SSHRC IG Notes Prepared by Rob Oxoby (with input from legion) May 13, 2015 version SSHRC Insight Grant & Insight Development Grant Notes
These notes detail some of the aspects of applying for SSHRC grants. These have been assembled based on feedback from reviewers, committee members, applicants and other SSHRC sources. Details on SSHRC applications: 1. SSHRC will NOT require a Notice of Intent for the Fall 2015 Insight Grant competition (cf. NSERC and CFI applications). 2. The Canadian Common CV (CCCV) is required for the Fall 2015 IG competition. 3. Applications must be submitted through the new Research Portal (rather than the previous SSHRC online system). If you have not used the new Research Portal previously, you must register and create an account. Your data will not be transferred over from the old SSHRC system. An updated description of the IG program will be available on the SSHRC website in mid-June, with forms available in mid-July. 4. SSHRC has changed the maximum award to $400,000 over 5 years. 5. Applicants may not apply for an IG and an IDG within the same calendar year (e.g., a researcher who applied for an IDG in February 2015 may not apply for an IG in October 2015) regardless of whether it is for a different project or whether the IDG application was successful. 6. A researcher can simultaneously hold an IDG grant and an IG grant as Principle Investigator provided the grants are for different projects. 7. Please note near final drafts are due to the Deans office by September 21st for review and approval by an Associate Dean (Research). Please include the appropriate cover sheet (Research Funding Application Approvals form) for signatures, signed by yourself and your Department Head. 8. Applications are due to the Research Services Office (Robin Smith) by October 1st for detailed administrative review and institutional approval. Applications received after October 1st will receive a basic review only, with minimal opportunity for feedback. Research Services will not
accept applications after noon on October 13th (external deadline is October 15th). To submit your application to Research Services, click the Submit in the SSHRC online system (you must click the Verify button before being able to click the Submit button; note that the Verify button does not submit your application). The Deans Office will send the signed Research Funding Application Approvals form to Research Services. Both the application and approvals form must be received in order to place your application in the queue for review and approval.
Faculty of Arts Mentoring Program for 2015 IGs Based on the success of last years mentoring program, the Faculty of Arts will be continuing with a similar program for all Insight Grant applications. Last year, we obtained a success rate of approximately 50% among those IG applicants going though the program. As last year, we will be providing benefits to those who complete the program and receive a 4A status in the upcoming round. Applicants who participate in the program and receive a 4A designation in the Fall 2015 IG competition (i.e., those ranking above the 50th percentile but not receiving funding) will receive a GA(N)T to be used for research assistance to start the project. This research assistant can be used in either the Spring/Summer, Fall or Winter semesters. To be eligible to receive this support, applicants must meet the following deadlines and requirements and must re-submit their application in either the Fall 2016 or Fall 2017 IG competitions. Applicants not meeting the deadlines will have access to mentoring/review as resources are available but will not be eligible for the GA(N)T. Participants from the 2014 IG mentoring program who received a GA(N)T are not eligible for the 2015 GA(N)T unless they have used their GA(N)T prior to grant re-submission. 1. By July 6th early drafts of applications must be submitted to Rob Oxoby. These need not be complete drafts, but must contain at least the project description and knowledge mobilization sections along with a preliminary budget and justification. These will be reviewed and comments will be provided from at least three people by August 15th. Reviewers will include current and past grant holders, past members of adjudication committees, and current applicants. The received comments will not be anonymous so that you can contact the reviewer to seek additional comments. 2. Between July 13th and August 10th those participating in the review program will be asked to review at most two applications from others participating in the program. Please provide comments to Rob Oxoby by August 10th. These comments will not be anonymous when they are returned to the applicant. 3. By September 1st please submit a complete draft (with all sections) to Rob Oxoby. 4. Between September 1st and 15th reading groups will meet. In these groups participants will review applications face-to-face and discuss details of the applications. The feedback from these sessions will be useful in preparing the final drafts. 5. By September 21st final drafts must be received by the Deans office for review and signature by an Associate Dean. Comments will be provided on the final drafts. 6. By October 1st submit final drafts to Research Services for detailed administrative review. 7. By October 13th (prior to final submission) applicants must provide a note regarding if and how they incorporated the comments from the reviewers, the ADR, and RSO. For applicants who cannot make all above deadlines, we will be providing peer reviews and ADR reviews whenever individuals have drafts available. Please do not hesitate to forward your application to Rob Oxoby for distribution to reviewers.
General Notes on SSHRC Grants
General Tips 1. Applying for grants is part of the process of a career in academics. You should look at applying for grants (SSHRC and others) as a longer-term venture, similar to the way one looks at the publication process. Grants may get rejected and revised numerous times prior to acceptance. 2. IGs are for the advancement of knowledge. These grants can be for a maximum of $500K over 5 years. IDGs are development grants designed to get a program of research started with the expectation that investigators will apply for funding for a larger, related project. This is an appropriate grant for new scholars and for those taking their research in a new direction or area in which they may not have a record of achievement. For the IDG competition, a minimum of 50% of the funds are reserved for Emerging Scholars and Emerging and Established scholars are ranked in separate groups. 3. In all your grants, defend the need, importance and relevance of your research and how it advances knowledge. 4. Some committees cover a wide range of topics. Applicants need to make sure that the content of the grant is accessible to the committees members. In cases like Economics, where there is a single committee and a fairly unified methodology across genres, technical language and specialized methodological considerations may be appropriate. On other committees, where there are researchers from very different disciplines, there is a need to make sure a non-specialist can understand the method and the significance of the research questions. 5. Grammar, style and presentation are important. Committee members are reading a large number of applications. Proposals with typos, poor grammar, and poor organization create a bad impression and can color the impressions of the more substantive aspects of the proposal. 6. The grant should be straightforward to read, internally consistent, and provide a compelling story for the research questions under investigation. Respect the page length, margin, headings, and font size requirements as these may result in an application being rejected on administrative grounds. 7. Prepare well in advance and have peers and non-specialists read your application. Evaluation Process and Comments from Committee Members 1. Insight Grants are graded on:
Capability (40%; researcher track record), Challenge (40%; proposal content) and Feasibility (20%, budget, knowledge mobilization and outputs). SSHRC has recently changed the way application is deemed fundable (i.e., 4A status) is determined. Under the new system, grants ranking above the 50th percentile are deemed fundable. These grants will receive funding or 4A status, as resources permit in each committee. 2. A minimum of two external assessments will be sought. The committee considers, but is not bound by, the judgments of the external assessors. 3. There is a general increased emphasis on capability scores. Applicants need to consider recent years productivity when applying for a grant to make sure there is evidence of successful scholarship. Moreover, there needs to be some demonstration of recent publications/output within the area of the grant. (This is less an issue for IDG grants that focus on new initiatives/research.) In the end, the committees are looking for evidence that the individual has
the expertise to undertake the project and a publishing record (as evidence of communicating results). Individuals with modest publication records may wish to consider applying for the Insight Development Grant (February deadline). 4. Committee members look for clearly articulated and feasible projects. Ensure your project is not too grandiose to be successfully completed in the time frame laid out. In recent rounds, overly ambitious projects have not been funded. 5. If a multidisciplinary evaluation is requested, click the box marked Multidisciplinary Evaluation. If numbers warrant, a multidisciplinary committee will be established within the applications research group. 6. Proposals need to strike a balance between the presentation of methodological details regarding what will be done and a grasp of the overall contribution of the project to the field/discipline. As a general rule, the proposal should demonstrate how a portion of the proposed research contributes to the big questions/picture within a field. This can be included in the mobilization plan via discussions with individuals outside academia/journal audiences. There has been an increasing importance attempting to communicate research results and reach non-academic audiences through the Knowledge Mobilization Plan. 7. While there is variation across the different committees, committees are cutting some budgets (typically no more than 10%). While SSHRC will be giving committee members clearer directives on their role in scrutinizing budgets, it should be noted that budgets considered significantly inflated or not well justified have received feasibility scores less than 3.0, putting them below the 50% percentile and making them ineligible for funding. Budgets need clear justifications and budgets without enough detail receive lower scores in the committees assessment. Specific Application Requirements and Suggestions (by section) 1. Participants Individual applicants as well as teams can apply. However, the contributions by team members must be articulated to demonstrate the value of a team approach. Participants from other countries must be Collaborators for the Insight Grant. Funds for
collaborators participation in research (e.g., equipment, travel) is not eligible for funding from SSHRC. The only costs that may be covered are to attend conferences to disseminate results. The expectation from SSHRC is that Collaborators will have funds through their home institutions/countries to conduct the research. (See below for eligible and ineligible expenses.)
2. Research Activity Aboriginal Research and Research Creation Priority areas are no longer used by SSHRC. These have been replaced by Future Challenge Areas. Applicants may make reference to these areas in their applications if they wish (e.g. to demonstrate significance) but this will not affect the adjudication of applications and committees will not be formed around them. SSHRC has retained the Aboriginal Research and Research Creation categories. If you indicate alignment with these areas, your application will likely be routed to adjudication committees formed for that purpose (instead of the disciplinary RGs). Be sure that your research aligns with these areas, as defined by SSHRC, before selecting them. Research Creation projects may be adjudicated in conjunction with the Canada Council for the Arts. 3. Response to Previous Critiques: This is an optional section as there is no official memory of
previous submissions (i.e., the committee does not see previous applications or comments on those applications). If you respond to previous critiques, provide a thorough, well-crafted response. Defensive or non-neutral responses raise concerns regarding the overall quality of the application. 4. Summary of Proposed Research Tailor the summary for non-specialists in clear, plain language. Capture the originality, importance and feasibility of the program. Indicate clearly the problem or issue to be address and the potential contribution of the research both in terms of the advancement of knowledge and of the wider social benefit. Review committee members will use the summary to refresh their memory of your application. 5. Detailed Description (max. 6 pgs.) Demonstrate the importance, originality and contribution to the advancement of knowledge. The required sections are Objectives, Context and Methodology. Lay out each stage of your research plan clearly. Define all key terms or concepts. Although the limit is six pages, do not simply end the application at the 6th page. Include a conclusion to facilitate the quick review of key project aspects by committee members. 5.1 Objectives Provide clear and precise objectives that are attainable within the timeframe. These objectives are considered in the Committees evaluation of the projects feasibility. Projects that come across as too grandiose or too limited suffered in their feasibility and challenge scores in previous competitions. It is important to strike a balance that identifies a contribution to the field that is feasible during the term of the grant. Be clear about what you want to accomplish and relate to the bigger questions in the field and of interest to external audiences (e.g., the public). 5.2 Context Situate the research in the appropriate literature. Demonstrate a clear theoretical or conceptual framework. Relate your research to the bigger question, not just the focused questions -- helps reviewers know where your research fits. It is important to answer the So what? question as to how your research informs the broader field. Demonstrate the potential impact of the research within or beyond academe (if appropriate). Describe results from previous research grants. This is an important aspect of demonstrating capability of the r...