Update on the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition
Important information for Spring 2020 Project Grant applicants
June 8, 2020
As you know, CIHR recently announced that it will reinstate the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition with revised timelines to adjudicate the competition over the summer (June-August peer review process). I would like to take this opportunity to clarify what this means for applicants.
To be clear, all applications previously submitted to the Spring Project Grant competition will proceed to peer review, with only the following exceptions:
- Nominated Principal Applicants (NPAs) who were offered a financial extension linked to their Investigator-Initiated research (IIR) grant or bridge grant will need to take extra steps to keep their application in the Spring 2020 competition (please see the details below).
- For all other NPAs, if you wish to withdraw your application from the competition, please notify CIHR by sending an e-mail to the Contact Centre no later than June 12, 2020.
Please note that we will contact any NPA who previously chose to withdraw their application in order to confirm if they would like it to remain withdrawn from this competition as we move forward.
In addition, please note that we plan to complete the full Spring competition process before the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition begins (i.e., the competition timelines will not overlap). This means that investigators will receive the results of the Spring competition in time to consider peer review feedback and resubmit their application to the Fall Project Grant competition.
In order to ensure that the Fall competition can be completed and notices of decision (NODs) distributed in a timely manner, however, it is likely that the interval of time between receiving reviewer feedback and the next competition deadline will be fairly short. Based on our current planning, we are working to reintroduce the Notice of Recommendation step that was previously part of the Open Operating Grant Program (OOGP), and we anticipate that applicants would receive the Notice of Recommendation documentation approximately six weeks before the full application deadline for the Fall 2020 competition. This remains to be confirmed, but we are currently aiming for a mid-September registration deadline and a mid-October application deadline for the fall.
Finally, we have received many questions about allowing applicants to update their applications and/or provide a one-page supplement to address the COVID-19 context. While these suggestions have merit, we have consulted with a number of groups and have decided that, in fairness to all applicants in the Spring 2020 competition, no updates and/or supplements will be accepted and the applications will be reviewed as submitted. CIHR will work with the panel Chairs and Scientific Officers to ensure that all applicants receive a fair review and that assumptions about feasibility related to the COVID-19 context will not be considered in the scientific review of the applications.
That said, for the Fall 2020 competition, CIHR is looking carefully at how researchers will be able to describe the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their productivity within their application. These details will be provided when the funding opportunity is launched so that all applicants will have ample time to develop such a commentary.
Important information for NPAs who were offered financial extensions
NPAs who were offered a financial extension linked to their Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) grant (i.e., those who applied to the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition as a NPA with an IIR grant scheduled to expire between June 30, 2020 and March 30, 2021), including those who have already accepted the extension, will be invited to choose one of the following two options:
- Keep the financial extension and withdraw your application from the Spring competition (i.e., it will not be reviewed). As noted in the original offer, accepting this financial extension also means that this application cannot be submitted to the Fall 2020 competition as you have already received funding until October 1, 2021.
- Return the financial extension and have your application reviewed in the Spring 2020 competition (with no restrictions for applying to the Fall 2020 competition).
Please note that the above conditions relate only to applications associated with the financial extension. If an NPA submitted two applications to the Spring 2020 competition and only one qualified for the extension, the second application will automatically proceed to peer review without any additional decisions or steps from the NPA. Furthermore, since the condition is on the application and not the investigator, an NPA who accepts the financial extension for their application in the Spring 2020 competition could still apply to the Fall 2020 competition in the role of NPA with a completely different application.
NPAs who were offered a financial extension linked to a bridge grant (i.e, Nominated Principal Investigators (NPIs) from the Fall 2019 Project Grant competition who had also applied to the Spring 2020 competition), including those who have already accepted the extension, will also be invited to choose one of two options:
- Keep the financial extension and withdraw your application from the Spring 2020 competition (i.e., it will not be reviewed).
- Return the financial extension and have your application reviewed in the Spring 2020 competition.
As noted in the original offer, NPAs who accept the financial extension linked to a bridge grant will still be able to resubmit that application to the Fall 2020 competition (i.e., the restriction noted above regarding Fall 2020 applications for NPAs who accept the financial extension linked to an expiring IIR grant does not apply to NPAs accepting a financial extension based on a bridge grant).
CIHR will reach out to affected individuals directly to confirm their preferred course of action. All decisions must be confirmed by June 12, 2020. This deadline is necessary to allow the competition to proceed in a timely manner.
Fall 2020 Project Grant competition
In addition to preparing for the Spring 2020 competition, we are looking ahead to the Fall 2020 competition. As noted above, it is our intention to complete the full Spring competition process before the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition begins (i.e., the competition timelines will not overlap), and consultations are currently under way to determine the best ways to incorporate supplemental material that accounts for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect to launch the funding opportunity, which will contain all of these details, in early July. Peer review recruitment will also continue over the summer, so we would like to say thank you in advance to those of you who are willing and able to volunteer your time for the next competition.
As always, we welcome questions and comments via the CIHR Contact Centre. We would also like to thank the research community at large for their overwhelming support as we navigate the best ways to deliver these competitions in the coming months.
Associate Vice-President of Research Programs
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