regulations?

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