Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions
Eligibility
Preparing Application
Approval of Grants
Post Approval and Grant Awarded


1. General Questions

Q1: What does SIRCA stand for?

SIRCA was initially the Strengthening ICTD Research Capacity in Asia (SIRCA I -  2008) programme and changed to Strengthening Information-Society Research Capacity Alliance (SIRCA II – 2011). The programme is run by the SiRC (Singapore Internet Research Centre). Currently open, the SIRCA III research grant award is focused on cross-cutting theoretical frameworks in the area of Open Development.

Q2: What is the different between SIRCA I, SIRCA II and SIRCA III?

SIRCA I, launched in August 2008, provided small-grants for research capacity-building for emerging ICTD researchers in Asia. The main focus of SIRCA was to support, via grants and mentoring, researchers from the global South, seeking to address the perpetual lack of scholars from developing regions in ICTD research. The outcomes of this programme were published in an open-access volume (ISEAS) entitled “Linking Research to Practice” edited by Arul Chib and Roger Harris.

In 2011, SiRC scaled the program globally to include researchers from Africa, Latin America in addition to Asia. Emphasis was placed on social science research with respect to information societies in the global South, and the outcomes of this programme were published in an open access book (Springer Open) entitled “Impact of Information Society Research in the Global South” edited by Arul Chib, Julian May and Roxana Barrantes.

SIRCA III is also a research grant and capacity building programme, but the focus has shifted from a pure capacity building aim to primarily a theory building one. The first phase of SIRCA III brought together senior, experienced research teams willing and able to develop cross-cutting theoretical frameworks on open development.  A cross-cutting theoretical framework should treat a topic, issue or process of open development across domains (e.g. government, education, business, science, etc.). During the second phase of the programme, the theories developed in the first phase will be empirically tested by scholars in developing countries.

Q3: What are the objectives of SIRCA III?

The objectives of the programme are to:

    1. Develop and refine cross-cutting Open Development theory;
    2. Interrogate, validate, and test emergent theoretical frameworks of Open Development with empirical evidence gathered in developing countries;
    3. Communicate theory and research to influencing policy, practice, and public opinion;
    4. Build intellectual leadership and critical research skills amongst researchers in developing countries through mentorship by senior research teams.

Q4: What is open development?

Within the SIRCA III programme, we define open development is the free, networked, public sharing of digital (information and communication) resources towards a process of positive social transformation. 

From a research perspective, open development is an hypothesis, not a causal statement. Open development as a broad research question can be stated as follows:

Whether, how, for whom, and in what circumstances does the free, networked, public sharing of digital (information and communication) resources contribute towards (or not) a process of positive social transformation.

Q5: What is a cross-cutting theoretical framework?

The reason for concentrating on cross-cutting theoretical frameworks is to move beyond theory and research that concentrate on specific domains (such as, government, education, business/innovation, health, software development, science, etc.). There has not been much (if any) research that explores themes across domains; however, processes within open initiatives such as sharing, participation or collaboration are integral nonetheless. Likewise, gender relations, trust, justice and responsibility are also examples that span across domains and that may play a part in connecting openness to positive development outcomes.

A cross-cutting theoretical framework can be viewed as a synthesis of lessons learnt across domains so as to build useful theory that would be applicable more generally (or alternatively, under certain conditions).

Q6: “I have an existing project on open data/open education/open government/ICT4D… etc., can I use the funds to support this work?”

During the second phase, we welcome researchers to explore existing initiatives and case studies; however, the purpose of investigation during the second phase is to test the theoretical framework developed in the first phase (rather than to evaluate the impact or effectiveness of an existing initiative, per se).

Q7: What is the relationship between the senior research teams, the Phase II scholar and the SIRCA Secretariat? 

Senior research teams and Phase II scholars have the freedom to manage their research projects independently; however, all teams must collaborate on a regular and ongoing basis both with the SIRCA III Secretariat and with the other research teams.

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2. Eligibility

Q8: Is a Phase II scholar allowed to submit more than one proposal?

Yes, scholars can submit more than one proposal. However, it is unlikely that the SIRCA III grant will be awarded to two proposals with the same scholar, since we are only selecting six empirical projects in the second phase.

Q9: Can scholars from the same university/organization as the senior research teams submit applications?

Yes, please declare any relationships you have to senior researchers in the proposal form in the conflict of interest section.

Q10: Can projects be composed of more than two scholars?

No.

Q11: Are non-Asia/Latin America/Africa based researchers eligible for the SIRCA III grant?

No, only researchers that have citizenship and are based in a country listed in Appendix 2 of the Call for proposals.

Q12: Will I have to find and access the participants for the empirical project myself?

Yes, proposals will need to include a description of cases and people that they are targeting and how they will gain access to them.

Q13: What are the basic requirements to be eligible to apply for the SIRCA III grant?

Applicants must be affiliated to an institution to apply for the SIRCA III grant. Scholars must be affiliated with an academic, government, research or civil society institution, consortium or institution; funds will be disbursed to your organization of employment and not directly to you;

Proposals will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

  1. Clarity of the proposal and quality of writing;
  2. Relevance and fit with one of the six Phase I themes;
  3. Adequacy of methodological rigor and capacity to empirically test the Phase I theoretical framework;
  4. Access to and significance of the research to the beneficiary group;
  5. Quality of research record and referee recommendations;
  6. Interest and research potential of the applicant.

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3. Preparing Application

Q14: Where can I obtain a copy of the application form?

The grant application form can be found on the SIRCA website here: http://www.sirca.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/SIRCA-III-Research-Proposal-Form-Final-May-5.docx

If you cannot fill in the Word document form, please write to sirca@ntu.edu.sg to discuss a potential alternative.

Q15: Can I get feedback or advice on my proposal prior to the deadline?

Yes, all applicants are invited to discuss their proposal ideas and drafts with us to get feedback before submission. Please write to sirca@ntu.edu.sg for feedback.

Q16: Does the proposal need to be written in English?

Yes, only applications in English will be accepted. However, you are more than welcome to communicate with SiRC in English, French, Hindi, Malay, Mandarin and Portuguese.

Q17: If I am to engage a third party to fill in the application form for me in English, can I have the salary of this person budgeted into the project budget?

No, you may not. However, in your budget you may budget in translation fee as part of your research expenses. The amount must be reasonable and such expenses are subject to the grant review committee’s approval.

Q18: Apart from the application form, what other documents do I need to submit?

There are various supporting documents needed to support your application, please check against the checklist at the bottom of the application form before you submit your form to us. The other forms can be found on this website: http://www.sirca.org.sg/programs/about-sirca-iii/call-for-proposals-empirical-phase/

Q19: What format should the documents be submitted in?

The application should be submitted in the provided forms, you do not need to change the format. Any additional documentation can be submitted in any format.

Q20: What is the grant amount?

Each funding request should be for a maximum of $8000 Singapore Dollars. Funding requests that demonstrate impact on project objectives for budgetary requests will be favoured.

Q21: What currency should be used to calculate the budget?

Local currency (of the scholar) should be used for the budget, but please include the amount in Singapore dollars after converting using the current exchange rate (please include the date when the exchange rate was used). You are required to use the budget template available at the website at http://www.sirca.org.sg/sircaiii-call-for-proposals/. Instructions for each line item and how to account for them are provided in the template.

However, it is important to note that the final exchange rate for Singapore dollar will be determined on the actual rate when the award is offered to successful applicants.

Q22: What should I do if I am not clear on what expenses are allowable in the budget?

Detailed instructions and samples are provided in the budget template. If there are any discrepancies after your submission, the secretariat will contact you for clarifications.

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4. Approval of Grants

Q23: When will I find out if my application is successful?

The applications will be reviewed at the end of March immediately following the deadline. Notification is planned to be given within two to four weeks.

Q24. If I do not hear from anyone after the end of April, who can I approach for information?

You may write to sirca@ntu.edu.sg to obtain further information.

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5. Post approval and grant awarded

Q25: Does SIRCA III allow the research proposal to be changed after being selected?

Yes, further refinements of the proposal will take place after it has been chosen for funding based on the feedback from the steering committee and senior research team. The SIRCA III programme is also collaborative in nature and teams will work with the secretariat, with the senior research teams and with a wider public to develop their projects.

Q26: What support and resources are available to grant awardees while commencing their research projects?

Common knowledge sharing infrastructure and resources will be constructed by the SIRCA secretariat and developed according to the needs and objectives of the programme teams. The programme will be participatory and evolving in an ongoing basis and the SIRCA Secretariat is tasked with responding to identified collaboration and support needs.

For further inquiries or clarifications, please contact sirca@ntu.edu.sg.

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