Research Resources & Processes

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) is committed to supporting and advising faculty in the pursuit of funding for scholarly and artistic research.

Types of funding available

Effective September 1, 2021, the SMTD will oversee and distribute funding through a new in-house program known as the “Research, Catalyze, Innovate” (RCI) program. This program replaces the former UMOR and SMTD grant programs and will offer three levels of grant support (where we formerly had only two). The SMTD Faculty Research Committee (FRC) will conduct in-house reviews of all applications to RCI program. Please note that the peer-review process has also shifted in-house, so the FRC will require one letter of support for each application to the RCI grant program.

Several other funding opportunities at U-M are available. Finally, projects that are funded by external sponsors are managed by the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP).

Note: Full-time, tenure-track and clinical-track faculty are eligible for one RCI grant award per fiscal year (July 1-June 30). Awards must be closed out before an applicant can apply for a new award. To be eligible for an RCI grant, faculty must hold an ongoing faculty position while the funded research is being completed. Faculty who leave the SMTD for another institution will forfeit their grant. Faculty who have stated their intentions to retire are ineligible for an award for a research project that will extend into retirement.

RCI Grant Funding Information

Effective September 1, 2021, the UMOR and SMTD grant programs will be replaced across campus with a new set of grants operated under the banner of “Research, Catalyze, Innovate” (RCI). In the SMTD, the new RCI grant program will builds on the former grant offerings, expanding that program from two grants to three:

(1) The Large-Scale RCI Grant
• This grant replaces the former UMOR grant at the same funding level, and supports projects up to a cap of $18,000
(2) The Medium-Scale RCI Grant
• This is a newly conceived grant for projects with a smaller budget than the Large-Scale Grant and will fund projects up to a cap of $12,000
(3) Small-Scale RCI Grant
• This grant replaces the former SMTD grant and will fund projects up to a cap of $5,000

As with the former UMOR grants, RCI grants will require a small faculty contribution. However, this contribution has been lowered to an amount of up to 10% of the grant request.

The elements of a complete RCI project/grant proposal include: narrative, budget, budget justification, and a brief biography of the applicants and all participants. We will also require one letter of support from a U-M colleague for the purposes of peer review (see below). It is advisable that proposals also include documentation of estimated expenses where possible.

Keep in mind that complex project/grant proposals and sponsored projects require more time to prepare. This can also be complicated by the need to secure a letter of support from a peer reviewer (see below). Our internal deadlines are firm and the Faculty Research Committee will require a week to read proposals and provide feedback where needed. Late proposals will be held until the next application cycle.

Proposals that involve scheduling and reserving campus facilities, equipment purchase or rental, or departmental staffing may require additional approval and coordination. These must be negotiated and secured before the proposal is presented to the Faculty Research Committee, so applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals well before the deadline.

RCI grants will be administered and reviewed in-house, which will translate into a much quicker turn-around for applicants. However, peer review has also shifted in-house and will now require each applicant to submit one letter of support for their project from a faculty member familiar with the applicant’s work. Applicants can seek a letter from any colleague at the SMTD or from any colleague across the University of Michigan campus who would be qualified to comment on their project. We will not accept letters from writers outside the University of Michigan.

Letters of support must address the proposed work in some of the following ways: what contribution does this project make to its field? how does it engage with current trends in that field? what will the outcomes of the project be and why are these significant? what qualities and qualifications make the applicant the ideal person to undertake this work? in what ways will the work contribute to the SMTD and to the applicant? Detailed instructions for letter-writers will be provided to every applicant upon request for the application forms.

Please contact the Director of Research for application materials at:
These will now include an application form and instructions for your peer-reviewer.

On this front, nothing has changed. When RCI-funded projects are complete, faculty are required to submit a report to the Director of Research. This report must explain how funds were used and must describe project outcomes.

External funding sources

Projects that are funded by external sponsors are classified as sponsored projects and are managed by the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) using the eResearch Proposal Management interface (note that ORSP has its own published deadlines for ePAF submissions).

Additional Resources

*Faculty and funders are encouraged to contact the SMTD webmaster with additional sources