Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions About Eligibility

Q: My appointment is in an engineering department, but my work is in basic chemistry, am I eligible?

A: Yes. Fellowships are awarded for scholars whose research is in one of the seven SRF fields. If you’re in an engineering department, but doing chemistry, you are eligible for a fellowship in chemistry. If you’re in a business school, but doing economics, you are eligible for a fellowship in economics.

Q: In previous years, there was an eligibility cut-off date in relation to one’s Ph.D. Is there still a cut-off date that determines one’s eligibility?  

A: The Foundation no longer requires nominees to be within six years of their Ph.D. date.  So long as a candidate has received a Ph.D. and is in a tenure-track position with a teaching requirement, s/he is eligible for the fellowship.  Please note that although the cut-off date is no longer a requirement, the fellowship remains an award for those in the early stages of their careers.

Q: I don’t see the eligibility exceptions that were present in past cycles.  Should I still indicate why my career was delayed?  

A:  Although eligibility exceptions are no longer necessary due to the removal of the cut-off date, there will be space on the online application for candidates to highlight any career disruptions or delays they may have experienced.

Q: I'm tenured, but I meet all the other eligibility requirements. Am I eligible?

A: No. Tenured faculty are not eligible.

Q: What’s included in the field of Earth System Science?

A: Earth is a complex adaptive system. Earth System Science integrates interactions among the biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, and lithosphere to understand fundamental structures, processes, and linkages in the past, present, or future Earth.

Applications should articulate cross-disciplinary approaches connecting two or more “spheres” to advance basic science of the Earth system.

During the nomination process, nominees will be asked to list the primary “sphere” of the investigation.

Questions About Deadlines

Q:  Today is the deadline and one of my letter-writers just told me he cannot upload his letter today.  What do I do?

A: Submit your application without the letter. So long as you attached all the other required documents (CV, research statement, etc.) and so long as you have “requested” the letter through the SM Apply system, your application will be accepted. Once your letter-writer submits his or her letter of support through SM Apply, it will automatically be added to your application.

Questions About Nomination Materials

Q: Do the “representative articles” I submit have to be published?

A: No, but it is rare for successful candidates to submit papers that have not at least been accepted for publication.

Q: If I applied for a Sloan Research Fellowship last year and am re-applying this year, can I re-use my nomination letter and letters of support from last year?

A.  No.  Though the same persons may nominate you or write letters of support on your behalf, they must submit new letters.  This ensures that your nominator and letter-writers continue to support your candidacy for a Sloan Research Fellowship.

Q: Can I see an example of a research statement submitted by a successful candidate?  

A: Unfortunately, no.  Research statements submitted by nominees are confidential.

Q: Are there any font-size, margin-size, or other formatting restrictions on the one-page research statement?

A: Selection committees do not tend to look kindly on applications that try to skirt the one-page length limit through creative font and margin sizing. Please make text no smaller than 11pt font and margins no smaller than .5 inches. 

Q: Does the one-page limit on research statements include a list of references or can references be put on a second page?  

A:  Try to fit references in the footnotes of page one, but if you can't do it, putting references on a second page is acceptable.    

Q: Are there any specific content requirements for the one-page research statement?

A: The point of the research statement is to permit candidates to briefly describe their current and future research, since publications lags can sometimes make a CV a less than perfect guide to a candidate's work. There are no specific content requirements, except that candidates applying to the earth system science field are asked to include a one-two sentence statement describing how their research will impact the field.

Questions About SM Apply

Q: What is the process for requesting confidential nomination letters and/or support letters? 

A: In SM Apply you will be asked to fill out a form about your nominator and provide his/her/their name and contact information.  After filling out the form you will proceed to the next section of the application where you will request the confidential nomination letter by again providing the email address and name of your nominator and releasing the request.  You must complete the information form before sending the request. The same two-step process is required when requesting letters of support: you will first fill out the support letter writer form and then will be allowed to send the requests for the confidential letters.  Note: in order for the nominator/letter writer to see your request, s/he/they must create an account using the same email address to which you send the request.  

Q:  I am a nominator/support letter writer for a candidate for the Sloan Research Fellowships.  I have an SM Apply account but I cannot see the letter request when I sign in.  Where is the request?

A: Typically, we see this error when there are two email addresses being used: one email that was sent the request and another that was used to create the account. Kindly check with your nominee that the email address they have for you is the same that you are using to create the account. If they are different, the request will not show up. To make sure the email addresses match you must either: create an account using the email address where you received the request, or ask your nominee to resend the request to your alternate email address.  A third option is to attempt to sign in using the email address that the request was sent to and click on "forgot password" to set a password and view the letter request. If you continue to have problems, contact us for additional help at [email protected]

Q: I can’t upload my support/nomination letter using Microsoft Edge. Is there something else I can try? 

A:  Some users have experienced issues using the Microsoft Edge web browser.  While we attempt to resolve this issue, kindly use a different web browser to upload your confidential letter.

Q: I didn't receive a Master's Degree but it's a required field on the "Nominee General Information" form. What should I enter?

A: In the "Master's Degree Institution" field enter "N/A." In the date field, enter any date that is a valid date (i.e. 00/00/0000 will not be accepted).

Questions From/About Nominators and Letter Writers

Q:  I nominated someone last year who did not receive an award.  Can I re-nominate that same person this year?

A:  Yes, so long as they continue to meet all eligibility requirements. 

Q: Does my nominator have to be my department chair?

A: No. Any senior researcher who can speak to the quality of your work may nominate you.

Q: Does my nominator have to be someone from my department?

A: No, any senior researcher who can speak to the quality of your work may nominate you.

Q: Can my former advisor write a letter in support for my nomination?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of nominations per department?

A: Yes. No more than three candidates may be nominated from any one department per fellowship field.   

Q: Is there a limit to the number of people I may nominate?

A: No, though no more than three individuals may be nominated from any one department. NOTE: Anyone nominating more than one candidate may be asked to rank these candidates at a later stage in the selection process.

Q: Whom should I select as a nominator or letter writer?

A: Selection Committees recommend that letters of support be submitted by someone who can speak objectively and knowledgeably about the quality and significance of a nominee’s work. Letters submitted by co-authors, personal associates, or professional mentors are, in this sense, less useful to Selection Committees than letters submitted by those with more professional distance from a nominee’s work.     

Questions from Department Administrators

Q: I am an administrator who is processing a nomination on behalf of one of the faculty in my department.  Should the Interfolio account created be in my name or in the name of the nominee?

A: The account should be in the nominee's name.

Q: With the new eligibility requirements, our department now has several candidates who are eligible for the award that weren’t previously.  How should we prioritize our nomination process?  

A:  The Foundation cannot advise departments on which candidates to nominate; however, we can confirm that the award remains an early-career fellowship.

General Questions

Q: When are the winners announced?

A: Mid-February

Q: Does the Foundation provide feedback to nominees not selected for fellowships?

A: No. Selection committee deliberations are confidential.

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