Supporting early career researchers

Early career researchers inspire and drive some of Canada’s most innovative, forward-looking research. Yet, many face barriers, such as challenges in establishing research credentials or having them recognized, securing research resources, or competing for limited numbers of research positions. By supporting early career researchers, Canada unlocks new discoveries and strengthens its position as a world leader in research talent development.

The Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) is working with the three federal research funding agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council [NSERC], and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support early career researchers in a number of ways:

  • Adoption of a tri-agency definition: This definition of early career researchers strengthens support for such researchers. It is being phased in over time in appropriate programs across all three agencies.
  • Harmonized data collection and reporting: The agencies and the CFI have implemented a common approach for reporting on early career researchers’ participation in flagship, investigator-initiated research programs to provide transparency and measure progress over time. See the data annex in the latest CRCC progress report.
  • Balanced funding for ECRs: The agencies are dedicating a portion of appropriate flagship research programs’ funding toward early career researcher-led projects, relative to the number of applications received. The funding strategy has already been implemented for NSERC’s Discovery Grants and the tri-agency New Frontiers in Research Fund.
  • Increased parental benefits: As announced in Budget 2019, parental leave coverage for students and postdoctoral fellows funded directly or indirectly by agency funds has been expanded from six to 12 months, increasing support for emerging scholars during leaves.
  • Allocation of 250 Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs to emerging researchers: As announced in Budget 2018, these new chair positions, which include an additional $20,000 research stipend for first-term appointments, were added to the Canada Research Chairs Program to help develop emerging research talent.
Early career researcher definition

An early career researcher is a researcher within five years from the date of their first research-related appointment, minus eligible delays in research, where:

  • research-related appointments are defined as those where the individual has the autonomy to conduct research independently; and
  • all eligible leaves (e.g., maternity, parental, medical, bereavement) are credited as twice the amount of time taken, and professional leaves (e.g., training, sabbatical, administrative) are not credited.

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