Individuals, groups, and countries have all been affected differently by the COVID-19 epidemic, exacerbating inequalities before the crisis. As the world emerged from the pandemic, many voices have advocated for “building back better” rather than returning to the status quo. The UN Research Roadmap for COVID-19 Recovery was released in November 2020. It advocates “focused research for data-driven approaches that focus specifically on the needs of persons who have been left behind.” The Roadmap is based on the idea that new and multidisciplinary solutions must account for people’s interdependence and rehabilitation efforts.
This Special Call aims to organize research activities led by Canadians to support a more egalitarian, sustainable, and resilient post-pandemic reality. It will fund a varied range of initiatives that directly address one or more of the Roadmap’s research priorities, as well as any of the UN’s priorities and sub priorities, such as the “quick-win,” “best-buy,” and “game-changer” priorities. NFRF will be part of a coordinated worldwide research effort to address global socio-economic imbalances that the COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated by sponsoring research that directly responds to the UN Roadmap.
Project grantees will be expected to present their findings and lessons learned at a forum held at the midpoint and end of the grant period. Policymakers from local, provincial, and federal government departments and interested non-government organizations will attend these forums. These are meant to facilitate knowledge mobilization and cross-project learning and serve as a launchpad for new research collaborations.
What Is the Fund Available and its Duration?
The maximum budget for direct research project costs is $200,000 per year for two years. The awards are for two years with an automatic one-year extension, and Grantees will have three years to complete their projects and spend the monies awarded. Applicants may also request up to 25% of the value of direct research costs to cover indirect costs, which must be included in their total grant request. Only qualified expenses defined on the Research Support Fund website can be paid using indirect costs financing. Each NFRF award’s indirect costs component is included in the award amount, not added on top of it.
Is there any Supplemental Funding Available?
For this funding opportunity, projects awarded financing through the NFRF 2022 Special Call may be eligible for extra funding from one or more partner organizations. For the 2022 Special Call, all applications will be evaluated using the merit-review method. Within the NFRF budget, all suggested initiatives must be implemented appropriately. AFTER THE REVIEW PROCESS, the NFRF will distribute applications for successful projects that match the partner organization’s criteria (s) after the review process. Projects that the partner organization(s) are willing to fund will be identified.
The procedure followed will vary depending on the partner organization(s). Still, in most situations, an updated budget explaining how the extra monies will be used and an explanation of how the project will be expanded with additional financing will be required at the very least. The partner organization (s) will evaluate the requested extra information.
The partner organization(s) will directly distribute the funds to the project team according to their policies, standards, and processes if a project is chosen for supplemental financing. The partner organization will set the terms and circumstances for managing the additional funds and financial reporting (s).
A complete list of partner organizations, as well as their unique criteria, can be found here.
What Is the Eligibility?
The Project’s Team
Proposals must be submitted by research teams of at least two individuals to represent the interdisciplinary nature of the projects. The team must contain a co-principal investigator (co-PI) or a co-applicant in addition to a nominated principal investigator (NPI). Any number of co-PIs, co-applicants, and collaborators may be included in a team. To represent the UN Roadmap’s socio-economic framework and aims, all project teams must include at least one expert in social, economic, or socio-economic research and implementation science among the principal investigators (NPI or co-PI).
Given the Roadmap’s worldwide orientation and the necessity to ensure that all countries are considered in the pandemic recovery, foreign members must be included in research teams. It is strongly encouraged that team members come from lower-middle or lower-income nations. Projects that address a distinct Canadian situation and offer acceptable rationale will be considered exceptions. Individuals may only apply to this competition once as an NPI, co-PI, or co-applicant to ensure that these grants promote research with various viewpoints and goals. Collaborators are exempt from these restrictions.
Anyone who has applied for will apply for or is a current award holder (as an NPI, co-PI, or co-applicant) of any other NFRF project is eligible to participate (Exploration, Transformation, Global Platform, or Special Calls).
When needed, projects must demonstrate community engagement and partnership to ensure that research findings have practical applications. National, international, and cross-sector (private, public, or other) collaborations are encouraged to ensure that the right people and organizations are involved. The team composition represents best practices of inequality, diversity, and inclusion. Funds from Special Call grants can support the research activities of team members within Canada or globally, except for those linked with for-profit organizations or the federal government, to support cooperation.
Early Career Researcher
The NPI of a proposal headed by an early career researcher (ECR) must also be an ECR. As of the first of the month in which the competition is launched (February 1, 2022, for this competition), an ECR is a researcher within five years of the start date of their first research-related appointment, minus the length of any eligible research delays (e.g., illness, maternity, parental) as of the first of the month in which the competition is launched (February 1, 2022, for this competition), where:
All qualified leaves (e.g., maternity, parental, medical, bereavement) are counted at twice the time taken, while professional leaves (e.g., training, sabbatical, administrative) are not credited.
Beginning March 1, 2020, research interruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., closures) will be recognized as an eligible delay (credited at twice the amount of time).
Procedure for Applying
NPIs and co-PIs and co-applicants must submit a notice of intent (NOI) by April 26, 2022, to be considered for this Special Call grant. By August 9, 2022, the research team must submit a complete application. Applicants must use the Convergence Portal to complete the NOI and full application and follow the directions in the NOI and complete application guidance. NOIs and full applications received after the deadline or that are incomplete or do not match the qualifying criteria will be withdrawn from consideration.
The research administrator (research grants office or equivalent) at the NPI’s primary affiliation receives all NOIs and completes applications first. Before the appropriate date, the administrator must submit the NOI or complete the application using the Convergence Portal. Research administrators set internal deadlines at their discretion.
Timeline for the Competition
- February 15, 2022- Competition launches, Convergence Portal opens for NOIs
- April 26, 2022- NOI deadline
- May 3, 2022 – Convergence Portal opens for complete applications
- August 9, 2022- Full application deadline
- January 2023- Award results released
- February 2023- Start date of awards
What Is the Review Process?
Research on indigenous peoples: Researchers preparing proposals connected to or including Indigenous research should refer to the SSHRC’s Indigenous Research Statement of Principles and Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research. The guidelines are supplied to merit reviewers to help them better understand Indigenous research and research-related activities and help committee members comprehend the specific evaluation criteria in Indigenous research. External assessors, postsecondary institutions, and partner groups that promote Indigenous research may find the guidelines helpful.
Gender-Based Analysis Plus
Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is an analytical process for determining the impact that identity factors such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability may have on the experience of those who will be involved in and affected by the research project’s outcomes. The goal of GBA+ is to encourage rigorous research that takes these and other identification variables into account. GBA+ factors must be incorporated into the project’s design. For definitions of sex, gender, and GBA+, and information on applying GBA+ to development, applicants and reviewers can consult Women and Gender Equality Canada’s information on GBA+ and the Sex- and Gender-Based Analysis (SGBA) section of CIHR’s website. All applications must include a complete analysis demonstrating that the research design was informed by an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) approach, taking into account a variety of identities and intersectionalities. There is a contrast between GBA+, which is assessed as part of the feasibility criterion, and the EDI criterion concerned with the research team’s EDI practices.
The NFRF program has five selection criteria for funding opportunities. To reflect the goals of each NFRF stream (Exploration, Transformation, International, and Special Calls), the weightings and application of the criteria change. The following summarizes the criteria used to evaluate proposals submitted to this funding opportunity. The evaluation matrices go over the elements taken into account for each criterion in greater depth.
Review Process: FULL APPLICATION
At least two external reviewers will evaluate each complete application. The high risk, high return, and feasibility factors will be discussed with the reviewers. The summary from the NOI, the GBA+ section, the research proposal, and the budget justification from the entire application will be available to the external reviewers. Three multidisciplinary/multisectoral evaluation panel members will be assigned to each application. The evaluation panel will be interdisciplinary and multisectoral, reflecting the diverse fields represented in the submitted proposals.
Using the assessment matrices as a guide, members will evaluate proposals against the following selection criteria:
- EDI (success/failure)
- Fit to program/interdisciplinarity (pass/fail)
- high danger (30 percent)
- high payoff (40 percent)
- the viability (30 percent)
Members will have access to the whole application and the reports from external reviewers. Members’ assessments will determine the overall score for each application’s high risk, high return, and feasibility factors. To discuss the applications, the review panel will meet remotely. Members’ ratings may be used to identify those considered at the meeting if there are many applications. A proposal that receives a failing grade on the EDI or the interdisciplinarity/fit to program criteria is not deemed fundable. The NFRF Steering Committee will receive a final recommendation on funding applications from the multidisciplinary/multisectoral review committee.
Regulations, Policies, and other Relevant Data
The Regulations Governing Grant Applications and the regulations outlined in the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration must be followed by all applicants and grant recipients. Grantees must also follow the Tri-Agency Publications Open Access Policy. Researchers are encouraged to handle their research data following community standards and best practices (see the tri-agency policies and guidelines on Research Data Management). All grantees must follow the SSHRC’s Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy.