Academic Research Grant

Romance Writers of America is proud to hold their annual Academic Research Grant competition, a program that seeks to develop and support academic research devoted to genre romance novels, writers, and readers.

The proposal submission period for the 2021 Academic Research Grant is open until October 1, 2020. Read on to find more information about this program and how to submit a proposal. Email with questions. 

View Past Grant Recipients

Where Are They Now? Catching Up with Past Recipients


  • Amount: up to $5,000. Funds will be calculated/awarded in U.S. dollars.
  • Competition Opens: July 15, 2020
  • Proposal Deadline: October 1, 2020
  • Tenure: 1 year
  • Completed applications to be submitted online. Reference letters can be emailed to
  • Decisions will be announced: January/February 2021

Submit Grant Proposal


Appropriate fields of specialization include but are not limited to:

  • anthropology,
  • communications,
  • cultural studies,
  • education,
  • English language and literature,
  • gender studies,
  • library studies,
  • linguistics,
  • literacy studies,
  • psychology,
  • rhetoric, and
  • sociology.

Proposals in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies are welcome. Black, Indigenous, and scholars of other minoritized backgrounds who do research on romance novels, writers, and readers are strongly encouraged to apply for this grant.

The ultimate goal of proposals should be a significant publication in major journals or as a monograph from an academic press as well as the dissemination of the study results to a wider, non-academic audience. RWA does not fund creative work (such as novels or films).

RWA's review committee, which includes academics with doctorates, makes grant recipient recommendations to the RWA Board of Directors. RWA will fund one or more grants up to a total amount of $5,000. Funds will be calculated/awarded in U.S. dollars. Applicants may request up to the total amount. The research grant(s) are intended to support direct research costs associated with the project, including travel, but not equipment.

RWA retains the right to award less than a proposal’s budget, or less than the total amount designated for the competition, should the review committee so recommend.


The objectives of the program are:

  • To support theoretical and substantive academic research about genre romance texts and literacy practices.
  • To encourage a well-informed public discourse about genre romance texts and literacy practices.


The RWA Research Grant Program is open to faculty at accredited colleges and universities, independent scholars with significant publication records, and dissertation candidates who have completed all course work and qualifying exams. The candidate does not need to be a member of the RWA.

Scholars who have won a grant may apply again, for a new project, beginning the fourth year after receiving the award. (Example: If the award was received in April of 2020, the recipient can apply again with the competition beginning in the fall of 2023.) The application must include evidence of the completion and publication of the first funded project.

Criteria for Selection

Preference will be given to scholars with a distinguished record of research and publication. In addition, criteria for evaluation are:

  • The significance of the proposed research
  • The definition, organization, clarity, and scope of the research proposal.
  • The quality or promise of the candidate.
  • Likelihood of timely completion of the proposed research
  • The purposeful dissemination of the research conducted using award funds to audiences beyond the academic committee


The application process is comprised of the following:

  • A cover sheet itemizing name, address, phone numbers, email address, title of research project, and total amount requested
  • A narrative proposal of no more than four pages, double spaced
  • Bibliography (no more than two pages)
  • CV with publications list (no more than three pages)
  • Two reference letters
  • Itemized budget with brief explanations of all significant amounts, not to exceed two pages. Funds must be requested in U.S. dollars.

Additional Details Regarding Budget

  • A portion of the Academic Research Grant can be used as a summer research stipend/salary.
  • Recipients must submit all receipts within one calendar year of the awarding and notification of the grant. (For example, if you were notified in February 2019, you have until February 2020 to submit receipts.)
  • Travel reimbursements will be limited to airfare and a maximum of current GSA rates for lodging and meals. Travel by automobile will also be reimbursed at the current GSA rate. Travel and conference expenses not directly related to research for the project itself (including conferences at which this research may be presented) are not covered by the grant.
  • Budget requests may include phone fees, clerical help, copies and photographs, and library fees.
  • No funds may be applied to university budget overhead assessments.
  • The grants are not intended and cannot be used for the purchase of computers or other electronic equipment of any kind.


All materials must be received by October 1, 2020. Please email the completed application to Any questions regarding the application process should be directed to the chair (Dr. Natalie Tindall, and



2020 Grant Recipients 

Dr. Diane L. Velasquez, Dr. Jennifer Campbell-Meier, and Dr. Diana Hodge

Australasian Librarians’ Perceptions of Romance Readers and Novels: A Mixed Methods Study
RWA awarded funding to Dr. Velasquez, Dr. Campbell-Meier, and Dr. Hodge to research whether or not Australasian romance readers’ use of public libraries in Australasia (term for Australia and New Zealand) are the same as North America. The study will be a mixed methods study to find out if Australasian readers are or are not using public libraries to source romantic fiction, to study the provision of libraries’ romance fiction, and librarians’ attitudes towards romance readers and novels.

Angela Maria Hart

The Romance Genre Fandom in the Digital Age: E-reading the Romance
RWA awarded funding to Angela Maria Hart to examine romance readers’ demographics and their motivations for their investment in the romance genre as well as how and where fans are discussing the romance genre. Hart's overall goal is to produce an updated fandom study, inspired by Radway, examining romance genre readers in the digital age.