Research Grant Programs Open for Applicants | Organization for Autism Research

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OAR is currently accepting applications for the Graduate Research Grant Program and Applied Research Competition. Since 2002, OAR has funded over 250 research studies, bringing its funding total to more than $3.7 million. OAR hopes to build on this success in 2019, continuing its support of research studies that offer meaningful outcomes to individuals with autism and their families.

Graduate Research Grant Program

OAR invites graduate students to submit research proposals for its annual Graduate Research Grant Program. Since the program was established in 2004, OAR has awarded over $249,600 in grants to fund 138 graduate research studies. Last year, OAR made grants to 11 students with grant awards totaling $21,000. OAR hopes to build on its commitment to support the next generation of applied autism researchers in 2019.

OAR accepts proposals from students pursuing graduate studies in fields related to autism in the United States and abroad. The maximum award for master’s candidates is $1,000, while doctoral and post-doctoral candidates are eligible for a maximum award of $2,000. Interested students may apply online, and proposals will be accepted through Monday, February 11. Interested students should first review the 2019 Request for Proposals, as well as OAR’s funding guidelines.

The intent of the program is to support independent research in:

  • The analysis, evaluation, or comparison of assessment models, treatment models, or service systems
  • Applied aspects of early intervention and school-based education, including behavior and communication
  • Adult issues such as continuing education, employment, housing, and “later intervention”
  • Issues related to family support, social and community integration, and assessment and intervention with challenging behaviors

OAR’s goal is to fund studies that will likely produce practical and clearly objective results that can help parents, families, professionals, and people with autism make more fully informed choices, leading to healthier and happier lives. OAR will only make grant awards for studies to be conducted during the grant period, which lasts from July 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

OAR’s Scientific Council will evaluate the proposals it receives for scientific and technical merit. Review criteria include:

  • Significance: Does the study address an important problem? How will it advance scientific knowledge in the field?
  • Approach: Are the concepts, design, methods, and analyses adequate and appropriate? Are alternate approaches accounted for?
  • Innovation: Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches, or methods? Are its aims original? Does it challenge existing paradigms?
  • Meaningful outcomes: OAR places special emphasis on the research’s importance to the autism community and its application to the practical challenges of autism. While a proposal’s scientific merit in terms of design, methodology, and analysis are vital, the meaningfulness of its outcomes will carry great weight in the final review.

OAR’s Board of Directors will make grant awards based on these evaluations and the recommendations of the Scientific Council. OAR will announce grant recipients in May 2019 and make the awards in July 2019. For more information, please contact OAR at or call 703-243-3466.

Applied Research Competition

OAR invites researchers to submit pre-proposal applications for its annual Applied Research Competition. Since the program was established in 2002, OAR has awarded more than $3.7 million in grants to fund more than 115 applied research studies.

The purpose of this competition is to support pilot studies that expand the body of autism research in a way that produces practical results to enhance the quality of life for persons with autism and their families.

Beginning this year, the maximum award amount will increase from $30,000 to $40,000. Proposed studies must begin January 1, 2020 or later, and have a duration of one to two years.

The application process occurs in three phases: pre-proposals, full proposals, and final review. Pre-proposal applications will be accepted through Monday, March 25 at 11:59 p.m. ET. A limited number of applicants will be invited to submit full proposals in June. Winners will be announced in early December.

OAR aims to promote evidence-based practices delivered from research in the following areas:

  • The analysis, evaluation, or comparison of current models of assessment, intervention, or systems of service delivery, including policy analysis
  • Applied aspects of educational, behavioral, or social/communicative intervention
  • Effective intervention across the lifespan for individuals considered to be severely impacted by autism
  • Adult issues such as continuing education, employment, residential supports, sexuality instruction, quality-of-life determinants, and “later intervention”
  • Issues related to family support, social and community integration, assessment and intervention with challenging behavior, and the use of technology in support of learners with autism spectrum disorders

While applicants are welcome to submit proposals on any relevant area of research or intervention, OAR is placing an emphasis this year on research that addresses the following targeted areas:

  • Community-based assessment and intervention for challenging behavior
  • Effectiveness of augmentative communication systems
  • Improving access to and effectiveness of existing systems and services
  • Integrated employment
  • Intersectionality, equity, and diversity
  • Mental health assessment and intervention
  • Mid-life and older adults
  • Residential/community services and supports

Interested researchers should review the 2019 request for proposals as well as OAR’s funding guidelines. For more information on OAR’s Applied Research Competition, contact or 703-243-9762.

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