I'd be curious to hear advice about applying for dissertation fellowships, especially how to pitch one's dissertation proposal/summary to both philosophers and non-philosophers.
Good query! I'm probably not the best person to ask here, as I don't have any experience evaluating fellowship applications. However, I do have experience serving on several search committees for academic jobs, and in my experience candidate research statements often run into the following programs:
- Too much jargon (using technical terms that outsiders may not understand).
- Too much intricacy that only specialists are likely to understand.
- Not enough time spent explaining in a down-to-earth, convincing way why the project matters.
While again I haven't read dissertation fellowship applications, I would not be surprised if they often run into similar problems. My general thought on these kinds of things--research statements and applications in general--is that it is vital to to explain and motivate one's research in simple, down-to-earth terms. You can't just assume that because you or people in your subfield think a problem is important that any odd reader will feel the same way. You need to be able to explain the importance of the problem and the importance of your research program in a way that anyone can grasp. This isn't easy--but in my experience it is what effective research statements and the like tend to do.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours, particularly those of you who have either evaluated dissertation fellowship applications or been successful in applying for one?