This post continues our series—begun last fall during faculty hiring “high season”—by a onetime academic job seeker, now academic-at-large, on where to search for and find grants.

Applying for grants and fellowships to cover the costs of your education and research can be an exhausting prospect. (Can you say “neverending deadlines”?) But if you land one funding opportunity (or more), the benefits are huge.

  • You can include the honor on your CV
  • You may get to meet and hobnob with new people outside of your institution who administer the award
  • You get money!

And once you’ve landed one grant, other grants tend to follow. So you should start building a record of success sooner, rather than later.

But how do you know which grants to apply for? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Tap the resources of your institution.

Find out if your home university has an existing system to help grad students apply for grants. Offices of Grants and Fellowships are an obvious place to look; if you’re unsure about this, ask faculty or staff in your program to direct you. The staff in an Office of Grants and Fellowships will help you figure out which institutional opportunities might fall in your wheelhouse.

A few opportunities may be available such as:

  • Small pots of money for professional development such as conference attendance
  • Short-term research fellowships to fund trips to archives or field sites
  • Year-long dissertation fellowships

See if your institution can help you think outside of the box.

Some scholars pursuing certain projects may be able to find money from granting agencies that aren’t giving their funds solely to academics. The organization, The non-profit, nationwide Foundation Center maintains several databases, some of which are targeted to non-profits and other agencies who want to apply for grants to support their institutions. For example, their Foundation Grants to Individuals database collects listings relevant to students, artists, and researchers. Access is paid, but your institution may have a subscription. Check with the people in the Office of Grants and Fellowships—they will be able to help you figure out how to target your search.

Read the acknowledgements.

When you’re reading a book, or looking at an article or paper, especially when it’s by an author whose work is similar to yours, check the acknowledgements section. The author will thank the funding agencies whose largesse made their research possible. Google the fellowship, and put it on your list if it feels like a good fit for you.

Don’t forget the bigwigs.

There are some organizations that will be top-of-mind for everyone in your field.

These may seem like long shots to you, but applying for big, prestigious grants is very good practice. If you score one, it’ll add luster to your CV and help you get more money in the future.  

Hit up databases online.

A definitive universal database of fellowship and grant opportunities for grad students doesn’t exist. Here are a few good links to favorite and follow.

  • The NIH has a page listing non-NIH funding opportunities for researchers.
  • The website ProFellow, run independently by consultants, maintains a database aimed at a mix of undergrads, graduates, and professionals. You have to create a profile to browse.
  • PIVOT offers listings for a range of types of academic funding (not just for grad students).
  • Search the listings of H-Announce for notices of fellowships, grants, and prizes for humanities scholars.
  • The McNair Scholars page, run by the Department of Education, offers a list of opportunities, segmented by subject matter and specialization.

At the core, finding grants and other funding opportunities is a chore. But if you know where to start your search, it can make navigating the process a little easier.

Share with us on Facebook and Twitter where you look for and find grants.

Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, polish and send out their materials at all stages throughout their academic professional path. Learn more about Dossier here.

[This post was updated August 2019]

Interfolio has been providing a platform for requesting, storing, and sending confidential letters of recommendation since 1999. In the past 20 years, we’ve learned a lot about our worldwide user base, including what they expect from us and what we could add on to our service to improve their experience.

That’s why we have dramatically reimagined one of our main features: for users with active Dossier Deliver subscriptions, we now perform a quality check on all confidential letters of recommendation as soon as they enter your account.  Literally, we have a team of humans that take a look at the document quality of your letter, and then notify you AND your letter writer of any issues. That’s part of what you get with your Deliver subscription: not just the cost of delivery, but a group of folks who are making sure that your materials aren’t going to hold you back from that opportunity because of a letter error.

There are a variety of things we look for and flag as inconsistent with what a user expects within their letter, such as:

  • We check for a signature.
  • We make sure there’s an official letterhead.
  • We ensure the file uploaded is in fact a letter.
  • We verify the letter bears both your name and the letter writer’s name.
  • We establish the letter is legible.

Why is this important to you?

Out of the 53,555+ documents we quality checked from March until December 2017, there were 834 documents with errors. That means roughly 2% of the total documents we checked had an issue that the letter writer and the requestor would not have been aware of had we not reviewed them and notified them.

Prior to this feature release, when you had an issue with a letter (as a requestor), we would notify you upon requested delivery of the letter. Now, we will perform a thorough quality check promptly when a letter is received in your account, guaranteed.

This allows for:

  • More time to fix/address errors
  • Assistance from Team Interfolio in communicating errors to your/a letter writer
  • Reassurance and confidence when your letters are ready to deliver
  • Exposure to positive and negative quality check results

How do we tell you what’s wrong? (or right)

  • If you are a Dossier Deliver user, we will send you an email if we discover any gaps in document quality (such as when a signature or letterhead is missing, or if the document uploaded is not really a letter).
  • If you are a letter writer that has mistakenly submitted an incorrect letter or a letter with issues, we will send you an email.
  • When you are logged into your Dossier Deliver account, and a letter has received our quality check, you will be able to see a bulleted list of what is right and what is wrong (if there are issues) with your letter.
  • If you are a Dossier Deliver user and your letter is error-free, you will receive an email letting you know it’s good to go.

What are the nitty-gritty details?

  • If you are a  Dossier Deliver user, we will quality-check letters for you within 4 business days of their arrival in your account. 
  • Interfolio DOES NOT restrict you from using letters still “pending” a quality check.
  • Letters are also checked before being submitted for delivery.
  • Every time you request new letters Interfolio checks those letters for quality.
  • We will provide assistance communicating errors to Letter Writers.

Requesting and sending letters of recommendation is a stressful but necessary part of applying to many scholarly positions and other opportunities. Let Team Interfolio help you manage this portion of your to-do list, confidently.

Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, polish and send out their materials at all stages throughout their academic professional path. Learn more about Dossier here.

A reflection on the ever-changing purpose of online dossiers in the quest for the next career opportunity.

Since 1999, Interfolio has helped hundreds of thousands of scholars:

Our team has hosted and fine-tuned these interactions and processes not only so we stay zeroed in on alleviating stress and facilitating preparation for the scholar, but also so our users can succeed and focus on the outcome of their efforts—getting to their next career milestone.

Indeed, for twelve or thirteen years, Interfolio’s primary focus was making things easier for extremely busy academic applicants and recommendation letter writers. And as we’ve peeled back our take on the preparation story more recently, our Dossier has really expanded to encompass the whole scholar’s lifecycle.

The real crux of managing your academic career online, or even a piece of it, bears some explanation (partnered with trust). So here, we break down what we think are the five central benefits of an online scholar-focused dossier, and speculate about what a global network of digital academic portfolios could mean for networking and the sharing of knowledge.

Benefits of an online dossier:

  1. It makes it possible to manage multiple confidential letters of recommendation for multiple applications. Surely this is the best-known purpose of an online academic dossier—and it’s a game-changer. Instead of asking my letter writers over and over to submit letters to dozens of destinations, I can just ask each of them to submit one unaddressed letter (or several variants) to my dossier service. By making it easier for my letter writers, I maintain a stronger relationship with them—and I don’t have to constantly check in on whether they are playing their role in a particular opportunity.
  2. It facilitates the sharing of materials for feedback in a relatively seamless way. The ability to send a digital copy of your CV or a collection of materials at the push of a button to anyone, anywhere, is a fairly new capability of online dossiers. I can simply upload and then send my mentor, advisor, even a peer, a copy of my application packet and receive their thoughts and feedback in almost real-time on how to put my best foot forward. And all the feedback is captured and held in a place I can easily accept and translate it, or pass on certain thoughts and ideas.
  3. It enables a scholar to apply to a large number of opportunities, and to apply on short notice. For a scholar who maintains an academic dossier online, the actual sending of application materials is simpler and quicker. I can send off an application packet with a few clicks from anywhere. If I don’t have this option, it’s true: it is like the old days. The time available to me to invest in the most substantive, meaningful aspects of my career management—to revise my statements, research opportunities, learn about peers’ work, and attend events—is severely constrained by the labor it takes to get all my applications out the door.
  4. It gives scholars a natural place to store the most up-to-date versions of their own materials. If I use an online dossier service, I have a dedicated space for my career materials that is accessible from anywhere and that translates immediately into an application I can send off. Is an academic dossier service the only way to store my documents online? Of course not. Am I capable of making a folder on my own computer? I sure hope so. But if I am storing documents in my online dossier for a more functional reason (see above), then clearly I gain the added benefit of a dedicated venue in which to organize my work. I’ll know where to go to find what I need.
  5. It gives scholars a ready-made, consolidated historical record of their career steps. A dossier service makes for a more informed applicant. When I organize my job search, my grant applications, or even my medical school portfolio online in this way, I can rely on a single place to reference my past attempts. It’ll help me remember which opportunities I applied for at which times, which materials I sent to which destinations, to whom I addressed a packet at a particular institution (and at what address), and similar details. The service stores this information for me.

To be sure, there’s something to be said for elbow grease. It’s not about rewarding laziness. We’re talking about a group of highly qualified applicants who are applying for dozens and dozens of opportunities in a very tight market, with limited time at their fingertips.

Nor, on the other hand, would it be a service to the academic community to build a machine that reduces professors to some robotic formula of quantitative data points or a cycle of churning out generic letters. Rather, by shortening the path from point A to point B, it affords individual scholars greater freedom to represent their contributions and character, and to make connections with the right collaborators—rather than further limiting the doors behind which a stable position can be found.

Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, polish and send out their materials at all stages throughout their academic professional path. Learn more about Dossier here.

This post continues our series—begun last fall during faculty hiring “high season”—by a onetime academic job seeker, now academic-at-large, on good practices for academic career success.

When you’re on the academic job market, looking ahead to a professional review or applying for grants, it’s a great time to break your lingering undergrad habit of sweatily completing applications 15 minutes before midnight on deadline day. The reason? You should get feedback—from your dissertation advisor, the jobs coordinator in your department, a professor you’re friendly with, even a slightly-farther-along peer who’s been there and knows what it’s about. Your letters of recommendation, teaching statements, and project statements will improve accordingly. 

Here’s how to get the most out of getting feedback.

1. Pick the right person to comment.

The “right person” is going to vary depending on the job, placement, or funding opportunity that you’re shooting for, and your particular concerns about your application. 

  • If you’re fretting about your grasp of the subject matter at hand, ask someone who’s got it down—and let them know that’s why you’re asking.
  • If you’re most worried about your writing, ask somebody with good prose style—or, even better, a person with good prose style who you already know is great at commenting on other people’s writing.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a connection with someone who has experience with the department or program you’re aiming for, ask them to use their institutional knowledge to assess whether your materials strike the right tone.

2. Leave plenty of time.

The person who’s willing to comment on your materials is doing you a solid. Reciprocate by making the experience as seamless as possible for them. That means finishing drafts of your documents with time to spare, and sending them along so that the commentator can fit reading them into his or her own schedule. Ask your commentator how much time they need, and set yourself a new deadline accordingly. And be sure to budget on the other end for your own turnaround time. You don’t want to give your commentator three weeks with a document, only to have them send it back on the eve of the deadline with revision suggestions that will require heavy lifting.

3. Provide context.

Your commentator needs to know what kind of promotion or funding opportunity you’re applying for, at the bare minimum. After she has agreed to read your materials and comment, and you’re ready to share your documents, include an email in which you send along the link to the desired role or opportunity. In brief (don’t rattle on), provide a bit of framing and summary to help them understand your approach. 

Include answers to questions like:

  • What do you think your chances of getting this job or grant might be, and why do you think you might be a good fit?
  • What are your concerns about the draft materials you have produced?
  • Are there any problem areas you want the person to address?

The more explicit you can be about the kind of feedback you’re seeking, the better. You don’t want a person you’ve asked for subject matter expertise to get hung up on comma placement. (They may not be able to help themselves! But by making it clear, in a gentle way, that you’re asking for a particular kind of feedback, you may make the experience easier on everyone.)

4. Be cool about the feedback when it comes.

It is only human to bristle when criticized. But try to remember, again: they are doing you a solid. In this context, there’s very little to be gained from defending yourself. Send an extremely polite reply email (or even a handwritten note!) thanking them effusively; if there are things you need clarified, ask, but make sure you truly don’t understand, and you’re not just being reactive. If you know it will take you a while to get over hurt feelings and get on with revisions, build that recovery space into your timeline.


With some preparation and the right mindset, getting feedback on the materials you’re using to present yourself when applying for jobs, fellowships, grants, future study (such as medical or graduate school) can help you sharpen your portfolio—while strengthening your relationships along the way.

One final rule: When somebody asks you for feedback in a couple years, say yes! Keep that karma flowing.

Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, polish and send out their materials at all stages throughout their academic professional path. Learn more about Dossier here.

How can applicants on the academic jobs market make their job search easier?

Based on some primary research Interfolio’s done to understand our Dossier users’ experiences in their search for academic jobs, we’ve highlighted some key things we learned in an infographic, “Dossier and the Academic Job Market.” The insights generated by this market research helped to inform the July 2017 launch of free Dossier and Dossier Deliver, as well as other investments we’ve made in the Dossier product in the past year. The survey results suggest an academic jobs marketplace in which highly qualified applicants are burdened by laborious and confusing application processes. Take a look below! (Viewing on mobile? Tap on the image for better quality.)

Infographic - Dossier and the Academic Job Market - Interfolio

Interfolio’s Dossier gives scholars an easy way to collect, curate, and send their materials anywhere in application to academic jobs, electronically or by mail, with a few clicks. Learn more about Dossier here, or upgrade from free Dossier to Dossier Deliver here.

This is one of a series of infrequent posts by a onetime faculty job seeker, now academic-at-large, on the job market.

You know how to pull your materials together when assembling your applications for faculty jobs. You have strong relationships with colleagues or mentors who can write confidential recommendation letters (and maybe you have them stored online). But how do you find the jobs that are the right fit for your carefully curated set of documents? Don’t rely on one or two websites to surface job ads—cast your net wide with these options.

  • H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online is a massive old-school (archived content goes back to 1994!) organization of interest-group networks, offering newsletters, reviews of new books, teaching materials, and bibliographies. The H-Net Job Guide is the essential database of academic jobs in the humanities and social sciences in the United States. This database is free to the user, and you can register to have new jobs in the categories of your interest sent to you via email when they post.
  • HigherEdJobs is another job site that (like ChronicleVitae) runs ads for administrators and executive positions, as well as faculty jobs, and includes positions in STEM as well as in the liberal arts and social sciences. That means that they have a very large database of job openings (though, of course, many of them may not be in your field!) The HigherEdJobs search page allows you to select for jobs that have marked diversity and inclusion as a particular goal in their hiring.
  • The two-body or “dual career” problem can be a dealbreaker (for your career, or your relationship), so it makes sense to use any advantage you can get to solve it. Inside Higher Ed, which offers compensation data and career advice in its Careers section along with a jobs database, has a nifty Dual Career Search tool, letting you trawl the database for two faculty jobs spaced at a distance you’ll select.
  • The Academic Jobs Wiki can be a can of worms, since that’s where you go to find out (via anonymous user postings) how job searches are proceeding. That can be a recipe for bad feelings when you find out on the Internet that you weren’t picked to advance to the next round. But it’s worth braving the wiki periodically, for the following reason: it’s a targeted, crowd-sourced collection of jobs, aggregated by people in your particular field. The chances that a good job will slip through the fingers of all of those peers is low.
  • The Higher Education Recruitment Consortium is a group of institutions that banded together to help each other recruit diverse candidates for faculty and staff jobs.Since, as HERC’s website points out, female academics are especially hindered by the two-body problem, it makes sense that an organization interested in advancing diversity would invest in solving that problem. So, like Inside Higher Ed, HERC offers a special tool to use to help couples find jobs near each other. 

Depending on your field, and the year, the academic job search can be tough. But at the very least, the Internet makes finding every possibility easier.

Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, and send materials anywhere, including confidential recommendation letters, in application to faculty jobs. Learn more about Dossier here.