Frequently Asked Questions on applying to the Reilly Center's Social Responsibilities of Researchers program
1. Will the SRR program fulfill my Graduate School mandated Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) ethics training requirement at Notre Dame?
No. The SRR program assumes that you have already completed basic RCR training and are ready to delve deeper. While RCR instructs researchers on how to conduct their research ethically, SRR helps enable researchers to take the next step and engage the broader society about the potential impacts of their research. While RCR is a minimal requirement to do research, SRR is intended to cultivate ethical leaders. See the top of the main page for more details on the differences between RCR and SRR.
2. Is this the Graduate School STEM ethics leadership training program? If not, what is the difference?
No. The Graduate School's EL-STEM program is separate but related. EL-STEM is drawn from business ethics and leadership training, while SRR is drawn from science ethics and Science and Technology Studies (STS). See here for a description of the EL-STEM program and how to apply to it. See here for a description of the difference between them.
3. I’m an international student. May I apply?
Yes. While NSF will not support international students directly (e.g., with Fellowships), there is no restriction in participating in NSF-funded programs such as SRR. This includes eligibility for the stipend.
4. I’m traveling for research this summer. Can I still do SRR?
Yes. You will need to be on campus full-time for the five-day Boot Camp, May 22-26, 2017. This is the week immediately following commencement. However, no other formal activities are scheduled for summer. Our bi-weekly brown-bag meetings will begin in fall. You should plan to spend some of your summer refining and beginning to plan the in-service project that you will propose to us at the end of the Boot Camp. But you do not need to be on campus in summer to continue developing this.
5. Will SRR support travel?
Probably not. We will have a limited supply budget to support in-service projects. However, it will likely not be sufficient to cover activities that require substantial travel. If your in-service project requires travel, it may be feasible to combine it with already-supported trips. In addition, the Reilly Center accepts grant proposals three times a year for which you are eligible to apply. See more information here.
6. I already receive a stipend from my department or an external source. Can I receive the SRR stipend in addition?
Yes. We expect that as PhD students you are already receiving some form of full-time support. Our program stipend is designed to be paid in addition. It’s our way of not only incentivizing participation, but signaling to your home department that we believe this experience is valuable enough to support with our own funds. Stipends will be paid over at least two payments, one at the start and one near the end of the program.
7. Do I need to know what my service project will be when I apply?
No. We would like to hear about whatever ideas you have for a service project, or even just what kinds of social relevancies you see in your research that are of interest to you. This will help us understand your interests and how we could support them, as well as demonstrate to us your commitment to such issues. However, by no means must you have a complete idea for a project. We will work with you, beginning in the Boot Camp, to conceive and develop project ideas. One of the factors in choosing your project will be the kind of personnel and contacts we can provide you with to make the project feasible.
8. I do pure research (e.g., in math or physics). Does my research still have social ramifications?
Yes. Even if your research is abstract, it can quickly lead to practical applications that have real-world implications. Pure math, for example, underlies cryptographic security which is now essential to global trade and interaction. Another way to look at this is that your work, however abstract, is likely being supported by public funds in some way. This is clear evidence that your research is recognized as having social value and relevance.
9. I am taking classes and/or working in a lab next year. Do I have time to do SRR?
Probably. The program is intended for full-time PhD students with the usual responsibilities. The overall time commitment is expected to be only one or two hours a week for the year following the initial one-week Boot Camp. The precise amount of time you invest will be largely up to you and the type of project you choose to undertake.
10. The website says that you are accepting applications from first- and second-year STEM PhD students, but elsewhere it says that the program is for second- and third-year students. Which is it?
Both. The SRR program starts just after the academic year ends, and persists for an entire year. So while the program will have second- and third-year students participating in it, those same students are, at the moment, first- and second-year respectively. This is what is meant when the website says that “Applications are made in the preceding year as a first- or second-year student.”
11. What’s an example of an in-service project?
Any sort of activity that would help bring the results of your research or the findings of your field to a wider, non-academic audience, and help you better understand the way that these individuals may be impacted by your research. Examples include:
- Presenting your work to the general public at a series of open events
- Working with a population likely to be specifically impacted by your work
- Publishing an article for a general audience on some aspect of your research or its social relevance
- Working with school-age children to help them understand what your field or research is about
- Convening a Science Cafe event or presenting at a museum
- Using blogging and social media to start a discussion or disseminate useful research results to a general audience
This is just a sampling to help you get started. Feel free to bring your own ideas about how your research has social relevance and what kind of project could enhance that relevance or create interactions around it.
Still have questions? Contact Mark Bourgeois at firstname.lastname@example.org.