January 16 – May 1, 2024

Priority Application Deadline: November 26, 2023
REEEC will continue to accept applications after the priority deadline, but these applications will be at a lower priority for funding.


The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC) and the Slavic Reference Service (SRS) at the University of Illinois are happy to announce a new call for applications to the Open Research Laboratory (ORL) program. The ORL provides research support for graduate and post-graduate level research on Central and East Europe and the Independent States of the former Soviet Union. We will provide support for both in-person and virtual associateships for scholars to conduct short-term research concerning all aspects of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. The ORL is funded in part by the US Department of State through its Title VIII Program, which aims to strengthen US expertise and policy-relevant knowledge about the REEES region. The ORL is a small, highly competitive program focused on providing support to researchers working on projects with upcoming deadlines that are best completed in the spring. Those with more flexible timelines are encouraged to apply to the Summer Research Lab (SRL), which supports a larger cohort of researchers over the summer. Specialists including advanced graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, and professionals in government and non-governmental organizations as well as library science are encouraged to apply.

This year's ORL will take place January 16 - May 1, 2024. 

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 University of Illinois Library collections. Researchers conducting policy-relevant research projects will be prioritized for Title VIII grant support.

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.



  • Designation as a REEEC Open Research Laboratory (ORL) Associate.
  • Opportunities to present and participate in programming.
  • Year-round research support for REEES scholars through the Slavic Reference Service (SRS).
  • US citizens are eligible for funding as either an in-person or a virtual associate. An in-person associate is eligible for a $1250 research stipend in support of their work, a housing grant of up to 5 nights of on-campus housing at the shared rate, and a travel grant of up to $850 of round-trip transportation costs to and from Urbana-Champaign. A virtual associate is eligible for a research stipend of $625 in support of their work. 

Research Services for in person ORL Associates

  • Assistance with general and specialized queries throughout the year.
  • Onsite access to digital and database collections of our Library.
  • Onsite access to one of the largest collections in North America.
  • General orientation to collections and services.

Research Services for virtual ORL Associates and international participants

  • Assistance with general and specialized queries throughout the year.
  • General orientation to collections and services through Zoom.
  • A free of charge duplication service for University of Illinois Library materials. Restricted to 20 pages per request and subject to copyright restrictions

ORL Associates may also request personalized bibliographic sessions with the SRS (in-person or through Zoom). These sessions, prepared in advance by a regional specialist at the SRS, introduce relevant sources and methods, and may address specific needs tied to ongoing research projects. Priority for these individualized bibliographic sessions is given to graduate students and early career scholars.

The SRS research services are available to REEES scholars throughout the year, regardless of institutional or program affiliation.



All applicants are required to submit an online application, a short-form CV (5 pages maximum), a research proposal and, if applying for funding, a clearly formulated statement of policy relevance, as described below.

Spring 2024 Application


All applicants are required to submit a one to two-page research proposal, single spaced with 12-point font. Your proposal should answer the following three questions:

  1. What research question or topic are your currently exploring?
  2. What is the goal of your current research? (e.g. complete monograph, finish dissertation, prepare for fieldwork research)
  3. What do you hope to achieve as an ORL Associate? How will you benefit from the services provided by the SRS and the University Library?


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 participate in the program?
    Participation in the Virtual Open Research Lab is flexible. You may participate at any time between January 16 and May 1, 2024.  If you will be visiting in-person, please indicate your planned dates of attendance on your application. You may change your dates if needed, but please let us know well in advance of your arrival in order for us to make the necessary arrangements.
  2. How are ORL Associates selected?
    The ORL is a small, highly competitive program focused on providing support to researchers working on projects with upcoming deadlines that are best completed in the spring. Those with more flexible timelines are encouraged to apply to the Summer Research Lab (SRL), which supports a larger cohort of researchers over the summer. 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?
    US citizens who are applying to the ORL are eligible for funding from the Title VIII program (Title VIII Research Award). For in-person ORL associates, successful applications will receive a $1250 stipend in support of their work, travel support of up to $850 for round-trip travel to Urbana-Champaign, and 5 nights of on-campus housing. For virtual ORL associates, successful applications will receive a $625 stipend in support of their work.
  4. Can I access any of the resources after my time at the ORL?
    Yes! The Slavic Reference Service librarians are very adept at loaning circulating items through Inter-Library Loan (ILL).
  5. Why should I participate in the ORL, 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 Associates long after they leave the ORL. Additionally, an in-person or virtual visit gives scholars the opportunity to access specialized materials that carry constraints due to particular governmental and copyright restrictions. Scholars who utilize the ORL also receive electronic access to the materials (including scans of the materials) in the main stacks at the University Library.
  6. Am I allowed to make digital copies of materials that I receive from the ORL?
    Absolutely! You can create your own digital library of the resources acquired during the ORL.
  7. Is the ORL only for preliminary research, or does the ORL have more in-depth resources that would cater to more specialized research?
    The ORL can assist both preliminary and advanced stages of research. The 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. 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 reeec-srl@illinois.edu.