This past fall, we completed the first funding round of the Animal Advocacy Research Fund. We evaluated 17 proposals in total, relying on a standard grant making process that consisted of a committee of experts reviewing, discussing, and voting on each proposal. Proposals were evaluated according to three general criteria: (i) The importance of the topic and relevance to animal advocacy groups, (ii) the potential strength of evidence given the study design and procedure, and (iii) the likelihood of success taking into account the feasibility of the project and the capabilities of the applicants.
What We Funded
We offered funding for seven proposals this round. We provided funding for three projects relevant to specific animal advocacy interventions, namely, a humane education field experiment, an experiment testing the effects of real and virtual contact with farmed animals, and a series of focus groups and survey experiments to understand consumer attitudes towards and willingness-to-pay for cultured meat. We offered funding for one foundational research project aimed at testing a novel strategy for persuading people to reduce their consumption of animal products, based on principles of self-persuasion. We offered funding for two movement growth projects, one related to movement infighting, and another on activist engagement. Finally, we offered funding for one methodological research project exploring the feasibility of using experience sampling for animal advocacy research.
Further details will be made available about each of these projects as they unfold. All applicants will post pre-registration plans to an online repository such as the Open Science Framework prior to data collection, and will make all raw data and any relevant analysis code publicly available in a de-identified, open-source format at the same time the results are announced.
What We’d Like to See in Future Rounds
As with any granting program, our success is heavily constrained by the quality of applications we happen to receive. While we were generally satisfied with the applications we received this round, we still felt there was room to improve. First, we would like to see a greater emphasis placed on intervention research. We received a large proportion of messaging or persuasion studies, and while these studies can be useful to the extent that they may inform the content of our interventions, they do not tell us enough about the overall effect of a given intervention. Second, we would like to see more field experiments. We received a large proportion of small-scale, laboratory studies, and while we definitely see value in these types of studies (given increased experimental control), we think it is important to balance these types of studies with large-scale field experiments. Finally, during the proposal stage, we would like to see researchers put more effort into clearly articulating the potential practical implications of their research. The more an applicant can help us envision how different groups might incorporate the findings into their day-to-day activities, the easier it will be for us to evaluate that proposal positively.
We will be hosting several call-for-proposals over the next two years. The application deadline for the next round is January 27, 2017.
New Resource for Potential Applicants
In this past round, we heard from a number interested parties who were actively looking yet struggled to connect with qualified collaborators. To help interested researchers and advocates identify and connect with each other, we have established a Research Collaboration Directory. This resource is intended to help connect researchers with mutual interests or complementary skills, and establish partnerships between academics and animal advocates. By signing up, you are simply agreeing that you are willing to be contacted by other researchers or advocates who might be interested in collaborating with you in some way. No commitments are implied.