SSHRC “May Days”
Preparing a SSHRC Standard Research Grant proposal
         (for Social Sciences & Humanities)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
9:30am – 12:00pm
MBA Room (530 Drake Centre), I.H. Asper School of Business

Presenters: Dr. Rick Linden, Dr. Sandy Hershcovis,
Dr. Liz Millward, Dr. Eve Nimmo, Ms. Krista Wiebe
SSHRC Application Timeline
   Spring – faculty may provide funds to prepare
   Late summer – Internal review process
   Early fall – Dean‟s Office pre-review
   October 15 – SSHRC deadline
   Winter – External assessments
   March– Adjudication Committee
       Success rate about 30% from 2007-2010
            Varies by committee
SSHRC Programs
   Many different funding programs
       Largest is the Standard Research Grants
   $250,000 over 3 years
       Average in 2009 was about $90,000
New Scholar
   Ph.D. within past 5 years or less than 5 years
    in a tenure-track position (so can actually be
    quite senior in experience)
   Advantage – less weight on track record and
    more on research program proposal
       Normally 60/40 for track record, but for New
        Scholars whichever is higher score will be
        weighted 60%
SSHRC Application Process
   How committees work
       baseline scoring
       2 assessors, committee decision, 10-15
       Track record
       Project score
   Committees have cultures
       i.e. books vs. articles, funding amounts
Committee Members
   Diverse – subfield, region, size of U.
   Huge workload with no compensation or
       can be irritable so don‟t annoy them (think of
        marking term papers at midnight and how much
        you enjoy those that are unint2f54igible or have
        speling errors).
   They are looking for reasons to reject your
    proposal (not because they are mean –
    remember they are us)
Strategies for New Faculty
   Determine the norms in your faculty
       Some brand new scholars are successful
       Some areas require an established track record
            E.g., In English and History you need a published book
   URGP program – Deadline us Oct. 15 – „new‟
    is 36 mths.
   Publish, publish, publish...
   Seek assistance from experienced colleagues
Research Program
   Explicit objectives in context of current
   Relationship to ongoing research
   Importance, originality, contribution
   Theoretical approach
Research Program (2)
   Research strategy/methodology
   Dissemination beyond academic community
   Academic training of students –
       Solid role, but not doing all the work
       Doing developmental work (not menial)
       Faculty should also have a role (i.e., should be
        able to find a library and conduct an interview)
   Budget
Evaluation Criteria
   Originality and expected contribution to
   Scholarly, social, cultural significance
   Appropriateness of theoretical
   Feasibility of successful completion
   Communications plan
   Research training
Track Record
   Criteria vary by discipline.
       Some value books
       Others emphasize journal articles
   Importance of “other” contributions (e.g.,
    book reviews, conference papers) varies.
       On some committees they can be almost
   Clearly link research program with your
    previous work
Example from Scoring Matrix
   Excellent (reg. scholar)
       Recognized nationally or internationally for the
        excellent quality and substantial impact of his or
        her publications within the discipline or beyond.
       Has a distinguished publication record, and has
        published both consistently and recently.
       Has had significant publications from previous
       Has made significant contribution to training of
        future researchers and where appropriate
        dissemination of results beyond academia.
Committee Work
   30 Files Per Day
   Reader A, Reader B
       Don‟t discuss top 15% unless flagged.
       If agreement, often little discussion.
       If not, committee will get involved (and members
        may not be specialists in your field)
   Full committee often involved at the end
    when deciding final rankings.
How to Write Proposal
   Make sure you answer these questions:
       What are we going to learn that we don‟t know now?
       Why is it worth knowing?
       How will we know conclusions are valid?
   Open forcefully –grab reader‟s attention
   Tell a story – not just disconnected sections
   Avoid jargon
   Make sure your bibliography is thorough (example of
    Holocaust scholar reviewing proposal by
   Don‟t finish it the night before the deadline
Practical Tips
   Start very early (now is not too soon)
   Get your hands on as many successful
    proposals as possible
       Any themes?
       What made them successful?
       Find a model that works for you
   Write on an idea that excites you
Practical Tips
   Method should be very detailed
       You want the committee to believe you know:
            What you are doing
            How to do it
   Your budget must map onto:
       your method
       Your student training strategy
            E.g., if you say you‟re going to teach a student to analyze data, don‟t
             forget to include software for the student in your budget
   Make sure your budget is realistic
       Don‟t pad
Practical Tips
   Plan to use the internal review process
   Finish a complete draft one month before the
    ORS deadline
       Ask everyone you know to read your proposal
            Including your mother
            And academics from unrelated disciplines
       Pay attention to feedback and make changes
   Issues
       Completeness
       Clarity
       „Trust me‟ Methodology
       Budgets
            2 conferences summer after getting grant – nobody works that
       Readers from other specialties
            Write for specialists and generalists - jargon
       Decisions not always fair
            Appeal process
            Take the feedback and make it better!
Final Points
   Many applicants are not successful the first
       Of those in the bottom 35% who reapply, about 25% are
        successful the next year, and 30% eventually
       This is likely higher for those above the bottom 35%
   Don‟t ask to fund a lit review
   Make it readable
       Use white space, margins (midnight readers)
   Don‟t include things you don‟t understand
       E.g., interviews with no budget for transcription
       Homage to Foucault, etc
Research Grants Facilitator

   Role at the University

   How can I help?
Research Grants Facilitator
   Position started in 2010 – new position at the
   Support for Social Sciences and Humanities
   Help improve success of grant applications
   Resource at all stages of proposal
How can I help?
   Discuss your project in its initial stages
       What is the project?
       Is it the right time to apply?
       Is the Standard Research grant right for
How can I help?
   Develop a strategy
       What committee is best for your project?
       What will be the focus of the research?
       How does the project fit in with SSHRC strategic
How can I help?
   Peer-review throughout proposal
       Review of initial drafts of the proposal
       Help to facilitate the formal peer-review process
       Ensure all aspects of the proposal are complete
        and consistent
How can I help?
   What do I look for?
       Clear, consistent language for the non-expert
       Appropriate focus/language for the committee
       Are you „selling‟ the project and its importance?
       Are you engaging the reader?
       Style and readability
       Errors, typos, inconsistencies
When to get started?
   Start NOW!

   Make an appointment to talk with me
    about your project

   The sooner I am in on the process the
    more help I can be!
Post Award – What‟s Next?
   Next point of contact for financial details – Research
    and Special Funds Accounting (formerly known as
   Receive notification from your Grant Accountant with
    a “FOP” and summary of grant details.
            Now you can spend your money!
Researcher Responsibilities
   Familiar with policies/procedures
       Financial Administration And Control Of Research And
        Special Funds Policy/Procedure
            outlines areas of responsibility
       Travel and Business Expense Claim Policy/Procedure
       Agency Guidelines
            Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide – very comprehensive
Researcher Resp. (cont‟d)
   Basic rules:
   Spending needs to be
       Authorized
       Fall within guidelines (Agency and U of M)
       Remain within budget and project start and end dates
            Don‟t wait until March 30 to spend or request an extension
            Don‟t start spending until your approvals have gone through
Researcher Resp. (cont‟d)
   Other financial responsibilities assigned to researcher
    or designate:
       Reconcile “FOP” monthly
            Think of your grant as a “cheque book”
       Forward any payments received to Grant Accountant
       Sign off on report to agency (must be signed by PI)
Research Accounting
   Provide support in financial areas to researcher
    and/or designate
   Set up and close “FOP”
   Central point of contact for policy or financial
   Prepare reports
   Follow up on any items that shouldn‟t be on grant
       Over-expenditures; expenses out of the project period or not
        meeting guidelines
New This Year
   Online report submission – F300‟s will be approved
    online rather than mailed or emailed for signature
       Our contribution to “Going Green”.
       More details to come – deadline is June 30.
Finance Contacts and Links
Research and Special Funds Accounting contacts for SSHRC funds:
    Krista Wiebe –

    Maria Tabaquero –

Financial Administration And Control Of Research And Special Funds Procedure:

Travel and Business Expense Claim Procedure:

Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide:
SSHRC “May Days”
   Questions?

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