Opportunity for Early Career Researchers: Call for expressions of interest to the Spring 2020 Observer Program

Update: Spring 2020 Observer Program

CIHR reinstated the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition with revised timelines to adjudicate the competition over the summer using video conference panels. As a result, and due to our current context, our team is focused squarely on the delivery of the peer review process for this competition. Unfortunately, this means that we will not be offering the Observer Program this summer.

This was a difficult decision as this program is highly valued by CIHR and the research community. It is our intention to offer the program as part of the Fall 2020 competition and details will be available shortly.

CIHR is pleased to continue to offer an Observer program for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to participate as an observer in the peer review process of the Project Grant: Spring 2020 competition. This program is designed as an opportunity for Early Career Researchers to observe face-to-face peer review committee meetings and gain valuable insights on the review process.

The role of the ECR

Selected ECRs will be invited to observe committee meetings taking place in Ottawa as part of the review process for the Project Grant competition. There will be two ECRs per committee. As observers, the ECRs will not participate in review discussions.

Important dates

The face-to-face meetings will be held in Ottawa in May and June 2020. Exact dates will be confirmed with each selected ECR once they are assigned to a committee. CIHR will cover the travel and hospitality costs for the ECR to attend the committee meeting.


To be eligible to participate in this Observer program, the ECR must be within 60 months of their first independent appointment, as of the application deadline of the Project Grant competition, March 4, 2020. Please note : This program is only open to ECRs working at Canadian institutions. Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to apply.

Candidates who are submitting applications as Nominated Principal Applicant or Principal Applicant in the current Project Grant competition are eligible for this opportunity, but cannot observe the committee that is adjudicating their submission.

ECRs who previously participated in the Observer program for a Project Grant competition are not eligible to participate. All ECRs who have submitted applications to past CIHR Observer programs are required to re-submit an application to be considered in Spring 2020.

Please note that participation in this program is not a prerequisite to becoming a reviewer in the future (nor is it a guarantee that an individual will meet the eligibility criteria to become a reviewer at a later date). Also note that this program will help to shape peer review training and mentoring strategies and as such a survey will be issued to all participants at the end of this process.

How to apply

Note: The application period has now closed

To express your interest in participating in this Observer program, please click on the button, “Apply Online” to fill out an application by February 13, 2020.

Note, before completing the application you will need the following:

  • your CIHR PIN
  • a PDF of your biosketch Common CV (draft CCVs are not accepted)
  • a letter from your institution attesting that you meet the criteria to be considered as an early career researcher
  • the names of two peer review committees – in order of preference – that you would like to observe. If you list more than two committees, only the first two will be considered.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that their application is complete – applications that remain incomplete will not be considered. All submissions will receive an acknowledgement email within two business days of receipt of the application.

All ECRs expressing interest will be required to complete a CIHR Reviewer Profile. The Reviewer Profile has been developed by the College of Reviewers as a tool to build and support reviewer expertise management.

If there are more than two candidates for a single committee, a lottery approach will be used to select the final candidates.

All individuals who express their interest will be informed of the results on March 30, 2020. Selected candidates will be introduced to the Chair of their committee and given details regarding the peer review meeting they will observe.

Note that application information submitted for this opportunity may be shared with other areas of CIHR for consideration in similar opportunities.

If you have any questions, please contact support-soutien@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

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