Transportation research needs are numerous and diverse, reaching across different modes and geographic levels and calling for many types of research. Local, state, federal, university, and private organizations sponsor and conduct such research. Dozens of federally funded University Transportation Centers (UTCs) and other university transportation research institutes located across the country tackle different transportation themes. Non-transportation branches of government perform research that is of mutual interest to transportation professionals. A host of international programs produce research that can and should be funded in the United States. However, with all of this diversity and its attendant benefits comes much confusion:

  • Where can research statements and research proposals be submitted to obtain funding?
  • Who is performing research in particular areas of interest?
  • What are the best places to search for research products of interest?

No resources currently provide comprehensive or exhaustive answers to these questions. The primary purpose of this guide is to identify where to submit research statements and research proposals to obtain funding. Figure 1 illustrates the range of research programs focused on transportation.

Figure 1 - Figure 1. Organizations and programs sponsoring transportation-related research.

Figure 1. Organizations and programs sponsoring transportation-related research.

The term research is used very broadly in this document.In the transportation profession, various terms express a research need—terms such as research problem, research idea, problem statement, research topic, and research proposal.

Research statements are used to identify a research need. The research statement typically includes a brief description of the problem or need, a statement of the research objective (including the expected deliverable), and an estimate of the funding and research period needed to complete the project. Some research statements also include a literature search summary. Research proposals are typically submitted in response to a research statement and provide more details of the proposed research. The typical research proposal includes an explanation of the problem, background information and objectives of the proposed research, and a proposed work plan that includes tasks, timelines, budget, expected deliverables and the qualifications of research participants.

Within this website document, the term research statement will be used. Similarly, research program will be used to refer to any organization or agency that conducts research or to any cooperative effort to conduct research, and research product will be used to refer to any of the broad range of outputs, from new information to new devices, which can result from research.

This website is intended for transportation professionals who have research needs and are looking for funding or for programs that may be interested in their ideas. View more information on research needs identified by TRB committeesAASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability, and various organizations on the Research Program and Project Management (RPPM) website. The RPPM website also provides information about unfunded and partially funded research needs. In addition to identifying programs to which transportation professionals may submit research statements and/or research proposals, it provides information on the preparation of winning research statements and/or research proposals tailored to research programs.

This website functions as a guide to competitive transportation research programs. A substantial list of these research programs is presented in Chapter 3; it is limited to those programs that accept research statements and/or research proposals from a broad community. While some research programs require that statements be submitted by a subset of the transportation community, they are typically fairly open and may not preclude cooperative efforts.

Prior to initiating research, it is important to search databases of research needs and ongoing and completed research. Learn more about the databases and websites that offer information about proposed, ongoing, and completed research in Chapter 4.

This is a living document. It requires regular update as a function of the evolving state of transportation and to reflect user feedback. Appendix B contains information on submitting additional programs for inclusion on this website and provides a link to a submittal form. Suggestions, additions, questions, or corrections may be submitted to Sue Sillick.