January 31 and July 15 each 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 in honor of 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.)

Application Process

Applications must be submitted through the IWCA Membership Portal by the respective due dates. Applicants must be members of IWCA. The application packet consists of the following:

  1. Cover letter addressed to current chair of the Research Grants Committee that sells the committee on the mutual benefits that will result from financial support. More specifically, it should:
    • Request IWCA’s consideration of the application.
    • Introduce the applicant and the project.
    • Include evidence of Institutional Research Board (IRB) or other ethics board approval. If you are not affiliated with an institution with such as process, please reach out to the Grants and Awards Chair for guidance.
    • Specify how grant monies will be used (materials, in-process research travel, photocopying, postage, etc.).
  2. 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.
  3. Curriculum Vitae

Expectations of Awardees

  1. Acknowledge IWCA support in any presentation or publication of the resulting research findings
  2. Forward to IWCA, in care of the chair of the Research Grants Committee, copies of resulting publications or presentations
  3. 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
  4. 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.

Grant Committee Process

Proposal deadlines are January 31 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.

For further information or questions, contact the current chair of the Research Grants Committee, Lawrence Cleary, 


2022: Olalekan Tunde Adepoju, “Difference in/at the Center: A Transnational Approach for Mobilizing International Graduate Writers’ Assets during Writing Instruction”

2021: Marina Ellis, “Tutors’ and Spanish-Speaking Students’ Dispositions Toward Literacy and the Effect of Their Dispositions on Tutoring Sessions”

2020: Dan Zhang, “Expanding the Discourse: Embodied Communication in Writing Tutorials” and Cristina Savarese, “Writing Center Use Among Community College Students”

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

2018: Mike Haen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Tutors’ Practices, Motives, and Identities in Action: Responding to Writers’ Negative Experiences, Feelings, and Attitudes in Tutorial Talk”; Talisha Haltiwanger Morrison, Purdue University, “Black Lives, White Spaces: Toward Understanding the Experiences of Black Tutors at Predominantly White Institutions”; Bruce Kovanen,”Interactive Organization of Embodied Action in Writing Center Tutorials”; and 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.”

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

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

2014: Matthew Moberly for his “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.”

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

*The Ben Rafoth Graduate Research Grant was introduced in 2008 as a travel grant. It was not awarded again until 2014, when the IWCA officially replaced the “Graduate Research Grant” with the “Ben Rafoth Graduate Research Grant. At that time, the award amount was increased to $750 and the grant was expanded to cover expenses beyond travel.