Outcomes of CIHR Working Meeting with Research Community

July 22, 2016

CIHR Governing Council has approved the following changes, following an assessment of the organizational feasibility of the recommendations made at the July 13 working meeting.

Members of the Indigenous community in attendance at the Working Group meeting endorsed the principles and structure as developed by the Working Group with the proviso that there be a complementary iterative peer review process for proposals with an Indigenous focus for the next and future investigator initiated competitions. Further it is understood that all research with an Indigenous focus adjudicated by CIHR Peer Review processes will be in compliance with TCPS Chapter 9.


  • Applicants will be permitted to submit a maximum of two applications to each Project Grant competition.
  • The existing page limits for applications will be expanded to 10 pages (including figures and tables) and applicants will be able to attach additional unlimited supporting material, such as references and letters of support.  

Stage 1: Triage

  • Virtual Chairs will now be paired with Scientific Officers to collaboratively manage a cluster of applications and assist CIHR with ensuring high quality reviewers are assigned to all applications.
  • Each application will receive 4-5 reviews at Stage 1.
  • Applicants can now be reviewers at Stage 1 of the competition.  However, they cannot participate in the cluster of applications containing their own application.
  • Asynchronous online discussion will be eliminated from the Stage 1 process.
  • CIHR will revert to a numeric scoring system (rather than the current alpha scoring system) to aid in ranking of applications for the Project Grant competition.

Stage 2: Face-to-Face Discussion

  • Approximately 40% of applications reviewed at Stage 1 will move on to Stage 2 for a face-to-face review in Ottawa.
  • Stage 2 will include highly ranked applications and those with large scoring discrepancies.
  • Virtual Chairs will work with CIHR to regroup and build dynamic panels, based on the content of applications advancing to Stage 2.
  • Applications moving to the Stage 2 face-to-face discussion will be reviewed by three panel members. A ranking process across face-to-face committees will be developed to ensure the highest quality applications will continue to be funded.

Next steps

A Peer Review Working Group shall be established under the leadership of the College of Reviewers' Executive Chair along with representative participants drawn from those who attended the Working Group meeting to advise CIHR in the implementation of these changes. 

The CIHR Appropriate Review Practices Reference Group (Peer Review) on Indigenous Health Research will advise CIHR in the adaptation of these changes for Indigenous health research, and on the process for the implementation of these changes.

The Peer Review Working Group shall include a designate of the existing CIHR Appropriate Review Practices Reference Group (Peer Review) on Indigenous Health Research to ensure alignment of their continuing work on the development of a complementary indigenous peer review process and its evolving policy implications.

The Peer Review Working Group will also explore options related to adjudication criteria appropriate for ensuring equity across different career stages of applicants, as previously occurred relatively well in the Open Operating Grant Programs.

In addition, they will discuss the statement presented at the Working Group meeting:

"The working group will discuss the possibility that, to address current funding situations among early and mid-career investigators, for the next 2 comps early career (0-5 years) and mid career (5-12 yrsFootnote 1) researchers be funded 5% over whatever the success rate is during that competition."

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