You may have the best proposal to present to a Principal Investigator at a T1 research institution. You may have drafted a fascinating schematic imagining a new building for an architecture program. Your work is solid but you need to connect with others outside of your narrow field to show how your proposal engages a wider audience. What can you do to make the material more accessible and engaging?
As a researcher in the humanities, I lean on books to guide me through tough abstract questions. It can be exciting to gather images of black queer classical composition in the mid-twentieth century, for example, but if I am presenting to a room of psychologists, what does the significance of my work mean for them?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Find moments where your work engages a wider set of disciplines.
If you are in STEM, how does your research proposal touch other fields in the sciences and humanities? Are there interdisciplinary texts, like those by Katherine McKittrick and Vicki Kirby, that explore the rich intersections between the sciences and humanities?
2. Center a real-world example.
How does your research engage a person at the level of their daily experience? Perhaps the highly theoretical economic model in your research statement will impact the day-to-day finances of people in a particular location. The application of work outside of your narrow field is important.
3. Consider tying a music or art example to your research statement.
Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” (1632) is a great painting that stages early medicine at the center of the arts; what is the significance of representing the body in works of art? A culturally comprehensive piece of writing crafts a more dynamic impression for those reading your work.
Think creatively as you connect your intellectual commitments to the work bubbling around you. Evidence of your capacity to think outside of your field of scholarship demonstrates your potential to connect with fields outside of your academic focus.