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1. I have used some research funds for proofreading. By the time I have an article ready for submission, I've generally looked at it so many times that I have a really hard time catching typos. Of course, you can always swap papers with a colleague, but sometimes all you want is someone to proofread it (or put it in some specific format). There are often folks advertising proofreading/copyediting on PHILOS-L if you are looking for someone. If you are writing a book, you can pay someone to do the indexing.

2. See if your university allows you to use these funds for membership in academic societies. For the APA, you can point out to admin that you cannot even submit a paper unless you are a member.


Do you need any new equipment, such as a new computer, scanner, etc.?

Are you writing a book that might need to pay for in image rights?

Do you have anything you'd like to publish open-access?

they will be grateful

Also, if you have a cushy research fund, you can offer to pay your own travel/accommodations to invited talks. This will free up money in organizer budgets, perhaps for a larger honorarium for you, or for other cool things (a small honorarium for someone providing comments, or an additional meal, or ...). Some places are rolling in money and this may not matter as much to them, but for conferences or society talks or other things like that, this can make a huge difference and is a nice way of contributing to the profession.

why not

Actually I think organising a conference with invited speakers is a great way for a junior person to establish professional connections. Maybe start with a small workshop on a topic you are a specialist on? Also easier to get someone to invite you after you have invited them first, e.g. you can chat in person and mention how you'd love to visit their department/ research group.


Definitely do the hotel thing, above board. I have used research funds to pay for writing retreats locally several times - I always go with a friend (also an academic), spend a few nights away, and usually leave with a paper draft. It's great!

Lots of things

Definitely invite people/organize conferences, but you can also open access your papers, pay for a better professional website, hire research assistants, travel to conferences where you're not presenting, hire an editor/proofreader, buy office furniture, do that writing retreat you mentioned, fund snacks for your grad seminar or WIP group, etc.


I’ve seen people in other fields who use those funds to pay someone to give them feedback on their papers before submitting them to competitive journals.


I've used mine for travel, inviting speakers, office equipment, research assistance, some of my book production costs (e.g., indexing), etc.

Santiago Amaya

It depends on the kind of institution that you are in:

If you are in a small department, (2) and (3) might make a lot of sense. They can help you have a rich intellectual life that you would not otherwise have and might help you establish your search agenda within a community or subfield. Even if your department has funds for (2) and (3), you can partner with them to get more of these goods.

If you are in department with a good graduate program, you can use your funds to pay for a research assistant. Research assistants can help you draft grant proposals, which can get you outside funding, which you can use to buy time off. They can also help with things that you are required too do, but that do not have any clear professional use (indexing a book)

If you are in a department with tough tenure requirements, you can use the money for (1). That will help you set up some of the connections that will later become important when your dossier comes up for evaluation. If you have an ambitious research program, (1) can also allow you to pay for trips merely to attend conferences and learn from others what it would take you months to learn on your own.

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