Summer Research Fellowship

The International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) Research Program at D-Lab is offering Research Fellowships to current graduate and undergraduate students to conduct summer research on local innovation in the context international development. Selected Fellows will receive up to $3,000 each, based on project budgets, for research that will take place between May and August, 2017. Applications due April 20, 2017. Application packet here.

Fellowship Focus and Selection Criteria

The Fellowship program is seeking to fund original empirical research exploring questions related to local innovation and community-based solutions in the contexts of local and regional development. We are particularly interested in research proposals that align with the following IDIN research priorities: 

1) Understanding local innovation*

− Case studies or descriptive research projects that identify successful examples of local innovation processes and generate insight into these processes; 

− Research that explores the outcomes of local innovation processes and the ways in which these processes are contributing to local and/or regional development.

2) Learning from local innovators

− Case studies, interviewing projects, and other methods of learning from local innovators about their approach, their successes, and/or the constraints they face.

3) Mapping and describing local innovation ecosystems

− Projects that map or systematically describe a local innovation eco-system using existing methods or by developing new mapping or assessment approaches.

*IDIN defines local innovation as “the creation and introduction into use of new and more effective ways of doing things compared to existing practices within a specific local context.”

Geographic Focus

We will prioritize proposals to conduct field research in the following regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, and Central and South America. However, we will consider proposals to conduct research in other locations where there are noteworthy community-based efforts to address development challenges and/or opportunities. 


Applicants must be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at MIT or a university with a cross-registration agreement with MIT.  Preference will be given to students with demonstrated coursework or experience in social science research. Preference will also be given to students who will be pursuing research towards a thesis, dissertation, publication, or other major research project. 

Application Instructions

1) Fill out the attached Application Form (please limit to 2 pages)

2) Create a 2-5 page Research Proposal. Your proposal should clearly and succinctly address the following:

a. Research Focus: The research topic and question(s) you wish to explore, why these questions are relevant and to whom, and how they relate to the IDIN research priorities listed on the previous page;

b. Research Design and Methods: how you will research your question(s); what methods you will use and why you have selected those methods; what prior experience you have using these methods (or how you plan to develop this experience);

c. Implementation Plan: Where you will conduct the research, over what time period, who else will be involved (local partners, research advisors, or others), and a simple budget with your estimate of associated research costs (*if grant funds will be used to cover international airfare, US government rules apply).

d. Final Product: What you would like your research to result in by the conclusion of the Fellowship (e.g. case study, paper, dataset, new method, video(s), etc).

e. Motivation: Why you are interested in conducting this research, and how you plan to use it moving forward.

3)Submit the Application Form, Research Proposal, and a current Resume or CV as attachments to an email directed to Elizabeth Hoffecker, Research Manager for IDIN,  by April 20, 2017.

Fellowship Program Timeline, 2017 Funding Cycle

APRIL 20: Application due date

MAY 1: Funding decisions announced

MAY 5: Deadline to accept Fellowship Award

MAY 15: Fellows Kick-Off and Orientation Meeting (5pm)

AUGUST 31: Deadline to complete research

SEPTEMBER 15: Research deliverables and final report due