Research and Development

Division of Preservation and Access

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

Tier I provides awards up to $75,000 Tier II provides awards up to $350,000

Open to


Expected output

Web Resources;
Computer Program

Period of performance

Tier I: one to two years Tier II: three years

Application available

Optional Draft due

Application due

Expected notification date

Project start date

The Research and Development program supports projects that address major challenges in preserving or providing access to humanities collections and resources. These challenges include the need to find better ways to preserve materials of critical importance to the nation’s cultural heritage—from fragile artifacts and manuscripts to analog recordings and digital assets subject to technological obsolescence—and to develop advanced modes of organizing, searching, discovering, and using such materials. 

This program recognizes that finding solutions to complex problems often requires forming interdisciplinary project teams, bringing together participants with expertise in the humanities; in preservation; and in information, computer, and natural science. The exact mix of specialists will depend on the particular nature of the project. Your project team should embody a well-defined humanities perspective that can frame your objectives and guide the project to successful completion. Such a perspective may be provided by members of an advisory committee, consultant(s), a project co-director, or another participant.


All projects must demonstrate how advances in preservation and access would benefit the cultural heritage community in supporting humanities research, teaching, or public programming.

Research and Development offers two funding tiers in order to address projects at all stages of development and implementation.

Tier I: Planning and Basic Research

Tier I provides awards up to $75,000 for a period of performance of one to two years. This level supports the following activities: 

  • planning and preliminary work for large-scale research and development projects; and
  • stand-alone basic research projects, such as case studies, experiments, or the development of methods, models, and tools.

Proposals for planning work designed to culminate in large-scale projects must identify one or more project deliverables, such as the creation of an action agenda, work plan, published report, draft standard, or software prototype. 

Proposals to conduct preliminary testing or stand-alone basic research must indicate how they will address research issues or problems in the cultural heritage field. When possible, grant recipients must make research data publicly accessible in a format inviting additional analysis or reuse.

Tier II: Advanced Implementation

Tier II provides awards up to $350,000 for a period of performance of one to three years. This level supports projects at a more advanced stage of implementation for the following activities: 

  • the development of standards, practices, methodologies, or workflows for preserving and creating access to humanities collections; and
  • applied research addressing preservation and access issues concerning humanities collections.

    Applications for Advanced Implementation must demonstrate significant planning or prior research in one or more relevant fields. Successful completion of a Tier I project is not a prerequisite for applying for a Tier II award.

Below you will find a lengthy but not exhaustive list of potential research fields, topics, and humanities collection types that may be addressed by projects in Research and Development.


Collection and Format Types

  • archaeological and ethnographic artifacts
  • architectural and cartographic records
  • archives
  • art and visual culture
  • books, manuscripts, and special collections
  • digital media
  • geospatial information
  • language materials
  • material culture
  • moving image and sound recordings
  • news media
  • prints and photographs
  • research databases
  • software
  • time-based media and born-digital art
  • web, social media, and e-mail


Research Fields and Topics

  • accessibility for persons with disabilities
  • appraisal and selection
  • cataloging and description
  • digital forensics
  • digital preservation
  • disaster preparedness and emergency response
  • humanities research data management and curation
  • indigenous cultural heritage practices
  • knowledge organization
  • linked open data
  • material analysis
  • metrics for evaluating use of humanities materials
  • preventive conservation
  • textual encoding
  • visualization




Review your application package

As soon as you know you're ready to apply for this grant, make sure you register for a SAM number/DUNS number, and for a account as this is vital to the grants process. If you already have registered for these items, make sure they are up to date.

Begin by reading the full grant guidelines and studying the application. The files are linked below. You want to ensure you understand all the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this grant and are prepared to write the most effective application. 

Download Application Materials

Research and Development Guidelines (PDF)

Research and Development Guidelines (Doc)

Research and Development application package

Budget Resources

Sample Budget, October 2018 (PDF)

Budget Form, October 2018 (MS Excel)

Program Resources

Research and Development Frequently Asked Questions, 2019 (PDF)

List of recently funded awards in this program

DUNS Number Requirement

Sample Application Narratives

Tier I Project: Indianapolis Museum of Art, Rapid Pollution Off-Gassing Assessments of Museum Construction Materials

Tier II Project: Alexandria Archive, Data Curation as Scholarship in Archaeology

Tier II Project: Bay Area Video Coalition, Quality Control Tools for Video Preservation

Tier II Project: Carnegie Institute, Standardizing Digital Provenance Documentation for Cultural Objects

Tier II Project: Cornell University, Preservation and Access Framework for Digital Art Objects

Tier II Project: New York University, Implementing Traditional Knowledge Labels

Tier II Project: Rochester Institute of Technology, Determining Shape Deformation of Paper-based Collections

Tier II Project: University of Virginia, Enhancing Access to Contextual Information for Archival Collections

Tier II Project: University of Wisconsin, Investigation of Cellulose Nitrate Motion Picture Chemical Decomposition

    Complete your application package

    Be sure to follow the instructions outlined in the guidelines and in the instructions. 

    Submit your application package on

    You will receive a confirmation from when you've successfully submitted your application. 

    Verify you have received email messages from

    After you submit your application, will send you up to five e-mail messages confirming receipt of your application. These messages represent different stages in the application acceptance process. You should verify that you have received all confirmation messages. Please note that email filters may send these messages to your spam or junk folder.

    Program Statistics

    In the last five competitions this program received an average of
    per year
    This grant has a
    Funding Ratio
    NEH made an average of
    per year

    Examples of Projects Funded by this Grant Program