Guidance for Applicants

The Award

Applications can be made for up to £4,000. The Trust does not fund institutional overheads and expects that an award will be spent wholly on actual research, and that any unspent remnant be returned to the Trust at the conclusion of the research.

Applicants are normally informed via email of their success or otherwise by mid-to-late December. If the award is accepted, payment will be made by bank transfer in early January 2024. The Trust is not responsible for any fees charged by an applicant’s own bank for administration of the bank transfer. Awards will be announced publicly on the Trust’s web site within the first two months of 2024.

The Trust expects that projects funded will be completed within the calendar year. In exceptional circumstances the Trustees may agree to an extension. Any such extension will be based on a brief interim report submitted by the grant holder by 10 November of award year. This would provide the justification for an extension, and would offer a revised timetable for the completion of the project.

Who can apply.

Applications are invited from anyone pursuing advanced research in the History of the Book, irrespective of nationality, discipline, or profession. ‘Advanced research’ is taken to mean work towards a doctorate, post-doctoral research, and work of an equivalent level regardless of the applicant’s formal qualifications. Applications will be judged on scholarly criteria and upon financial criteria, including the efficient use of grant money and the prospects of the project’s being finished in the time estimated in the application. Recipients will be expected to be working towards publication and/or other forms of dissemination.

An application must be made by a single person either as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation that carries out research in the History of the Book. The Panel welcomes applications from researchers at any stage in their careers from PhD students to senior scholars. The Selection Panel looks with favour upon bids aimed at developing new methodologies and approaches, proofs of concept testing, exploring new types of resource, and experiment-based projects.

How to apply

An application should be typed using a font no smaller than 11 point. It should consist of two parts. One, a project description of no more than 1,500 words. Two, a C.V. and list of your relevant publications (if any), which should be no longer than two A4 pages.

A project description should begin with your full name, address, and any existing academic qualifications. If appropriate, you should add an institutional affiliation and the degree for which you are working. You should then offer a brief description of the aims of the project, the materials to be investigated, and the costs for which you are applying. This should be followed by a more detailed account of how you and, if appropriate, your working group intends to use the research materials listed earlier. As the Trustees aim as far as possible to support time spent on original documents, please give as much detail as you can, e.g. in the form of a list of library or archive items to be viewed, and/or costs anticipated in the preparation of a database or similar output. You should indicate the planned dates for starting and finishing the project, and, if possible, include list of project milestones. Please do supply cost estimates or quotations if appropriate. You should also indicate how you are going to fund the cost of any necessary expenses which would not be covered by a Willison Foundation award, and make it clear to the Trust whether such funding is being applied for, or has been awarded, from other organisations and, if the latter, how much has already been secured.

You should also approach two referees, and send them a copy of the project proposal and the Referee’s Form. This should be completed and returned in confidence by the referees via email to the Hon. Secretary (email address below). Applicants are urged to choose as referees those who could comment in detail on their work, rather than just those in a position of formal authority. Preferably one referee should be from an institution other than your own. It is also suggested that candidates avoid using a Willison Foundation Trustee as a referee.

The email address to be used by both applicants and referees is: 


Both the application and the report (see below) should be formatted as an MS Word, RTF, or ASCII file. No other format will be accepted.


  1. The Selection Panel requires all submissions, correspondence, and reports to be sent by email to the Secretary so as to be received by 5 pm GMT on 30 September 2023.
  2. All referee’s forms should be submitted by email to the Secretary by 7 October 2023.
  3. Any Interim Report should be submitted by email to the Secretary by 10 November 2024.

Selection process

The Trustees will acknowledge receipt of the application and confirm when it will be considered. Any further information required will be requested. Applicants will be informed by email whether the application has been successful. Please provide a home (and email) address, if available, for notification during the Christmas period.

Decisions as to whether applications fall within the Trust’s purposes are at the Trustees’ absolute discretion. Grants will only be made for specific projects if sufficient evidence has been provided that the proposed projects meet the objectives of the Trust.

Acknowledging the Trust

Please note that the public announcement of any event that has been assisted by the Foundation’s funding should include an acknowledgement of the Willison Trust’s support.

Reporting the project

The Trust will expect to be provided with a link to go up on its web page to any published resources in the public domain to which its funding contributed. Final reports are due within two months of the completion of the funded project. A report should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words long and should be presented as an MS Word, RTF or ASCII file (see ‘Format’ above). The report should include a section detailing the sums of money spent and the countries in which they were spent. The report should review the period spent working on the funded project, the collections visited, and provide a factual account of the work undertaken. The report should be clear about when things worked and when they didn’t. The report should state the contribution the Trust’s funding made to the research, and offer an estimate of the significance of this research for the candidate’s overall plans for publication or other scholarly output, as well as anything else the author feels relevant. What has been discovered?  Was it as expected?  Was anything different?  How will this work advance knowledge of the subject?