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This Week in Research – Tri-Council Leader Report (SSHRC)

Tri-Council Leader Report:  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Leaders Meeting – Ryerson University, Toronto – May 29th, 2017 

On Tuesday, May 29th, 2017, Dr. Robin Craig, Laurentian’s Acting SSHRC Leader, attended the SSHRC Leader’s meeting in Toronto. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Federation for Social Sciences and Humanities Congress 2017 hosted by Ryerson University. Between May 27th and June 2nd, Congress 2017 welcomed a record-breaking 10,014 scholars from all over the world. Several high-profile politicians and scholars including, The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, Olivia Chow, John Ralston Saul, as well as sponsors and partners MITACS, Universities Canada, The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Trudeau Foundation, and University Affairs, used the occassion to interact directly with the humanities and social sciences community.

Attended by over 60 academic and research leader-representatives from post-secondary institutions across Canada, the SSRHC Leaders meeting featured presentations by several members of SSHRC’s Executive Team including, Dr. Ted Hewitt (President), Dr. Dominique Bérubé (Vice-President, Research Programs), Dr. Brent Herbert-Copley (Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs), Dr. Ursula Gobel (Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges), as well as presentations by representatives from the Federation of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Dr. Guy Laforest and Gabriel Miller. 

The objectives of the meeting were two-fold:  

1.    To update and engage with SSHRC Leaders on key developments related to SSHRC policy, programs and future activities; 
2.    To seek the feedback from SSHRC Leaders on topics of interest for future meetings and possible information sessions, telebriefings, as well as, e-conferences.

The following topics, updates and developments were presented and discussed: 

1.    Tri-Agency Data Management Policy Development: 

In collaboration with NSERC and CIHR, SSHRC is considering the following possible elements of a Tri-Agency Data Management Policy: 

a.    Institutional Strategy
•    Each institution administering Tri-Agency funds could be required to create an institutional research data management strategy. The strategy could outline how the institution will provide its researchers with an environment that enables and           supports world class research data management practices.


b.    Data Management Plans
•    Grant recipients could be required to create data management plans (DMPs) for research projects supported wholly or in part by Tri-Agency funds. Grant recipients could submit these plans to their institution’s research office as a condition of       the release of grant funds. 
•    For specific funding opportunities, the agencies could require DMPs to be submitted to the agency at time of application; in these cases, they could be considered in the adjudication process.

c.    Data Deposit
•    For all research data and code that support journal publications, pre-prints and other research outputs that arise from agency-supported research, grant recipients could be required to deposit these data and code in an appropriate public                    repository or other platform to ensure safe storage, preservation, curation, and (if applicable) access to the data.


2.    Update and discussion on SSHRC Programs and Developments

During this session, several updates, changes and new programs were presented: 

a.   Some important changes for the Insight Grant Program include: 
•    Stream A (duration of 2-5 years) will be for requests ranging from $7K to $100K – target success rate significantly higher than Stream B
•    Stream B (duration of 2-5 years) will be for requests ranging from $100K to $400K
•    Both streams will be adjudicated by the same committees and will receive the same rigorous level of merit review, including the input of external assessors  
•    Committees will receive separate budget envelopes dedicated to each stream
•    Unsuccessful applicants from the Insight Development Grant 2017 competition may apply for an Insight Grant in 2017

b.    NEW Partnership Engage Grant:  
This grant is intended to respond quickly to the short-term research needs, challenges and opportunities of non-academic organizations. 

•    New competitions for funding that will provide short-term and timely support to partnered research activities. 
•    Objective is to inform decision-making in an organization from the public, private or non-profit sectors.
•    Valued between $7K and $25K over one year. 
•    Applications will be accepted quarterly.  
•    Expected launch in Summer 2017, with first application deadline September 15, 2017. 


3.    Eligibility of health-related research 

SSHRC is now accepting funding application for health-related research in the following areas:  
Eligible projects:
•    General well-being and work-life balance related topics
•    Health policy and management
•    Health ethics
•    Social construction of health and health behavior
Still ineligible:
•    Clinical education
•    Clinical research and therapy
•    Kinesiology and epidemiology

After the formal meeting, the SSHRC Leaders broke up into groups to engage in discussions about two important topics: multidisciplinary research and international collaboration. The multidisciplinary research group discussion focused on the following three questions: 

1.    What innovations are taking place in academia to facilitate interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, and how are such innovations supported? How should SSHRC adapt to such initiatives?

2.    How can SSHRC and its sister agencies CIHR and NSERC, better support graduate student and postdoctoral trainees who wish to pursue interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and studies 

3.    What additional concrete mechanisms could SSHRC establish to best support merit review of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, especially when such research spans the mandates of two or more agencies? For instance, would a mixed peer review committee for Insight Grants and Discovery Grants be desirable?