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Sylff Research Grant

The call for applications was updated on May 2nd, 2024 ("4. Application" and "6. Schedule").

Sylff Research Grant (SRG) is a support program for fellows who are currently enrolled in a doctoral program or are within three years of having earned a PhD and are at an early stage in their careers.

The grant aims to encourage Sylff fellows to engage in rigorous academic research that will become valuable assets for their future career development.

The Call for Applications is available in PDF file and text versions (below).

Call for Applications for FY2024

1. Eligibility

The applicant must meet the following conditions:

  1. He/she is a current or past recipient of a Sylff fellowship.
  2. He/she is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at any institution of higher learning or received a doctorate on or after April 1, 2021.
  3. He/she has never received or has only once received an SRG award. (Those who have already received the award twice are not eligible.)
  4. He/she is at an advanced phase of research implementation at the time of application, having completed a literature review, established a research design and methodology, investigated precedents, and has a clear plan for the use of the SRG grant.
  5. He/she is engaged in high-quality research with high potential for advancing academic discourse and can clearly explain its significance in the application.
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2. Research Activities

SRG supports research activities whose primary objective falls into one or several of the following categories:

  • Data collection
  • Hiring of one or more research assistant(s)
  • Domestic fieldwork by the applicant
  • International fieldwork by the applicant
  • Outsourcing of tasks requiring special knowledge or skill that the applicant does not possess
    (software analysis / large-scale or remote data collection / language translation / honoraria for interview with experts)

This grant supports research activities conducted during the period between November 1, 2024, and October 30, 2025.

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3. Award

An award of up to US$5,000 is provided per successful applicant.

  1. Eligible expenses:

    Category (A): Data collection

    • Data, database access fee
    • Database subscription

    Category (B): Hiring of one or more research assistant(s)

    • Salary, wages
    • Transportation
    • Lodging

    Category (C): Domestic fieldwork by the applicant

    • Transportation
    • Lodging

    Category (D): International fieldwork by the applicant

    • Transportation
    • Lodging
    • Wi-fi
    • Insurance

    Category (E): Outsourcing

    • Software analysis
    • Large-scale or remote data collection
    • Language translation
    • Honorarium for interview with experts
  2. An SRG award cannot be used to cover expenses not listed above.
  3. Even when included in the above list, all expense items must be accompanied by a description of their necessity, unit price, number of items required, name of service, etc., in the application. The Sylff Association secretariat reserves the right to exclude unexplained or unreasonable expenses from the proposed budget. Awardees will be notified of the amount of the approved budget when they are informed of the selection results.
  4. An SRG award can only be used to cover expenses incurred by the applicant personally or by persons directly involved in the activities described in the proposal, such as research assistants.
  5. Applicants may seek additional funding from other sources. When such funds are used, please provide the name of the funding institution and the amount received in the application.
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4. Application

All updates are indicated in red. 

Applications should be completed in English. Descriptions of your proposed research should be written in a way that can be readily understood by readers outside your field of specialization.

In principle, applications must be submitted via the online system, which can be accessed only during the application period. Please be sure to submit all required information by the respective deadlines, which are indicated in Japan Standard Time (JST). Applications sent by email or those that are either incomplete or late will not be considered. All applicants are required to read “5. Screening and Evaluation Criteria” carefully prior to submitting their applications.

There are two steps in completing the application process.


FIRST STEP: Preliminary registration

The first step is preliminary registration. The applicant should provide basic information about himself/herself and answer some eligibility questions via the online form. The form will be available on the SRG page between May 15, 2024, and June 13, 2024, 11:59 p.m. JST.

SECOND STEP: Application submission

After screening the information provided in the first step, eligible applicants will be informed of a web link enabling them to proceed to the second step to submit their formal applications via an electronic application system.

The Sylff Association secretariat strongly encourages applicants to prepare a draft of their application and recommendation letter in advance, as explained below. Your application will be evaluated on the quality of the written responses and relevance to the information requested. Access to the system, meanwhile, will be limited to the period between August 21, 2024, and September 2, 2024, 10:00 a.m. JST.

[Applicants Must Submit the Following]

  1. Online Form
    • Summary of Application (200 words)
      Please provide a clear and compelling summary of your “Detailed Proposal” and “Budget Proposal and Research Activities.”
    • Detailed Proposal (total around 800 words)
      • Research title (around 10 words)
      • Research question (concise statement of around 50 words)
      • Research objective (200 words)
      • Proposed research plan/activities (300 words)
      • Relevance and significance of the proposed research (100 words)
      • Expected outcomes (150 words)
      • (For previous SRG recipients only) Brief explanation of how the proposed research differs from or advances earlier study (up to 200 words)
    • Budget Proposal (use prescribed form) and Research Activities
      For which research activity or activities will the SRG grant be used? Check all that apply. 
      • Data collection
      • Hiring of research assistant(s)
      • Domestic fieldwork
      • International fieldwork
      • Outsourcing
  2. Letter of Recommendation
    The applicant should request a letter of recommendation from an academic authority with a good understanding of the applicant’s area of research (academic supervisor, expert, etc.) (use prescribed form). The letter should be scanned and submitted in PDF or JPEG format and have the digital or physical signature of the referee.
    Only those sections of the letter referring to the significance of the applicant’s research project will be reviewed.
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5. Screening and Evaluation Criteria

The Sylff Association secretariat will first screen applicant’s eligibility following preliminary registration. Only those confirmed to be eligible for the program will be invited to submit their formal applications.

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Research question, objective, and outcomes are clearly articulated.
  • Research methodology and approach adhere to generally recognized doctoral standards.
  • Research plan is feasible in terms of schedule and methodology.
  • Significance of research is evident through comparisons with the existing literature.
  • Budget proposal has direct relevance to research plan.
  • Budget proposal satisfies criteria for SRG expenses outlined above, with the amount and necessity of each item being explained in the application.

Note: The "Summary of Application" plays an important role in the evaluation process. It should provide a succinct, compelling, and well-reasoned summary of your research plans.

The Sylff Association secretariat will not consider applications if they are:

  • Turned in late
  • Not accompanied by required documents
  • Raise ethical concerns (use of slurs or other inappropriate expressions)
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6. Schedule

All updates are indicated in red. 

  • Announcement of the Call for Applications: May 15, 2024
  • Preliminary registration: May 15, 2024, to June 13, 2024, 11:59 p.m. JST
  • Eligibility notification: July 31, 2024
  • Application submission: August 21, 2024, to September 2, 2024, 10:00 a.m. JST
  • Notification of selection outcomes: November 1, 2024
    (Successful applicants may start their proposed research after receiving this notification.)
  • Disbursement of funds: End of December 2024

<IMPORTANT>

  • An agreement shall be signed between the awardee and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research (Sylff Association secretariat) for award disbursement.
  • The award will be remitted by the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research to the bank account designated by the awardee, which should be able to accommodate foreign transfers in US dollars.
  • The awardee is responsible for clearing any legal requirements in receiving the award and for covering any associated costs.
  • The award will NOT be remitted for any reason to a third party, such as a research assistant, family member, outsourcing company, etc. The award may be cancelled if it cannot be remitted to the awardee’s account for technical reasons.
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7. Post-Support Requirements

  1. All awardees must submit narrative and financial reports (downloadable template) along with associated receipts within 30 days after the completion of the proposed research. Please obtain receipts or other forms of financial proof for all expenses. If part of the SRG budget has been used to hire research assistant(s), for example, a bank transfer record can serve as a receipt. When official documents cannot be obtained, use the (prescribed "receipt substitute" form) You will be asked to refund expenditure items in the financial report that are not accompanied by proof of payment or a receipt substitute.
  2. Recipients are asked to cooperate with the Sylff Association’s public relations activities by agreeing to have their names, photos, and narrative reports (either in full or in part) published on the Sylff website and/or in print publications. They are also asked to promptly submit or update their Sylff profiles through a designated web link upon request from the Sylff Association secretariat, since links to recipients’ profile pages will be included in the announcement of SRG awardees, scheduled to be published by February 2025.
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8. FAQs

[Eligibility]

1.
I was selected as a Sylff fellow for the coming semester, which starts in fall 2024. Am I eligible?
1.
No. Eligibility for SRG is determined based on an applicant’s status during the preliminary registration period (May 15 to June 13, 2024), which means that the fellowship period must begin by May 15, 2024, at the latest. Unfortunately, those whose fellowship period begins after this date are not eligible.
2.
I received a Sylff fellowship during my master’s course and will be enrolled in a doctoral program in September 2024. Am I eligible?
2.
No. Applicants must be enrolled in a doctoral program by May 15, 2024, at the latest, to be eligible for SRG. Please refer to the “1. Eligibility” section of the SRG page on the Sylff website for details.
3.
I earned my doctoral degree after April 1, 2021, but I am currently not affiliated with any institution of higher learning. Am I eligible?
3.
Yes. You are eligible as long as you earned your doctoral degree on or after April 1, 2021, and are a current or past Sylff fellowship recipient, regardless of your current affiliation status.
4.
Why are master’s students not eligible?
4.
The aim of SRG is to support research that can be expected to lead to a high level of expertise within a field of specialization. For this reason, eligibility is limited to research conducted by doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers.
5.
Why am I not eligible if I earned my doctoral degree before April 1, 2021?
5.
SRG is intended to support researchers who are at the initial stages of their career development and seek to produce outcomes that will improve their standing in their respective disciplines. We have defined “researchers who are at the initial stages of career development” as those who obtained their doctoral degree within three years, and April 1 has been set as the cutoff date since it is the start of the fiscal year in Japan.
6.
I have received an award from another Sylff Support Program. Am I still eligible?
6.
Yes. You may apply for SRG even if you have already received an award from a separate Sylff Support Program. You may also apply if you have received SRG in either FY2022 or FY2023, but you are not eligible if you have already received SRG twice, in both FY 2022 and FY2023.
7.
Why am I not eligible if I’ve already received an SRG award twice?
7.
SRG is intended to support research activities necessary for a doctoral thesis and/or during the initial stages of a postdoctoral research career. The two-time limit is intended to provide opportunities to as many qualified applicants as possible.
8.
I meet most of the eligibility criteria for an SRG, but I’ve never received a Sylff fellowship. Can I apply?
8.
No. Only Sylff fellows are eligible to apply for Sylff Support Programs. We define Sylff fellows as those who are receiving or have received a Sylff fellowship at a Sylff institution (https://www.sylff.org/institutions/).

[Research Activities]

1.
The Sylff Association secretariat did not endorse traveling to a foreign country for SRG FY2022. Why does SRG cover such expenses in FY2024?
1.
The Sylff Association secretariat conducted a survey of all 69 Sylff institutions to ascertain recent university policies on student visits to foreign countries for research purposes. Nearly 75% of respondents said that they permit students to travel abroad. Ensuring the safety and security of fellows is in our best interest, but we do not wish to deprive them of research opportunities. We have therefore decided that SRG may be used to conduct fieldwork in a foreign country or countries in FY2023, with the condition that fellows follow the advice of their home and host governments and affiliated research institutions; and that they take every possible precaution to conduct research in a safe manner, such as by taking out insurance; arranging for medical accommodations, if necessary; and finding a host with effective infection control.
2.
I understand that SRG supports research conducted between November 1, 2024, and October 30, 2025. Will it support research implemented beyond this period?
2.
No. SRG may be used to cover research expenses incurred only during the designated period. Applicants should formulate plans for research activities that can be completed by the end date. If ANY changes need to be made to the research plan submitted at the time of the formal application, you are obliged to consult with the Foundation beforehand, as stipulated in the agreement to be signed with awardees.
3.
When can I start my SRG research?
3.
You may begin your SRG research from the date that you receive a letter notifying you of your success from the Sylff Association secretariat, which is scheduled to be sent on November 1, 2023. The secretariat will not be responsible for any costs associated with research conducted before that date or without receiving a notification letter.

[Awards]

1.
My research budget exceeds US$5,000. May I combine an SRG grant with other grants to cover the shortfall?
1.
Yes. Cost sharing with other programs is encouraged if your research budget exceeds US$5,000. Please report any additional sources of funding in your proposed budget and financial report so that we will have a better idea of the scale of your SRG project.
2.
May I purchase items not listed in my original budget proposal but still needed for my research?
2.
No. Awardees are prohibited from using an SRG award for items not approved by the Sylff Association secretariat at the time of notification. However, when changes to your research plan are required due to unforeseen circumstances, you may consult with the secretariat. Please note that items not listed in the SRG page will not be considered even if they are necessary for research. Furthermore, the secretariat may request a refund if the award is found to have been used for purposes not approved by the secretariat.
3.
May I purchase a tablet or other digital hardware required for my research?
3.
No. The purchase or rental of a tablet or other digital hardware is not covered by SRG. The purchase of software is also not covered, but you may use the SRG award to access or subscribe to a database.
4.
May I use part of the SRG grant to cover my personal living expenses during the research period?
4.
No. Per diem payment is permitted for research assistants but not for the applicant him/herself.
5.
In what currency will the grant be transferred?
5.
The grant will be sent in US dollars. Please be sure that your bank account can accept US dollars and international wire transfers.
6.
Do I need to pay the remittance charge?
6.
Remittance fees will be borne by the Sylff Association secretariat (the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research), but fellows should cover other remittance-related charges, such as taxes and receipt fees.
7.
Will the Sylff Association secretariat compensate for exchange rate fluctuations between the time of notification and the transfer of funds?
7.
No. We will not make up for any losses in the value of the US dollar during the above period. If you wish to control the timing of conversion from US dollars to your local currency, you are kindly requested to designate a US-dollar-denominated bank account so that the timing of conversion will be at your discretion.
8.
Is it possible to move up the timing of payment from the end of December 2024, as outlined in the application guidelines? I need the money before then to undertake preparations for my research.
8.
No. The end of December 2024 will be the earliest date that we can transfer the grant to the awardees. We will not be able to make early payments for any reason.
9.
I received $5,000 for my SRG research, but I ended up spending only $3,500. May I use the remaining award for items not declared at the time of application?
9.
No. If there is a large discrepancy between the amount awarded and actually used, or if your financial report is not accompanied by receipts, awardees should refund the remaining portion of the award or any unverified expenses to the secretariat. If in doubt, please consult with the secretariat in advance.
10.
I could not obtain receipts for some of my expenses. How should I submit the financial report?
10.
Any expenses not accompanied by receipts or other forms of financial proof are subject to a refund request. Any expenses not accompanied by receipts or other forms of financial proof are subject to a refund request. If a receipt is difficult to obtain, you may use the prescribed “receipt substitute” form downloadable from the SRG page (“7. Post-Support Requirements”), citing the name and date of the service, the amount charged, signature of the service provider, and the name and contact information of the signer. If a transaction has been made online, you may submit the transfer record or purchase page as the receipt.
11.
Under what circumstances will I be requested to refund my SRG award?
11.
A refund will be requested (1) for all expenditure items not accompanied by financial proof or receipt substitute; (2) if a large portion of the award remains unused; (3) if the award is used for purposes not approved by the Foundation (in case you need to change your research plan, please promptly consult with the Foundation); (4) if the Foundation cannot determine whether your project has been conducted according to the approved plan, such as when a final report is not submitted; and (5) in case of plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct.

[Application]

1.
I am looking at the SRG web page but cannot find the link to access the site where I should submit my formal application.
1.
The URL to access the online system is sent exclusively to applicants who have been confirmed as eligible for an SRG during the preliminary registration step. If you have been informed that you are eligible, please find the URL in the notification email.
2.
I cannot access the online application site with the URL that was provided. What should I do?
2.
Please contact the Sylff Association secretariat at sylff[a]tkfd.or.jp (replace [a] with @).
3.
May I provide the additional information requested on the application form by email because my text exceeds the prescribed number of words?
3.
No. Only information submitted through the online system will be accepted and screened. Please keep your comments to within the prescribed number of words specified for each section.
4.
My referee is not responding to requests for a letter of recommendation, so my application will be late due to circumstances beyond my control. Can I still submit an application?
4.
No. Late applications will not be accepted for any reason. We encourage applicants to start preparations well ahead of schedule, since application requirements are made available months in advance of the deadline. All requested information must be submitted by the deadline to be considered for screening.
5.
I was unable to pre-register for SRG because I wasn’t aware of the program before the deadline for preliminary registration. Can I still proceed to submit a formal application?
5.
No. Those who do not complete the preliminary registration process before the deadline will not be invited to submit a formal application under any circumstances. Please be sure that your email account is set up to receive news and other updates from the Sylff Association secretariat. We also encourage you to visit the Sylff website from time to time.
6.
I want to revise my application after it has already been submitted. Will it be accepted?
6.
No. Only the first submission will be reviewed, although the form itself can be accessed after submission.
7.
Can the Sylff Association secretariat offer personal guidance on how to complete the application and prepare required documents?
7.
No. Support for individual fellows will not be provided out of fairness to all applicants. Please carefully read and follow the instructions in the Call for Applications and FAQ.

[Selection criteria]

1.
One criterion for evaluating applications, as stated in the Call for Applications, is that the “research methodology and approach adhere to generally recognized doctoral standards.” What does this mean?
1.
SRG is intended to support high-quality research. If the research sample is too small or the research target is too narrow to conclusively test a certain hypothesis, for example, the accuracy and validity of the findings may be questioned. Again, if the expected outcome of an intervention program can easily be predicted even by people with no background in the research area, this will not be considered high-quality research. Doctoral or post-doctoral research is generally expected to advance academic discourse in a concrete manner. We anticipate a large number of SRG applications, so the selection process will be competitive, and quality of research will be an important criterion during evaluation.
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Awardees and Reports

Preliminary registration period: May 15, 2024, to June 13, 2024, 11:59 p.m. JST

*1. You will be redirected to Zoho Survey when you click on the above button.
*2. If you cannot access the registration form, please contact the Sylff Association secretariat.

* * *

Inquiries:

Please read the FAQ at section 8 or send an email with [SRG] in the subject line to:
sylff[a]tkfd.or.jp (replace [a] with @).

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