SSHRC plans to "stay the course" and build on its successes through 2022

Mark Mann
October 21, 2020

In its strategic plan for the next two years, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) reviewed its progress over the last five years and outlined its program for keeping pace with rapid global change and the effects of COVID-19.

SSHRC is responsible for shepherding $215 million in research investment over five years, and $55 million per year onward. SSHRC also takes a leadership role in delivering interdisciplinary research programs on behalf of the other tri-council granting agencies. Recipients of SSHRC's grants, fellowships and scholarships represent roughly 54% of Canada’s postsecondary researchers, amounting to over $2.4 billion in funding over the last five years.

From 2014 to 2019, SSHRC'S total funding increased by 43%, from $346 million to $496 million. The gains were spread evenly across SSHRC's programs: Insight Research, Research Training and Talent Development, Research Partnerships, and the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF). The latter was added in 2018. $72 million has been dispensed over the last two years through NFRF, of the total $275 million planned over five years to support international, interdisciplinary and transformative research.  Funding for tri-agency interdisciplinary programs increased from nearly $600 million in 2014 to about $900 million in 2019.

Other trends were evident over the last five years: 1) increased participation of non-academic partners in industry, government and the not-for-profit sectors; 2) increased Indigenous organizations involved in SSHRC partnerships; 3) more nominations of women, members of visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, and persons with disabilities to the Canada Research Chairs Program; and 4) greater numbers of international researchers involved in SSHRC-funded grants.

Looking forward, SSHRC will focus on five main objectives:

  1. Enhance Canada's global leadership in social sciences and humanities research — SSHRC will work to achieve this in three ways, by advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion; strengthening Indigenous research capacity; and enabling interdisciplinary and international research collaborations. To help with Indigenous research, a new Indigenous leadership circle will provide advice to all three funding agencies on the implementation of the strategy. SSHRC is planning to develop and pilot a tri-agency peer review mechanism for novel research that crosses disciplinary boundaries.
  2. Grow Canada’s research talent — In order to prepare students for future success in research, the agency says it will complete the harmonization of the tri-agency Canada Graduate Scholarships program. SSHRC will also work to increase early career researcher opportunities and training, and help researchers develop skills in communication and knowledge mobilization.
  3. Strengthen the research enterprise in Canada — Along with building inclusivity and promoting open science, SSHRC will strengthen research ecosystems at postsecondary institutions by highlighting impacts associated with support for the indirect costs of research, through new reporting approaches for the Incremental Project Grants and the Research Support Fund.
  4. Contribute innovative solutions to global challenges and opportunities — To address the challenges outlined in its Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, SSHRC will launch a Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition on Working in the Digital Economy, and hold a national forum convening interdisciplinary Knowledge Synthesis Grant holders and key stakeholders on the topic of Living Within the Earth’s Carrying Capacity.
  5. Build a nimble, forward-looking SSHRC organization — As the agency continues to adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will equip staff with the skills and tools necessary to work safely, efficiently and collaboratively “from anywhere, at any time.” In order to improve its operations, SSHRC will further the discovery phase for modernizing the grants management system across the three federal research granting agencies. Ultimately, a forthcoming tri-agency grants management solution will provide a single platform to better support applicants, administrators and reviewers.



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