Reforms of Open Programs and peer review: design
The design of the new Open Suite of Programs sets clear objectives for CIHR’s investigator-driven grants program. This includes integrating CIHR's current suite of Open funding mechanisms into a simpler system that is flexible enough to accommodate today's changing landscape of health research.
The existing suite of Open funding mechanisms will be reorganized into two new schemes:
The Foundation Scheme is about supporting people. It is about providing long-term support to health research leaders at any career stage with demonstrated track records of success, including new/early career investigators with excellent training and early-career productivity. It will reduce the time spent writing grant applications so that more time can be spent conducting research. It will provide the freedom to create, change, and re-direct efforts as required. It will give more time to mentor and develop the next generation of researchers.
The Foundation Scheme will have a three-stage review process. The first two stages will involve remote review by five reviewers. The assessment criteria at Stage 1 will focus on the caliber of an applicant. Stage 2 will integrate elements of the caliber of the applicant, while focusing on the quality of the proposed program of research. The final stage of the review will involve a face-to-face meeting by an interdisciplinary committee to discuss "grey zone" applications, with particular emphasis on applications with large variances in independent reviewer rankings.
Foundation grant values will be commensurate with the requirements of the research proposed, and will vary depending on the research field, research approach, and scope of program activities. There is currently no cap on Foundation Scheme grants. CIHR anticipates the majority of Foundation grants will range from approximately $50,000 to $1.5 million per year. Established investigators will be awarded 7-year grants, and new/early career investigators will be awarded 5-year grants. An applicant's CIHR funding history will be an important factor in determining levels of funding.
The Project Scheme is about supporting ideas with the greatest potential for important advances in health-related knowledge, the health care system, and/or health outcomes. It is meant to encourage researchers who want to explore specific ideas across the spectrum of health and health systems research and knowledge translation, to submit proposals for projects with a specific scope and defined timelines. The best ideas may stem from new, incremental, innovative, and/or high-risk lines of inquiry or knowledge translation approaches. It is CIHR's intent to capture all of these ideas in the Project Scheme.
The Project Scheme will have a two-stage review process. The assessment criteria for this scheme will be based on the quality of the idea, and the project's feasibility. In Stage 1, all applications will be reviewed remotely by five reviewers. In Stage 2, face-to-face meetings will be held to discuss "grey zone" applications, with particular emphasis on applications with large variances in independent reviewer rankings.
Project grant values and durations will be commensurate with the requirements of the project proposed, and will vary depending on the field, proposed approach, and scope of activities. There is currently no cap on Project Scheme grants. CIHR anticipates that Project grants will reflect the wide variety of projects presently funded in various Open programs with values ranging from approximately $50,000 to $750,000 per year and grant durations ranging between approximately 1 to 5 years.
New Peer Review Process
The two funding schemes will be supported by an application-focused competition process. Applications will be matched to reviewers to ensure that appropriate expertise is assigned to each application. This will be aided by the establishment of a College of Reviewers that will facilitate access to appropriate expertise and provide the framework for mechanisms to recruit, train and reward reviewers for specific roles.
Additional information on the new Open funding schemes can be found in Questions and Answers.
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