Update: Web conferencing for the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition

July 9, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As work is now well under way for the delivery of the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition, we would like to provide an update regarding our plans to use web conferencing to facilitate peer review committee meetings in lieu of in-person meetings.

While in-person peer review remains CIHR's standard, it is not a viable option at this time given the current travel restrictions, short timelines and physical distancing measures in place. So, while the peer review process for the Project Grant program will remain the same (e.g., reviewers will indicate their ability to review and any conflicts, they will submit preliminary scores and written reviews for their assigned applications remotely), the in-person meeting component will move online. This means that the discussions will now take place via live web conferencing, but we are working to ensure that the process for the meeting will otherwise remain as close to normal as possible.

CIHR will use Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) software for these live web-based committee meetings. Taking the competition needs and feasibility considerations into account, we chose MS Teams for a few reasons:

  • Microsoft was awarded the “Digital Communications and Collaboration Platform” contract with the Government of Canada, which means that CIHR will not be required to take any additional procurement steps to use MS Teams (that may have otherwise delayed peer review);
  • MS Teams meets the Government of Canada security requirements, which is critical to ensure the protection of sensitive information discussed during peer review meetings;
  • MS Teams and the tools in the Microsoft 365 suite have been used at CIHR since May 2020, giving staff the opportunity to become familiar with the features used to host live events and large meetings; and
  • The meetings will be easily accessible for reviewers through a variety of web browsers.

MS Teams has served CIHR very well since May, and we are currently developing materials to support peer review committee members to ensure that the remote review experience will be a user-friendly one. Chairs, Scientific Officers, and reviewers can expect to receive detailed instructions and committee-specific information (dates, times, links) in the coming weeks.

While things may look a bit different for these upcoming Project Grant competitions, we are confident that we will be able to facilitate the high quality peer review that applicants expect and deserve. We will keep the community informed as we move forward, and we value your input in the process.

Finally, I'd like to take this moment to say thanks again to all of our Chairs, Scientific Officers, and reviewers for volunteering your time—and for your patience. I would also like to recognize the tireless dedication from CIHR staff and all the ways they work to support the research community, particularly to enable this move to web-based committee meetings. It has been a busy and stressful time for everyone, but it is heartening to see our collective commitment to make this work.


Adrian Mota
Associate Vice-President of Research Programs

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