Summary of June 2020 CIHR “Ask Me Anything” webinars

Recap of webinars held on June 22, June 25, and June 29

CIHR held three “Ask Me Anything” webinars related to the 2020 Project Grant competitions, one of which was held in French. The webinars were hosted by Adrian Mota, Associate Vice-President of Research Programs Operations, and all available members of the health research community were welcome to attend.

The following information is provided as a summary of the key details discussed during the webinar—including updates that have become available since the webinar dates.

If you have additional questions or need more information, please get in touch with the CIHR Contact Centre.

Area of interest Discussion topics Information available
Spring 2020 Project Grant competition – from the applicant’s perspective
  • Timelines
  • COVID-19 bias (fairness)
  • Anticipated success rate

On June 8, CIHR released a new message with important information for Spring 2020 Project Grant applicants, which addresses the following details:

The approximate timelines for the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition are as follows:

  • Confirm panel member participation and recruit as needed: mid-June
  • Ability to review and application assignments: mid- to end of June
  • Application review period: July
  • Peer review committee meetings via videoconference: August
  • Release Notice of Recommendation (NOR): end of August
  • Release Notice of Decision (NOD): mid-September
  • Funding start date: October 1st

CIHR is working with Chairs and Scientific Officers (SO) to ensure that all applicants receive a fair review and that assumptions about feasibility related to COVID-19 context will not be considered in the scientific review of the application.  

There are a number of factors that influence competition success rates, including total budget available, grant size, and application pressure (i.e., number of applications under review).  Given this variability, CIHR does not set target success rates for  competitions and avoids making projections until the final data is available. 

The budget is $275 million for each Project Grant competition. However, approximately $23 million was removed from the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition budget to accommodate the extensions and bridge funding provided to select Nominated Principal Applicants.

Suggestions to improve success rates were made during the consultations for CIHR’s new Strategic Plan. CIHR is currently exploring options and will provide an update to the research community in 2021.

The Funding Opportunity indicates that an individual cannot submit more than two Project Grant applications per competition as a Nominated Principal Applicant. If a Nominated Principal Applicant submits more than two applications, CIHR will automatically withdraw the last application submitted based on time-stamp of submission.

Fall 2020 Project Grant competition
  • Timelines
  • Eligibility
  • Budget
  • Peer Review Process
  • Re-submissions

The approximate timelines for the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition are as follows:

  • Registration deadline: Mid-September
  • Application deadline: Mid-October
  • Release Notice of Recommendation (NOR): February 2021
  • Release Notice of Decision (NOD): Early March 2021
  • Funding start date: April 1, 2021

The estimated Fall 2020 Project Grant competition application deadline is within a couple of weeks of the competition deadlines of  SSHRC’s Insight Grants and NSERC’s Discovery Grants. CIHR continues to work with SSHRC and NSERC in an effort to avoid competition deadlines that overlap between all three agencies.

If you were funded by COVID-19 funding opportunities, you are eligible to apply to the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition with a different project.

CIHR plans to launch the Fall 2020 Project Grant with the timelines identified above, but will remain flexible to adapting it based on the pandemic.

It is anticipated that CIHR’s traditional in-person face-to-face peer review committee meetings will not take place for the Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Project Grant competitions. CIHR may consider a hybrid approach for future peer review meetings (Chairs and SOs in Ottawa and reviewers online) if the situation allows it.

Typically, in the Fall Project Grant competition, around 50-60% of applications are re-submissions.

CIHR anticipates more applications for the Fall 2020 competition given the current context created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For stability, minimal changes will be made to the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition. These include a one-page supplement for COVID-19 related contextualization, extending the eligibility to those associated with Indigenous communities and extending the definition of an ECR (early career researcher) as well as making mandatory the attachment of all reviews from the previous competition if the applicant wants to use the 2 pages for a response to reviewers.

Since Project is an open program, all applications related to COVID-19 will be accepted in future competitions.

Strategic Funding Opportunities
  • Updates to ResearchNet
  • Prioritization of Strategic Funding Opportunity

As per the message Delay of strategic funding opportunities, all delayed strategic competitions have been updated in ResearchNet to show a placeholder deadline of December 31, 2021.

A Scientific Director working group is currently prioritizing all strategic funding opportunities internally to move forward. The principles that assist with this prioritization exercise as well as the outcome of this prioritization exercise will be communicated to the community over the summer. CIHR does not anticipate canceling many Strategic CIHR-led competitions.

CIHR is currently examining ways to manage matching funds and the eligibility of matching contributions.

As stated on the Funding Overview page, the money allocated to the strategic competitions is based on Institute and Initiative funds.

Diversity representation in the granting process
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Requirements
  • Self-declaration questionnaire

CIHR applicants are asked to fill a self-declaration questionnaire when applying for grants. CIHR has accumulated data from this questionnaire for the past two years. This data will be released to the community shortly.

EDI requirements are an important component of research excellence. An EDI action plan will not be required for the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition.

To ensure that applications written in French are fairly evaluated, reviewers must indicate whether they are comfortable and have the required competencies to review French language applications. Going forward the English written evaluations provided by reviewers and the notes provided by the Scientific Officers will also be translated into French for those applicants who have identified French as their preferred language of correspondence.

Application Eligibility
  • Applicant Eligibility
  • Co-Applicant Eligibility
  • In-kind contributions
  • Preliminary Data

The Nominated Principal Applicant must be an independent researcher or knowledge user to apply to the Project Grant competition. Individuals can be listed as a Co-Applicant if they do not have an academic appointment.

In-kind contributions do not affect the scoring metrics of the review panels. Therefore, depending on the peer review panel, applicants should not be penalized if they do not provide in-kind contributions.

Since reviewers are not obligated or required to read the appendices of an application, some members of the research community feel that appendices should not be allowed. This is currently on the Project Grant working group’s list of topics to explore.

CIHR does not require applicants to provide preliminary data in their applications.

As per the message Eligibility of global health research at CIHR, CIHR supports and continues to fund global health research through Project Grants and other funding opportunities.

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