Open Research Laboratory


January 18 – May 4, 2022

Priority Application Deadline: December 3, 2021


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. Specialists including advanced graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, professionals in government and non-governmental organizations as well as library science are encouraged to apply. 

This year's ORL will take place January 18 - May 4, 2022. 

For applicants who are US citizens, the ORL provides the following forms of funding support through the Title VIII Program:

In-person associates are eligible for research stipends of $1000 in support of their work, travel support of up to $600 for round-trip travel to Urbana-Champaign, and 5 nights of housing on campus. During their visit, ORL Associates will have access to the extensive holdings of the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Collection at the University of Illinois Library and are eligible for one-on-one research assistance from the librarians of the Slavic Reference Service (SRS); these consultations help ensure that associates not only locate all sources pertinent to their topic at Illinois, but those housed elsewhere, as well.

Virtual associates are eligible to receive research stipends of $500 in support of their work, remote bibliographic support from the librarians of the SRS, and digital access to the University of Illinois Library holdings.

Please note that the majority of Associateships will be in-person.

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 Associate.
  • A personalized bibliographic session with the Slavic Reference Service either in-person or through Zoom.
  • Research support for general queries throughout the year.
  • Access to digital and database collections of our Library for an extended period.
  • A free of charge duplication service for University of Illinois Library materials. Restricted to 20 pages per request and subject to copyright restrictions.
  • US citizens are eligible for funding as an in-person associate or a virtual associate. An in-person associate is eligible for a research stipend of $1000 in support of their work, a housing award furnishing accommodation on campus for up to 5 nights, and a travel award of up to $600 to offset transportation costs to and from Urbana-Champaign. A virtual associate is eligible for a research stipend of $500 in support of their work.


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 2022 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 participate in the program?
    Participation in the Virtual Open Research Lab is flexible. You may participate at any time between January 18 and May 4, 2022.  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?
    Funding for the 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?
    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 $1000 stipend in support of their work, travel support of up to $600 for round-trip travel to Urbana-Champaign, and 5 nights of on-campus housing. For virtual ORL associates, successful applications will receive a $500 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