TOEFL® Young Students Research Program: Small Research Grants — 2014 Call for Proposals


The Small Research Grants under the TOEFL® Young Students Series are designed to support research that validates the TOEFL Young Students assessments (i.e., the TOEFL® Primary™ and TOEFL Junior® tests) or foundational research that promotes high-quality language assessment related to young language learners between ages 8 and 15. This year, priority will be given to research topics that are directly relevant to the validation of the TOEFL Junior tests.

Researchers and post-doctorates with expertise in English language learning and assessment, and an affiliation with academic institutions or not-for-profit organizations around the world
Amount of grant:
Up to US$30,000

Research Topics

This year, priority will be given to proposals that address the topics identified in the research agenda below, or other issues related to the TOEFL Junior tests.

  1. Construct/Content relevance
    1. Relationship between TOEFL Junior scores and young language-learners' English communication skills outside of testing contexts
    2. Effects of test takers' characteristics (e.g., age, cognitive capacity, affective factors) on TOEFL Junior scores
    3. Relationship between young language-learners' test-taking strategies and TOEFL Junior scores
  2. Test use and impact
    1. Impact of the TOEFL Junior tests on learning and teaching
    2. Uses of TOEFL Junior scores (e.g., Can TOEFL Junior measure progress in English language learning over time?)
    3. User perception of the TOEFL Junior tests

TOEFL Junior Test Form and Dataset for Public Use

A TOEFL Junior test form and corresponding data including demographic information about test takers (age, gender, native language, etc.) can be made available to grant recipients.

Important Dates

July 7, 2014 Proposals due
August 8, 2014 Response to proposals; selected authors invited to revise and resubmit
September 15, 2014 Revised proposals due
October 15, 2014 Notifications sent to grant winners
January 1, 2015 Work starts

Application and Proposal Process

Submission Deadline July 7, 2014

Proposal materials must be submitted electronically via email to by 11:59 p.m. U.S. ET on Monday, July 7, 2014.

The submission must include the following documents:

  • Proposal (please see requirements below)
  • Principal Investigator's CV

Proposal Content Requirements

The proposal must include the following key components:

  • Cover page (name and affiliation of the principal investigator and any co-investigators, the email address and phone number of the principal investigator, the title of the project, identification of research topic(s) addressed by the proposal, and the date of submission)
  • Abstract (a statement of the problem, a brief description of the project proposed and a brief discussion of the implications or utility of the anticipated outcomes; 250 words maximum)
  • Body of the proposal (approximately between 1200–1500 words), which must include the following sections:
    • Rationale (statement of the problem or the issue and relevance to one or more of the research topics above)
    • Literature review (focused summary of related research)
    • Research Questions (specific question(s) or issue(s) to be addressed by the project)
    • Methodology and Design (explanation of the design and methodology, including a description as appropriate, of the sample of materials or participants; instruments to be used; data collection procedures; identification and coding of variables; and analyses)
    • Implications (a brief discussion of the implications or utility of anticipated or possible outcomes and relevance to practice or theory)
  • References
  • Budget
  • Schedule (list of the major activities of the project and the period in which each will be conducted; please assume January 1, 2015, as the start date for the project)

Proposal Format Requirements

Please follow the following format:

  • Word 2003 or later version
  • Arial or Times New Roman font size 11 or 12
  • one-inch margins on all sides
  • double spacing
  • for references, graphs or tables, please use APA style (American Psychological Association, sixth edition – 2010)

Proposal Evaluation Process (July 2014)

Each proposal will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • relevance to the research needs of the TOEFL Junior tests
  • feasibility and quality of the proposed research
  • potential contribution to theory, research or practice
  • qualifications of the Principal Investigator
  • cost effectiveness

Applicants invited to revise and resubmit proposals will receive evaluative comments. An invitation to the next step does not guarantee that applicants will receive a grant. Grant recipients are required to submit final reports and to appropriately acknowledge the support of the TOEFL program when disseminating the results of the funded work.

Response to Proposals (August 8, 2014)

Authors of selected proposals will be provided with feedback and asked to revise and resubmit the proposals by the due date.

Revised Proposals Due (September 15, 2014)

The revised proposals will be reviewed based on the criteria above (under Proposal Evaluation Process) and the degree to which authors addressed the comments provided in the feedback.

Notification of Awards (October 15, 2014)

Selected award winners will be notified by October 15, 2014, and work is expected to start in January 2015.

Dissemination Plan

Authors are expected to submit a publishable draft as the final deliverable of the grant. Typically, the research can be published either as an ETS research report or as an article in a professional journal. Please specify which publication venue you plan to pursue, and be aware that the manuscript will have to pass ETS technical review before being submitted for publication.


If you have additional questions about the application process or the grant in general, please contact us at

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am a foreign national working in the United States. Can I apply for the grant?

Yes, but to make sure you will be able to perform the work associated with the project, you must first discuss potential involvement with your department and university.

2. I am working outside of the United States. Can I apply for the grant?

Yes, but to make sure you will be able to perform the work associated with the project, you must first discuss potential involvement with your department and university.

3. When can the work on the project begin?

Please consider January 1, 2015, as the tentative date for the start of the project. The actual start date will vary depending on the duration of the contract process involving your university and ETS.

4. How long can projects funded through the Graduate Research grants last?

The expected duration for each project is 12 months. However, individual projects may continue beyond the first 12 months. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, with the caveat that project duration cannot exceed 24 months.

5. If the project continues beyond the initially agreed-upon end date, will additional funding be available to researchers?

No additional funding will be made available for projects that have been supported through this grant.

6. My project involves payments to participants. Should I include these in my budget?

Yes, please include in the proposal details about the payments you would have to make to potential participants. If your payments and other project expenses exceed the maximum award amount (US$30,000), please consider alternative funding resources to cover the difference.

7. Why are this year's research topics limited to the TOEFL Junior tests?

Because the TOEFL Primary tests are new, there is not a test form that can be released for external researchers at the present time. The TOEFL Primary tests will be included in future calls when a public use test form and data can be made available.

8. Who will own the data and draft manuscript resulting from the project?

ETS will own the data and the copyrights of the reports/deliverables that are developed as a result of this research project. ETS encourages researchers to use the data and results for a scientific publication; however, a manuscript may be subject to prior review and redaction by ETS.

9. How about the dissemination of the research? Will I be allowed to present or publish it?

You will be able to present the research at professional conferences, but will need to request and obtain ETS's approval prior to the conference. You will also be able to publish the research report, but only if and when it passes ETS technical review. The technical review is carried out to ensure that all research reports funded through the grants are of high quality, regardless of the publication venue. Please inform us of your intended publication venue at the time of proposal submission.