IGH Relevance Review Criteria

The Institute of Gender and Health's (IGH) mission is to foster research excellence regarding the influence of gender and sex on the health of women and men throughout life, and to apply these research findings to identify and address pressing health challenges.

While there are no single agreed-upon definitions of "gender" or "sex," it is fairly common to associate gender with socially constructed roles, relationships, behaviours, relative power, and other traits that societies ascribe to women, men and people of diverse gender identities. Gender has multiple dimensions, including but not limited to gender roles, gender identities, gender relations and institutionalized gender. We tend to think of gender in binary terms (e.g., masculine/feminine) yet it is more appropriate to think of gender as existing on a spectrum because of the broad range of gender identities and expressions.

Sex is typically understood to refer to the biological and physiological characteristics that distinguish females from males. Like gender, it is a multi-dimensional construct that encompasses characteristics such as hormones, genes, anatomy and physiology. We also tend to think of sex in binary terms (e.g., male/female) yet considerable diversity exists in sex (e.g., variation in hormone levels, chromosomal differences, etc.). While gender and sex are interrelated sex does not determine gender, nor does gender determine sex. For example, someone born female might have a masculine gender identity. Together gender and sex play an important role in determining health experiences, access to care, and treatment outcomes.

Relevance Review Process

Relevance review takes place before peer review and is conducted by IGH team members. Relevance reviews are based on up to three application components, all of which are anonymized (i.e., they do not contain identifying information about the applicant(s)): (1) project titles, (2) project summaries, and (3) relevance forms (where required). IGH team members involved in the relevance review process do not have access to full applications.  It is important to review the funding opportunity in detail to ensure that you are providing the components for relevance review required by that specific funding opportunity and to ensure that the relevance of the proposed work is clearly communicated.

IGH Criteria for Relevance

When determining if an application to an IGH-led, co-led or partnered funding opportunity is relevant to IGH's mission, the objectives of the funding opportunity and, on partnered initiatives, the research foci and requirements specified by IGH, IGH team members consider: (1) whether the application is relevant to the mission of IGH and (2) whether the proposal has a substantive focus on gender and/or sex. "Substantive" means that gender and/or sex are an integral aspect of the applicant's research question(s) and research design.

In determining whether a proposal focuses substantively on gender and/or sex, the following questions are considered:

  1. Does the proposed research focus on groups or populations with an explicit emphasis on how sex and/or gender affect the outcomes of interest?
    • In studies that focus only on women/females or men/males, does the proposed research provide an explicit rationale for this approach?
  2. Does the proposed research include an explanation of how gender and/or sex are being conceptualized and applied in the study?

For further guidance on incorporating gender and sex into health research, applicants are encouraged to consult Gender, Sex and Health Research Guide: A Tool for CIHR Applicants. Studying topics such as breast or prostate cancer, reproductive health, maternal health or endocrinology is not a sufficient condition for relevance.

After the peer review process takes place and applications are scored and ranked, IGH funds relevant and highly-ranked proposals (in rank order), until available funds are exhausted. For IGH-led strategic initiatives, applications deemed not relevant at the relevance review stage do not move on to the peer review stage. For initiatives on which IGH is a co-lead or partner, applications deemed not relevant to IGH's mission, objectives, research foci and requirements may still move on to the peer review stage if those applications are deemed relevant by other funding partners. There is no formal appeal process for relevance decisions.

Applicants unsure about whether their applications are relevant to a specific funding opportunity are encouraged to contact the individual(s) listed in the "Contact Information" section of the funding opportunity prior to submitting their applications.