Research-Creation Grants in Fine Arts

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November 2010 Competition

A Pilot Program for Artist-Researchers Affiliated with Canadian Postsecondary Institutions

Value and Duration
Evaluation and Adjudication
Administrative Regulations
More Information



This pilot program was developed in several stages.

In October 2000, SSHRC sponsored a major conference on the future of the humanities in Canada, “Alternative Wor(l)ds: The Humanities in 2010”. The vigour of debate and richness of ideas led to SSHRC appointing a Working Group on the Future of the Humanities to make recommendations to Council concerning the issues that the delegates deemed of greatest importance. The Report of the Working Group on the Future of the Humanities (PDF 684KB), published in March 2001, elicited a formal Response from SSHRC Council (PDF 49KB). Among the report’s guiding principles was that “we must bridge the gap between the creative and interpretive disciplines and link the humanities more closely with the arts communities.”

In June 2001, SSHRC responded to this by creating the Sub-Committee on the Creative and Fine Arts to look into the nature of the research undertaken by artist-researchers and their access to federal funding for research.

The sub-committee’s two reports to Council discussed the following:

  • the potentially transformative nature of research undertaken by artist-researchers;

  • the centrality of artist-researchers to current interdisciplinary research and humanities scholars’ demands for better integration into the overall Canadian research effort;

  • the significant and increasing number of practicing artists—faculty and graduate and undergraduate students—working in Canadian postsecondary institutions;

  • the limited research funding currently available to artist-researchers;

  • relevant policies and programs of other agencies, such as the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC) and the Canada Council for the Arts;

  • the frustration experienced and opportunities lost by university- and college-based artists who lack a federal research funding agency to which they can apply;

  • artist-researchers’ low participation and low success rates in existing SSHRC programs, the associated difficulties they face as applicants, and their widespread perception that SSHRC programs, criteria, and committees are not sympathetic to their research.

The sub-committee concluded that SSHRC should put into place a pilot program to support the work of artist-researchers in Canada’s postsecondary institutions. In March 2003, Council approved the launch of a three-competition pilot program.

In 2006-07 SSHRC undertook a formative evaluation of the program. The evaluation was positive and, as such, SSHRC is offering the program for another year of funding. A summative evaluation will be conducted at a later date.



The broad purpose of the pilot program is to support and develop excellence in research in artistic disciplines. An artistic discipline includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following categories: architecture, design (including interior design), creative writing, visual arts (e.g., painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles), performing arts (dance, music, theatre), film, video, performance art, interdisciplinary arts, media and electronic arts, and new artistic practices. This list is not exhaustive and applicants are encouraged to communicate with the program officer when the relevance of proposed projects to the program objectives is uncertain.

SSHRC recognizes that artist-researchers work in an academic setting and that, like their colleagues in other fields, their duties focus on two broad functions: contributing to the development or renewal of their field, and training undergraduate and graduate students. Accordingly, the program’s specific objectives are to:

  • support high-quality research-creation in projects that advance knowledge in the fine arts and enhance the overall quality of artistic production in Canadian postsecondary institutions;

  • develop the research skills of graduate and undergraduate students who are working in artistic and related disciplines through their participation in programs of research that involve artistic practice;

  • facilitate the dissemination and presentation of high quality work to a broad public through a diversity of scholarly and artistic means; and

  • foster opportunities for collaboration, whenever appropriate, among university- and college-based artist-researchers, other university and college researchers, and professional artists.


The program invites artist-researchers affiliated with Canadian postsecondary institutions, within a broad range of disciplines, to apply for research grants of up to three years’ duration to support research-creation.

An artist-researcher is defined as a member of the faculty of a Canadian postsecondary institution whose work involves research, the creation of works of art, and the training of undergraduate and/or graduate students. Where the institution agrees, this category includes adjunct, part-time, sessional and emeritus faculty as well as university-employed curators, so long as these individuals meet the requirements of the definition.

Research-creation refers to any research activity or approach to research that forms an essential part of a creative process or artistic discipline and that directly fosters the creation of literary/artistic works. The research must address clear research questions, offer theoretical contextualization within the relevant field or fields of literary/artistic inquiry, and present a well considered methodological approach. Both the research and the resulting literary/artistic works must meet peer standards of excellence and be suitable for publication, public performance or viewing.

This means that the artist’s or writer’s peers must regard the research or the approach to research as contributing to:

  • development of one or more forms of artistic expression (i.e., the proposed project represents a new development, is original, innovative, or renews some aspect of the field);
  • training of students; and
  • enrichment of Canadian and/or international culture.

A program of research-creation is defined as a sustained research enterprise that includes one or more projects or other components, and which is shaped by broad objectives for the advancement of knowledge in the fine arts, through the development or renewal of the field of artistic endeavour concerned.

Such a program might be undertaken primarily by one investigator and be encompassed within a single research career, or it could mobilize a team of researchers during a specific period. In pursuit of the overall objectives, specific approaches and methods are advanced, adopted and modified as the research proceeds and research results are made available to the research community and the public.

SSHRC will award grants for new and ongoing programs of research-creation based on peer-review judgment of proposals’ probable contribution to knowledge in the relevant disciplines. Such knowledge may concern the development of techniques (e.g., musical, computer, material) in the various artistic disciplines involved. Proposals that focus on the creation of curriculum are not eligible, though it is understood that research-creation can lead to improved curricula and serve as a method of disseminating research results.


Value and Duration

Grants are available for programs of research-creation of up to three years. The value of these grants is up to a maximum of $100,000 per year, but totalling not more than $250,000 in a three-year period. SSHRC welcomes both small- and large-scale projects.

Except for researchers at Canadian postsecondary institutions that do not receive a SSHRC Institutional Grant, the program requires a minimum budget of $7,000 in at least one of the three years.

The value of individual awards will vary. Most awards are for three years. Grants must be taken up in the first fiscal year for which they are awarded.



Only those who fulfill the definition of artist-researcher are eligible to apply to this program. Humanities and social science scholars affiliated with Canadian postsecondary institutions who engage in research-creation are also eligible to apply.

Note: Research proposals that do not involve a significant creative component should be submitted to one of the Standard Research Grant committees or to another appropriate SSHRC program. Proposals that do not meet the definition of research-creation will be ruled ineligible for this program.

Applications may be submitted by an individual artist-researcher, a team of artist-researchers, or a mixed team of artist-researchers, researchers in other academic fields, and professional artists. There are two categories of eligible applicant:

There are three other categories of eligible participant:

  • Research collaborator
  • Student assistant
  • Other assistants and support staff

All applicants and participants must meet the eligibility criteria specific to their category.

Professional artists may participate, but only as research collaborators or consultants. If such artists are involved as paid consultants, it must be clear that neither the applicant nor any available co-applicant, collaborator or student has the artistic skills needed to carry out the research.

Students may participate only as research assistants. They may be paid either through hourly wages or through student stipends. Faculty who are also students—that is, who are taking courses on a part-time basis—should apply as faculty, assuming they have the support of their institution.

SSHRC encourages Canadian artist-researchers to develop international research collaborations when appropriate. Please consult the SSHRC Grant Holder's Guide for detailed information about eligible expenses, including the travel and subsistence costs of foreign research collaborators and the hiring of foreign research assistants.


Institutions that propose to administer any grant awarded under this program must meet the requirements for managing SSHRC funds and must hold or obtain institutional eligibility.


Evaluation and Adjudication

Peer Review Process

Applications are adjudicated, and available funds awarded, through a competitive process. An interdisciplinary peer adjudication committee evaluates and ranks all applications. The committee is composed primarily of artist-researchers, but may also include, as appropriate, professional artists and researchers in relevant humanities, social science and natural science and engineering disciplines. SSHRC may also solicit external assessments from experts in fields appropriate to the applications.

The committee will rely primarily on a required one-page statement of relevance to screen out any applications that do not, in its view, fulfill the definition of research-creation.

Evaluation Criteria

The adjudication committee and any external assessors will examine proposals on the basis of the following five criteria:

Significance: intellectual and artistic significance of the proposed research-creation within both artistic and academic disciplines; significance of the proposal for society, whether at local, regional, national, or global levels.

Research-creation plan: strength and feasibility of the proposed program of research-creation, including clarity of research questions, strength of theoretical or reflective framework, specificity and viability of proposed methodologies and creative practices, degree of coordination with partners, handling of any ethical considerations, measures in place for management of the project.

Training plan: value and feasibility of the proposed training for students pursuing careers in research-creation.

Qualifications: academic, artistic and other qualifications of the applicant and (as applicable) other members of the research team for carrying out the proposed research-creation and training, including strength of the overall track record in research-creation and student training as these relate to the proposed program of research-creation.

Knowledge mobilization: value and feasibility of plans to disseminate resulting artistic and other research knowledge within the academy, at the community level, across Canada and internationally via exhibitions, performances, publications, curricula, Web sites, CDs, DVDs, films, etc.

The committee’s application of the five criteria will take into account the stage the applicant and any team members have reached in their careers. Emerging scholars will be assessed as much on their promise as artist-researchers as on their achievement to date in research-creation. The committee will also take into consideration circumstances that the applicant demonstrates have justifiably impeded his or her achievements in research-creation. Allowances will be made for applicants from smaller institutions who are not in a position to supervise graduate students.

The adjudication committee will rank each application on the basis of its assessment of the strength of the proposal in relation to the other applications in the competition.

The committee will provide each applicant with a summary page of feedback on the most important factor or factors in their assessment.

Administrative Regulations

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide (TAFAG). While the TAFAG has precedence, additional information can also be found in the Grant Holder's Guide.

More Information

For more information about the Research-Creation Grants in Fine Arts program, and for advice on how to best present your application, please contact:

Chantal Meda
Program Officer
Strategic Grants and Joint Initiatives Division
350 Albert Street
P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, ON K1P 6G4

Tel.: 613-947-4539
Fax: 613-947-0223