Earthwatch Research Proposal

Welcome to the Earthwatch Research Proposal

Earthwatch's project review process is guided by our mission to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Proposals are reviewed based on scientific merit, expected project outcomes and impacts, appropriateness of citizen-scientist activities, and safety, logistical, and financial viability. All research proposals should have outputs/impacts that clearly align with current global environmental agendas and priority conservation targets.  All proposals must be completed by the principal investigator (PI).

Proposals for projects starting in 2019 will be accepted through 11:59 (ET) Sunday, August 27, 2017.

As part of this stage in the research proposal review process, you will be interviewed by Earthwatch staff. Additionally, all proposals will undergo blind, external peer review prior to full approval. Successful proposals will be approved for three years of funding, and may be eligible for funding beyond that period. All projects are subject to an annual performance review.

The proposal has six sections:

  • Section 1: Project Design
  • Section 2: Impacts
  • Section 3: Field Logistics
  • Section 4: Project Budget
  • Section 5: PI and Staff Information
  • Section 6: Peer Review and Additional Materials

Completing the Proposal 

All proposals must be completed by the PI. You must be online to complete the online submission form. Before answering any questions, you may wish to create a log in account. This will allow you to save your progress as you go and return to it at a later time. A Microsoft Word version of the proposal is available as a GoogleDoc here. However, please note that all proposals must be submitted through our online form available here:

The character limit for each question is listed underneath it and the online form will count your characters.

If you have any questions please contact the Research Department at

* Indicates Response Required

Create a Login Account (optional)

New users/returning users CLICK HERE to setup or return to your account for this form.

Creating an account enables you to partially complete this form and return later to finish the form. An account will also enable you to return to this form and view your submitted results. The account you establish is only for this proposal. You can submit multiple proposals with one account. Creating an account is optional (but highly recommended).

Background Information
All proposals must be completed by the PI. 

SECTION 1: Project Design

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Volunteer Participation in Fieldwork

Describe in detail how citizen scientists (non-specialist volunteers) will be meaningfully involved in fieldwork. Your project must have a strong rationale for requiring involvement of citizen scientists. Please provide clear evidence that volunteers will be well-managed, engaged in the research, and meaningfully contribute to research objectives (based directly on your research methods noted above). Earthwatch citizen-scientist volunteers are not required to have any special skills before signing up to work on a project and will be trained by you/your staff to complete all field tasks upon arrival to the site. They can, however, be screened for physical ability to do field research. Projects should include a range of research tasks that will be conducted by citizen scientists under your supervision.
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SECTION 2: Project Impacts

Earthwatch has identified measures of success for the projects we support. Please provide details below on what measurable outputs and outcomes can be expected from the project.
1. Increasing scientific knowledge
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2. Mentoring
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3. Partnerships
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4. Contributions to Policies or Management Plans
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5. Conserving natural and sociocultural capital
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SECTION 3: Field Logistics

Citizen Scientist Participation

Earthwatch recruits and prepares citizen scientists to assist researchers in the field for set blocks of time in field crews we refer to as “teams.” Earthwatch participants can be adults, students (graduate, undergraduate, or high school), teachers, or corporate employees. We support both long (7-14 day) and short (1-3 day) duration teams. Students are a key participant group for Earthwatch; it would be advantageous for projects to be open to fielding student participants (ages 12-18). Projects field 4 to 10 teams per year, accommodating anywhere from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 30 citizen scientists (most typically 4-12 citizen scientists) per team as needed for data collection.  

c. Check all months that you can field Earthwatch teams, and indicate which months are the most important for your research. Please note that most citizen scientists we recruit field between May and September. *
h. Indicate potential team length(s) (select all that apply) *
i. Earthwatch citizen scientists range in ages 13 and up. Please indicate which age groups you are interested in working with. Please note that groups of minors would be accompanied by adults with a ratio of 6:1. *


a.Type of accommodation: Please indicate the accommodation type(s) available. We prefer field stations and houses for accommodations when possible. Note that Earthwatch requires sleeping arrangements to be separated by gender, and research staff should not sleep in the same room with participants. *
b. Please provide more details about the accommodations: 
Is there access to electricity? *
Will there be showers? *
Is hot water available? *


Good food is essential for good morale, and should provide sufficient calories/energy to “fuel” the fieldwork. It is expected that research staff share meals with their teams and that ample potable water is provided free of charge.

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c. Check all diets that you can accommodate: *
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Field Site
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Project Requirements
d. Do you anticipate citizen scientists being in or on the water during the expedition? *
 SwimmingSnorkelingKayakingMotorized boat
Required for fieldwork
Optional for recreation
Not at all
Field Communications
a. Check all modes of communication available at the research site. *
a. Check all modes of communication available at the accommodations. *
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SECTION 4: Project Budget

Submit a draft budget for your project. Earthwatch uses a standard budget template which has been designed in line with the grant disbursement model. Your program manager can support you in understanding and completing the template. For successful proposals, the PI will negotiate a final budget in partnership with Earthwatch. You can find the budget template on our website along with other resources relating to project development.

Annual grants cover project expenses while in the field including: equipment, tools, and supplies; research permits; scientist transport to the field; support staff; food and housing for principal investigators, staff, and Earthwatch citizen scientists. Grants do not cover scientist salaries, student tuition, overhead, capital equipment, or post-fielding data analysis. Full details of the Earthwatch funding model including what is, and is not covered can be found in the budget template.


SECTION 5: Principal Investigator and Project Staff

Please list the PI, co-PI(s), and other staff on your project. Please note date of birth is required for insurance purposes. For the PI and co-PI(s) you are required to attach a zip file with up-to-date CVs. We are particularly interested in helping support scientists from emerging nations.

Principal Investigator (PI) - The PI has ultimate project oversight and responsibility for the research objectives, operations, risk management, health, safety, and participant experience. All PIs must have: 1) a PhD in their submitted field of expertise; 2) a professional affiliation with a college, university, governmental or science-oriented non-governmental organization, and 3) experience managing volunteers/students in field research efforts.

Co-PI - The co-PI(s) collaborate with the PI for project oversight and responsibility. Projects may have co-PIs that share responsibility equally, or they may provide support for the PI.

Field Team Leader - A field team leader is a project staff member who is entrusted with leadership and responsibility for Earthwatch citizen scientists in the PI or co-PI's absence. We encourage graduate student participation in projects we support.


Field staff must have up-to-date first aid training and formal certification when leading volunteers in the field.



Staff 2:

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SECTION 6: Peer Review and Additional Materials

Referrals for Peer Review

All proposals will undergo blind peer review. Please suggest two peer reviewers for your proposal. Your reviewers should not be directly involved in this research project or be biased toward you and/or this research.

Reviewer 1:
Reviewer 2:

You may also indicate someone you wish to exclude as a reviewer of your proposal.

Excluded Reviewer:

High-quality photographs are critical in recruiting citizen scientists. If images are available, please attach them in zip files below (600 dpi minimum). If your proposal is accepted, these images may be used on our website and in printed material.

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Additional Materials

Please attach a zip file with any additional items you would like to submit to support your proposal, including: copy of your research permits or letters of endorsement obtained from the appropriate authorities to conduct research at your study site (if permits are required); supporting figures or sample data sheets; maps; etc . For successful proposals, these materials may be used to recruit participants for your project.