Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) – Application Instructions

Before you begin

Make sure you read the specific Funding Opportunity details.
Make sure you have the following or click the links to register:

Note 1: You should only have one ResearchNet account. If you have already accessed ResearchNet, do not register for a new account.

Note 2: It can take up to one business day to process your CIHR PIN.

What’s new?

The PHSI competition will continue to pilot and test the validity and functionality of key design elements related to application and peer review processes for the new CIHR Project Scheme. This pilot introduces a new structured application process and a new structured review process. The new elements introduced include: new review criteria, a new rating and ranking process, multi-stage review, and an asynchronous online discussion tool.

The objectives of the pilot are: 1) to test key components of the proposed Project Scheme in a live grant competition, and 2) to ensure that integrated knowledge translation programs are effectively integrated into the new Project Scheme design.

It should be noted that the changes to the PHSI program are related to design elements of the application and peer review processes. The heart of PHSI will remain unchanged:

  1. An integrated knowledge translation approach will continue to be required for all PHSI applications, and as such, the involvement of a knowledge user/decision maker from the application phase to implementation will also continue to be a requirement for all PHSI applications.
  2. The need to secure at least 20% of the funds requested from Partnered sources will continue to be a requirement of all PHSI applications.
  3. The intent of the PHSI program will remain unchanged: to strengthen Canada’s healthcare system through collaborative, applied, and policy-relevant research. PHSI will continue to fund applications focused on applied health services and policy research.

General Application Process

  1. Applications must be prepared, finalized and submitted by applicants using ResearchNet.
  2. All participants must have a validated CIHR PIN prior to initiating the application process on ResearchNet. Therefore, applicants must validate their PIN as the first step in the application process. You can validate your PIN by clicking the user tab (your name in the top right banner) in your ResearchNet account.
  3. Any documents/attachments that exceed the application limits will be removed from the application prior to peer review.
  4. Applicants must preview all components of their application in order to ensure its completeness.
  5. Applications must be submitted on or prior to the deadline posted on ResearchNet. CIHR cannot legally accept an application until the "Consent and Submit" section is completed as part of the submission process.
    • There is no wet signature requirement as part of this application.
  6. Please note that this competition will use the eApproval process. Make sure to check with your institution to determine if there are any internal deadline dates.
  7. This document provides general instructions but does not necessarily contain all information required to complete this application. Please ensure that you also read the Funding Opportunity Details, and become familiar with CIHR Application Administration Guide.
  8. If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your account, or if you have any questions regarding the CIHR-specific content on ResearchNet, contact us Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET and until 8 p.m. ET on deadline days.

Supporting Resources

Tasks required for completing a PHSI application:

A. Complete a Canadian Common CV

Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants are required to complete a Canadian Common CV (CCV). If you have previously completed a CCV template, please take the time to update your CV information using the new templates in the Canadian Common CV (CCV) or create a new CCV if this is your first application to CIHR.

The roles you select when identifying participants in ResearchNet (Task 1) will determine which CV type is required for each participant:

  • Nominated Principal Applicant & Principal Applicant: regardless if you are an Independent Researcher or a Knowledge User, you are required to submit a Biosketch CCV.
  • Collaborators are not required to submit a CV.

To complete a Biosketch CV:

  1. Log in to the Canadian Common CV system.
  2. Select "CIHR" in the Funding Source field, and select the appropriate CV type (Biosketch)
  3. Enter data in each of the required sections, and click "Done" when finished each section. Validation is performed automatically, and if there are any errors, they will be displayed in each section.
    1. For more information on how to complete a Biosketch, please read the Biosketch – Quick Reference Guide.
  4. Once complete, click "Submit". A CCV confirmation number will be generated in the status message, and will also be located at the top of the CV PDF document. Record this confirmation number as it will be needed to link the CV to any research applications in ResearchNet.
  5. If you wish to make changes to your Common CV after it has been linked to an application, you must repeat the steps described above. This will generate a new CCV confirmation number, which must be updated in ResearchNet.
  6. You can preview your CCV in ResearchNet by clicking on "Preview" on the Tasks page.

Note: During peak periods, there can be a delay between the time that you submit the CV and when ResearchNet is able to validate it. It is highly recommended that you complete and submit your CV well in advance of the competition deadline.

B. Complete the ResearchNet application

Task 1: Identify participants

This task collects information on all participants involved in the research proposal and the institution or organization that will receive funds should the application be successful. Consult the funding opportunity and the CIHR Application Administration Guide for information regarding applicant eligibility requirements.

1.1: Participant Information

For this funding opportunity, the PHSI application must include at least two Principal Applicants, including the Nominated Principal Applicant: one who is an independent researcher and one who is a knowledge user.

  • The applicant that initiated/opened the application in ResearchNet is identified as the Nominated Principal Applicant by default for the application.
  • The Nominated Principal Applicant (NPA) is able to add participants to the application in ResearchNet by:
    • Entering their validated CIHR PIN
      • If the participant's PIN is not validated, they must login to ResearchNet and select the user tab (name in the top right banner) and select Validate your CIHR PIN.
      • Afterwards, the NPA can resume this process.
    • Entering their name.
    • Entering their role and participant type.
      • Principal Applicant (Participant type: Independent Researcher or Knowledge User).
      • Co-Applicant & Collaborator (Participant type: Independent Researcher or Knowledge User or Trainee).
  • On saving this information, the activity will open in the participant’s ResearchNet account.
    • Note: The system will generate 2 warning messages with regards to mandatory fields (telephone and Institution) that will need to be completed by the added participants. The Identify Participants Task will remain incomplete until all added participants complete their information in ResearchNet as described in the next steps.
  • Please note that all Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants will have access to the application on ResearchNet in order to allow them to contribute equally to the application.
  • All Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants must complete the following:
    • Enter their CCV confirmation number.
    • Complete their most significant contributions.
    • Consent. Note: this replaces the original or copied signature that was required from all participants in the past and the Nominated Principal Applicant of the application will consent as part of the Consent and Submit task.
  • Only the Nominated Principal Applicant has the functionality to submit the application.
    • The Nominated Principal Applicant will have to wait for all other participants to complete their relevant sections of the application before submitting.

There is no maximum number of applicants or collaborators who can participate on a PHSI grant.

There is no limit to the number of applications an individual can submit as a Principal Applicant or to which an individual can participate as a Co-Applicant or as a Collaborator, as long as these applications are different. Please see the CIHR Application Administration Guide for additional information.

1.2: Most Significant Contributions

This sub-task captures information on the Nominated Principal Applicant, for every Principal Applicant and Co-Applicant (not for Collaborators) and cannot exceed 3,500 characters, including spaces. Note: When cutting and pasting text into the text box, the exact number of characters may vary slightly depending on the type of browser that you are using.

Please insert information regarding your most significant contributions (maximum of 5) as they relate to the application.

Contributions can take the form of:

  • Publications, presentations, intellectual property, etc.
  • Awards, degrees, credentials, etc.
  • Knowledge translation, policy development, etc.
  • Specialized training, strategic employment positions, etc.

The contributions that you choose to share should be directly relevant to the grant application, and should demonstrate how you will contribute to the application at hand.

1.3: Consent

All Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants on the application must agree to General Conditions and Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information before the Nominated Principal Applicant can submit the application to CIHR. Note that the Nominated Principal Applicant will consent in Task #9.

Task 2: Enter Proposal Information


Your title is the way that CIHR identifies your research project. For this reason you cannot edit your Title after submission.

Institution Paid

Institution that will administer the funds for your project. Consult the CIHR Application Administration Guide for information regarding institutional eligibility requirements.

Please note that prior to submitting your completed application, the Institution Paid will have access to view a limited number of application fields while your application is in progress.

Certification Requirements

If you are awarded a grant, the necessary certification requirements must be met in accordance with policies on ethical conduct of research. Relevant policies:

Is this a clinical trial?

Indicate if this application includes a clinical trial. For more information regarding clinical trials consult the CIHR Policy Guide – Requirements for Registration and Disclosure of Results from Clinical Trials

Does this Application Contain a Randomized Controlled Trial?

Indicate if this application includes a randomized controlled trial. Refer to the funding opportunity on specific requirements for randomized controlled trials for the program to which you are applying.

In order to carry out the proposed research in this application, is an exemption from Health Canada under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act required?

Indicate if your proposed research is such that an exemption from Health Canada under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) will be required. Consult the Department of Justice website for details regarding Section 56 of the CDSA and the Health Canada website for details regarding obtaining an exemption under Section 56 of the CDSA.

Does this application propose research involving Indigenous Peoples?

Indicate if your application proposes research involving Indigenous Peoples. This information will be used for statistical purposes only.

Applicants whose proposed research will involve Indigenous Peoples should consult Ethics of Health Research Involving First Nations, Inuit and Métis People.

Are sex (biological) considerations taken into account in this proposal?

Indicate if sex (biological) considerations are taken into account in this proposal. For a guide to sex and gender based analysis consult the CIHR website.

Are gender (socio-cultural) considerations taken into account in this proposal?

Indicate if gender (socio-cultural) considerations are taken into account in this proposal. For a guide to sex and gender based analysis consult the CIHR website.

  • If yes, describe how sex and/or gender considerations will be considered in your research design (limit of 2,000 characters).
  • If no, explain why sex and/or gender are not applicable in your research design (limit of 2,000 characters).

Containment Level

Definitions of Levels may be found in the Canadian Biosafety Standards and Guidelines.

Environmental Impact

Proposals will be reviewed for potential impacts on the environment in accordance with the Impact Assessment Act.


Provide keywords to describe your research project, the techniques and the methodologies it will employ and the areas of interest.

Areas of Research

Select the areas of research that best describe your proposal from the list provided.


Select the classifications that best describe your proposal from the list provided.


Select a primary theme classification. Indicate additional theme classifications only if the substance of the grant application significantly overlaps more than one theme. Consult the definition of the four CIHR Themes in the Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health

Suggested Institutes

Select a primary CIHR Institute whose research mandate is related to this application's research area(s) and objective(s). Additional Institutes should only be selected if the substance of this proposal significantly overlaps with the research mandate of more than one Institute.

Task 3: Complete Summary

Applicants will be asked to highlight all key facets of their research proposal by summarizing the following information:

  • The question or issue to be addressed;
  • The nature of the core expertise being brought together to address the question or issue;
  • Any relevant approaches, methodologies, and/or techniques to be used; and
  • How the expected results of the proposal advance knowledge, health research and/or the application of knowledge in the short term and in the long term, as appropriate.

Note 1: Your completed summary cannot exceed 3,500 characters (including spaces) or approximately one page. When cutting and pasting text into the text box, the exact number of characters may vary slightly depending on the type of browser that you are using.

Note 2: This "Complete Summary" task replaces the previously used Lay Abstract and Summary of the Research Proposal tasks.

Task 4: Complete Application

Provide a clear and concise summary for each adjudication criterion outlined below. In addition to the description below, consult the document Open Knowledge Translation Pilot Competitions (2013-2016) – Interpretation Guidelines Adjudication Criteria to obtain additional information on how the application will be assessed during the CIHR peer review process.

Note: Many supporting documents are no longer permitted for this competition and CIHR will remove non-allowable attachments before sharing the application with reviewers. A description of these non-allowable documents can be found under the "Attachments" Section 2 of the Complete Application Task.

Text boxes

You must enter information for each of the following adjudication criteria in the individual text boxes in ResearchNet. The character limits are described for each criterion and they include spaces. Depending on the software you use, copying and pasting text from a word processor may not exactly match the character count in ResearchNet. In some instances, using NotePad may be helpful. The text boxes will not allow coloured text, tables or images.

4.1: Adjudication criteria

The following questions are used by the reviewers to assess these criteria. Please address them in your application.

Criterion 1 - Assessment of concept

Sub-criterion 1.1: Quality of the idea

Limit: 3,500 characters including spaces / approximately one page.

  1. Are the overall goal and objectives of the project well-defined and clear; with distinct outputs that support advances in health-related knowledge, health research, health care, health systems, and/or health outcomes?
  2. Is the rationale of the project idea sound, logical and valid?

Sub-criterion 1.2: Importance of the idea

Limit: 1,750 characters including spaces / approximately half a page.

  1. Is the proposed contribution(s) of the project well-defined, clear and significant with respect to advancing health-related knowledge, health research, health care, health systems and/or health outcomes?
  2. To what extent does the project respond to the objective(s) of the Funding Opportunity?
Criterion 2 – Assessment of feasibility

Sub-criterion 2.1: Approach

Limit: 15,750 characters including spaces / approximately four and a half pages.

  1. Are the approaches and methods appropriate to deliver the proposed output(s) and achieve the proposed contribution(s)?
  2. Are the timelines and related deliverables of the project realistic?
  3. Does the proposal identify potential challenges and appropriate mitigation strategies?

Sub-criterion 2.2: Expertise, experience and resources

Limit: 3,500 characters including spaces / approximately one page. In this section, please provide an estimate on the number of hours per week (contribution) for each applicant that will be working on the research project. The name of the participants will appear above the one page text box with an adjacent number box for their hourly contribution to the research project.

  1. Does the applicant(s) bring the appropriate expertise and experience to lead and deliver the proposed outputs and achieve the proposed contribution(s)?
  2. Is there an appropriate level of engagement and/or commitment from the applicant(s)?
  3. Is the environment (academic institution and/or other organization) appropriate to enable the conduct and success of the project?

4.2: References

This sub-task is designed to capture any references you cited within your application (e.g. your bibliographic information). A standard reference style is required – APA or a similar format. Please note that information included in this section cannot exceed 17,500 characters including spaces. Note: When cutting and pasting text into the text box, the exact number of characters may vary slightly depending on the type of browser that you are using.

4.3: Attachments

Attach allowable application attachments only. CIHR will remove non-allowable attachments before sharing the application with reviewers. All required attachments pertaining to the research proposal must be included in the "Attachments" sub-task found under the Complete Application Task in ResearchNet.

Non-allowable attachments

The following attachments are not permitted and will be removed from the applications:

  • Response to Previous Reviews
  • Summary of Progress
  • Research Proposal Appendix
  • Publications
  • Questionnaires
  • Consent Forms
  • Additional information on the methodology or the approach
  • Additional information on the team members (e.g., expertise, responsibilities, job description, free form CV, salary and benefits, etc.)
  • Additional information on the budget (e.g., budget justification, cost quotation, etc.)
  • Any 'framed' text document
Allowable attachments

The following attachments will be permitted:

  • Figures supporting your application
  • Tables supporting your application. Tables may differ significantly in variety, structure, flexibility, notation, representation and use, but they should present information and/or data in ‘category’ formats. A framed text will not be considered a table and will be removed from the application.
  • Letters of Collaboration for those who are expected to make a significant contribution, confirming their willingness to participate in the manner indicated
  • Letters of support
    • Each knowledge-user applicant is strongly encouraged to submit a signed letter describing:
      • their role and their precise degree of involvement in the project;
      • amount of time committed to the project;
      • cash and/or in kind contribution; and
      • a description of how they intend to use the results of this research project.
    • Please note: the review committee reads these letters carefully to assess the degree of commitment of the knowledge user applicant(s). Knowledge users are advised to personally write their letters, rather than sign a template letter. Applicants are also encouraged to refer to the "CIHR Guide to Writing Letters of Support" for additional guidance.

For applicants with pending appointment, you must attach:

  • Letter of support in the case of a pending appointment from the Dean of the Faculty indicating the date the appointment is expected to take effect.

Note 1: There are no page restrictions for the attachments but reviewers are not required to read excessive attachments. Be sure to label your figures. Legends should be succinct and should not contain detailed information pertaining to methods.

Note 2: For the purpose of peer review, the application should not depend on information in these attachments, other than figures and tables that are not included in the page limit of the application. Reviewers are under no obligation to read the application attachments other than those described above. If the application is found to contain excessive material that does not conform to the guidelines above, CIHR will remove such attachments before sending the application for peer review.

Task 5: Identify Application Partners

This task collects information on all Partners involved in your application. Partnership contributions can be a combination of cash and/or in-kind contributions. There is no upper limit on partner contributions to a project.

The minimum partnership contribution requirement for all applicants is 20% of the total grant amount requested from CIHR and must be met at the time of application. The letter of support will be used to confirm partnership contributions (cash and/or in-kind). Partnerships that are not confirmed at the time of application will not count towards the 20% partnership contribution requirement.

Information Required from Partners

A signed letter of support from every partner must be provided at the time of application for all cash and/or in-kind contributions. The letter should include specific incremental cash or in-kind contributions being provided in support of the proposed research.

To enter partner information on ResearchNet, access the Identify Application Partners task and:

  1. Click "Add a Partner".
  2. In the small textbox on the left, click the search icon. A search tool will appear.
    • Type the partner name, or a portion of the name, and click search.
    • The search will display results and narrow itself as more information is typed.
    • To facilitate search, enter "%" before and/or after your keyword.
    • Select the partner name from CIHR's prepopulated list.
  3. If the partner does not appear, select "Other".
  4. Enter the required field to create a new organization record.
  5. Repeat these steps for every partner on the proposal.

For each partner, a letter of support must be uploaded. The letters of support must include specific incremental cash or in-kind contributions that are being provided in support of the proposed research.

  1. From the Identify Application Partners task root menu, select "Manage Attachments" and upload the PDF document.
  2. Repeat these steps for each partner.

Task 6: Enter Budget Information

Within this section, the applicant will be required to outline their budget request and justify that the requested resources are appropriate to financially support the research project as described in the application.

To complete the budget request, applicants must:

  • Complete the budget request by indicating the amount that is required in each budget category, along with a concise, high-level description of what the funds will be used for, in order to support the amount requested.
  • List any funding from partners (cash and/or in-kind support) that has been secured.
  • Partnerships that are not confirmed at the time of application will not count towards the 20% partnership contribution requirement.

Information on eligibility of expenses and employment under grants is found in the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC & SSHRC) Financial Administration Guide, Use of Grant Funds. Please also note the following:

  • Applicants will not be expected to provide detailed, line-by-line breakdowns of their budget request within the budget categories.
  • All amounts entered in the budget section must be totals for the entire duration of the grant (not yearly amounts).
  • All amounts indicated in the budget should be in Canadian dollars.
  • Information such as cost quotations or letters of support are not required as part of the application, and may not be attached to this module.

6.1: Complete the Budget Request

Within this section the applicants are asked to indicate and justify the required amounts from CIHR to support their proposed project of research (do not include the amounts requested or provided by your application partners and/or project specific partners).

Applicants will be required to:

  1. Select the term for the period of support requested by selecting the years and months
  2. Enter the requested amount from CIHR for each budget category.
    • Each amount must be rounded to a multiple of $1,000;
    • Budget requests are total amounts for the entire period of support (i.e., 3 years), not yearly amounts; and
    • If a category does not apply, the field can be left blank.
  3. Justify the amount requested from CIHR within each applicable category (maximum 900 characters) in the context of the requirements of the proposed research program.


  1. The expectation of the budget request is that it is a reasonable estimate that takes into consideration the needs of the research project and any anticipated changes in requirements over the term of the grant.
  2. The sum of all of the budget categories (total requested budget) must add up to a multiple of $5,000.
  3. CIHR will disburse funds in equal yearly instalments.
  4. Individuals paid from grants are not employees of CIHR.
  5. The budget must include the applicable provincial and federal taxes and should be calculated using the after-rebate tax rates. After-rebate tax rates are available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

6.2: Information on the Budget Categories

This section provides a brief overview on the budget categories and what may be included within the respective categories.

  1. Research Staff:
    1. All research staff (research associates, assistants, technicians, etc.) should be determined by the work required for the research and the corresponding technical needs.
    2. Salaries for Principal Applicants cannot be paid from the grant.
    3. Release time allowance may be requested to facilitate the participation of a Knowledge-User in the proposed research program. The eligible cost is limited to $50,000/year/individual/grant. Persons receiving release time allowances are not considered CIHR employees.
  2. Trainees: Costs related to the training and mentoring of trainees, students and Knowledge-Users (e.g., stipends, salaries, benefits) are to be included in this section.
  3. Consumables: CIHR grant funds may be used to cover only the direct costs of research (materials and supplies, services, travel for research activities, etc.) and may not be used for indirect costs.
  4. Non-Consumables: Funding for equipment may be requested for this competition. Equipment is defined as any item (or interrelated collection of items comprising a system) of nonexpendable tangible property, having a useful life of more than 1 year and a cost of $2,000 or more, which is used wholly or in part for research. Maintenance and operating costs of equipment are also eligible expenses.
  5. Knowledge Translation: Costs associated with dissemination of research results such as manuscript publication, travel for knowledge translation activities (e.g., conferences), etc. are to be included in this section.
  6. Other: Costs associated with any other expenses related to the proposed research program that are not covered in the above categories are to be included in this section.

6.3: Complete the Partner Budget Details sub-task

Within this section, the applicant must highlight any partner contributions that have been secured to support the proposed program of research.

In order to include any partner funding in the budget section, you must first identify the partner in the Partner Task (section 5). When you do this, a subtask will automatically appear within this sub-section of the Budget Task. Click on the partner name on the navigation column on the left, and complete the following steps:

  1. Enter the partner's financial contribution in the cash or estimated in-kind value column for each year.
    1. If there is no partner contribution for a given year, enter "0" in both the cash and in-kind columns.
  2. Describe how the contribution from the partner will be used towards the proposed research project (maximum 900 characters)
  3. Repeat these steps for each partner.
6.3.1: Allowable in-kind contributions

The following are examples of allowable in-kind contributions:

  • Access to unique databases
  • Professional, analytical, or other services
  • Employee salaries (i.e. the salary of an employee who is not listed on the application as an independent researcher)
  • Equipment
  • Facilities (not including the facilities provided to the Nominated Principal Applicant by their institution as part of their employment)
  • Materials, technology
  • Software

Task 7: Complete Peer Review Administration Information

This task collects information used for the purpose of peer review administration.

Suggested Reviewers

Suggest Canadian and/or foreign reviewers that you feel have the expertise to review your application. CIHR reserves the right to make the final selection of reviewers. You should not suggest reviewers who are in conflict with you or with your work. Consult the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers on the CIHR web site for more information.

Reviewers to Exclude

Provide the names of individuals who you feel cannot provide an objective review of your application, ensuring that you provide a reason for their exclusion. CIHR reserves the right to make the final selection of reviewers.

Task 8: Preview

The Nominated Principal Applicant will review all components of the application and ensure that every participant on the application has completed their required tasks. To mark the preview task as complete, every other task must be marked as complete. The Nominated Principal Applicant will have the opportunity to preview the Full Application Package prior to submitting the application to CIHR.

Task 9: Consent and Submit

All Principal Applicants & Co-Applicants on the application must agree to General Conditions and Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information, presented on ResearchNet, before the Nominated Principal Applicant can submit the application to CIHR. There are no signature pages required as part of the application submitted to CIHR. Once every task is complete, including the consent, the Nominated Principal Applicant must review the terms listed, and respond to the questions regarding consent in order to submit the application.

The Nominated Principal Applicant will then click Send. The application will be sent to the Institution Paid, as part of the eApproval process, and ultimately, to CIHR. Once CIHR receives your application, you will receive e-mail confirmation.

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