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Introduction

Fieldwork awards support on-site data collection and analysis for archaeological field projects. Successful applicants will receive free use of equipment and software, the participation of SPARC staff members to assist with data collection, as well as post-fieldwork consultation and data processing.

This program is targeted at projects seeking to develop expertise within their team in the application of geospatial technologies through hands on experience in the field, at ‘non-standard’ applications of the technology in question, which involve methodological development, and at projects in other circumstances which discourage a straight commercial hire of equipment. Proposals could include, for example, geophysical surveys of archaeological sites, 3D laser scanning and/or photogrammetry of excavations, monuments or artifacts, or landscape-scale mapping of archaeological features.

Eligibility Requirements

The project must be affiliated with an institution and/or organization that would otherwise be eligible for NSF support.

Generally non-US institutions and organizations are not eligible unless partnering with a US entity.

We encourage the Principal Investigator or a senior member of the technical staff to contact us for a preliminary consultation.

The SPARC program does not support projects where the type of activity is one routinely acquired through commercial providers.

When to get in touch

Applications for Fieldwork Support Awards will be accepted twice a year. Please see the application cycle calendar, below.

Event Summer field season Winter field season
Pre-Consultations Open 15 October 1 March
Applications Open 15 November 15 May
Application Deadline 15 December 15 June
Notification 15 February 15 August
Target Fieldwork Period May-September September-April

What information to provide

We encourage you to contact us at sparc@cast.uark.edu to arrange an inital video-conference to chat about your project and potential proposal.


Your application should include:

A completed application. Application forms are available in the user area. Access your user area by registering for an account or logging into the site.

Documentation of your project's affiliation with a US-based Institution.

Documentation that your project has obtained appropriate permissions for the proposed fieldwork.

Contact information for two references.

To apply for Fieldwork Support please register for an account here.

Total projects supported annually

SPARC aims to award full support to up to five fieldwork projects each year. Full support awards include the loan of instrumentation, availability of relevant software, CAST staff time, and travel costs.

Partial support awards may also be available to projects not awarded full support. Partial support awards include the loan of instrumentation, availability of relevant software, and CAST staff time.

How Projects are Ranked :

Projects are ranked on intellectual merit. The core criteria on which projects are evaluated for ranking are:

The potential of the project’s research to contribute to anthropologically significant archaeological knowledge

The impact of the availability of geophysical or geospatial equipment and expertise on the ability of the project to reach its research goals

The level of methodological innovation of the proposed research


How Projects are Awarded :

Projects are awarded support on the basis of:

The project's evaluation ranking

Instrumentation and staff scheduling

Training opportunities provided to students and researchers


Projects are ranked in order of intellectual merit. In the case of two projects with equivalent rankings on intellectual merit, the projects' training and educational value will also be considered. The project with the highest ranking is awarded and scheduled first. The next project is then awarded and scheduled. If a lower ranked project requests the same scheduling slot as an already awarded project, SPARC will contact that project's PI(s) to try to arrange alternative scheduling. If this is not possible, the next ranked project in the list is then awarded. Projects not awarded due to scheduling constraints can be resubmitted for the next round of awards.

Step 1. Contact SPARC

If you are considering a project proposal to SPARC, and you have not already done so, you are encouraged to contact the SPARC staff via e-mail at sparc@cast.uark.edu staff to set up a (video) conference call to discuss your project. They will be able to assist you in determining whether or not the Center can be of support or collaborate on your project– and what types of collaboration or support are possible. In addition you should also consider participating in a SPARC webinar, accessing the various resources the Center has on equipment and workflows at The GMV, or check SPARC’s FAQ.


Step 2. Determine your Application Type

There are a number of different types of awards and collaborations that are possible.

  1. Fieldwork Awards. In this type of effort SPARC staff and/or equipment is made available to the project to record data in the field. Additional information on this type of application is available HERE.
  2. Data & Analytics Awards. In this type of effort SPARC staff and/or facilities and/or software are made available to the project to draw out details and subtleties in the dataset or to integrate them with other data. Additional information on this type of application is available HERE.
  3. Publication Awards. Many archives are poorly prepared to receive large, complex digital datasets. SPARC will endeavor to work with project directors and the staff of their archive of choice to find a solution, or will help projects to identify appropriate archives for their data. Additional information on this type of application is available HERE.
  4. SPARC Residency. To support the development of geospatial expertise within the archaeological research community, SPARC supports a visiting researcher residency program. Through this program, individual researchers can undertake a period of intensive study or project development at the Center in collaboration with resident staff. Additional information on this type of application is available HERE.
  5. Collaborative proposals to external agencies. In addition to providing support awards directly to projects, SPARC works collaboratively with projects to develop proposals for joint submission to external funding agencies. Additional information on this type of application is available HERE.

Step 3. Submit your Application

You can start your application process by registering for an account. You must register for an account to gain access to the application forms. You can apply in one or more of the following categories:

  1. Fieldwork support. Start a Fieldwork Award application.
  2. Data & Analytics. Start a Data & Analytics Award application.
  3. Archival preparation and publication. Start a Publication Award application.
  4. SPARC residency. Start a Residency application.
  5. Collaborative proposal to external agencies. Contact SPARC to develop a collaborative proposal.

Calendars explaining the timeline and deadlines for each type of application are available on the pages under the APPLY tab.


Step 4. Application review

Applications for Fieldwork Awards, Data & Analytics Awards, and Publication Awards are competitively funded based on a review and ranking process by the Center’s Advisory Committee. Applications for residency and collaborative proposal development are evaluated by SPARC staff.


Step 5. Notification

After review applicants will be informed about the status of their application. Projects may be accepted directly, put on a wait list of projects which may be partially supported should the means become available, or declined. Applicants may request feedback on their applications by emailing sparc@cast.uark.edu. Information on notification dates is available for each type of application, under the APPLY tab.