Annex II: Early career researcher data for flagship investigator-initiated research grant competitions

Each agency has provided an update to last year’s report, providing data from the 2019 and 2020 competition years 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, which ran from 2000 to 2015, and Project Grant program, which began in 2016.

NSERC has included data from the Discovery Grants program. The Discovery Launch Supplements, which began in 2018, is included for 2019 and 2020.

SSHRC has included data from two funding opportunities separately. The first table includes data for the Insight Development Grants funding opportunity, which began in 2011; the second table includes data for the Insight Grants funding opportunity, which began in 2012.

The CFI has included data from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund. 

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Project Grants are designed to support people at any career stage to build and conduct health-related research and knowledge translation projects. There are two Project Grants competitions per year (spring and fall). These awards support research projects rather than programs of research. 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 early career researcher (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. ECRs in Open Operating Grant Program competitions (2014 to 2015) were considered those within five years of the date of their last degree. Within the overall competition budget, there is a specific funding envelope to ensure the proportion of grants going to ECRs is at least equal to the proportion of applications submitted by ECRs. Competition processes and peer review for this cohort are fully integrated in the entire competition, with no additional steps required on the parts of people submitting applications.

Figure 1: Canadian Institutes of Health Research success rates (lines) and average grant sizes (bars) for early career researchers and non-early career researchers for Open Operating Grant Program and Project Grants from 2014 to 2020

Description of Figure 1

Using a line graph and a vertical bar graph, this figure shows CIHR’s success rates and average grant sizes, for early career researchers (ECRs) and established researchers, for the Open Operating Grant Program and the Project Grants program, from 2014 to 2020. The first y-axis, to the left side, shows the success rates, in percentage, from 0 to 18%. The second y-axis, to the right side, shows the average grant sizes, in dollars, from $0 to $900,000. The x-axis lists each year from 2014 to 2020.

CIHR’s success rates and average grant sizes for ECRs and for established researchers, for the Open Operating Grant Program and Project Grants program, from 2014 to 2020, were as follows:

  • In 2014, the success rate was 12.4% for ECRs and 14.3% for established researchers. The average grant size was $499,585 for ECRs and $649,479 for established researchers.
  • In 2015, the success rate was 10.4% for ECRs and 15.0% for established researchers. The average grant size was $501,453 for ECRs and $675,264 for established researchers.
  • In 2016, the success rate was 13.7% for ECRs and 14.7% for established researchers. The average grant size was $649,423 for ECRs and $759,156 for established researchers.
  • In 2017, the success rate was 15.0% for both early career and established researchers. The average grant size was $606,909 for ECRs and $756,462 for established researchers.
  • In 2018, the success rate was 14.5% for early career researchers and 14.4% for established researchers. The average grant size was $641,404 for early career researchers and $765,262 for established researchers.
  • In 2019, the success rate was 16.6% for both early career and established researchers. The average grant size was $581,139 for early career researchers and $750,253 for established researchers.
  • In 2020, the success rate was 15.6% for ECRs and 15.3% for established researchers. The average grant size was $673,052 for ECRs and $792,275 for established researchers.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Table
Open Operating Grant Program and Project Grants 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Number of applications—ECRs 445 403 1,515 821 1,130 1,016 1,121
Number of applications—total 2,862 2,682 6,697 3,415 5,117 4,629 4,489
% of all applications 15.5% 15.0% 22.6% 24.0% 22.1% 21.9% 25.0%
Success rate—ECRs 12.4% 10.4% 13.7% 15.0% 14.5% 16.6% 15.6%
Success rate—established researchers 14.3% 15.0% 14.7% 15.0% 14.4% 16.6% 15.3%
Average grant—ECRs $499,585 $501,453 $649,423 $606,909 $641,404 $581,139 $673,052
Average grant—established researchers $649,479 $675,264 $759,156 $756,462 $765,262 $750,253 $792,275
Total Open Operating Grant Program / Project Grant program funds awarded—ECRs $27,477,201 $21,061,029 $134,430,504 $74,649,750 $105,190,260 $98,212,527 $117,784,111
Total Open Operating Grant Program / Project Grant funds awarded $251,547,297 $251,326,181 $711,389,291 $368,913,660 $545,981,020 $547,613,842 $526,597,846
% of funds to ECRs 10.9% 8.4% 18.9% 20.2% 19.3% 17.9% 22.4%
 
Average grant (per year of grant)—ECRs $122,025 $122,894 $151,524 $142,565 $145,751 $140,158 $155,533
Average grant (per year of grant)—established researchers $145,307 $146,186 $167,376 $169,043 $169,984 $166,980 $174,951
Total Open Operating Grant Program / Project Grant program funds awarded—ECRs (per year of grant) $6,711,363 $5,161,554 $31,365,461 $17,535,442 $23,903,223 $23,686,639 $27,218,346
Total Open Operating Grant Program / Project Grant program funds awarded (per year of grant) $56,842,202 $55,010,876 $158,571,008 $83,293,027 $121,814,153 $123,707,806 $117,492,829
% of funds to ECRs 11.8% 9.4% 19.8% 21.1% 19.6% 19.1% 23.2%

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

NSERC Discovery Grants support ongoing programs of research with long-term goals rather than a single, short-term project or collection of projects. Discovery Grants are five-year grants. There is one Discovery Grants competition per year. Individuals can apply for and hold only one Discovery Grant at a time. Discovery Grant holders cannot reapply for another until the last year of their current award.

People submitting an application are categorized as either ECRs or established researchers. From 2014 to 2016, ECRs were defined as people submitting an application within two years of the start date of their first eligible position at a university and having no prior academic or non-academic independent research experience. From 2017 to 2018, the ECR eligibility window was increased to three years; in 2019, it was increased to five years. In all years reported, the window for being considered an ECR could be adjusted to include instances where one had an eligible delay in research (owing to illness, parental leave, etc.).

While applications from ECRs are evaluated against the same three selection criteria as from established researchers, it is recognized that people submitting an application early in their career may not have had the opportunity to make the same levels of contribution to training as established researchers. For this reason, NSERC implements a different quality cut-off for funding ECRs, ensures the overall ECR success rate is at least 50%, and offers additional sources of support to those awarded a Discovery Grant. These include:

Increases in funds awarded to ECRs in 2018 and 2019, in comparison to previous years, reflect the Discovery Launch Supplements and the additional year of funding. Besides the flagship Discovery Grants program, NSERC also devotes funds to a number of Discovery funding programs, many of which provide support to ECRs.

Figure 2: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council success rates (lines) and average grant sizes (bars) for early career researchers and non-early career researchers for Discovery Grants from 2014 to 2020

Description of Figure 2

Using a line graph and a vertical bar graph, this figure shows NSERC’s Discovery Grants success rates and average grant sizes, for early career researchers (ECRs) and established researchers, from 2014 to 2020. The first y-axis, to the left side, shows the success rates, in percentages, from 0 to 80%. The second y-axis, to the right side, shows the average grant sizes, in dollars, from $0 to $250,000. The x-axis lists each year from 2014 to 2020.

NSERC’s Discovery Grants success rates and average grant sizes, from 2014 to 2020, for ECRs and for established researchers, were as follows:

  • In 2014, the success rate was 65.6% for ECRs and 63.7% for established researchers. The average grant size was $138,073 for ECRs and $168,017 for established researchers.
  • In 2015, the success rate was 64.8% for ECRs and 65.2% for established researchers. The average grant size was $130,553 for ECRs and $157,924 for established researchers.
  • In 2016, the success rate was 74.7% for ECRs and 64.5% for established researchers. The average grant size was $143,855 for ECRs and $179,571 for established researchers.
  • In 2017, the success rate was 68.5% for ECRs and 66.1% for established researchers. The average grant size was $127,043 for ECRs and $169,937 for established researchers.
  • In 2018, the success rate was 64.0% for ECRs and 66.7% for established researchers. The average grant size was $190,094 for ECRs and $195,366 for established researchers.
  • In 2019, the success rate was 56.6% for ECRs and 70.6% for established researchers. The average grant size was $192,549 for ECRs and $194,672 for established researchers.
  • In 2020, the success rate was 61.1% for ECRs and 67.1% for established researchers. The average grant size was $186,540 for ECRs and $205,158 for established researchers.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Table
Discovery Grants 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Number of applications—ECRs 427 489 494 562 677 882 889
Number of applications—total 3,134 3,159 3,167 3,240 3,213 3,404 3,372
% of all applications 13.6% 15.5% 15.6% 17.3% 21.1% 25.9% 26.4%
Success rate—ECRs 65.6% 64.8% 74.7% 68.5% 64.0% 56.6% 61.1%
Success rate—established researchers 63.7% 65.2% 64.5% 66.1% 66.7% 70.6% 67.1%
Average grant—ECRs $138,073 $130,553 $143,855 $127,043 $190,094 $192,549 $186,540
Average grant—established researchers $168,017 $157,924 $179,571 $169,937 $195,366 $194,672 $205,158
Total Discovery Grants funds awarded—ECRs $38,660,539 $41,385,170 $53,082,500 $48,911,515 $82,310,534 $96,081,926 $101,291,334
Total Discovery Grants funds awarded $328,489,387 $316,489,081 $362,842,820 $349,530,120 $412,869,600 $442,598,291 $443,084,989
% of funds to ECRs 12.0% 13.1% 14.6% 14.0% 19.9% 21.7% 22.9%
 
Average grant (per year of grant)—ECRs $27,723 $26,120 $28,771 $25,409 $32,099 $32,508 $31,509
Average grant (per year of grant)—established researchers $35,513 $32,903 $37,135 $34,948 $40,355 $40,071 $41,032
Total Discovery Grants funds awarded—ECRs (first year of grant) $8,137,508 $8,280,084 $10,616,500 $9,782,303 $13,898,839 $16,221,571 $17,108,139
Total Discovery Grants funds awarded (first year of grant) $70,208,877 $65,870,975 $74,674,964 $71,605,024 $82,179,749 $87,547,244 $85,466,870
% of funds to ECRs 11.6% 12.6% 14.2% 13.7% 16.9% 18.5% 20.0%

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Insight Development Grants enable the development of new research in its initial stages. They are project-based: funding is provided for short-term research development projects. Insight Development Grants 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 in February.

Within the Insight Development Grants funding opportunity, funding is available for two distinct categories of scholars:

  1. Emerging scholars: When applying, people identifying themselves as emerging scholars 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:
    • 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);
    • have held a tenured or tenure-track postsecondary appointment for less than six years;
    • have held a postsecondary appointment, but never a tenure-track position (in the case of institutions that offer tenure-track positions); or
    • have had their careers significantly interrupted or delayed for health or family reasons within the past six years.

    Emerging scholar status is validated for Insight Development Grants, and at least 50% of funds are reserved for applications from emerging scholars.

  2. Established scholars: Someone who has established—or who, since the completion of their highest degree, has had the opportunity to establish—a record of research achievement.

Insight Grants support research excellence. They are project-based. Insight Grants are valued at $7,000 to $100,000 per year over two to five years, up to a total of $400,000. When applying, individuals must choose from one of two funding streams, depending on the scale of their project:

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

The following apply to both Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants:

Figure 3: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council success rates (lines) and average grant sizes (bars) for early career researchers and non-early career researchers for Insight Development Grants from 2014 to 2020

Description of Figure 3

Using a line graph and a vertical bar graph, this figure shows SSHRC’s Insight Development Grants success rates and average grant sizes, for early career researchers (ECRs) and established researchers, from 2014 to 2020. The first y-axis, to the left side, shows the success rate, in percentages, from 0 to 70%. The second y-axis, to the right side, shows the average grant sizes, in dollars, from $0 to $100,000. The x-axis lists each year from 2014 to 2020.

SSHRC’s Insight Development Grant success rates and average grant sizes, from 2014 to 2020, for ECRs and for established researchers, were as follows:

  • In 2014, the success rate was 25.7% for ECRs and 24.3% for established researchers. The average grant size was $60,643 for ECRs and $62,048 for established researchers.
  • In 2015, the success rate was 23.7% for ECRs and 22.1% for established researchers. The average grant size was $59,123 for ECRs and $60,869 for established researchers.
  • In 2016, the success rate was 45.5% for ECRs and 45.1% for established researchers. The average grant size was $55,604 for ECRs and $55,862 for established researchers.
  • In 2017, the success rate was 32.6% for ECRs and 31.1% for established researchers. The average grant size was $54,372 for ECRs and $56,476 for established researchers.
  • In 2018, the success rate was 60.3% for ECRs and 57.5% for established researchers. The average grant size was $55,434 for ECRs and $58,087 for established researchers.
  • In 2019, the success rate was 50.9% for ECRs and 48.6% for established researchers. The average grant size was $55,694 for ECRs and $56,849 for established researchers.
  • In 2020, the success rate was 45.3% for ECRs and 44.1% for established researchers. The average grant size was $57,567 for ECRs and $57,050 for established researchers.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Table
Overall 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Number of applications—ECRs 1,055 1,026 970 1,013 1,000 884 960
Number of applications—total 3,271 3,225 2,912 2,749 2,675 2,493 2,681
% of all applications 32.3% 31.8% 33.3% 36.8% 37.4% 35.5% 35.8%
Total Insight Development Grants / Insight Grants funds awarded—ECRs $22,633,881 $19,972,111 $27,464,866 $23,579,015 $39,941,520 $29,049,725 $30,550,140
Total Insight Development Grants / Insight Grants funds awarded $115,651,421 $98,888,444 $110,634,127 $114,577,848 $139,711,962 $122,615,958 $129,715,263
% of funds to ECRs 19.6% 20.2% 24.8% 20.6% 28.6% 23.7% 23.6%
Insight Development Grants
Number of applications—ECRs 762 799 803 853 798 739 782
Number of applications—total 1,128 1,237 1,211 1,236 1,139 1,128 1,256
% of all applications 67.6% 64.6% 66.3% 69.0% 70.1% 65.5% 62.3%
Success rate—ECRs 25.7% 23.7% 45.5% 32.6% 60.3% 50.9% 45.3%
Success rate—established researchers 24.3% 22.1% 45.1% 31.1% 57.5% 48.6% 44.1%
Average grant—ECRs $60,643 $59,123 $55,604 $54,372 $55,434 $55,694 $57,567
Average grant—established researchers $62,048 $60,869 $55,862 $56,476 $58,087 $56,849 $57,050
Total funds awarded—ECRs $11,886,052 $11,174,264 $20,295,306 $15,115,320 $26,663,844 $20,940,988 $20,378,648
Total Insight Development Grants funds awarded $17,408,342 $17,078,587 $30,573,895 $21,835,969 $38,048,922 $31,685,401 $32,302,006
% of funds to ECRs 68.3% 65.4% 66.4% 69.2% 70.1% 66.1% 63.1%
 
Average grant (per year of grant)—ECRs $30,629 $29,695 $27,872 $27,180 $28,016 $27,950 $28,995
Average grant (per year of grant)—established researchers $31,649 $30,592 $28,101 $28,599 $29,419 $29,482 $28,805
Total funds awarded—ECRs (per average duration of grant) $5,926,653 $5,538,089 $10,103,675 $7,542,462 $13,543,093 $10,512,432 $10,232,683
Total Insight Development Grants funds awarded (per average duration of grant) $8,680,117 $8,490,250 $15,232,059 $10,902,787 $19,324,171 $15,984,153 $16,237,526
% of funds to ECRs 68.3% 65.2% 66.3% 69.2% 70.1% 66.1% 63.1%
Insight Grants
Number of applications—ECRs 293 227 167 160 202 145 178
Number of applications—total 2143 1988 1701 1513 1536 1365 1425
% of all applications 13.7% 11.4% 9.8% 10.6% 13.2% 10.6% 12.5%
Success rate—ECRs 18.4% 20.7% 28.7% 31.3% 47.5% 43.4% 41.0%
Success rate—established researchers 23.8% 23.7% 31.4% 40.9% 47.3% 46.1% 44.2%
Average grant—ECRs $199,034 $187,188 $149,366 $169,274 $138,309 $128,710 $139,336
Average grant—established researchers $198,853 $174,670 $151,540 $152,127 $140,072 $147,108 $158,334
Total funds awarded—ECRs $10,747,829 $8,797,847 $7,169,560 $8,463,695 $13,277,676 $8,108,737 $10,171,492
Total Insight Grants funds awarded $98,243,079 $81,809,857 $80,060,232 $92,741,879 $101,663,040 $90,930,557 $97,413,257
% of funds to ECRs 10.9% 10.8% 9.0% 9.1% 13.1% 8.9% 10.4%
 
Average grant (per year of grant)—ECRs $50,625 $45,437 $37,895 $39,220 $36,524 $34,498 $37,947
Average grant (per year of grant)—established researchers $48,947 $42,830 $37,925 $37,349 $36,316 $37,422 $40,267
Total funds awarded—ECRs (per average duration of grant) $2,712,069 $2,164,915 $1,820,841 $1,941,214 $3,521,152 $2,155,487 $2,719,850
Total Insight Grants funds awarded (per average duration of grant) $24,145,314 $19,969,335 $19,818,373 $22,460,343 $26,605,122 $23,338,470 $24,729,810
% of funds to ECRs 11.2% 10.8% 9.2% 8.6% 12.8% 8.7% 10.4%

Canada Foundation for Innovation

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund is designed to help institutions attract and retain the best people by providing them with the foundational research infrastructure needed to be or become leaders in their field. The John R. Evans Leaders Fund 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 (Canada Research Chairs Program, Canada Excellence Research Chair Program, NSERC and SSHRC).

Canadian universities, affiliated research hospitals and research institutions recognized as eligible by the CFI can apply for the John R. Evans Leaders Fund if they have received a minimum annual average of $200,000 in research funding over the last three years from the three federal research funding agencies. Research community members listed on the proposal must be:

Figure 4: CFI success rates (lines) and average grant sizes (bars) for early career researchers and non-early career reearchers for the John R. Evans Leaders Fund from 2014 to 2020

Description of Figure 4

Using a line graph and a vertical bar graph, this figure shows the CFI’s success rates and average grant sizes, from 2013 to 2019, for early career researchers (ECRs) and established researchers, for the John R. Evans Leaders Fund. The first y-axis, to the left side, shows the success rates, in percentages, from 0 to 100%. The second y-axis, to the right side, shows the average grant sizes, in dollars, from $0 to $300,000. The x-axis lists each year from 2014 to 2020.

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund success rates and average grant sizes, from 2014 to 2020, for ECRs and for established researchers, are as follows:

  • In 2014, the success rate was 75.9% for ECRs and 75.3% for established researchers. The average grant size was $161,031 for ECRs and $179,824 for established researchers.
  • In 2015, the success rate was 80.7% for ECRs and 78.9% for established researchers. The average grant size was $145,845 for ECRs and $198,789 for established researchers.
  • In 2016, the success rate was 79.3% for ECRs and 82.5% for established researchers. The average grant size was $141,832 for ECRs and $212,993 for established researchers.
  • In 2017, the success rate was 78.8% for ECRs and 81.5% for established researchers. The average grant size was $140,595 for ECRs and $209,100 for established researchers.
  • In 2018, the success rate was 82.0% for ECRs and 73.4% for established researchers. The average grant size was $152,209 for ECRs and $199,564 for established researchers.
  • In 2019, the success rate was 79.3% for ECRs and 76.7% for established researchers. The average grant size was $151,889 for ECRs and $223,418 for established researchers.
  • In 2020, the success rate was 84.6% for ECRs and 81.2% for established researchers. The average grant size was $174,267 for ECRs and $216,270 for established researchers.
Canada Foundation for Innovation Table
John R. Evans Leaders Fund 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Number of applications—ECRsFootnote * 216 259 305 240 283 334 273
Number of applications—totalsFootnote * 382 439 591 418 452 665 464
% of all applications 56.5% 59.0% 51.6% 57.4% 62.6% 50.2% 58.8%
Success rate—ECRs 75.9% 80.7% 79.3% 78.8% 82.0% 79.3% 84.6%
Success rate—established researchers 75.3% 78.9% 82.5% 81.5% 73.4% 76.7% 81.2%
Average grant—ECRs $161,031 $145,845 $141,832 $140,595 $152,209 $151,889 $174,267
Average grant—established researchers $179,824 $198,789 $212,993 $209,100 $199,564 $223,418 $216,270
 
Total John R. Evans Leaders Fund funds awarded—ECRs $26,409,068 $30,481,504 $34,323,312 $26,572,480 $35,312,473 $40,250,531 $40,255,643
Total John R. Evans Leaders Fund funds awarded $48,887,096 $58,709,489 $84,589,750 $56,891,959 $60,058,409 $96,998,760 $73,777,455
% of funds to ECRs 54.0% 51.9% 40.6% 46.7% 58.8% 41.5% 54.6%
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