Open Research Laboratory


January 21 – May 1, 2020

Application Deadline: December 1, 2019


REEEC is now accepting applications from regional specialists (including advanced graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, and library science or other professionals with appropriate qualifications) to conduct short-term research concerning all aspects of Russian, eastern European, and Eurasian studies in conjunction with the spring Open Research Laboratory (January 21 – May 1, 2020). Those applicants who are US citizens and whose research holds relevance for US foreign policy may also apply for US Department of State Title VIII fellowships to support their visits. ORL Associates have access to the extensive holdings of the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Collection at the International and Area Studies Library and may receive one-on-one research assistance from the librarians of the Slavic Reference Service (SRS); these consultations ensure that Associates not only locate all sources pertinent to their topic at Illinois, but those housed elsewhere, as well.

Qualified ORL applicants are also encouraged to consider studying an area language through Indiana University’s Summer Language Workshop, located in nearby Bloomington, IN, after their participation in the ORL. Please check the program’s website during the coming months for further information regarding deadlines, application materials, and funding, which may include Title VIII Overseas Fellowships for overseas language study as well as other opportunities available to eligible applicants.


We invite applications from advanced graduate students (MA candidates engaged in thesis writing and research, doctoral students, and doctoral candidates working on a dissertation), postdoctoral scholars, faculty, independent scholars, and library science or other professionals with appropriate language and area studies training whose research pertains to some aspect of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies. Applicants must propose a viable research project, demonstrate a clear commitment to the field, and indicate how they will benefit from ORL participation and the resources of the SRS and Illinois library collections. Applicants conducting policy-relevant research will be prioritized and are strongly encouraged to apply for a Title VIII fellowship (below), to underwrite the costs associated with their visit.


  • Full access to the physical and electronic collections of the University of Illinois Library.
  • Use of the Library’s technological resources, including advanced scanning equipment and other resources.
  • Consultations with the Slavic Reference Service.
  • Opportunities to participate in REEEC programming (lectures, workshops, conferences, etc.).
  • The help of REEEC staff in answering logistical questions related to your stay.
  • Informal meetings with local scholars as desired.


Applicants who are U.S. citizens and who are conducting policy-relevant research may apply for a Title VIII fellowship to support their visits. These fellowships provide:   

  • A housing award furnishing accommodation on campus for up to 5 days,
  • A travel award of up to $500 to offset transportation costs to and from Urbana-Champaign,
  • A stipend of $500 to cover food, incidentals, and other costs associated with the research visit.


All applicants are required to submit an online application, a short-form CV, a research proposal and, if applying for funding, a clearly formulated statement of policy relevance. Failure to provide this statement will compromise applicants’ eligibility for Title VIII funding.

Spring 2020 ORL Application


US citizens applying for Title VIII financial support must also upload a Statement of Policy Relevance. This statement should comprise a brief project abstract (up to 500 words) that draws a connection between your research topic and any aspect of US foreign policy issues, strategies, emphases, or concerns. The extent to which a project is policy-relevant will vary with the field of study, but most research pertaining to the region informs our understanding of, helps contextualize, or otherwise holds implications for the history, nature, or legacy of policy considerations. A partial list of contemporary policy-related topics might include security issues of all sorts (e.g., border, military, energy, food, and water security); conflict, extremism, terrorism, trafficking, violence, and international criminal syndicates; government, politics, sociopolitical movements, state building, elections, populism, and the cult of political personalities; Cold War studies and the  legacies of state socialism; environmental policy, degradation, and climate change; displaced populations and demographic movement (political, economic, and climate-change refugees, migrants, and immigrants); studies of social identity and difference (gender, sexualities, ethnicity, nationalism, class, religion and belief); information access and dissemination (freedom of the press, communications, education, journalism, social media); international and supranational alliances; technological advances and artificial intelligence (e.g, aeronautical, bio-, communications, computer, information, medical, nano-, and military technology); and artistic and popular culture engagement with or commentaries on any of these topics, whether through literature, film, music, visual art, dance, or other expressive culture media. In short, applicants are asked to indicate how their research might inform, resonate with, or otherwise contribute to the understanding of regional topics of concern to policy makers as well as the scholarly community.


  1. When can I attend?
    Participation in the Open Research Lab is flexible. You may attend at any time between January 21 and May 1, 2020. Please note that the University of Illinois is on spring break during March 16-24, 2020.
  2. Is it difficult to acquire funding for ORL; how constrictive is the funding process?
    Funding for ORL is competitive. Eligible applicants with strong proposals are more likely to receive funding for their research. ORL awards are made by a committee of scholars derived from the Research Laboratory Advisory Board and University of Illinois faculty.
  3. What kind of funding is available?
    All ORL grant applicants must be U.S. citizens. Awards include travel support up to $500, housing grants for up to 5 days, and a stipend of $500.
  4. Can I access any of the resources after I leave the lab?
    Yes! The Slavic Reference Service librarians are very adept at loaning circulating items through Inter-Library Loan (ILL).
  5. Why should I visit, if SRS is willing to loan so much material via ILL?
    ORL is a great opportunity to develop good relationships with the librarians at the Slavic Reference Service. They are ready to use their specialized knowledge to help you do research on your dissertation or research project. SRS librarians will work with ORL Fellows long after they leave ORL. Additionally, an in-person visit gives scholars the opportunity to access specialized materials that carry constraints due to particular governmental and copyright restrictions. Scholars who utilize ORL also have access to the main stacks at the University Library.
  6. Am I allowed to make digital copies of materials that I would like to take with me after I leave?
    Absolutely! You can create your own digital library of the resources acquired during ORL.
  7. Is ORL only for preliminary research, or does ORL have more in-depth resources that would cater to more specialized research?
    ORL can assist both preliminary and advanced stages of research. ORL also facilitates access to hard-to-find materials that are not located anywhere else in the US. This can be especially helpful to scholars who have done their preliminary work using more available resources.
  8. What are the library hours for the Slavic Reference Service?
    Slavic Reference Service hours correspond to the Main Library hours of operations. Please check the Library website for a full schedule of Library hours. When planning your trip to the ORL, please be aware that the library maintains limited hours on weekends.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC) at