Doubling of leave credits for early career researchers applying to Project Grant competition

We wish to inform applicants of a recent change in policy. Starting with the Fall 2020 Project Grant competition, eligible leaves will be credited at twice the amount of time taken when determining early career researcher (ECR) status.

For example, a researcher who, within the first five years of work, took five months for parental leave would benefit from a 10-month credit, thus extending their ECR status.

Only leaves taken during the first five years of workFootnote 1 will be used towards determining ECR status. An applicant may not use leaves to return from mid-career researcher status to ECR status.

In effect, this means that these ECRs will have a longer time during which they can benefit from CIHR programs and policies such as the Observer Program and the equalization process in the Project Grant competition.

Eligible leave types include the bereavement, medical and parental categories found in the Canadian Common CV. Administrative, sabbatical and study leave do not qualify. The “other circumstances” category can be used, where necessary, provided an applicant explains how the leave impeded career progress in a manner beyond their control.

This change brings CIHR in line with other Tri-Agency funding programs, for example, the New Frontiers in Research Fund and NSERC’s Discovery Grant program.

This is in addition to the decision we announced in September to “pause the clock” for ECRs to account for the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, or if you have already submitted your Project Grant application and need to revisit your career stage classification, please reach out to CIHR’s Contact Centre at 1-888-603-4178 or

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