Opportunity for Early Career Researchers: Call for expressions of interest to the Fall 2020 Observer program

Note: Extension of eligibility and increase in observer opportunities

CIHR is temporarily adjusting the period of eligibility for an Early Career Researcher (ECR). All those who held ECR status as of March 1, 2020, or who secured their first academic appointment after this date, will have their status extended by one year. Additionally, we have increased the number of opportunities to observe per peer review committee from two to three.

Note: Compensation for dependent care and phone and internet costs

Project Grant Program and virtual peer review policies such as compensation for dependent care and phone and internet costs are available to Observers. Please consult the Frequently Asked Questions for the latest updates.

CIHR is pleased to offer an Observer program for Early Career Researcher (ECRs) for the upcoming Fall 2020 Project Grant competition. This program is designed as an opportunity for ECRs to observe peer review committee meetings and gain valuable insights on the review process. While in-person face-to-face peer review remains CIHR’s standard, it is not a viable option for this competition. The peer review process for the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition will therefore be delivered via synchronous video conferencing that mimics the in-person process.

The role of the ECR

Selected ECRs will be invited to observe a synchronous committee meeting as part of the review process for the Project Grant competition. There will be three individuals selected to observe per committee. As Observers, the ECRs will not participate in review discussions.

Important dates

Virtual meetings will be held in mid-January to early February 2021. Exact dates will be confirmed with each selected ECR once they are assigned to a committee.


To be eligible to participate in this Observer program, individuals must meet CIHR’s definition of ECR as of the application deadline of the Project Grant competition, October 14, 2020. Please note that CIHR has temporarily “paused the clock” regarding ECR status; all those who held ECR status as of March 1, 2020—or who secured their first academic appointment after this date—will have their status extended by one year. Also note that this program is only open to ECRs working at Canadian institutions. Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to apply.

Candidates who are submitting applications as a 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. ECRs who have submitted applications to past CIHR Observer programs are required to re-submit an application to be considered for this opportunity.

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

Note: Spring 2020 applicants do not need to re-apply

All eligible applicants to the Spring 2020 Observer Program were informed on July 6th, 2020 that their application was retained and transitioned to the Fall 2020 Observer Program. If you have questions about the eligibility of your Spring 2020 application, contact support-soutien@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

To express your interest in participating in this Observer program, please click on the button, “Apply Online” to fill out an application by September 21, 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 are 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 three 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 by November 17, 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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