Foundation Grant: Review process

Did you know that peer reviewers now have to complete a training module on unconscious bias in peer review? Learn more about all the learning material available for peer reviewers.

The Foundation Grant program is supported by a three-stage competition and review process. Stage 1 and 2 review is conducted remotely by expert reviewers and will include online discussions amongst reviewers. Stage 1 reviewers assess the caliber of the applicant(s) and vision and program direction, while stage 2 reviewers assess the quality of the program and quality of the expertise, experience and resources. Competition Chairs are responsible for overseeing and supporting the stage 1 and stage 2 remote review process.

In tandem with stage 2 of the peer review process, reviewers are asked to review the budget requested and justification for each of their assigned applications to determine if the budget is appropriate to support the core proposed program of research and if it is realistic and well justified, given the researcher's calculated budget baseline. Reviewers will be asked to assess the appropriateness of the justification for requests that are higher than the applicant's funding baseline amount, and will recommend that the budget remain as requested or recommend a lesser amount.

CIHR is committed to taking gender equity into account as part of the Foundation Grant Stage 1 decisions. CIHR will therefore ensure that regardless of career stage, the proportion of female applicants moving forward from Stage 1 to Stage 2 will equal the proportion of female applicants to the competition. To do so, CIHR will take corrective measures, if necessary.

Stage 3, the final assessment stage, involves a face-to-face discussion of applications by a multidisciplinary committee. This committee focuses on assessing applications that are close to the funding cut-off ("grey zone" applications) and demonstrate a high degree of variability in individual reviewer rankings. It integrates the results of the stage 2 reviews into its deliberations and makes recommendations to CIHR on which of these applications should be funded.

A minimum of 15% of funded grants will be allocated to new/early career investigators.

Complete details on the peer review process can be found in the Peer Review Manual - Foundation. Applicants may wish to consult the Peer Review Manual when applying to the Foundation Grant program, in order to focus the information provided in their application.

Additional peer review learning resources such as learning modules are also available on the CIHR Learning Activities and resources web page.

Timeline for the Foundation Grant: 2016–2017 review process

The application deadline for the competition was October 13, 2016. The recruitment of peer reviewers and Competitions Chairs began in September 2016.

Stage 1 review
Declaration of conflicts and reviewers’ ability to review October 27 – November 3, 2016
Reviewers conduct preliminary reviews Week of December 5 – January 10, 2017
Reviewers participate in online discussion of applications with oversight by Chairs January 16-18, 2017
Reviewers submit final reviews January 23, 2017
Anticipated Notice of Decision – Stage 1 February 2, 2017
Stage 2 review
Reviewers participate in training activities and webinars Early - Mid March, 2017
Declaration of conflicts and reviewers’ ability to review March 23-29, 2017
Reviewers conduct preliminary reviews April 11 – May 8, 2017
Reviewers participate in online discussion of applications with oversight by Chairs May 15-17, 2017
Reviewers submit final reviews May 19, 2017
Final Assessment Stage review
Face-to-face committee meeting June – July 2017
Anticipated Notice of Decision – Final Assessment Stage August 3, 2017

Peer review membership

Peer review membership for the Foundation Grant competitions are posted online approximately 60 days after the funding decisions have been published on the CIHR website. Peer review members participated in accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations.

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