Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) – Application Instructions

Before you begin

Make sure you read the specific Funding Opportunity details.
Make sure you have the following or click the links to register:

Note 1: You should only have one ResearchNet account. If you have already accessed ResearchNet, do not register for a new account.

Note 2: It can take up to one business day to process your CIHR PIN.

What’s new?

The PHSI competition will pilot and test the validity and functionality of key design elements related to application and peer review processes for the new CIHR Project Scheme. This pilot introduces a new structured application process and a new structured review process. The new elements introduced include: new review criteria, a new rating and ranking process, multi-stage review, and an asynchronous online discussion tool.

The objectives of the pilot are: 1) to test key components of the proposed Project Scheme in a live grant competition, and 2) to ensure that integrated knowledge translation programs are effectively integrated into the new Project Scheme design.

It should be noted that the changes to the PHSI program are related to design elements of the application and peer review processes. The heart of PHSI will remain unchanged:

  1. An integrated knowledge translation approach will continue to be required for all PHSI applications, and as such, the involvement of a knowledge user/decision maker from the application phase to implementation will also continue to be a requirement for all PHSI applications.
  2. The need to secure at least 20% of the funds requested from Partnered sources will continue to be a requirement of all PHSI applications.
  3. The intent of the PHSI program will remain unchanged: to strengthen Canada’s healthcare system through collaborative, applied, and policy-relevant research. PHSI will continue to fund applications focused on applied health services and policy research.

General application process

  1. Applications must be prepared, finalized and submitted by applicants using ResearchNet.
  2. All "Named" participants must have a validated CIHR PIN prior to initiating the application process on ResearchNet. Therefore, applicants must validate their PIN as the first step in the application process. You can validate your PIN by clicking the user tab (your name in the top right banner) in your ResearchNet account.
  3. Any documents/attachments that exceed the application limits will be removed from the application prior to peer review.
  4. Applicants must preview all components of their application in order to ensure its completeness.
  5. Applications must be submitted prior to the deadline posted on ResearchNet. CIHR cannot legally accept an application until the "Consent and Submit Application" section is completed on ResearchNet.
  6. This competition will be using the eApproval process. Check with your Institution to determine any internal deadline dates.
  7. This document provides general instructions, but does not necessarily represent an exhaustive list of all information required to complete an application. You should also read the Funding Opportunity Details and be familiar with CIHR funding policies.
  8. If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your ResearchNet account, or if you have any questions or difficulties in completing the CIHR specific content on ResearchNet, contact us between 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time:

Supporting resources

Tasks required for completing a PHSI application

A. Complete the Canadian Common CV

For this pilot, CIHR introduced new applicant roles. Regardless if the applicant is an Independent Researcher or a Knowledge User, the applicants must identify themselves as a Project Leader or a Project Expert. If you have previously completed a CCV template, please take the time to update your CV information using the new templates in the Canadian Common CV (CCV) or create a new CCV if this is your first application to CIHR.

  • Project Leader: regardless if you are an Independent Researcher or a Knowledge User, you are required to submit a Project Biosketch CCV. For the application to be complete, every Project Leader must have a Project Biosketch.
  • Project Expert: regardless if you are an Independent Researcher or a Knowledge User, for the role of Project Expert you will submit a Project Expert CV. Only the Project Experts that will be named in CIHR’s funding decisions documents are required to submit a Project Expert CV. Project Experts that are not named in CIHR’s funding decisions documents do not submit a CCV.

To produce a Project Biosketch or a Project Expert CV:

  1. Log in to the Common CV (CCV) system and follow the instructions provided in the Canadian Common CV by selecting the "Overview" tab.
  2. Select "CIHR" in the funding source field and select the appropriate CV type (Project Biosketch or Project Expert CV).
  3. Enter data in each of the required sections, and click "Done" when finished each section. Validation is performed automatically, and if there are any errors, they will be displayed in each section. For more information on how to complete a Project Biosketch, please read the Project Biosketch – Quick Reference Guide.
  4. Once complete, click "Submit". A CCV confirmation number will be generated in the status message, and will also be located at the top of the CV PDF document. Record this confirmation number as it will be needed to link the CV to any research applications in ResearchNet.
  5. If you wish to make changes to your Common CV after it has been linked to an application, you must repeat the steps described above and this will generate a new CCV confirmation number, which must be updated in ResearchNet.
  6. You can preview your CCV in ResearchNet by clicking on "Preview" on the Tasks page.

Note: During peak periods, there can be a delay between the time that you submit the CV and when ResearchNet is able to validate it. It is highly recommended that you complete and submit your CV well in advance of the competition deadline.

B. Complete the PHSI ResearchNet application

Task 1: Identify participants

This task collects information on all participants involved in the research proposal and the institution or organization that will receive funds if the application is successful. Consult the Individual Eligibility Requirements on the CIHR website for more information. For this pilot, CIHR introduced new applicant roles. Regardless if the applicant is an Independent Researcher or a Knowledge User, the applicants must identify themselves as a Project Leader or a Project Expert.

For this funding opportunity, the PHSI application must include at least two Project Leaders: one who is an independent researcher and one who is a knowledge user.

  • The applicant that initiates/opens the application in ResearchNet will be the administrative coordinator for the application. The applicant’s role will be Project Leader by default.
  • The administrative coordinator will add participants to the application in ResearchNet by:
    • Entering their validated ResearchNet PIN
    • Entering their name
    • Entering role (Leader/Expert) and participant type (Independent Researcher/Knowledge User)
    • For Project Experts only, flag the check box if they should be named in CIHR’s funding decision documents
  • On saving this information, the activity will open in the other participants ResearchNet account. Note: The system will generate 3 warning messages with regards to mandatory fields that will need to be completed by the added participants. The Identify Participants Task will remain incomplete until all added participants complete their information in ResearchNet as described in the next steps.
  • The other participants will have ability to contribute to the application and they must:
    • Enter their CCV confirmation # (applicable to all Project Leaders and only Project Experts that are named on the grant)
    • Consent and submit
  • Every participant on the application, Project Leaders and Project Experts, must identify themselves as an independent researcher or a knowledge user in the Applicant Type section.
  • All Project Leaders will have the same access to the application on ResearchNet and can contribute to the application equally.
  • Only the Administrative Coordinator can add other participants to the application.
  • There is no maximum number of applicants who can participate on an application.

Most Significant Contributions sub-task

This sub-task captures information on every Project Leader, and named Project Experts, and cannot exceed 3,500 characters including spaces or approximately one page. Note: When cutting and pasting text into the text box, the exact number of characters may vary slightly depending on the type of browser that you are using.

  • Identify a maximum of five (5) contributions that best highlight your contribution to (or activities in) your field of research, defining the impact and relevance of each contribution. A contribution could be defined as a publication, literary or artistic work, conference, patent or intellectual property right, contract or creative activity, commission, etc.
  • Please make sure to include the following information in your description of each contribution:
    • Position/activity type and description
    • Dates (start and end dates)
    • Why the contribution is significant (i.e. relevance, target community, and impact)


All Project Leaders and Project Experts (Named) on the application must agree to General Conditions and Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information before the Project Leader - Administrative Coordinator can submit the application to CIHR. Note that the Project Leader - Administrative Coordinator of the application will consent in Task #9.

Task 2: Enter proposal information


Your Title is the way that CIHR identifies your research project. For this reason you cannot edit your Title after submission.

Institution paid

Institution that will administer the funds for your project. Consult the Institutional Eligibility Requirements on the CIHR website for more information. It is recommended that the Institution Paid is the Administrative Coordinator’s Institution.

Certification requirements

If you are awarded a grant, the necessary certification requirements must be met in accordance with policies on ethical conduct of research. Relevant policies:

In order to carry out the proposed research in this application, is an exemption from Health Canada under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act required? (Trainees are exempt and should answer No).
Indicate if your proposed research is such that an exemption from Health Canada under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) will be required. Consult the Department of Justice website for details regarding Section 56 of the CDSA and the Health Canada website for details regarding obtaining an exemption under Section 56 of the CDSA.

Does this application propose research involving Aboriginal people?
Indicate if your application proposes research involving Aboriginal people. This information will be used for statistical purposes only. Any questions or comments may be sent to the Aboriginal Ethics Guidelines mailbox at

Applicants whose proposed research will involve Aboriginal People, please consult Ethics of Health Research Involving First Nations, Inuit and Métis People.

Are sex (biological) considerations taken into account in this study?
Indicate if sex (biological) considerations are taken into account in this study. For a guide to sex and gender based analysis, please consult the CIHR website.

Are gender (socio-cultural) considerations taken into account in this study?
Indicate if gender (socio-cultural) considerations are taken into account in this study. For a guide to sex and gender based analysis, please consult the CIHR website.

If yes, please describe how sex and/or gender considerations will be considered in your research design (limit of 2,000 characters).

If no, please explain why sex and/or gender are not applicable in your research design (limit of 2,000 characters).

Containment level

Definitions of Levels may be found in the PHAC laboratory biosafety guidelines.

Environmental impact

Proposals will be reviewed for potential impacts on the environment in accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.


Provide keywords to describe your research project, the techniques and the methodologies it will employ, and the areas of interest.

Areas of research

Select the areas of research that best describe your proposal from the list provided.


Select the classifications that best describe your proposal from the list provided.


Select a primary theme classification. Indicate additional theme classifications only if the substance of the grant application significantly overlaps more than one theme. Consult the definition of the four CIHR Themes on the CIHR website for more information.

Suggested institutes

Select a primary CIHR Institute whose research mandate is related to this application's research area(s) and objective(s). Additional Institutes should only be selected if the substance of this grant application significantly overlaps with the research mandate of more than one Institute.

Task 3: Complete summary

The lay abstract and the summary of the research proposal have been replaced by the "Complete summary" task in ResearchNet.

Be sure to indicate how your proposed research will address the following questions or issues and highlight all key facets of your proposal, including brief statements as to the following:

  • The question or issue to be addressed;
  • The nature of the core expertise being brought together to address the question or issue;
  • Any relevant approaches, methodologies, and/or techniques to be used; and
  • How will the expected results of the proposal advance knowledge, health research and/or the application of knowledge in the short term and in the long term, as appropriate.

This information is used by CIHR to inform the public and Parliament about the valuable research supported through public funds.

Note: Your completed summary cannot exceed 3,500 characters including spaces or approximately one page. Note: When cutting and pasting text into the text box, the exact number of characters may vary slightly depending on the type of browser that you are using.

Task 4: Complete application

Provide a clear and concise summary for each adjudication criterion outlined below. In addition to the description below, consult the document Interpretation Guidelines: Project Scheme Pilots Adjudication Criteria to obtain additional information on how the application will be assessed during the CIHR peer review process.

Note: Many supporting documents are no longer permitted for this competition and CIHR will remove non-allowable attachments before sharing the application with reviewers. A description of these non-allowable documents can be found under the "Attachments" Section 2 of the Complete Application Task.

Text boxes

You must enter information for each of the following adjudication criteria in the individual text boxes in ResearchNet. The character limits are described for each criterion and they include spaces. Depending on the software you use, copying and pasting text from a word processor may not exactly match the character count in ResearchNet. In some instances, using NotePad may be helpful. The text boxes will not allow coloured text, tables or images.

4.1: Adjudication criteria

The following questions are used by the reviewers to assess these criteria. Please address them in your application.

Criterion 1 - Assessment of concept

Sub-criterion 1.1: Quality of the idea

Limit: 3,500 characters including spaces / approximately one page.

  1. Are the overall goal and objectives of the project well-defined and clear; with distinct outputs that support advances in health-related knowledge, health research, health care, health systems, and/or health outcomes?
  2. Is the rationale of the project idea sound, logical and valid?

Sub-criterion 1.2: Importance of the idea

Limit: 1,750 characters including spaces / approximately half a page.

  1. Is the proposed contribution(s) of the project well-defined, clear and significant with respect to advancing health-related knowledge, health research, health care, health systems and/or health outcomes?
  2. To what extent does the project respond to the objective(s) of the Funding Opportunity?Footnote 1
Criterion 2 – Assessment of feasibility

Sub-criterion 2.1: Approach

Limit: 15,750 characters including spaces / approximately four and a half pages.

  1. Are the approaches and methods appropriate to deliver the proposed output(s) and achieve the proposed contribution(s)?
  2. Are the timelines and related deliverables of the project realistic?
  3. Does the proposal identify potential challenges and appropriate mitigation strategies?

Sub-criterion 2.2: Expertise, experience and resources

Limit: 3,500 characters including spaces / approximately one page. In this section, please provide an estimate on the number of hours per week (contribution) for each applicant that will be working on the research project. The name of the participants will appear above the one page text box with an adjacent number box for their hourly contribution to the research project.

  1. Does the applicant(s) bring the appropriate expertise and experience to lead and deliver the proposed outputs and achieve the proposed contribution(s)?
  2. Is there an appropriate level of engagement and/or commitment from the applicant(s)?
  3. Is the environment (academic institution and/or other organization) appropriate to enable the conduct and success of the project?

4.2: Attachments

Please attach allowable application attachments only. CIHR will remove non-allowable attachments before sharing the application with reviewers.

Non-allowable attachments

The following attachments are not permitted and will be removed from the applications:

  • Response to Previous Reviews
  • Summary of Progress
  • Research Proposal Appendix
  • Publications
  • Questionnaires
  • Consent Forms
  • Additional information on the methodology or the approach
  • Additional information on the team members (e.g., expertise, responsibilities, job description, free form CV, salary and benefits, etc.)
  • Additional information on the budget (e.g., budget justification, cost quotation, etc.)
  • Any ‘framed’ text document
Allowable attachments

All required attachments pertaining to participants and/or your research proposal must be included in the "Attachments Task" found under the Complete Application Task in ResearchNet. All attachments must adhere to the guidelines for attachments on the Acceptable Application Formats and Attachments.

The following attachments will be permitted:

  • List of References supporting your application (i.e. bibliography)
  • Figures supporting your application
  • Tables supporting your application. Tables may differ significantly in variety, structure, flexibility, notation, representation and use, but they should present information and/or data in ‘category’ formats. A framed text will not be considered a table and will be removed from the application.
  • Letters of Collaboration for those who are expected to make a significant contribution, confirming their willingness to participate in the manner indicated
  • Letters of support
    • Each knowledge-user applicant is strongly encouraged to submit a signed letter describing:
      • their role and their precise degree of involvement in the project;
      • amount of time committed to the project;
      • cash and/or in kind contribution; and
      • a description of how they intend to use the results of this research project.
    • Please note: the review committee reads these letters carefully to assess the degree of commitment of the knowledge user applicant(s). Knowledge users are advised to personally write their letters, rather than sign a template letter. Applicants are also encouraged to refer to the "CIHR Guide to Writing Letters of Support" for additional guidance.

For applicants with pending appointment, you must attach:

  • Letter of support in the case of a pending appointment from the Dean of the Faculty indicating the date the appointment is expected to take effect.

Note 1: There are no page restrictions for the attachments but reviewers are not required to read excessive attachments. Be sure to label your figures. Legends should be succinct and should not contain detailed information pertaining to methods.

Note 2: For the purpose of peer review, the application should not depend on information in these attachments, other than references, figures and tables that are not included in the page limit of the application. Reviewers are under no obligation to read the application attachments other than those described above. If the application is found to contain excessive material that does not conform to the guidelines above, CIHR will remove such attachments before sending the application for peer review.

Task 5: Identify application partners

This task collects information on all Partners involved in your application. Partnership contributions can be a combination of cash and/or in-kind contributions. There is no upper limit on partner contributions to a project.

The minimum partnership contribution requirement for all applicants is 20% of the total grant amount requested from CIHR and must be met at the time of application. The letter of support will be used to confirm partnership contributions (cash and/or in-kind). Partnerships that are not confirmed at the time of application will not count towards the 20% partnership contribution requirement.

Information Required from Project Specific Partners

A signed letter of support from every partner must be provided at the time of application for all cash and/or in-kind contributions. The letter should include specific incremental cash or in-kind contributions are being provided in support of the proposed research.

To enter partner information on ResearchNet, access the Identify Application Partners task and:

  1. Click "Add a Partner".
  2. In the small textbox on the left, click the search icon. A search tool will appear.
    • Type the partner name, or a portion of the name, and click search.
    • The search will display results and narrow itself as more information is typed.
    • To facilitate search, enter "%" before and/or after your keyword.
    • Select the partner name from CIHR’s prepopulated list.
  3. If the partner does not appear, select "Other".
  4. Enter the required field to create a new organization record.
  5. Repeat these steps for every partner on the proposal.

For each partner, a letter of support must be uploaded. The Letters of support must include specific incremental cash or in-kind contributions that are being provided in support of the proposed research.

  1. From the Identify Application Partners task root menu, select "Manage Attachments" and upload the PDF document.
  2. Repeat these steps for each partner.

Task 6: Enter budget information

You must provide an approximate amount for each budget module item to justify your total budget amount requested from CIHR for your research project. Information on eligibility of expenses and employment under grants is found in the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC & SSHRC) Financial Administration Guide, Use of Grant Funds. All amounts are in Canadian dollars.

Note: No other information such as cost quotations or letters of support may be attached to this module nor are they required as part of the application.

6.1 Complete the requested budget for the proposed project

  1. Select the term for the period of support requested by selecting the years and months.
  2. Enter the budget details in each line item for the entire period of support.
    • These items are rounded to the $1,000;
    • Budget items are for the entire period of support, not yearly amounts;
    • If the module does not apply, simply leave the field blank.
  3. The sum of all of the line items (total budget request) must add up to a multiple of $5,000.
  4. CIHR strongly encourages you to provide a budget justification for each applicable module (maximum 900 characters). The expectation is to provide a high-level justification and not a detailed description of the proposed budget.
  5. Individuals paid from grants are not employees of CIHR.
  6. The budget must include the applicable provincial and federal taxes and should be calculated using the after-rebate tax rates. After rebate tax rates are available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.
  7. CIHR will disburse funds in equal installments over the period of support requested. If you require a different payment schedule, select the checkbox at the bottom of the budget module. Should your application be successful, you will be contacted in order to establish a unique payment schedule that will meet your requirements.

6.2 Information on the budget line items

In this section, enter the requested budget in each module for the entire period of support requested. A line by line breakdown is not required nor expected. Only a reasonable estimate taking into consideration changes in requirements over time. A brief justification for the amount requested for each module must be provided and align with the requirements of proposed program/project of research.

  1. Research Staff: All research staff (research associates, assistants, technicians, etc.) should be determined by the actual needs for the techniques and work required for the research. The salary scales put forward by the institution should be followed. Some institutions require non-discretionary benefit packages for staff, and are eligible expenses on grants. Salaries for Program/Project Leaders cannot be paid from the grant. However, research associates and trainees identified as Program/Project Experts, who are not eligible to apply for CIHR grants, can be paid from the grant. Graduate students may be hired as research personnel on a grant. In general, this is on a part-time basis (i.e. hourly) and to distinguish from a graduate student receiving a stipend from a grant. Release time allowance may be requested to facilitate the participation of a knowledge user in the proposed research program. The eligible cost is limited to $50,000/year/individual/grant. Persons receiving release time allowances are not considered CIHR employees.
  2. Trainees: Costs related to mentoring trainees and students (e.g., stipends, salaries, benefits, etc.) are to be included in this section. As of September 15, 2011, the three federal granting agencies’ existing regulations on minimum and maximum stipend levels paid from grants will no longer apply. The agencies will no longer restrict researchers from using some of their grant money to provide supplements to scholarship holders. The removal of tri-agency regulations will offer professors more financial flexibility to pay students and PDFs at levels that reflect the variations in cost between departments and between regions.
  3. Consumables: CIHR grant funds may be used to cover only the direct costs of research (materials and supplies, consumables, services, travel for research activities, etc.) and may not be used for indirect costs (i.e. library, heat and light, office furniture, regular telephone rates, government imposed regulatory requirements, etc.).
  4. Non-Consumables: Funding for equipment may be requested for this competition. Equipment is defined as any item (or interrelated collection of items comprising a system) of nonexpendable tangible property, having a useful life of more than 1 year and a cost of $2,000 or more, which is used wholly or in part for research. Maintenance and operating costs of equipment is also an eligible expense.
  5. Knowledge Translation: Costs associated with dissemination of research results such as manuscript publication, travel for knowledge translation activities (e.g., conferences), etc.
  6. Other: Costs associated with any other expenses that are not covered in the above categories.

6.3 Complete the partner budget details sub-task

If a partner was identified in the Partner Task, a subtask will automatically appear in the budget task.

  1. Click on the partner names on the navigation column on the left.
  2. Enter the partners financial contribution in the cash or in-kind column for each year.
    1. If there is no partner contribution for a given year, enter "0" in both cash and in-kind column.
  3. Repeat these steps for each application partner.
6.3.1 Allowable in-kind contributions

The following are examples of in-kind contributions allowable in the PHSI program:

  • Access to unique databases
  • Professional, analytical, or other services
  • Employee salaries (i.e. the salary of an employee who is not listed on the application as an independent researcher)
  • Equipment
  • Facilities (not including the facilities provided to the Nominated Principal Applicant by their institution as part of their employment)
  • Materials, technology
  • Software

Task 7: Complete peer review administration information

This task collects information used for the purpose of peer review administration.

Suggested external reviewers

Suggest Canadian and/or foreign reviewers that you feel have the expertise to review your application. CIHR reserves the right to make the final selection of external reviewers. You should not suggest reviewers in conflict of interest. Consult the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers on the CIHR website for more information.

Reviewers to exclude

Provide the names of individuals that you feel cannot provide an objective review of your application and you must provide a reason for their exclusion. CIHR reserves the right to make the final selection of reviewers.

Task 8: Preview

Review all components of your application and ensure that every participant on the application has completed their tasks. If a task is incomplete, you must provide the missing information to successfully submit your application. Prior to submitting your application to CIHR you will be able to preview your Full Application Package.

Task 9: Consent and submit

Participants on the application must consent and submit before the Administrative Coordinator can submit the application to CIHR. Every Project Leader, and only the Project Experts that are named on the grant, must consent.

Once every task is complete, including the consent, the Administrative Coordinator of the application must review the terms listed and respond to the questions regarding consent in order to submit the application.

The Administrative Coordinator will then click Send. The application will be sent to the Institution Paid, as part of the eApproval process and ultimately, CIHR. Once CIHR receives your application you will receive e-mail confirmation.


Footnote 1

You must clearly demonstrate in your proposed project that the objectives of the funding opportunity are met. Reviewers will evaluate this in the sub-criterion entitled "Importance of the idea". However, you can address this question in any of the 4 sub-criterion text boxes.