Frequently Asked Questions about the Equity and Diversity Questionnaire
1. Why am I being asked to complete the Equity and Diversity Questionnaire?
CIHR is committed to ensuring that its programs and peer review processes result in the fair and impartial treatment of all participants. To this end, CIHR launched its Equity Strategy in 2017. The strategy was designed to focus on five key areas, but with the intention of including additional equity dimensions when we could do so in a systematic way.
The Equity and Diversity Questionnaire gives us the opportunity to collect data on important equity dimensions using a simple user-friendly form. CIHR did not previously collect such data from applicants, which limited our ability to monitor the equity performance of our programs. We are confident that the data collected through the new questionnaire will allow us to support funding equity more effectively.
2. Who is required to complete the questionnaire?
As of May 15, 2018, application participants for all CIHR competitions are required to complete the questionnaire. This does not include applicants to competitions that were in progress before the questionnaire launch date.
Collaborators are the only participant type exempted from the questionnaire requirement. All other application participants must complete the questionnaire. In fact, the Nominated Principal Applicant will not be able to submit the application until all eligible participants have completed their questionnaires.
Specifically, the participant types required to complete the questionnaire are:
- Nominated Principal Applicant
- Principal Knowledge User
- Knowledge User
- Principal Applicant
- Program Leader
- Project Leader
- Project Expert
- Primary Supervisor
- Program Expert
3. Why were these questions (or this terminology) chosen? Can you clarify what is being asked?
The Equity and Diversity Questionnaire is the first of its kind for CIHR, as we have not historically collected much demographic data from applicants. While we recognize that the questionnaire does not cover every important diversity dimension, the five questions do cover dimensions that CIHR senior management noted as priorities. We consider this version of the questionnaire to be a first step—a starting point—as additional dimensions could be added in the future.
The questions themselves were based on the current Self-declaration Form of Members of Designated Employment Equity Groups used for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Employment Equity Data Bank. This means that the questions, response options, and any related definitions are based on material and terminology that exists and is being used elsewhere in the federal government. Should the terminology used elsewhere in the federal government change, or if future consultations indicate a need for revisions, then CIHR may also change the terminology or wording in the Equity and Diversity Questionnaire.
The questionnaire covers five dimensions: gender, age, Indigenous identity, visible minority identity, and disability.
The gender question prompts the user to indicate the identity (or term) that best describes them at the present time. The question does not ask about sex assigned at birth. Furthermore, the question does not make a distinction between cisgender and transgender identities (i.e., the term “woman” could refer to a person who identifies as a trans woman or a person who identifies as a cis woman).
The age question asks the user to type in their year of birth. See FAQ #13 for additional details.
The Indigenous identity question asks the user if they identify as Indigenous. This question is about personal identity, not legal status or registration.
The visible minority identity question asks the user to indicate if they identify as a member of a visible minority. The question does not ask the user to specify visible minority group(s).
The disability question prompts the user to indicate if they identify as a person with a disability. The question refers to how the user personally identifies, not whether the user has ever qualified for a disability benefit under the Canada Pension Plan or other program.
4. Is this a Tri-Council initiative?
Yes. The survey was developed collaboratively to ensure alignment, as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) will be proceeding in a similar manner with their applicants later this year.
5. I am not comfortable responding to these questions. What should I do?
As an application participant, if you do not want to share your information, you have the option to choose "I prefer not to answer" for each question. You must select this option and save your responses in order for your questionnaire to be marked as complete, thereby fulfilling the mandatory questionnaire requirement.
If you have a ResearchNet account, then you may also choose to update your responses at any time (e.g., from "I prefer not to answer" to another option).
6. Who will see my information? Will peer reviewers be able to access this information?
Responses will be securely stored and may not be viewed or edited by others. In accordance with the Government of Canada privacy practices and regulations, the data collected will only be used in an aggregated form in order to protect the identity of individuals.
Your information will only be seen by CIHR staff with the appropriate security clearance and access. Chairs, Scientific Officers, and peer reviewers will not be able to see your information.
The College of Reviewers will also not see your information, and your responses will not be used for peer review recruitment purposes. CIHR may wish to collect demographic data from its peer reviewers in the future, however, so a similar questionnaire may be added to the Reviewer Profile at a later date.
7. How will my information be used?
Self-identification information will not affect eligibility for funding from CIHR. The organization is collecting this information to monitor the equity performance of its programs. This data is important for informing evidence-based policy solutions designed to increase equity, diversity and inclusion among all those involved in the research enterprise.
Your personal information is stored and may be used as listed in CIHR Info Source Chapter - Bank number: CIHR PPU 005, which includes but is not limited to: program planning, data analysis, performance measurement and monitoring, program evaluation and review, in audits, for generating statistics for these activities, and in aggregate form (i.e., any personal identifying information is removed) to report to Parliament or to the general public on the CIHR website.
8. How will my information be stored?
Your information will be stored securely and separately from your application details. Although your responses will be linked to your CIHR Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is done to ensure that your data is saved for future competitions, the data itself is stored in a separate section of CIHR's database. As noted in FAQ # 6, this means that the information cannot be seen by other applicant participants or by peer reviewers, and it will only be seen by a small group of CIHR staff with the appropriate security clearance and access.
The information collected will be retained and disposed of in accordance with the agency's retention and disposition schedules pursuant to Library and Archives Canada's requirements and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Directive on Recordkeeping.
9. How does the process work?
In ResearchNet, the Nominated Principal Applicant (NPA) is responsible for adding application participants in the "Application Details – Identify Participants" task. When a participant is added to the application, ResearchNet is prompted to send an e-mail to that participant with a link to the Equity and Diversity Questionnaire. This e-mail also includes instructions on how to access and complete the questionnaire, either through the link provided in the e-mail or through the participant's own ResearchNet account.
Note: If a person is added as a participant on multiple applications within a single competition or on applications across multiple competitions, he or she will only receive one of those emails from ResearchNet if their current Equity and Diversity status is "Pending".
The NPA will not receive a separate e-mail with a reminder to complete their own questionnaire. The NPA will be able to access the questionnaire directly from ResearchNet.
If, as the application deadline approaches, the NPA notices that any application participants have not yet completed their questionnaires, he or she can prompt ResearchNet to send another e-mail to those participants with the questionnaire link and instructions. Reminder: The NPA will not be able to submit the application for funding until all application participants (with the exception of Collaborators) have completed their questionnaires.
When an application participant completes the questionnaire, the information is saved for future competitions (based on the participant's CIHR PIN). This means that the participant will not receive an e-mail from ResearchNet to complete the questionnaire again if they participate on another application. Identified participants with an Equity and Diversity status of "Completed" are not required to validate their responses each time they are identified as an applicant on an e-Submission.
CIHR encourages all applicants to keep their questionnaire responses up to date.
10. How will I know that the questionnaire has been completed?
When you complete and save the questionnaire, you will automatically be redirected to a "success" screen to indicate that your information has been received and saved appropriately.
All application participants who have access to the eSubmission in ResearchNet will be able to see each person's questionnaire status. (Note: You will see the status, not the responses.) When a participant completes the questionnaire, you will see their status change from "Pending" to "Completed" within the "Application Details – Identify Participants" task.
11. Can I make changes to my questionnaire after it has been completed and submitted?
Yes. Self-identification information is provided on a voluntary basis and can be changed at any time. If you have a ResearchNet account, your questionnaire data will be saved to your ResearchNet User Profile and can be accessed at any time to update or review.
12. Is the Equity and Diversity questionnaire required at the Registration stage?
No. All eligible application participants must complete the questionnaire before the full application can be submitted, but it is not required at the Registration stage for CIHR competitions.
13. Will my responses be tied to funding decisions in any way?
No. The Equity and Diversity Questionnaire is not tied to funding decisions.
The questionnaire is a tool that will allow CIHR to monitor the equity performance of its programs. Through it, we hope to identify if and where barriers exist in our competitions. When a barrier is identified, we will strive to determine its cause and, ultimately, the best way to address it. The ways to address a particular inequity or barrier could vary from updating a guideline (such as an allowable cost for research) to taking corrective action (such as equalizing success rates for a particular group). CIHR will announce any such actions in advance of a given competition.
14. Don't you already have my year of birth?
Yes. CIHR has collected "year of birth" as a data field for CIHR PINs and used it to distinguish users with the same or similar names, as well as to identify duplicate PINs. However, this information has not typically been used for equity purposes, hence the addition of this data field to the Equity and Diversity Questionnaire.
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