Deadline: January 15 and July 15 every year

The International Writing Centers Association serves to strengthen the writing center community through all of its activities. The organization offers The IWCA Ben Rafoth Graduate Research Grant to encourage the development of new knowledge and the innovative application of existing theories and methods. This grant, established by writing center scholar and IWCA member Ben Rafoth, supports research projects associated with a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation. While travel funding is not the primary purpose of this grant, we have supported travel as part of specific research activities (e.g. traveling to specific sites, libraries or archives to conduct research). This fund is not intended to support conference travel only; instead the travel must be part of a larger research program stipulated in the grant request.

Applicants may apply for up to $1000. (NOTE: IWCA reserves the right to modify the award amount.)


Complete application packets will contain the following items:

  • Cover letter addressed to current chair of the Research Grants Committee; the letter should do the following:
  1. Request IWCA’s consideration of the application
  2. Introduce the applicant and the project
  3. Specify how grant monies will be used (materials, in-process research travel, photocopying, postage, etc.)
  • Project Summary: 1-3 page summary of the proposed project, its research questions and goals, methods, schedule, current status, etc. Locate the project within relevant, extant literature.
  • Curriculum Vitae

Those receiving grants then agree that they will do the following:

  • Acknowledge IWCA support in any presentation or publication of the resulting research findings
  • Forward to IWCA, in care of the chair of the Research Grants Committee, copies of resulting publications or presentations
  • File a progress report to the IWCA, in care of the chair of the Research Grants Committee, due within twelve months of receipt of grant monies. Upon completion of the project, submit a final project report to the IWCA Board, in care of the chair of the Research Grants Committee
  • Strongly consider submitting a manuscript based on the supported research to one of the IWCA affiliated publications, WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, The Writing Center Journal, The Peer Review, or to the International Writing Centers Association Press. Be willing to work with the editor(s) and reviewer(s) to revise the manuscript for possible publication

NOTE: The cover letter sells the IWCA Board on the mutual benefits that will result from their financial support. Anything that applicants do to link this project to their specific career goals and to the needs of the writing center community is welcome.


Proposal deadlines are January 15 and July 15. After each deadline, the chair of the Research Grants Committee will forward copies of the complete packet to the committee members for consideration, discussion, and vote. Applicants can expect notification 4-6 weeks from receipt of application materials.


The following stipulations adhere to supported projects: All applications must be made through the IWCA portal. Submissions should completed by January 15 or July 15 depending on grant cycle. For further information or questions, contact the current chair of the Research Grants Committee, Brain Hotson,


2008*: Beth Godbee, “Tutors as Researchers, Research as Action” (presented at IWCA/NCPTW in Las Vegas, w/Christine Cozzens, Tanya Cochran, and Lessa Spitzer)

2014: Matthew Moberly, whose project is a “large-scale survey of writing center directors [that will] give the field a sense of how directors across the country are answering the call to assess.”

2015: Rebecca Hallman, for her research on writing center partnerships with disciplines across campus.

2016: Nancy Alvarez, “Tutoring While Latina: Making Space for Nuestras Voces in the Writing Center”

2018: Mike Haen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for “Tutors’ Practices, Motives, and Identities in Action: Responding to Writers’ Negative Experiences, Feelings, and Attitudes in Tutorial Talk”

Talisha Haltiwanger Morrison, Purdue University, for “Black Lives, White Spaces: Toward Understanding the Experiences of Black Tutors at Predominantly White Institutions.”

Bruce Kovanen for “Interactive Organization of Embodied Action in Writing Center Tutorials.”

Beth Towle, Purdue University, “Critiquing Collaboration: Understanding Institutional Writing Cultures through an Empirical Study of Writing Center-Writing Program Relationships at Small Liberal Arts Colleges.”

2019: Anna Cairney, St John’s University, “The Writing Center Agency: An Editorial Paradigm in Support of Advanced Writers”

Joe Franklin, “Transnational Writing Studies: Understanding Institutions and Institutional Work Through Narratives of Navigation”

Yvonne Lee, “Writing Toward Expert: The Writing Center’s Role in the Development of Graduate Writers”

2020: Dan Zhang, “Expanding the Discourse: Embodied Communication in Writing Tutorials”

Cristina Savarese, “Writing Center Use Among Community College Students”

*The Ben Rafoth Graduate Research Grant was introduced in 2008 as a travel grant only. Between 2008 and 2014, it was not awarded, but in 2014, the IWCA officially replaced the “Graduate Research Grant” with the “Ben Rafoth Graduate Research Grant,” increased the award amount to $750, and expanded the original 2008 Ben Rafoth grant so that the new grant could support graduate student research without limiting it to conference travel.