Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) - Design Discussion Document Town hall presentation - Long Descriptions

Figure 1: Common challenges in the Open Suite of Programs that have been experienced and/or identified by various CIHR stakeholders

Common challenges in the Open Suite of Programs have been experienced and/or identified by various CIHR stakeholders. These challenges include:

  • Funding Program Accessibility and Complexity
  • Applicant Burden/"Churn"
  • Application process/attributes do not capture the correct information
  • Insufficient support for new/early career investigators
  • Researcher and knowledge user collaborations not fully valued
  • Lack of expertise availability
  • Unreliability/Inconsistency of reviews
  • Conservative nature of peer review
  • High Peer Reviewer Workload

The majority of these challenges were brought to CIHR's attention through CIHR's Roadmap Consultations, the Institutes and their communities, CIHR's University Delegates, Surveys, the International Review Panel, Chairs and Scientific Officers; and, Partners.

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Figure 2: Amount of in-year Funding from the Open Suite of Programs held by Nominated Principal Investigators in 2010-2011

  • Of the more than 3,000 Nominated Principal Investigators with funding in 2010-2011, approximately 2,000 Nominated Principal Investigators held either one or a combination of two or three grants worth a total of less than 150,000 dollars.
  • The average amount of in-year funding held was $162,000 per year.
  • Approximately 1,000 Nominated Principal Investigators held one or a combination of two or three grants worth a total anywhere between 150,000 dollars and 350,000 dollars.
  • Approximately 200 Nominated Principal Investigators held one or a combination of two or three grants worth a total anywhere between 350,000 dollars and 750,000 dollars.
  • Approximately 50 Nominated Principal Investigators held one or a combination of two or three grants worth more than 750,000 dollars.

Note there is only one Nominated Principal Investigator per grant awarded, and that in-year funding does not include fellowships. CIHR defines a Nominated Principal investigator as a funded Nominated Principal Applicant.  The definition of a Nominated Principal Applicant can be found in CIHR's Grants and Awards Guide.

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Figure 3: Proposed Multi-phased Competition Process: Foundation/Programmatic Research Scheme

The proposed competition process for the Foundation/Programmatic Research Scheme has three competition process stages, which include the following process steps:

Stage 1 – Screening Caliber of Applicant

  1. Submit Stage 1 Application
  2. Match application to reviewers
  3. Complete Stage 1 Review
  4. Results

Stage 2 – Screening Quality of Proposed Program and Support Environment

  1. Submit Stage 2 Application
  2. Match application to reviewers
  3. Complete Stage 2 Review
  4. Results

Stage 3 – Assessment

  1. Complete Final Assessment
  2. Decision

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Figure 4: Proposed Multi-phased Competition Process: Project Scheme

The proposed competition process for the Project Scheme includes the following process steps:

Stage 1 – Screening Quality of Idea

  1. Submit Stage 1 Application
  2. Match application to reviewers
  3. Complete Stage 1 Review
  4. Results

Stage 2 – Screening Feasibility

  1. Submit Stage 2 Application
  2. Match application to reviewers
  3. Complete Stage 2 Review
  4. Results

Stage 3 – Assessment

  1. Complete Final Assessment
  2. Decision

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Figure 5: Projected Program and Project Counts (steady state) in new Open Schemes

Total Amount of in-year funding held
(in thousands of dollars)
Project Program
Number of Nominated Principal Investigators
50 100 0
75 150 62
100 443 85
125 565 95
150 435 80
175 175 58
200 137 43
225 120 33
250 110 27
275 0 26
300 0 25
325 0 22
350 0 19
375 0 17
400 0 16
425 0 14
450 0 14
475 0 12
500 0 14
525 0 10
550 0 10
575 0 8
600 0 8
625 0 7
650 0 0
675 0 7
700 0 0
725 0 7
750 0 5
775 0 0
800 0 0
825 0 0
850 0 0
875 0 5
900 0 0
925 0 5
950 0 0
975 0 5
≥1000 0 35

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Figure 6: The Mechanics - These proposed design elements could simultaneously address multiple challenges

Each of the proposed design elements for the New Open Suite of Programs and Peer Review Enhancements address the multiple challenges that have been identified by CIHR's stakeholders with the current competition and peer review processes.

For instance,

The Foundation/Programmatic Research Scheme addresses:

  • Funding Program Accessibility and Complexity
  • Applicant Burden/"Churn"
  • Insufficient support for new/early career investigators
  • Researcher and Knowledge User collaborations not fully valued

The Project Scheme addresses:

  • Funding Program Accessibility and Complexity
  • Application process/attributes do not capture the correct information
  • Insufficient support for new/early career investigators
  • Researcher and Knowledge User collaborations not fully valued

The College of Reviewers addresses:

  • Lack of expertise availability
  • Inconsistency of reviews

The multi-phase competition process addresses:

  • Applicant Burden/"Churn"
  • Application process/attributes do not capture the correct information
  • High Peer Reviewers Workload

Application-Focused Review addresses:

  • Unreliability/Inconsistency of reviews
  • High Peer Reviewers Workload

Structured Review Criteria addresses:

  • Application process/attributes do not capture the correct information
  • Inconsistency of Reviews
  • Conservative Nature of Peer Review
  • High Peer Reviewer Workload

The remote (virtual) screening process addresses:

  • Lack of expertise availability
  • Conservative Nature of Peer Review
  • Inconsistency of reviews

Mainstreams integrated knowledge translation addresses:

  • Researcher and Knowledge User collaborations not fully valued

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