Insight Grants

October 2015 Competition

Value $7,000 to $400,000
Duration 3 to 5 years
Application deadline
(8 p.m. eastern)
October 15, 2015 for full application

New: There is no Notice of Intent stage for Insight Grant applications
Results announced Spring 2016
Apply Web CV, application and instructions

* Note: If a deadline falls on a weekend or a Canadian public holiday, the online application system will remain open until 8 p.m. (eastern time) on the next business day.

Future Challenge Areas
Value and Duration
Application Process
Evaluation and Adjudication
Regulations, Policies and Related Information
Contact Information


Insight Grants proposals are expected to respond to the objectives put forward in the call for proposals for the Insight program. The objectives of the Insight program are to:

  • build knowledge and understanding from disciplinary, interdisciplinary and/or cross-sector perspectives through support for the best researchers;
  • support new approaches to research on complex and important topics, including those that transcend the capacity of any one scholar, institution or discipline;
  • provide a high-quality research training experience for students;
  • fund research expertise that relates to societal challenges and opportunities; and
  • mobilize research knowledge, to and from academic and non-academic audiences, with the potential to lead to intellectual, cultural, social and economic influence, benefit and impact.

Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities. Funding is available to both emerging and established scholars for long-term research initiatives of three to five years.

Stable support for long-term research initiatives is central to advancing knowledge. It enables scholars to address complex issues pertaining to individuals and societies, and to further our collective understanding.

The Insight Grants funding opportunity supports research proposed by scholars and judged worthy of funding by their peers and/or other experts. Insight Grants research initiatives may be undertaken by an individual researcher or a team of researchers working in collaboration.

SSHRC welcomes applications involving Aboriginal research, as well as those involving research-creation.

Related opportunities

SSHRC and its partner organizations offer several initiatives that complement the Insight Grants funding opportunity:

  • For scholars interested in carrying out research in its initial stages, SSHRC also provides short-term support by way of its Insight Development Grants.
  • Researchers involved in formal partnerships are encouraged to apply for Partnership Grants or Partnership Development Grants.
  • Societal Implications of Disruptive Innovation in Genomics promotes social sciences and humanities research and related activities aimed at expanding understanding of the potential for new and emerging genomic innovations to affect society. Interested researchers should develop proposals related to this focus and submit their applications through funding opportunities offered under SSHRC’s Insight and Connection programs, or to relevant Knowledge Synthesis Grants competitions. For more information, see the Genome Canada website.
  • Insight Grant applicants conducting research on matters related to enhancing participation in sport in Canada may be eligible for funding through the Sport Participation Research Initiative.
  • Applicants requiring infrastructure funding to support their research and/or related activities may be eligible for support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. For more information, please visit the CFI website, or contact the CFI liaison officer at your institution.


Future Challenge Areas

SSHRC invites all applicants to review Imagining Canada’s Future’s six future challenge areas and subquestions, and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. While this is not an evaluation criterion for merit review, research that addresses one or more of the future challenge areas further positions the value of the social sciences and humanities to meet Canada’s future, long-term societal challenges and opportunities.

SSHRC monitors research capacity in these areas, and develops and implements strategies and knowledge mobilization activities, including a series of Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunities, to enhance the contribution of humanities and social sciences across the six challenge areas.


Value and Duration

The maximum value of an Insight Grant is $400,000, over three to five years. A minimum request of $7,000 is required in at least one of the years. A maximum of $100,000 is available in a single year.



Note: Insight Grants competitions no longer require applicants to submit a Notice of Intent to SSHRC.

Subject matter

Most SSHRC funding is awarded through open competitions. Insight Grant proposals may involve any disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. Please see Subject Matter Eligibility for more information.

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development are not eligible for funding.


Insight Grant applications may be submitted by an individual researcher or by a team of researchers (consisting of one applicant and one or more co-applicants and/or collaborators). All team members must meet the eligibility criteria specific to their category (see below).

Applicants (except postdoctoral fellows/researchers and PhD students) must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application. If the Canadian postsecondary institution with which they are affiliated is not a SSHRC eligible institution, the institution must meet the requirements to administer grants and awards, as outlined in the Institutional Eligibility Requirements for the Administration of Grants and Awards, and must contact SSHRC at least five business days prior to the application deadline to begin the eligibility process. Applicants successful in the Insight Grants competition must be affiliated with an eligible institution before funding can be released.

Researchers who maintain an affiliation with a Canadian postsecondary institution, but whose primary affiliation is with a non-Canadian postsecondary institution, are not eligible for applicant status within the Insight Grants funding opportunity.

Postdoctoral fellows/researchers are eligible to be applicants for an Insight Grant. However, in order for SSHRC to release grant funds, successful applicants must formally establish an affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution within five months of the grant start date (i.e., by September 2015 for the current competition), and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.


Co-applicants (except postdoctoral fellows/researchers and PhD students) must normally be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application. If they are not, they must contact SSHRC. Co-applicants on a successful application must be affiliated with an eligible institution before the grant is awarded.

Researchers who maintain an affiliation with a Canadian postsecondary institution, but whose primary affiliation is with a non-Canadian postsecondary institution, are not eligible for co-applicant status within the Insight Grants funding opportunity.

Postdoctoral fellows/researchers are eligible to be co-applicants for an Insight Grant under the same conditions as those described under Applicants above.


Any individual who will make a significant contribution to the research initiative is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.


Students enrolled in a program of study are not eligible to apply for an Insight Grant. However, a PhD candidate is eligible to apply if he or she:

  • will have met all requirements for the PhD before the grant is awarded (i.e., before April 1, 2016, for the current competition), including all course work and successful defense of their dissertation;
  • establishes a formal affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution within five months of the grant start date (i.e., by September 2016 for the current competition); and
  • maintains such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.

Multiple applications

Researchers may not apply, as applicant, for an Insight Grant and an Insight Development Grant within the same calendar year. For instance, a researcher who applied for an Insight Development Grant in February 2015 may not apply for an Insight Grant in October 2015, whether successful in the competition or not. However, a researcher who applies for an Insight Grant in October 2015 may apply for an Insight Development Grant in February 2016, provided that the objectives of the research are significantly different.

Researchers may apply, as applicant, for only one Insight Grant at a time.

Please refer to SSHRC's regulations regarding multiple applications for more information.

There is no limit to the number of SSHRC applications on which a researcher may be listed as a co-applicant or collaborator.

Applicants who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but have failed to submit a final research report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for another SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.


Grant funds may only be administered by an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution. Institutions proposing to administer any grant awarded under this funding opportunity must hold or obtain institutional eligibility.


Insight Grant holders will be expected to report on the use of grant funds, on research and related activities undertaken during the period of the grant, and on outcomes. Successful applicants will be informed of reporting requirements upon receiving their Notice of Award.


Application Process

Full Insight Grants application forms will be made available on the online system starting July 15, 2015. Applicants must complete the application form in accordance with the accompanying instructions. Applications must be submitted electronically by an authorized research grants officer, or equivalent, from the applicant’s institution.

Eligible PhD students and postdoctoral researchers may submit their applications directly to SSHRC.


Evaluation and Adjudication

Insight Grant applications are adjudicated, and available funds awarded, through a competitive process. SSHRC is committed to ensuring high-quality adjudication of all proposals, in particular by ensuring an appropriate mix of skills and expertise on merit review committees.

For general information on SSHRC's adjudication process, see Merit Review.

Two groups of individuals will be involved in the evaluation of Insight Grant applications:

  • external assessors; and
  • members of the Insight Grants adjudication committees.

These groups include national and international scholars from the research community and may include experts from other sectors as needed. Participants in the review process, if not in a conflict of interest with the applicant or any team members, are asked to evaluate the proposal based on the evaluation criteria below.

SSHRC will seek, but cannot guarantee, a minimum of two external assessments per application. External assessors usually read only one application and provide the adjudication committee with their assessment thereof.

Committee members read an entire cohort of applications, along with the pertinent assessments provided by external assessors. Members, as a group, then evaluate and rank all of the proposals assigned to their committee. Adjudication committees consider but are not bound by the judgments of the external assessors.

SSHRC makes funding decisions based on the recommendations of the adjudication committee and on the funds available. Committee discussions will be guided by the principle of minimum essential funding.

Research groups

Insight Grants are adjudicated by committees of academic and/or other experts drawn from, but not limited to, the following research fields:

Group 1: History; mediaeval studies; classics; literature; fine arts; philosophy; religious studies; and related fields.

Group 2: Anthropology; archaeology; linguistics; translation; political science; public administration; geography; urban planning and environmental studies; and related fields.

Group 3: Business and management; economics; and related fields.

Group 4: Sociology; demography; law; criminology; social work; communication studies; journalism; media studies; gender studies; cultural studies; library and information science; and related fields.

Group 5: Education; psychology; and related fields.

In the application form, applicants will be asked to indicate which of the five groups they consider most appropriate for their proposal, and to select a primary discipline and area of research from a detailed list available on the application form. Adjudication committees will be created based on these groups, according to the number and nature of applications received.

Merit review and committee structure

SSHRC will create disciplinary, multidisciplinary and/or thematic adjudication committees according to the number and nature of applications received, and taking into account information provided by applicants.

All applicants will be asked to indicate the primary discipline and area of research relating to their proposal. In addition, applicants who prefer a multidisciplinary review will be asked to indicate secondary and tertiary disciplines and areas of research relating to their proposal, and to include a rationale. SSHRC will use this rationale to determine the most appropriate review for the application.

In the case of applicants who have indicated a preference for a multidisciplinary review, SSHRC will create one multidisciplinary committee per research group, provided the number of applications received is sufficient. In addition, relevant expertise may be sought to review the proposal from within the larger pool of Insight Grants committee membership.

Applicants who do not indicate a preference for multidisciplinary review will be considered to prefer a disciplinary review.

Applicants will also be asked to identify whether their proposal is a research-creation or an Aboriginal research project. SSHRC strongly encourages applicants to consult its definitions of Aboriginal research and research-creation.

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research are relevant for researchers who are applying for a SSHRC grant to conduct Aboriginal research. SSHRC provides these guidelines to merit reviewers to help build general understanding of Aboriginal research, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific Challenge, Feasibility and Capability evaluation criteria in the context of Aboriginal research. SSHRC relies on a community of merit reviewers with experience and expertise in Aboriginal research to judge the extent to which the guidelines may be applied to a particular research proposal. The guidelines may also be of use to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Aboriginal research.

The adjudication of research-creation and Aboriginal research proposals may involve a more tailored adjudication. The evaluation of research-creation proposals will also include assessment of artistic merit. If a sufficient number of Aboriginal research and/or research-creation applications are received, SSHRC may establish distinct adjudication committees for these.

Note: SSHRC will make efforts to accommodate applicant preferences. However, SSHRC reserves the right to determine an application’s review process and committee assignment.

Applicants may contact SSHRC to discuss group selection.

Evaluation Criteria and Scoring

The following criteria and scoring scheme are used by adjudication committee members to evaluate Insight Grant applications:

  1. Challenge—The aim and importance of the endeavour (40%):

    • originality, significance and expected contribution to knowledge;
    • appropriateness of the literature review;
    • appropriateness of the theoretical approach or framework;
    • appropriateness of the methods/approach;
    • quality of training and mentoring to be provided to students, emerging scholars and other highly qualified personnel, and opportunities for them to contribute; and
    • potential for the project results to have influence and impact within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community.

  2. Feasibility—The plan to achieve excellence (20%):

    • probability that the objectives will be met within the timeline proposed;
    • appropriateness of the requested budget and justification of proposed costs;
    • indications of financial and in-kind contributions from other sources, where appropriate;
    • quality and appropriateness of knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable; and
    • appropriateness of the strategies for conducting the activity/activities proposed.

  3. Capability—The expertise to succeed (40%):

    • quality, quantity and significance of past experience and published and/or creative outputs of the applicant and any co-applicants, relative to their roles in the project and their respective stages of career;
    • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration/other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and media), and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.;
    • evidence of contributions to the development of talent; and
    • potential of the applicant/co-applicant to make future contributions.

Scoring table

Adjudication committee members assign a score for each of the three criteria listed above, based on the following scoring table. The appropriate weighting is then applied to arrive at a final score. Applications must receive a score of 3.0 or higher for each of the three criteria in order to be recommended for funding.

Score Descriptor


Very good - excellent


Good - very good


Satisfactory - good

Below 3


Communication of results

Research offices will be informed of the competition results pertaining to their applicants by way of SSHRC’s secure site. All applicants will receive, in addition to SSHRC’s notice of decision, any external assessments received and a summary of the adjudication committee’s evaluation of their proposal, where applicable.


Regulations, Policies and Related Information

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.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. See SSHRC’s Open Access overview for more information. SSHRC also encourages researchers to manage data arising from their research, in accordance with both community standards and best practices.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their applications:

Frequently asked questions about Insight Development Grants and Insight Grants


Contact Information

For more information about the Insight Grants funding opportunity, please contact:

Tel.: 613-996-6976