Guidelines for Effective Research Training

These guidelines are intended to support and extend the impact of the scholarly commitment to effective research training, by ensuring that, across all SSHRC funding opportunities, everything possible is done to maximize the impact of training, and of investments in training, in the social sciences and humanities.

The social sciences and humanities community places a very strong emphasis on ensuring high-quality training for students and postdoctoral researchers. This is, in part, to maintain high academic standards and levels of accomplishment, and, in part, to ensure that students and postdoctoral researchers in the humanities and social sciences are able to make strong contributions in Canada and globally.

The Guidelines for Effective Research Training will be of particular use to applicants, assessors and adjudicators involved in SSHRC funding competitions, as well as to postsecondary institutions and partnering organizations supporting research training.

SSHRC relies on its community of researchers and merit reviewers to judge the extent to which a particular research training proposal or opportunity should be expected to meet the specific dimensions of effective research training listed below.


Dimensions of Effective Research Training

SSHRC considers that, in order to be effective, research training should, when applicable, do the following:

Build both academic (research and teaching) competencies and general professional skills, including knowledge mobilization, that would be transferable to a variety of settings.

Increasingly, academic skills are skills that are valuable for both academic and non-academic careers. This is due to both the dynamic and evolving nature of research practices, and the reliance that business, not-for-profit and government organizations place on skills students and postdoctoral researchers are able to develop through the social sciences and humanities.

Effective research training enables students and/or postdoctoral researchers to acquire valuable skills in areas such as:

  • research methods and theories;
  • publication and research communication;
  • knowledge mobilization and dissemination;
  • teaching in diverse settings and with various technologies;
  • digital literacy;
  • data management and analysis;
  • research ethics;
  • interdisciplinary research;
  • consultation and community engagement;
  • project and human resources management;
  • leadership and teamwork; and/or
  • workshops and conferences.

Include international and/or intersectoral opportunities whenever possible and applicable.

Students and postdoctoral researchers can gain significant personal benefits, such as new perspectives and knowledge, as well as for their career prospects as a result of research undertaken across international and/or intersectoral boundaries.

International experience benefits students and postdoctoral researchers by giving them the opportunity to form networks that cross national, cultural and linguistic borders. These networks can be useful in both academic and non-academic careers.

Intersectoral experience fosters collaboration between students and postdoctoral researchers and business, not-for-profit and government organizations. On one hand, it supports the development of robust academic careers (through, for example, expanded access to research resources and collaborators), while, on the other hand, it can enable effective transitions to non-academic careers.

Include specific, effective mentoring and institutional support.

It is important to clearly plan out and articulate what training or mentoring a supervisor or SSHRC applicant can provide for the students and the postdoctoral researchers involved in their project. It is likely not possible for the supervisor/applicant to provide training in all of the skills listed above. Often, the host institution will be able to bring additional resources to ensure the best possible training is provided, and that optimal research results are achieved.

Alternative means by which research training might be provided to students and postdoctoral researchers may include:

  • research or teaching assistantships;
  • career development workshops;
  • online training modules; and/or
  • internships with external partners.


Related Reporting

SSHRC will be developing tools to support scholarship, fellowship and grant holders in any reporting required related to research training activities.