The CIHR HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research Program - A Guide for Applicants

This Guide is for information purposes only. For specific information regarding application requirements, refer to the “Eligibility” and "How to Apply" sections of the selected funding opportunity.


The CIHR HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research (CBR) Program recognizes the important role community-based organizations play in developing and conducting research and in ensuring that research results are applied to help the people at risk of or living with HIV infection and AIDS. The CBR program funds research carried out by, and in partnership with, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to develop the knowledge they need to carry out their work in the most effective manner and to create research expertise within these organizations.

In this guide, you will find information on developing and submitting an application for funding, as well as on the review and funding processes.

If you still have questions after reading this guide, there is a list of useful links and contacts at the end of this guide.

What kinds of funding are available?

The CBR program is an umbrella for several different kinds of funding opportunities including research grants, capacity building grants, and training awards.  Funding allocated to the CBR program is managed through two streams: a General stream for non-Aboriginal research projects and an Aboriginal stream for research projects involving the Aboriginal community. 

To build capacity within the CBR community, CIHR funds two Collaborative Centres of HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research, one through the General stream and one through the Aboriginal stream. For more information on these two Collaborative Centres of HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research, please refer to the links and contacts at the end of this guide.

What is a funding opportunity?

A funding opportunity outlines the key information you need to apply for funding, including:

  • important dates, such as the application submission deadline, when applicants will receive their funding decision, and the funding start date
  • funds available and the maximum that can be requested
  • objectives and relevant areas of research
  • eligibility requirements
  • reporting requirements, such as any final reports required for applications successfully funded
  • instructions on how to apply
  • information on who to contact for further questions

How do I know if I am eligible for funding?

The Eligibility section of the funding opportunity outlines who is eligible to apply for funding and the requirements an application must meet in order to be considered eligible for funding. The Nominated Principal Applicant is the person who will be responsible for the project. An Eligible Institution is an organization eligible to manage CIHR funds and has signed an Institutional Agreement (see more information below on this). Please refer to links in the Eligibility section of the funding opportunity for information on the various roles, such as Principal Applicant, Principal Knowledge User, Co-Applicant, and Knowledge User, to help guide you in determining how to categorize the members of your research team.

How do I submit an application?

Please refer to the How to Apply section of the funding opportunity. It outlines what you need to include in your application. It also contains a link to ResearchNet Application Phase Instructions that will provide more information on submitting an application in ResearchNet.
The following are required in general to submit an application to CIHR:

  1. A CIHR Personal Identification Number (PIN): this is a unique identifier number required for each member of the application team.

  2. A ResearchNet account: ResearchNet is a secure, internet-based system that allows researchers to electronically submit applications for funding. ResearchNet is also used for conducting peer review and releasing decision results to applicants.

    To register for a ResearchNet account: go to and click on “Register”. You will be asked to provide details, such as your name, e-mail address, language preference, and a password. Once you are registered, you will continue to use the same account each time you log into ResearchNet.

    Please note that applications are submitted through the Nominated Principal Applicant’s ResearchNet account.

  3. A Common CV: The Canadian Common CV is a partnership among Canadian research funding organizations to make it easier for researchers to apply for funding. It is a web-based tool that allows researchers to manage their CV data in a single repository and generate CVs as needed for all member organizations. Most funding opportunities require that a Common CV be submitted for each team member.

    The Academic Common CV is for independent researchers based in an academic or affiliated institution. They may be identified as the Nominated Principal Applicant, a Principal Applicant or a Co-applicant.

    The Knowledge User Common CV is for knowledge user applicants based in non-academic organizations, such as community-based organizations. They may be identified as the Nominated Principal Applicant, a Principal Knowledge User or a Knowledge User.

    To create a Canadian Common CV, please refer to the Common CV website and the ResearchNet Application Phase Instructions.

Is there help with writing an application?

To help the research community with preparing an application, including filling out the Common CV and reviewing Common CVs,  CIHR has created a Library of Learning Resources, where you will find a useful document called “The Art of Writing a CIHR Application”.

The description of your research project is called the Research Proposal. Your proposal should address the objectives of the funding opportunity and describe the likely significance of the project for the involved community. It should also address the evaluation criteria to be used by the review committee to evaluate each application. You are encouraged to include signed letters of support from the community. You can also append your Research Ethics Board certificate, if available. With the CBR Program, please note that you must: include a one-page Community-Based Research Principles Summary that demonstrates partnership with relevant community stakeholders as well as clearly describes community involvement in the identification of the research question and in the development, implementation and possible knowledge translation activities of the project indicate which stream you are applying to: General or Aboriginal. If you select the Aboriginal Stream, please ensure your application meets any eligibility requirements for this stream.

Why do I need partners?

Partnerships are the cornerstone of the CBR approach. Partners can help fill gaps in expertise or allow you to access resources that would be hard for you to access on your own. Partnerships also provide a route for knowledge translation, for ensuring that the results of your research are known by others and applied to help communities. Projects funded through the CBR Program must have a partnership between a community-based organization and an academic partner.

How is my application evaluated?

There are two steps in the review process.

First, your application will be reviewed by members of the CIHR HIV/AIDS Research Initiative to ensure that it is relevant to the funding opportunity.

Second, once your project has been determined to be relevant, a CBR merit review committee will evaluate the full application. Each application is reviewed by four CBR merit review committee members: two from an academic setting and two from the community. The committee will review both the potential impact and scientific merit of the research. Applications are rated according to a set rating scale.  Only applications that receive or exceed a threshold rating of 3.5 for both Potential Impact and Scientific Merit on this rating scale will be considered for funding. The ratings of each application is used to establish a ranking list. Applications are funded from the top down according to this ranking list as far as the budget will allow.

I did not get funded - is this the end?

No, this is not necessarily the end. You will receive comments from the individual reviewers as well as a brief summary of the committee discussion at the merit review meeting. Should the funding opportunity be launched again, you may be able to re-apply if your application meets the eligibility criteria in the new funding opportunity. You can take the reviewer and committee comments into consideration, but you are not obliged to follow them or even agree with them. You have the option of including in your new application submission a two-page document called the “Response to Previous Reviews” where you can explain how you have responded (or not) to the comments.

My proposal was approved for funding - now what do I do?

Congratulations! Your project has passed through a rigorous review process and come out successful.

If you are from a community-based organization, your organization must become eligible to administer CIHR funds prior to the release of funds.

What is an eligible institution and how does my organization qualify?

CIHR does not provide funds directly to you as an independent researcher or knowledge user, but rather to the institution/organization you are affiliated with. Canadian non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations, including community and charitable organizations, are eligible to receive CIHR funding if they have an explicit health research or knowledge translation mandate.

If health research or knowledge translation are not currently part of your organization's mandate, you may have to provide CIHR with a letter explaining how your organization meets the requirement of having a research or knowledge translation mandate, for instance by indicating your organization's previous and/or current research experience, how this proposal fits with your mandate, whether your organization foresees more research or knowledge translation in the future, and/or if your Board of Directors approves a revision to the mandate.

Please note that CIHR also strongly advises that organizations have liability insurance in place that protects them and their researchers from actions arising as a consequence of the research activity.

You do not have to wait until you have been awarded funding before beginning the process of establishing your organization's eligibility. You can start preparing your application for eligibility at any point after you apply, but CIHR will only review it once your proposal is successful.

When you have submitted your application, you will be contacted by a CIHR staff member, who will provide you with the necessary forms and let you know what is required. Once the process is completed, an Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions will be signed and a Common Grant and Award account created.

For more information please refer to the Institutional Eligibility to Administer CIHR Grant and Award Funds.

Your organization has one year after your success in the funding competition to become eligible. Therefore, the earlier you start, the better. Recognizing that the eligibility process can take time, CIHR may sometimes release the initial installment of a grant prior to eligibility being fully established, as long as you have met the minimum qualification requirements.

My research is completed – what are my next steps?

CIHR has a Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications that requires grant recipients to make papers, etc., freely available online. Your research proposal should have had knowledge translation activities built into it and your partners are there to help spread the news. Take advantage of them and their networks.

When you are communicating the results of your research, you should acknowledge the contributions of CIHR, its Institutes and/or its partners.

As a successful applicant you will be required to complete and submit an electronic final report in ResearchNet. The electronic final report will be available in your ResearchNet account six months after the beginning of your grant. If you have received a Catalyst Grant, you will also be required to complete a ‘Supplemental Questions’ survey by the due date.  

Want to know more?

The following policy guides set out in greater detail the information that is contained in this guide.

Glossary of Funding Related Terms

CIHR Grants and Awards Guide  including the Use of Grant Funds

CIHR Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal People

Institutional Eligibility Requirements to Administer CIHR Funds

Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

For further information, please visit the complete list of all CIHR Funding Policies. Other resources:

The Learning Place for CBR in HIV/AIDS (OHTN)

Collaborative Centres of HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research – General Stream: contact Sean Rourke,

Collaborative Centres of HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research – Aboriginal (AHA Centre): contact Marni Amirault, and/or Sherri Pooyak,

For questions on CIHR funding guidelines, how to apply, and the merit review process for the HIV/AIDS CBR program, please contact:

Julien David
Program Delivery Coordinator
Strategic Program Design and Analytics
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Telephone: 613-941-6493
Fax: 613-954-1800

For questions about the HIV/AIDS Research Initiative and CBR research objectives, please contact:

Suzete Dos Santos
Associate, HIV/AIDS Research Initiative
RKT – Platforms and Major Initiatives
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Telephone: 613-941-4464
Fax: 613-954-1800

For questions on the institutional eligibility process and requirements, please contact:

Ian Raskin
Manager, Financial Policy, Systems, Controls, G&A
Financial Policy, Systems and controls
Telephone: 613-941-1044