Update from CIHR’s Science Council Regarding Proposed Reforms of Open Programs and Peer Review2011-12-02
Feedback from CIHR's stakeholders and observations from the recent International Review Panel make it clear that our current research funding and review model is strained. This situation jeopardizes the ability of CIHR to deliver on the full spectrum of its mandate.
We consistently receive concerns from the research community that we need to streamline and strengthen CIHR funding programs. In addition we know that researchers are spending too much valuable time writing and applying for multiple grants to support their research.
Challenges also exist with the peer review system. CIHR needs to recruit peer reviewers from a broader base of expertise to ensure that the right expertise is engaged in reviewing grant applications. However, growing application pressure and increasingly complex applications has meant that potential peer reviewers are now reluctant to volunteer for this increased workload.
CIHR is taking steps to address these challenges through a number of proposed reforms. Governing Council made reforming the Open Suite of Programs and Peer Review Enhancements a priority in CIHR's second five-year strategic plan, Health Research Roadmap: Creating innovative research for better health and health care. They address reiterated concerns expressed by the research community, as well as recommendations made by the International Review Panel.
Consultation Process on Proposed Reforms
The proposed design of reforms for CIHR's Open Suite of programs and peer review is still evolving. At the present time, we are taking steps to finalize a discussion paper that details the major design elements of the planned reforms. As part of this process, we are consulting with members of the research community about the shape and direction of reforms under consideration. These discussions are now taking place in a number of roundtables and other fora including meetings with Institute Advisory Boards, University Delegates, researchers at universities and research institutes, and Chairs and Scientific Officers.
In late January 2012, CIHR will release on our website a Design Discussion Document and we will invite feedback from the broader research community and stakeholders. The document will describe the general structure of the re-design; however, important aspects concerning its implementation require further input. Before moving forward with the proposed reforms, we need to make sure that the changes being contemplated effectively address the challenges that we have identified and have been raised by our research community. We are looking forward to an on-going, active and productive discussion over the coming months. The deadline for feedback on the Discussion Document will be mid-March. We see the feedback to this document as critical to the finalization of the proposed reforms and it is our intention to carefully consider all feedback received.
The target is to announce the final design of the Open Programs and Peer Review Process in the late spring of 2012. This would allow one year from the announcement of changes to the first competition launch and would provide sufficient time for the research community to prepare. This means that the first funded researchers under the new system would be announced in 2014-15.
In closing, as we near the release of the Design Discussion Document, CIHR's Science Council wishes to highlight our collective commitments to supporting research excellence across all four pillars of research. This is the essence of health research and is core to CIHR. We are also committed to supporting a sustainable and responsive suite of open programs and peer review system, making decisions on reforms based on the best available evidence. Finally, we are committed to being transparent in our actions. We feel that to date, there has been a meaningful dialogue with the research community about proposed reforms and trust that this interaction will continue.
CIHR Science Council