Project Grant Competition FAQs
Why is formatting emphasized so much?
In order to ensure fairness to all applicants, CIHR requires that you adhere to all instructions and requirements. This includes font sizes, spacing, page limits etc. Failure to comply with these requirements may negatively impact the evaluation of the application and could lead to withdrawal. In cases of non-compliance that result in extra pages being added by applicants, CIHR may reformat and remove any pages that exceed the stated limit with no further notification to the Nominated Principal Applicant.
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.
Why did CIHR decide to integrate the Summary of Progress in the application?
There has been broad support to introduce the Summary of Progress into the Project Grant competition to provide reviewers with the necessary information to make a judgement about the appropriateness of the budget ask of the application in relation to the overall research activities of the applicant.
What is the difference between the old OOGP Summary of Progress and this new 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 new 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 including leave and COVID-19; their productivity in relation to teaching or clinic responsibilities; 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 can include progress made on your research activities and productivity information related to current funding and any impacts on 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 applications* 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 and productivity in the Summary of Progress?
When contextualizing your progress or productivity, there is not a specific number of years that should be provided; rather, this is an opportunity to list any recent research activities 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 to explain to the reviewers how you came to submit this application, or where this current proposal stems from, is relevant information to share with the reviewer.
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 productivity and how your proposed research activities fit into your overarching research program and answer the questions: why are the requested funds 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 productivity 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.
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.
As a reviewer, how am I supposed to score applications now that CIHR has removed weighted scores and replaced them with an overall score?
Reviewers will no longer provide a weighted score. Instead, reviewers will now provide one score that reflects all three evaluation criteria: (1) significance and impact of the research, (2) approaches and methods, and (3) expertise, experience, and resources. Our intention is to provide reviewers with flexibility to weight the criteria as appropriate based on their judgement given the context of the application being reviewed. Read the Project Grant peer review manual.
By having one overall score, how will applicants know how they did in each evaluation criteria and understand the justification from the reviewer score?
Reviewers are instructed to provide strengths and weaknesses on each evaluation criteria in order to inform the applicant of their assessment and outcome. The reviewer comments should be a reflection of the three criteria and associated overall score.
As a reviewer, how am I supposed to account for sex- and gender-based analysis in a research proposal?
In their assessment of the application, peer reviewers are to continue being explicit about whether or not sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) is appropriate for the research being proposed by indicating whether SGBA is a strength, weakness, or not applicable. Furthermore, this must 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?
Starting with the Spring 2021 Project Grant competition, 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 ECR grants, grants for female NPIs, and grants for French-language applications 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.
Please note that CIHR is extending the pause for all ECRs for one additional year; that is, the ECR term will be extended to 0-84 months from 0-72 months) unless an individual submits a request to opt out of the pause.
How are you ensuring high-quality peer review in a virtual model?
CIHR is following all applicable public health guidance. This means we have curtailed all work-related travel, including all travel for the purposes of peer review meetings.
Rest assured that the peer review process will continue to mimic the in-person face-to-face process as much as possible. While we’ve adapted some processes to account for the technology and the fact that meetings have moved online, all core aspects of in-person peer review have been retained.
The peer review process is not a copy of the asynchronous model used during the Reforms, nor the hybrid for the one competition used when we transitioned from the Reforms to in-person, face-to-face peer review.
Since the spring of 2020, we have successfully delivered four Project Grant competitions using the virtual model. Because of the pandemic, we will also deliver the Spring 2022 competition using the virtual model. We are continuously learning from this experience and, while it has been an adjustment for us all, we were pleased to see that most reviewers have expressed satisfaction with the virtual peer review process. We have also made changes to refine the process based on suggestions from the community.
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.
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