Project Grant Competition FAQs

  • Why is formatting emphasized so much?

    CIHR requires that you adhere to all instructions and requirements to ensure fairness to all applicants. This includes using the correct font sizes, spacing, page limits etc. The reason for these formatting requirements is to ensure that all applicants have exactly the same amount of space to write their proposals. Failure to comply with these requirements may negatively impact the evaluation of the application. In cases of non-compliance, CIHR reserves the right to withdraw your application.

  • Who needs to complete the Summary of Progress? How do I complete it?

    The Summary of Progress task is mandatory for all Nominated Principal Applicants applying to the Project Grant competition.

    When completing your Project Grant application on ResearchNet, the Summary of Progress is found under “Task 2: Enter Proposal Information,” sub-task “Attach Summary of Progress.” This ensures it is appropriately placed within the Proposal section of the application for reviewers to access when completing their review. Instructions on how to complete the Summary of Progress, and what to include in this document, can be found in the Project Grant application instructions.

  • What is the difference between the old OOGP Summary of Progress and this one?

    While some will recall the Summary of Progress from when it was last used in 2015 (in the Open Operating Grant Program, or OOGP), the scope of this current document is much wider. In 2015, the purpose of the Summary of Progress was to summarize the progress under your current grant (for returning applicants) and to summarize previous relevant work (for new applicants).

    The current Summary of Progress goes further, by asking applicants to write a narrative that includes, as appropriate, the progress of their line of research; any impacts on their research (e.g., leave history, career stage, family responsibilities, pandemic impact or other circumstances); and their budget requested in relation to overall funding. You can read the full Project Grant application instructions on the CIHR website.

  • What should I write in my Summary of Progress?

    The Summary of Progress is a narrative that will allow you to describe the reason you are requesting funding for your proposed project in the context of your broader research activities. It is not expected that applicants will provide a detailed accounting of their research history but rather, only what is relevant to the current application. It should include progress made on your research to date (including contextualizing research activities, contributions and impacts that support your current application) and any impacts on the progress of your research. Tables, figures or graphs are not permitted in the Summary of Progress. It is suggested to not duplicate the information found in your ‘Significant Contributions’ section or CV. Additionally, please note that all information necessary to adjudicate the science of your research proposal must be found in the 10 pages for English applications and 12 pages for French applicationsFootnote * of the research proposal (i.e., the Summary of Progress is not to be used as an extension to your proposal).

    Finally, when contextualizing the amount requested vis-à-vis your funding profile, you do not need to list all grants currently or previously held or duplicate what is already found in your CCV but rather include information that helps inform and convince reviewers that this funding is needed and how it fits in to the overall research program. Any pending applications under review (CIHR or other source of funding) related to the current submission should be indicated in the Summary of Progress to help reviewers understand any potential funding overlap. It will be incumbent on the applicant to illustrate clearly to reviewers why the requested funds are needed, how they are distinct from the funds currently held, and how they will advance research.

    * Evidence demonstrates that documents written in French require approximately 20% more space than similar documents in English.

  • How far back should I go when describing my progress, productivity, and impact in the Summary of Progress?

    When contextualizing your progress, productivity, and impact, there is not a specific number of years that should be provided; rather, this is an opportunity to list any activities, contributions, and impacts that are relevant to the current application.

  • What should I write in my Summary of Progress if I am an Early Career Researcher (ECR) or if this is a new application separate from my overall research activities?

    If you are an ECR who has never held a CIHR grant before, you should use the Summary of Progress to write a narrative about your intended program of research, relevant research undertaken as a trainee and independent investigator, other sources of funds held (e.g., awards, start-up funding), and how the requested funds will advance your research activities.

    If this is a new application, a narrative explaining how you came to submit this application, or where this current proposal stems from, is relevant information to share with the reviewer. If you have held a Foundation Grant, contextualize your Foundation Grant.

  • How will the Summary of Progress be used in peer review?

    The Summary of Progress will provide added context that will enable a more robust peer review of your application. It will help peer reviewers understand your progress, productivity, and impacts as they relate to your ability to deliver on the project and how your proposed activities fit into your overarching research program and address why the requested funds are needed and how will they advance your research.

  • Why is it relevant to include and contextualize my budget request in relation to my current and pending funding in the Summary of Progress?

    Contextualizing your current and pending funding will help peer reviewers assess your progress, productivity and impact as well as the need for new funds in the context of the overall research program and provide them with the confidence to move forward with a recommendation. This also adds more accountability in respect to applicants’ requests for funding.

    The Summary of Progress will provide CIHR with valuable information as we move toward removing the across-the-board budget cuts applied to all funded applications. Our intent is to provide greater discretion to peer review committees on budget allocations, and the Summary of Progress is a tool to allow them to make these judgements.

  • What reviews must be included when responding to previous reviews?

    If an applicant provides a response to previous reviews, they must attach all the reviews and Scientific Officer (SO) notes (if provided) they received related to reviews to which they are responding. Applicants may choose to respond only to comments that are relevant to their revised application.

    For example, an applicant submits an application to the spring competition, and it is not approved for funding. They reapply to a subsequent competition (e.g., the next fall competition) and choose to respond to previous reviews from their previous submission in the spring. They must attach all the reviews and SO notes (if provided) from the spring competition. Should the application submitted to the fall competition also not be approved and they reapply to the next spring competition (this would be their third submission of that application), the applicant can respond to comments from only the fall application, only again from the previous spring competition or both competitions. When an applicant refers to comments from a particular competition, all reviews and SO notes (if provided) of that competition MUST be attached.

    Scenario 1:

    The applicant has been unsuccessful in two competitions and is preparing for their third resubmission (and therefore has two sets of reviews from two previous competitions that they may choose to address as part of their response to previous reviews).

    For their third resubmission, in the 2-page response to previous reviews, the applicants chose to address certain comments only from their latest round of evaluations. They are addressing one comment from Reviewer 1 and one comment from Reviewer 2; they chose to not address any comments from Reviewer 3.

    In this scenario, the applicants must include all the reviews from the latest round of evaluations (Reviewer 1, Reviewer 2, and Reviewer 3) and SO notes (if provided), even though they have chosen to not address any comments from Reviewer 3. Because they chose not to address any comments from the reviews from their very first submission, those reviews do not need to be attached.

    Scenario 2:

    The applicant has been unsuccessful in two competitions and is preparing for their third resubmission (and therefore has two sets of reviews from two previous competitions that they may choose to address as part of their response to previous reviews).

    For their third resubmission, in the 2-page response to previous reviews, the applicant chose to address certain comments from the latest competition, and from their very first submission. They are addressing one comment from Reviewer 1 and one comment from Reviewer 2 from the previous competition and choosing not to address any comments from Reviewer 3. In addition, they are addressing a comment from Reviewer 1 from their very first submission.

    In this scenario, the applicants are expected to provide previous reviews from all reviewers and SO notes (if provided) stemming from BOTH competitions.

  • Am I allowed to submit responses to previous reviews from different Funding Opportunities?

    Yes, previous reviewer comments may stem from previous Project Grant competitions or another priority-driven initiative.

  • Am I allowed to submit an Applicant Profile CV, or do I need to submit a CCV?

    All Canadian academic applicants, regardless of their role on the application, must submit a Biosketch CV which is completed through the Canadian Common CCV. CIHR continues to pull important data from the CCV and it is closely linked to the underlying infrastructure of CIHR’s grants management system.

    If you are a knowledge user, non-academic, an Indigenous organization, or an international applicant, you have the option of submitting either a Canadian Common CV or a streamlined Applicant Profile CV. The instructions for how to complete an Applicant Profile CV can be found on the CIHR website. Although the Applicant Profile CV may not exceed three pages, there are no section restrictions; therefore, as an applicant you can choose what to emphasize. If you are a non-academic, it is possible that not all sections are applicable to you.

    Collaborators are not required to provide a CV.

  • As a reviewer, how am I supposed to account for sex- and gender-based analysis in a research proposal?

    In their evaluation of the application, peer reviewers assess whether or not sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) is a strength, weakness, or not applicable; this is to be reflected within their written evaluation and the overall score assigned to the application.

  • What measures and considerations has CIHR taken for the return of Foundation holders into the Project Grant competition?

    We have taken steps to prepare for former Foundation Grant-holders to transition back into the Project Grant program, by providing transition options to Foundation grantees (including staggering former Foundation grantees’ return to Project, deferrals, and grant-size reductions). You can read about transition planning considerations for Foundation grant-holders on the CIHR website.

    CIHR will be investing the funding previously allocated for the Foundation Grant program, as it becomes available, directly into the Project Grant program. When we sunset the Foundation program, the planned investment per annual Foundation competition was $100M. This means that, starting with the Spring 2021 Project Grant competition, approximately $50M will be added to each twice-yearly Project Grant competition. Total budgets for Project Grant competitions will therefore increase from $275M to approximately $325M, for a total investment in CIHR’s investigator-initiated research program of approximately $650M per year.

  • I am a member of one of the groups whose applications are being equalized. What does this mean for me?

    CIHR will ensure that the proportion of grants funded for ECRs, female NPIs and applicants submitting in French is at least equal to the proportion of ECRs, female NPIs and applicants submitting in French who apply to the competition. In other words, we are equalizing success rates for these groups, if needed. A separate funding envelope is reserved for these equalization exercises and if it is not fully needed, it is reinvested within the Project Grant competition.

    If highly ranked applications from ECRs, female NPIs, and applications written in French are not funded at a level at least equal to the rates at which these groups have applied, then CIHR intervenes by funding additional applicants based on their percent rank. ECRs, female NPIs, and applicants submitting in French funded through this process are combined and treated as separate cohorts for the purpose of making funding decisions. This means that the intervention is completed at the competition level and not the committee level to ensure that the top applicants are selected.

  • How are you ensuring high-quality peer review in a virtual model?

    The peer review process hosted virtually mimics the in-person face-to-face process. While CIHR has made some adjustments to account for the technology and the fact that meetings have moved online, all core aspects of in-person peer review have been retained.

  • How is the virtual peer review model better for equity, diversity and inclusion?

    We have heard from the community that there are benefits to virtual peer review (e.g., improved work-life balance, reduced carbon footprint). Virtual peer review also makes it possible for some individuals to participate in peer review where face-to-face meetings would not be feasible for them. This allows us to include a greater diversity of individuals across panels and provides the agency with a broader pool of reviewers. Virtual peer review also benefits diversity by including more international reviewers. This feedback and on-going evaluation of the virtual process will inform our thinking as we determine, with the community, our approach to peer review as we come out of the pandemic.

  • What is the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment and what does it mean for me?

    The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is a global initiative whose purpose is to support the development and promotion of best practices in the assessment of scholarly research. DORA recognizes the need to improve the ways in which research is evaluated, beyond widely used journal-based metrics.
    As a signatory of DORA, CIHR has reaffirmed its commitment to excellence in research evaluation. CIHR recognizes and values a broader range of contributions and emphasizes their quality and impact.

    CIHR’s approach to research assessment within the Project Grant Competition already reflected many of the DORA principles, such as encouraging peer reviewers to consider a range of research outputs broader than published journal articles. The updates to the guidance further encourage the assessment of research rather than prestige, including directing reviewers that they should not use journal-based metrics as surrogate measures of the quality of individual research publications. The updated guidance materials provide examples of more inclusive and expansive contributions to help in the crafting and assessment of applications.

    Applicants can highlight a range of research contributions and impacts in their CV, Summary of Progress and/or in their Most Significant Contributions sections of their applications. This could include contributions such as: research publications, reports, books, guidelines, datasets, code, tools, training and mentorship, volunteerism, community engagement, standards, software, and commercialized products—and impacts such as how your work has influenced policy and practice, health outcomes, societal outcomes, and whether you have engaged in distinctions-based, meaningful, and culturally safe health research.

    Peer reviewers are directed to consider a range of contributions and impacts in their assessment of applications. Peer reviewers are also directed to consider the context of applicants and how that may have affected their productivity.

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