World War I and the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council: A Research Competition

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 11:45am


World War I and the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council: 
A Research Competition


The National Academy of Sciences is a private tax-exempt corporation that provides expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. Our work helps shape sound policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine.

President Lincoln signed a congressional charter forming the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1863 to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science." As science began to play an ever-increasing role in national priorities and public life, the National Academy of Sciences eventually expanded to include the National Research Council (NRC) in 1916, National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 1964, and National Academy of Medicine (NAM), which was established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine. These entities are collectively referred to as The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies).

Request for Proposals

On the occasion of the centennial of World War I, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are pleased to announce an open competition for scholars under the age of 301 to research and write a scholarly paper on a major aspect of how scientists and engineers in the United States were engaged in the World War I effort (see The focus, drawing on the creation of the National Research Council associated with World War I, is on institutional changes (e.g., the charter of the NRC) and the research enterprise in America. In effect, scholars should look at how the war experience shaped long-term relationships among scientists and engineers and U.S. policymakers regarding national security and public welfare. (For a brief account of the NAS/NRC in the context of World War I visit

1 Applicants must be born after November 12, 1988. See Application Process and Selection Criteria.

2 The word count is exclusive of references. The papers should be referenced in a consistent style. Preferred styles are the Chicago Manual of Style, Modern Language Association style, and American Psychological Association style.

A short bibliography of essential texts on the history of the NAS/NRC and a link to a finding aid for relevant materials in the archives of the National Academy of Sciences are available at

Qualified scholars should submit, by February 28, 2018, a 500-word concept document that describes the scope of the proposed research. In addition, applicants should provide a list of possible primary sources of evidence to be used in the proposed research (one page maximum). The five best entries will be chosen by an NAS review committee (see, and authors will be invited to submit a fully developed research paper. Upon acceptance of the invitation, invitees will enter into an agreement with NAS to provide a final paper of between 8,000 and 10,000 words2 by September 10, 2018. They will be provided with a grant of $5,000.00 for research expenses and invited to utilize the NAS’ records under the mentorship of NAS’ professional archivists.3 The scholars will be expected to present a 20-minute summary of major research findings at a public conference at the NAS in Washington, DC on October 26, 2018.4 Additional discussants and participants will be included in the public event. The review committee will subsequently deliberate and announce the winner of a $10,000.00 first prize.

3 Archival research is not restricted to the archives of the NAS.

4 Expenses incurred in conjunction with attendance will be reimbursed by the NAS.

5 Should a two-person research team submit a proposal, both must meet the age criterion. Grants for research expenses will be limited to $5,000.00 per accepted proposal, and payments will be issued to the primary applicant. In the event that a two-person research team is awarded the $10,000.00 prize, payment will be issued to the primary applicant. The primary applicant is responsible for the distribution of prizes to the other team member, if applicable, and for any related tax reporting and compliance.

Payment of the $5,000.00 research grant will be made in two installments. An initial award of $2,500.00 will be made to finalists upon receipt of a signed copy of an award acknowledgement and verification of mailing address. A second award of $2,500.00 will be disbursed to finalists upon receipt by the review committee of a satisfactory progress report by July 1, 2018. The overall prize winner will receive an additional $10,000.00. The disbursement of any prize amount will be reported as gross income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of the tax year on IRS Form 1099. The NAS’ legal obligation is limited to the above-stated amounts, and the NAS will have no responsibility for costs incurred beyond this amount.

The review committee will seek to facilitate the publication of final papers in an appropriate venue.

Application Process and Selection Criteria:

The competition is open to scholars born after November 12, 1988. Individual scholars and research teams of not more than two individuals may apply.5 Although the topic is fundamentally historical, submissions from the perspective of any relevant scholarly discipline are encouraged.

500-word concept documents and a list of the primary sources of evidence to be used in the proposed research (one-page maximum) must be submitted on the web at by midnight (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) on February 28, 2018.

Authors of concept proposals and of final invited papers will be asked to sign a statement certifying that they are the original author of submitted documents. Upon submission, invited papers will be automatically screened for potential plagiarism. Should plagiarism be discovered, the author(s) will be disqualified.

Authors of invited papers must submit an interim progress report to the review committee by midnight (U.S. Eastern Daylight Time) on July 1, 2018.

Invited final, full papers must be submitted as electronic Word documents to [email protected] by midnight (U.S. Eastern Daylight Time) on September 10, 2018.

The following table shows the timeline and requested application materials: Stage of application process


All prospective applicants are asked to submit 500-word concept documents and a one-page list of primary sources of evidence to be used in the proposed research

Deadline: February 28, 2018

Successful applicants invited to submit a full research papers (full papers must be invited)

Announcement: March 12, 2018

Invited applicants submit interim progress reports to the NAS’ review committee

Deadline: July 1, 2018

Invited applicants submit full papers of between 8,000 and 10,000 words exclusive of references

Deadline: September 10, 2018

Invited applicants present their major research findings at the NAS in Washington, DC

Conference: October 26, 2018

Selection by review committee of $10,000.00 prize winner

Announcement: November 9, 2018