Appeals of Decisions Based on Merit Review


SSHRC is committed to the integrity of its merit review processes. As part of these processes, it has an appeal process that provides applicants with the opportunity to seek reconsideration of a funding decision where evidence suggests that an error occurred during the merit review process and that this error resulted in a negative funding decision for their application.


Negative funding decisions may be appealed only by the applicant named in the application, and only where there is evidence that an error has occurred during the merit review process managed by SSHRC.

Errors are departures from SSHRC’s policies and procedures, and may include:

  • an undeclared or unaddressed conflict of interest;
  • a failure by SSHRC staff to provide required information to the adjudication committee; or
  • an adjudication committee decision to not recommend an award based on a conclusion that is contrary to information provided by the applicant in the application.

SSHRC will not accept appeals based on:

  • decisions made by SSHRC pertaining to eligibility;
  • a difference in scholarly opinion between that of adjudication committee members and/or external assessors;
  • disagreement over the interpretation or analysis of facts by adjudication committee members and/or external assessors;
  • the number of external assessments;
  • the composition of an adjudication committee; or
  • the amount awarded.

Decisions on appeals are final.



Applicants seeking further information about the review of their application are strongly encouraged to communicate with the SSHRC program officer identified in the letter of decision as a first point of contact. If, after the initial discussion with programs staff, the applicant wishes to pursue an appeal and has the necessary evidence of an error as outlined above, the applicant can submit a formal letter of appeal to SSHRC.

The appeal should be based on a compelling demonstration that an error occurred in the review process.

Appeals must be submitted in writing, postmarked or emailed no later than 60 days after the date of transmission of the funding decision to the applicant. Appeal letters must be no more than two pages in length. SSHRC staff will communicate with appellants should additional information be required during processing of the request for appeal. Supporting documents not included in the original application may not be submitted with the appeal.

To submit by regular mail To submit by email
Appeal letters must be addressed to:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6G4
Appeal emails must include a PDF version of the appeal letter and be addressed to:


In keeping with the principles of independent merit review, the SSHRC appeal process is managed by individuals who were not involved in the original management or review of the application. Specifically, the process is managed through the office of the executive vice-president, Corporate Affairs.

Determining grounds for appeal
Once an appeal is received, a process to determine whether there are grounds for appeal is administered by staff reporting to the executive vice-president, Corporate Affairs. This process involves the following steps:

  1. acknowledgement of receipt of the appeal;
  2. analysis of the appeal and, where appropriate, SSHRC documents relating to the application and its review; and
  3. a decision by the executive vice-president, Corporate Affairs as to whether there are grounds for appeal.

Appeal administration
Where an appeal is allowed, it will be referred to an appeals committee well versed in the SSHRC merit review process. The committee, composed of current or former SSHRC adjudication committee chairs or members, will exclude any individuals that were involved in making the original funding recommendation to SSHRC. The committee will assess the appeal and will provide a recommendation to SSHRC based on its review of the documentation provided to the original adjudication committee, any feedback provided to the applicant, and the appellant’s letter of appeal.

Appeal results
SSHRC will advise appellants of appeal results in writing. Appeals are normally resolved within two to three months from the time they are received by SSHRC.

The appeal procedure may result in the appeals committee:

  • confirming the original recommendation of the adjudication committee; or
  • recommending in favour of the appellant.

Note: A decision in favour of the appellant will not necessarily result in funds being awarded (such funding being dependent on, for example, the final ranking of the proposal). Successful appeals for applications to funding opportunities that support time-sensitive events and/or activities (e.g., Connection Grants) will be handled on a case-by-case basis with respect to determining whether resulting SSHRC funding would be both appropriate and feasible.

Future Applications

Information on appeals submitted, whether successful in the appeal process or not, will not be provided to adjudication committees reviewing future applications for SSHRC funding. In future applications, applicants may comment on any difference in scholarly opinion versus that of prior adjudication committee members and/or external assessors.