CIHR Doctoral Research Awards - Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the FAQ page for the open competition of the CIHR Doctoral Research Award program. Please bookmark this page for future reference.

The information below is intended to supplement the information provided within the most recent version of the open competition CIHR Doctoral Research Award funding opportunity and the research funding policies and guidelines outlined in the CIHR Grants and Awards Guide.

For all other doctoral award funding opportunities, please consult the individual funding opportunity announcements, as these opportunities may have different requirements.

Application Questions

  1. Where can I find the most recent CIHR Doctoral Research Award competition funding opportunity and instructions on how to complete a Doctoral Research Award application?
  2. How can I determine under which funding agency's mandate my research proposal applies?  
  3. If I'm not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, are there any other opportunities that support graduate students pursuing a doctoral level degree in a health related field to which I can apply?
  4. What are the specific assessment criteria for this program?
  5. Do my supervisor(s) need to submit a Canadian Common CV?
  6. How do I submit my official transcripts?
  7. I do not yet meet the educational requirements; I am still eligible to apply?
  8. Will the interruptions/delays in my schooling be taken into account when determining the amount of time spent in graduate study?
  9. Does the chosen theme classification have any bearing on my application?
  10. How are applications assigned to a specific Peer Review Committee?
  11. Is there anything I need to mail in to CIHR?
  12. How do I verify that my application has been successfully submitted to CIHR?
  13. Who can I choose as a sponsor?
  14. How do the Sponsorship Assessments work in ResearchNet and where can I find a sample of the assessment?
  15. How long should the Research Proposal Summary and Training Expectations be?
  16. What are priority announcements and how can I apply for them?
  17. Can I still be considered for funding through the open competition if I apply for a priority announcement?
  18. Which institutional signatures do I need to obtain on the signature pages of my application?
  19. How can I update my application after the deadline?
  20. I accidentally clicked the Submit button. How do I unsubmit my application so I can make changes to it?

Award Administration Questions

  1. How much time do I have to respond to an offer of award?
  2. What documents will I need to provide before I can start my award?
  3. Do I need to do anything if I'm planning to decline the award?
  4. How does CIHR calculate when my award ends?
  5. What should I do if my status changes before the end of my award?
  6. Do I need to provide Proof of Registration every year?
  7. What happens if the required paperwork for starting my award isn't received by CIHR until after my chosen start date (for example, I've selected a start date of May 1st, but the paperwork doesn't arrive until May 15)?

For more information related to the open Doctoral Research Awards competition and how to apply, email DRA@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

For questions related to the Priority Announcements, email PA-AP@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

For technical help related to ResearchNet, email support@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.


Application Answers

1. Where can I find the most recent CIHR Doctoral Research Award competition funding opportunity and instructions on how to complete a Doctoral Research Award application?

The most current version of the Doctoral Research Award funding opportunity is available online and we strongly encourage applicants to read the Doctoral Research Award application instructions.

2. How can I determine under which funding agency's mandate my research proposal applies?

Candidates should review the mandates of CIHRSSHRC and NSERC. Specifically, CIHR accepts applications in all areas of health research; biomedical research, clinical research, health services research, and social, cultural, environmental and population health research. Definitions of these four research themes can be found at Section 1: Application Administration.

3. If I'm not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, are there any other opportunities that support graduate students pursuing a doctoral level degree in a health related field to which I can apply?

Yes, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships is open to international students studying in Canada. You can also search our entire list of Funding Opportunities.

4. What are the specific assessment criteria for this program?

Read through the Guide for Reviewers - CIHR Doctoral Research Awards to learn more about how your application will be assessed.

5. Do my supervisor(s) need to submit a Canadian Common CV?

The candidate and all supervisors, regardless of their citizenship, must submit an Academic CV template (validated for CIHR) using the Canadian Common CV (CCV) website. For details about how to complete the CCV, please consult the Doctoral Research Award application instructions.

Once the Academic CV template is submitted, the system generates a confirmation number. The CCV data is sent directly to CIHR on the condition that, on ResearchNet, the Nominated Principal Applicant/Candidate enters the confirmation number for each required CV associated with the application.

6. How do I submit my official transcripts?

Official transcript(s)* must be provided by scanning both sides of the required transcript(s) as a single .pdf document (even if there are multiple transcripts) and attaching them under "Transcripts" in the "Attach Other Application Materials" task. The total file size cannot exceed 30 Mb. Please verify that the scanned documents are complete and legible when you perform the "Preview Application Materials" task in ResearchNet.

Note that CIHR considers scanned versions of official paper transcripts issued by the Registrar's Office to the student to be official transcripts. Opening the envelope to scan the transcript will not render it unofficial for CIHR's purposes, however, screenshots/printouts from websites will not be accepted. Please retain the paper cop(ies) of any uploaded transcripts as you may be asked to provide these to CIHR for verification purposes at any point in the process.

7. I do not yet meet the educational requirements; I am still eligible to apply?

Yes. Candidates that do not yet meet the requirements still may apply to the Funding Opportunity; however, they must meet the eligibility requirements by the latest possible start date on which their award must start.

8. Will the interruptions/delays in my schooling be taken into account when determining the amount of time spent in graduate study?

Interruptions and delays in your studies may be taken into account in determining eligibility if information on the interruptions and delays is provided. To provide interruptions and delays, you must follow the submission requirements indicated under the "Eligibility" section of the Doctoral Research Award Funding Opportunity.

9. Does the chosen theme classification have any bearing on my application?

Doctoral Research Award applications are reviewed by one of two peer review committees according to the theme indicated by the applicant: biomedical/clinical, or health services/social, cultural, environmental and population health. Please note that applications are assigned to a specific committee based on the theme.

10. How are applications assigned to a specific Peer Review Committee?

Doctoral Research Award applications are assigned to a specific committee based on the theme identified in the application.

11. Is there anything I need to mail in to CIHR?

No. All application material is submitted electronically through ResearchNet.

12. How do I verify that my application has been successfully submitted to CIHR?

If you have successfully submitted your application through ResearchNet, you should receive an automated email message. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of application submissions (approximately 1400 per competition) we cannot confirm that any individual application is complete and has been received.

13. Who can I choose as a sponsor?

CIHR recommends that the candidate choose 3 sponsors under whom you have trained and who have had a good opportunity to assess your potential for research. Be aware of the importance accorded to your choice as sponsor assessments provided are considered by the Peer Review Committee.

14. How do the Sponsorship Assessments work in ResearchNet and where can I find a sample of the assessment?

Once you have identified your sponsors, ResearchNet will generate an automatic email message to the sponsors. The email will contain a unique link where they will enter their assessment and submit it directly to CIHR. The assessment form must be completed and submitted online by the sponsors and be written in either English or French. Once an assessment is submitted, it will automatically attach itself to your application.

Candidates do not have access to the content of the assessment submitted by sponsors. However, candidates may follow the status of the assessment directly under this task. Note that it is the candidate's responsibility to follow up with sponsors to ensure the assessments are submitted prior to the deadline date and therefore ensure the application completeness. After all three sponsors have submitted their assessments, this task will be marked as Complete in your ResearchNet Application Task List.

A sample of the "Sponsor's Assessment of a candidate for a Doctoral Research Award" form can be found in the Index of Funding Related Forms.

15. How long should the Research Proposal Summary and Training Expectations be?

The Research Proposal Summary section is one page maximum. The Training Expectations section is limited to 2 pages maximum. These page limits include references.

16. What are priority announcements and how can I apply for them?

Priority announcements offer additional sources of funding for highly rated applications that are relevant to specific CIHR research priority areas or mandates.

Each priority announcement has its own specific objectives and requirements. Your application must still meet the eligibility criteria and requirements for the open competition to which you are applying.

You apply for a priority announcement through the task 'Apply to Priority Announcements / Funding Pools' in your ResearchNet application. You can select up to three priority announcements. For each priority announcement you want to be considered for, select the priority announcement title then the relevant research area addressed by your research proposal under the "Identify Priority Announcements and Relevant Research Area" section, then press 'save'.

After pressing 'save' if the priority announcement requires a relevance form, a text box will then appear stating "Describe (in one half-page) how the research proposed will address the relevant research area". This is the relevance form that you must complete.

17. Can I still be considered for funding through the open competition if I apply for a priority announcement?

Yes, your application is still first and foremost submitted to the open competition to which you are applying.

However, if your application is withdrawn from the open competition for any reason, you will not be considered for any priority announcements.

18. Which institutional signatures do I need to obtain on the signature pages of my application?

If you are applying to study abroad, then only the signature from the Research Institution is required, not the signature from the Institution Paid. If you are applying to study within Canada, then the Institution Paid and Research Institution signatures are both required, even if both institutions are the same. For more information on CIHR's policy regarding signatures on application forms please refer to the Meaning of Signatures on Applications section of CIHR's Grants and Awards Guide.

19. How can I update my application after the deadline?

In order to ensure fairness in the evaluation of applications, equivalent time must be guaranteed for the assessment of each complete application. As a result, CIHR will not accept updates to applications after the application deadline.

20. I accidentally clicked the Submit button. How do I unsubmit my application so I can make changes to it?

There is no way for you to accomplish this yourself. You must email support@cihr-irsc.gc.ca before the deadline date.

Award Administration Answers

1. How much time do I have to respond to an offer of award?

Successful candidates have 15 business days to accept or decline an award as of the date on the funding decision letter.

2. What documents will I need to provide before I can start my award?

There are three documents (four in the case of a student studying abroad) that need to be scanned in and emailed to us (originals must follow by mail):

  1. Response to an Offer of Award: if you are successful in receiving an award, a pdf version of this form will become available to you in your ResearchNet account after you answer a few questions (in your ResearchNet account) regarding when you wish to start the award and who will be administering the funds on your behalf. Only you need to sign the printed form. This form must be emailed to us within 15 business days of the date on the funding decision letter.
  2. Confirmation of Commencement: this form will become available to you in your ResearchNet account 2 months before you indicated you would be starting your award. (For example, if you chose a start date of September 1st, it will appear on July 1st.) If your start date is within 2 months of the current date then the form will appear within a few hours of completing your Response to an Offer of Award. If it does not, it is because the information you filled in for your Response to an Offer of Award (Institution, Faculty and/or Department) does not match the information provided on your original application. In this case, please email the Program Delivery Coordinator for further information. The printed version of this form needs to be signed by both you and your supervisor and emailed to us before we can process your award.
  3. Proof of Registration: As described in the Notes section of your Offer of Award, we require that you email us an official confirmation from your institution's Registrar's Office that you are registered in a PhD program. This confirmation can be a form, letter, etc. but should contain the following information:
    1. your name;
    2. the PhD program in which you are registered;
    3. that you are a full-time student; and,
    4. the term(s) in which you are registered. Please note that one of the terms must correspond with the start date of your award.
  4. Proof of a Visa: Canadian candidates training abroad must also scan in and email proof of a visa to enter a foreign country from the office of the foreign government.

3. Do I need to do anything if I'm planning to decline the award?

Yes. As we will be offering your award to the next most highly-rated candidate, we need to know as soon as possible and certainly no later than 15 business days after the offer has been posted to your ResearchNet account. Please send us a signed copy of the Response to an Offer of Award form stating that you are declining the award and letting us know why.

Please note that if recipients decline or terminate their open CIHR award funding for whatever reason they will not be eligible to receive, or continue receiving (for prizes with multi-year commitments), any CIHR prize funds.

4. How does CIHR calculate when my award ends?

Your termination date is the day on which you have completed all the requirements necessary to obtain your PhD. Typically, this is the date when your successfully defended your thesis, but if revisions are required and you are still working in your supervisor's lab, it is the date on which your revised thesis was accepted.

5. What should I do if my status changes before the end of my award?

You need to notify CIHR by email at DRA@cihr-irsc.gc.ca by submitting an official letter from the University (school of graduate studies) indicating the official termination date of your studies.

6. Do I need to provide Proof of Registration every year?

No. The Proof of Registration is required only to start your award.

7. What happens if the required paperwork for starting my award isn’t received by CIHR until after my chosen start date (for example, I've selected a start date of May 1st, but the paperwork doesn't arrive until May 15)?

The only effect is that your payments will be delayed until we're able to process your paperwork. Your payment will be made retroactively to the start date you have chosen.