Annex III: Historical ECR Data for Flagship Investigator-Initiated Research Grant Competitions

Each agency has provided a baseline from their flagship Investigator-Initiated Research Programs based on grant amounts committed at the time of offer. CIHR has included data from the Open Operating Grant Program (OOGP), which ran from 2000 to 2015, and the Project Grant Program (PJT), which began in 2016. NSERC has included data from the Discovery Grant Program, excluding any associated supplement programs. SSHRC has included data from two funding opportunities separately. The first table includes data for the Insight Development Grants (IDG) program, which began in 2011, and the second table includes data for the Insight Grants (IG) program, which began in 2012.

Project Grants are designed to support researchers at any career stage to build and conduct health-related research and knowledge translation projects. There are two Project Grant competitions per year (spring and fall), and researchers can submit up to two applications per competition. Researchers can serve as the nominated principal investigator on more than one Project Grant at a time as these awards support research projects rather than programs of research. In addition to the nominated principal investigators, other principal investigators, co-applicants and collaborators can participate on a Project Grant. Grant values and durations are proportionate to the requirements of the research proposed and vary depending on the research field, research approach and scope of project activities but are not explicitly capped.

At CIHR, an ECR has historically been one who, at the time of application, has held a full time, independent research appointment, for a period of up to five years (60 months), excluding leaves of absence. ECR status was validated only for project competitions from 2016 to 2017. ECRs in OOGP competitions (2013 to 2015) are estimated as those within five years of the date of their last degree. Within the overall competition budget, there is a specific funding envelope to support ECRs and ensure that success rates for them are equal to those of established researchers. Competition processes and peer review for this cohort are fully integrated within the competition as a whole with no additional steps being required on the part of the applicant.

OOGPs (2013-2015) and Project Grants (2016-2017) 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Application pressure (number of applications) – Total 4781 2862 2862 6697 3415
Application pressure (number of applications) – ECRs 789 445 403 1515 821
% of all applications 17% 16% 15% 23% 24%
Success rate - ECRs 15% 12% 10% 14% 15%
Success rate – established researchers 17% 14% 15% 15% 15%
Average grant – ECRs $484,560 $499,585 $501,453 $649,423 $606,909
Average grant – established researchers $619,235 $649,479 $675,264 $759,156 $756,462
Total OOGPs/PJT funds awarded to ECRs $56,209,004 $27,477,201 $21,061,029 $134,430,504 $74,649,750
Total OOGPs/PJT funds awarded $478,527,130 $251,547,297 $251,326,181 $711,389,291 $368,913,660
% of funds to ECRs 12% 11% 8% 19% 20%
           
Average grant (per year of grant) – ECRs $122,595 $122,025 $122,894 $151,524 $142,565
Average grant (per year of grant) – established researchers $141,520 $145,307 $146,186 $167,376 $169,043
Total OOGPs/PJT funds awarded to ECRs (per year of grant) $14,221,059 $6,711,363 $5,161,554 $31,365,461 $17,535,442
Total OOGPs/PJT funds awarded (per year of grant) $110,737,735 $56,842,202 $55,010,876 $158,571,008 $83,293,027
% of funds to ECRs 13% 12% 9% 20% 21%

Discovery Grants (DG) support ongoing programs of research with long-term goals rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects. DGs are awarded to individual researchers only and the duration is normally five years but may also be one year. There is one DG competition held per year. Researchers can apply for and hold only one DG at a time. DG holders cannot reapply for another DG until the last year of their current award.

Applicants are categorized as either early career or established researchers. From 2013 to 2016, early career researchers (ECRs) were defined as applicants who are within two years of the start date of their first eligible position at a university and who have no prior academic or non-academic independent research experience. From 2017 to 2018, the ECR eligibility window was increased to three years. The window for being considered an ECR can be adjusted to take into account instances where a researcher has had an acceptable delay in research or period of inactivity (illness, parental leave, etc.). While applications from ECRs are evaluated against the same three selection criteria as established researchers, it is recognized that early career applicants may not have had the opportunity to make the same level of contributions to research or training as established researchers. For this reason, NSERC implements a different quality cut-off for funding of ECRs. In addition, ECRs who are awarded a DG receive an annual $5,000 top-up. NSERC also ensures that the overall success rate for ECRs is at least 50 per cent.

Besides DGs, NSERC also devotes Discovery Research funds to a number of supplement programs for Discovery Grants, many of which provide support to ECRs.

Discovery Grants 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Application pressure (number of applications) – Total 3398 3134 3159 3167 3240
Application pressure (number of applications) – ECRs 471 427 489 494 562
% of all applications 14% 13% 15% 16% 17%
Success rate - ECRs 60% 66% 65% 75% 69%
Success rate – established researchers 59% 64% 65% 65% 66%
Average grant – ECRs $136,111 $138,073 $130,553 $143,855 127,043
Average grant – established researchers $163,271 $168,017 $157,924 $179,571 $169,937
Total DG funds awarded to ECRs $38,247,145 $38,660,539 $41,385,170 $53,082,500 $48,911,515
Total DG funds awarded $318,419,710 $328,489,387 $316,489,081 $362,842,820 $349,530,120
% of funds to ECRs 12% 12% 13% 15% 14%
           
Average grant (per year of grant) – ECRs $27,438 $27,723 $26,120 $28,771 $25,409
Average grant (per year of grant) – established researchers $34,323 $35,513 $32,903 $37,135 $34,948
Total DG funds awarded to ECRs (first year of grant) $7,709,941 $8,137,508 $8,280,084 $10,616,500 $9,782,303
Total DG funds awarded (first year of grant) $67,021,454 $70,208,877 $65,870,975 $74,674,964 $71,605,024
% of funds to ECRs 12% 12% 13% 14% 14%

Insight Development Grants (IDG) enable the development of new research in its initial stages. They are project-based: funding is provided for short-term research development projects. IDGs are valued at up to $75,000 over one to two years. A minimum budget of $7,000 in at least one of the years is required. The application deadline is set in February.

Within the IDG funding opportunity, funding is available for two distinct categories of scholars:

  1. Emerging scholars: Applicants identifying themselves as an emerging scholar must demonstrate that they have not successfully applied, as principal investigator or project director, for a grant offered through SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR. In addition, they must meet at least one of the following criteria:
    1. have completed their highest degree no more than six years before the competition deadline (SSHRC considers only the date of completion of the first doctorate); or
    2. have held a tenured or tenure-track postsecondary appointment for less than six years; or
    3. have held a postsecondary appointment, but never a tenure-track position (in the case of institutions that offer tenure-track positions); or
    4. have had their careers significantly interrupted or delayed for health or family reasons within the past six years.
    Emerging scholar status is validated for IDG and at least 50 per cent of funds are reserved for applications from emerging scholars.
  2. Established scholars: Someone who has established — or who, since the completion of his or her highest degree, has had the opportunity to establish — a record of research achievement.

    Insight Grants (IG) support research excellence. They are project-based. IGs are valued at $7,000 to $100,000 per year over two to five years, up to a total of $400,000. Applicants choose from one of two funding streams, depending on the scale of their project:
    • Stream A: $7,000 to $100,000
    • Stream B: $100,000 to $400,000

    The application deadline is set in October. There is no reserved budget envelope for emerging scholars as all applicants compete in the same pool. As a result, ECR status is not validated within the scope of the Insight Grants.

    The following applies to both IGs and IDGs:
    • Applications may be submitted by a principal investigator or a team consisting of one principal investigator and one or more co-investigators, collaborators, or both.
    • Applicants may be PhD students or postdoctoral researchers so long as they establish a formal affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution within three to five months of the grant start date.
    • An individual can only apply once as principal investigator in any given IG or IDG competition.
    • However there is no limit to the number of times an individual can apply as co-investigator or collaborator for an IG or IDG.
    • Applicants may hold an IDG and an IG simultaneously provided that the objectives of the two research projects are significantly different.
Overall 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Application pressure (number of applications) – Total 3211 3271 3225 2912 2749
Application pressure (number of applications) – ECRs 1066 1055 1026 970 1013
% of all applications 33% 32% 32% 33% 37%
Total IDG/IG funds awarded to ECRs $23,529,427 $22,633,881 $19,972,111 $27,464,866 $23,579,015
Total IDG/IG funds awarded $109,040,307 $115,651,421 $98,888,444 $110,634,127 $114,577,848
% of funds to ECRs 22% 20% 20% 25% 21%
Insight Development Grants          
Application pressure (number of applications) – Total 1028 1128 1237 1211 1236
Application pressure (number of applications) – ECRs 700 762 799 803 853
% of all applications 68.1% 67.6% 64.6% 66.3% 69.0%
Success rate – ECRs 30.3% 25.7% 23.7% 45.5% 32.6%
Success rate – established researchers 28.7% 24.3% 22.1% 45.1% 31.1%
Average grant — ECRs $59,113 $60,643 $59,123 $55,604 $54,372
Average grant - established researchers $61,762 $62,048 $60,869 $55,862 $56,476
Total funds awarded to ECRs $12,532,005 $11,886,052 $11,174,264 $20,295,306 $15,115,320
Total IDG funds awarded $18,337,608 $17,408,342 $17,078,587 $30,573,895 $21,835,969
% of funds to ECRs 68.3% 68.3% 65.4% 66.4% 69.2%
           
Average grant (per year of grant) - ECRs $30,106 $30,629 $29,695 $27,872 $27,180
Average grant (per year of grant) - established researchers $31,212 $31,649 $30,592 $28,101 $28,599
Total funds awarded to ECRs (per year of grant) $6,231,879 $5,926,653 $5,538,089 $10,103,675 $7,542,462
Total IDG funds awarded (per year of grant) $9,168,804 $8,680,117 $8,490,250 $15,232,059 $10,902,787
% of funds to ECRs 68.0% 68.3% 65.2% 66.3% 69.2%
Insight Grants 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Application pressure (number of applications) – Total 2183 2143 1988 1701 1513
Application pressure (number of applications) – ECRs 366 293 227 167 160
% of all applications 16.8% 13.7% 11.4% 9.8% 10.6%
Success rate – ECRs 14.5% 18.4% 20.7% 28.7% 31.3%
Success rate – established researchers 22.9% 23.8% 23.7% 31.4% 40.9%
Average grant — ECRs $207,499 $199,034 $187,188 $149,366 $169,274
Average grant - established researchers $191,599 $198,853 $174,670 $151,540 $152,127
Total funds awarded to ECRs $10,997,422 $10,747,829 $8,797,847 $7,169,560 $8,463,695
Total IGs funds awarded $90,702,699 $98,243,079 $81,809,857 $80,060,232 $92,741,879
% of funds to ECRs 12.1% 10.9% 10.8% 9.0% 9.1%
           
Average grant (per year of grant) — ECRs $50,066 $50,625 $45,437 $37,895 $39,220
Average grant (per year of grant) — established researchers $47,252 $48,947 $42,830 $37,925 $37,349
Total funds awarded to ECRs (per year of grant) $2,686,006 $2,712,069 $2,164,915 $1,820,841 $1,941,214
Total IGs funds awarded (per year of grant) $22,507,707 $24,145,314 $19,969,335 $19,818,373 $22,460,343
% of funds to ECRs 11.9% 11.2% 10.8% 9.2% 8.6%

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) is designed to help institutions attract and retain the best researchers to undertake leading-edge research by providing them with the foundational research infrastructure needed to be or become leaders in their field. The JELF also offers institutions the opportunity to create competitive research support packages in the form of infrastructure and a portion of the operating and maintenance costs, coupled with direct research costs from partner organizations (e.g., CRCs, Canada Excellence Research Chairs, SSHRC, NSERC).

Canadian universities, affiliated research hospitals and research institutions recognized as eligible by the CFI can apply for the JELF if their tri-agency funding has increased by a minimum annual average of $200,000 over the last three years. The researchers listed on the proposal must be:

John R. Evans Leaders Fund 2013Footnote 1 2014 2015 2016 2017
Application pressure (number of applications) – TotalFootnote 2 553 377 406 554 406
Application pressure (number of applications) – ECRs 289 209 234 283 228
% of all applications 52% 55% 58% 51% 56%
Success rate ECRsFootnote 3 83% 78% 88% 80% 76%
Success rate – established researchers 83% 74% 83% 86% 79%
Average grant — ECRs $147,633 $159,585 $144,099 $141,435 $135,923
Average grant - established researchers $205,383 $177,223 $199,256 $214,969 $214,343
           
Total JELF funds awarded to ECRs $35,284,225 $26,171,900 $29,540,334 $31,964,247 $23,514,753
Total JELF funds awarded $80,263,086 $48,147,566 $57,834,735 $82,266,949 $53,750,243
% of funds to ECRs 44% 54% 51% 39% 44%
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