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Departmental Performance Report 2011-12

Table of Contents


Minister’s Message

Minister of States Message

Presidents Message

Section I: Organizational Overview

Section II: Analyis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Section III: Supplementary Information

Section IV: Other Items of Interest



Minister’s Message

Christian Paradis,Ministry of Industry

The Department of Industry and the other members of the Portfolio have made significant progress on a number of priorities in 2011–12.

This past year, the Industry Portfolio has worked to strengthen Canada’s business environment, support scientific research and development, encourage business-driven innovation, and modernize our laws for the digital economy. The Government of Canada has made science, technology and innovation a priority since 2006, and, as this report shows, we are continuing to fulfil our commitment.

In 2011–12, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) worked to build a stronger, more prosperous and innovative Canadian economy and society. Through SSHRC, the Government of Canada invested $339.3 million in grants, fellowships and scholarships to support research and training in the social sciences and humanities. This funding has contributed significantly to the development of a highly educated, skilled and flexible Canadian workforce. SSHRC has also continued to support the building of insights and connections in areas of importance to Canadians, including the digital economy, management, business and finance, the environment, and northern communities.

Our government understands that innovation is one of the most important contributors to future economic growth. By creating new products and services, opening new markets and rethinking today’s technologies, Canadian researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses across the country will help create new jobs, spur economic growth and ensure Canada’s long-term prosperity.

As we move forward, the Industry Portfolio will continue to support government priorities while taking important steps to restore fiscal balance in the medium term. Through the right mix of strategic investment, marketplace frameworks and modern programs and services, we will continue to set the conditions for companies to succeed at home and abroad.

It is my pleasure to present the 2011–12 Departmental Performance Report for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Christian Paradis
Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)




Minister of State’s Message

Gary Goodyear, Minister of State

As the Minister of State for Science and Technology, my priority is the promotion of Canadian science, technology and innovation. Not only do they lead to important discoveries that benefit society, but they also are the foundation for greater productivity, competitiveness, job creation and economic growth.

For this reason, our government has been laying the groundwork to be able to leverage the benefits of science and technology. In recent years, our focus has been on strengthening three key elements of Canada’s innovation ecosystem: developing and recruiting world-leading research talent, modernizing research infrastructure across the country and stimulating private sector innovation. Since 2006, we have invested nearly $8 billion in new funding for science, technology and the growth of innovative firms—and our efforts are paying off.

Our institutes of higher education do well in international rankings, and we have developed a productive research community. Canada ranks first in the G7 for higher-education research spending, measured as a percentage of GDP. Our scientific research enterprise was also ranked fourth highest in the world by over 5,000 leading international researchers, according to the Council of Canadian Academies’ 2012 report on the state of science and technology in Canada. This performance has been underpinned by funding provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the National Research Council of Canada. As well, through Economic Action Plan 2012, we responded to the expert panel’s Review of Federal Support to Research and Development (R&D), which offered recommendations on how to strengthen support for business R&D.

Through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Government of Canada is investing in people and ideas that will ensure Canada remains at the forefront of the global knowledge economy. In 2011–12, SSHRC awarded grants, fellowships and scholarships to the very best talent at Canada’s post-secondary institutions. These students and scholars are pursuing some of the most important questions of our time not only to solve critical social challenges but also to secure economic advantages for Canadians. By fostering connections among researchers, business, government, communities and international partners, SSHRC is funding excellence in research that improves our productivity and quality of life, while continuing to move Canadian innovations onto the world stage.

Through these measures, we have taken action to build a strong innovation system that ensures Canadian researchers continue to generate groundbreaking ideas and businesses have access to the knowledge, people and resources needed to market those ideas and create high-quality jobs.

It is my pleasure to join my colleague, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry, in presenting the 2011–12 Departmental Performance Report for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The Honourable Gary Goodyear
Minister of State (Science and Technology)




President’s Message

Chad Gaffield President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Innovation comes from insight–not only about things, but also, and more importantly, about people.  How we behave. Our needs and motivations. Only by understanding the conditions that surround us–and by understanding ourselves–can we confidently negotiate complexity, develop innovative responses to it and build the future we envision.

Social sciences and humanities research is focused exactly on this people-centred approach to innovation. Focused on developing Talent, generating Insight and forging Connections between researchers and knowledge users, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) strategically supports the government’s clear commitment to ensuring Canada’s future well-being through innovation.

Throughout 2011-12, SSHRC has demonstrated great nimbleness, flexibility and adaptability in implementing its renewed program architecture, which resulted in moving 30 separate programs to three umbrella programs. It has streamlined its approach to funding and opened the door to innovative ways of carrying out SSHRC’s mandate of promoting and supporting postsecondary-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities.  I was deeply gratified that SSHRC received the IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award in February 2012 for this major initiative–the only federal government agency or department to have received such recognition. This work has also given us the opportunity to strengthen our governance practices, and to engage with our stakeholders, both on and beyond our campuses.

Producing top-calibre research demands a rigorous selection process and SSHRC’s process has been recognized as one of the best in the world—a testament to the in-kind contributions of expert reviewers and assessors from across Canada and around the world.

SSHRC-funded researchers have gone on to contribute their talent and insights to the highest levels of academia, business, government and not-for-profit organizations. Their success has contributed to Canada’s prosperity and well-being, and illustrates the importance of supporting the best ideas and top talent in the social sciences and humanities. 

I am pleased to present SSHRC’s Departmental Performance Report for the fiscal year 2011-12 as it well illustrates the Council’s achievements in communicating and delivering the benefits of social sciences and humanities research to Canada and the world.

Chad Gaffield
President
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council




Section I: Organizational Overview

Raison d’être

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funds research and research training that builds knowledge about people, past and present, with a view towards creating a better future. From questions of family and culture to concerns about jobs and employment, research about people—how we live, what we think, how we act—informs new knowledge and insights on the issues that matter most to Canadians.

Research and research training funded by SSHRC play a unique role within Canada’s science, technology and innovation system, with social sciences and humanities research fostering the development of the creative and analytical skills necessary to respond to the complex emerging challenges of critical importance to Canadians. To this end, SSHRC’s strategic outcomes, focusing on people, research, knowledge mobilization and institutional environment, support the advancement of Canada’s advantages as outlined in the federal science and technology (S&T) strategy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.

Responsibilities

SSHRC is an agency that reports to Parliament through the minister of Industry. SSHRC was created through an act of Parliament in 1977 and mandated to:

  • promote and assist research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities; and
  • advise the Minister in respect of such matters relating to such research as the Minister may refer to the Council for its consideration.
The three advantages of our strategy

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SSHRC is governed by a council appointed by an order in council to reflect the perspectives of the academic, public and private sectors. SSHRC’s governing council promotes and assists research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities. It meets regularly to set strategic policy and program priorities, allocate budgets, and advise the minister of Industry, the minister of state, and Parliament on research policy in these areas.

SSHRC’s strategic outcomes help further Canada’s advantages as follows:

  • people—creating a first-class research capacity in the social sciences and humanities to build a People Advantage;
  • research—creating new knowledge to heighten Canada’s Knowledge Advantage;
  • knowledge mobilization—facilitating the use of research to contribute to Canada’s Entrepreneurial Advantage; and
  • the institutional environment—providing Canada with a strong setting for science and research, and helping it achieve world-class excellence.

SSHRC actively contributes to the S&T strategy’s priority areas by supporting research and training related to a variety of key areas, including environmental science and technologies, finance and business, and new media and communications. The results of these and other investments are used by SSHRC-supported experts, in collaboration with key stakeholders from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, to translate knowledge into new solutions and productive applications.

Through its ambitions of quality, connections and impact, as described in its strategic plan, Framing Our Direction 2010-12, SSHRC is continuing to build on its successes in supporting the federal S&T strategy. Moving forward, SSHRC is pursuing these ambitions through three new umbrella programs—Talent, Insight and Connection—thereby creating a simpler structure for funding social sciences and humanities research excellence on issues of importance to Canadians.

Research areas that fall under S&T priorities make up 25 per cent of SSHRC grants and awards investments. Investments in information and communications technologies and in management, business and finance have increased by $1.6 million and $0.8 million, respectively. Support for health and related life sciences and technologies research declined by $4.7 million. Overall, SSHRC’s investment in S&T research areas has decreased slightly, from 26 per cent to 25 per cent, or by $2.9 million, since 2010-11.

Allocation of SSHRC Grants and Scholarships Expenditures by Research Area, 2011-12
($ millions and %)

Allocation of SSHRC Grants and Scholarships Expenditures by Research Area, 2011-12

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Note: Totals may not sum up because of rounding.

To fulfill its mandate, SSHRC offers programs that provide Canadian researchers and students with grants, scholarships and fellowships, respecting the terms of the federal Policy on Transfer Payments. SSHRC is also responsible for administering the following tri-agency programs, offered jointly with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC):

  • the Canada Research Chairs Program;
  • the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program; and
  • the Indirect Costs Program.

In addition, SSHRC works with Industry Canada, as well as with CIHR and NSERC, to support Networks of Centres of Excellence initiatives. It also collaborates with CIHR and NSERC to deliver the Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS), Vanier CGS and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships programs. SSHRC will continue to foster this collaboration for the benefit of all Canadians by building on the harmonization of tri-agency programs, practices and policies. In recent years, SSHRC, along with CIHR and NSERC, has also been working to increase connections across the three federal granting agencies through monthly meetings of the agencies’ presidents and senior executives.


Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture for 2011-12


Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture for 2011-12

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Organizational Priorities


Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Strengthen SSHRC programs and policies aimed at developing the next generation of leaders and thinkers, both within academia and across all sectors of the economy New

SO 1.0
SO 2.0

Plans for meeting this priority and progress towards achievement

Examine SSHRC’s programs of direct support for research trainees, with a view to strengthening program coherence.

  • The design of the Talent program was completed and reviewed by SSHRC’s governing council.
  • The evaluation and the management response for the Prizes and Special Fellowships were completed.

Strengthen SSHRC support for postdoctoral researchers by launching, with CIHR and NSERC, a new postdoctoral fellowships program, and by evaluating the SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships funding opportunity.

  • The first round of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program was delivered.
  • The evaluation and the management response for the SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships were completed.

 

Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Simplify and consolidate SSHRC support for excellent research in the social sciences and humanities, for the benefit of Canadians now and in the future New

SO 1.0
SO 2.0
SO 3.0

Plans for meeting this priority and progress towards achievement

Launch Insight, a program of renewed funding opportunities for researchers and institutions undertaking research aimed at building knowledge and understanding, working as individuals, in teams, and through formal partnerships.

  • The first competitions for Insight Grants and for Partnership Grants (Insight and Connection) were launched and delivered.
  • SSHRC reviewed and made recommendations on the role of joint initiatives in the context of the renewed program architecture.

Adjust SSHRC’s peer review processes to support the objectives of the renewed programs, while maintaining SSHRC’s internationally recognized standards of excellence.

  • The committee structure and adjudication processes for new funding opportunities were finalized.
  • Processes for the recruitment and recognition of peer reviewers were reviewed and are now being revamped.
  • Revisions to the appeals policy, along with a detailed internal process for managing appeals, have been approved.

Provide special support for Canada’s current generation of new scholars, in order to strengthen and renew Canada’s capacity for world-class research in the social sciences and humanities.

  • The first competition for Insight Development Grants was delivered. Over 65 per cent of applicants in the second competition are new scholars.

Launch a process to renew SSHRC’s priority areas.

  • A framework for the renewal of priority themes was developed and is being implemented.
  • Aboriginal research and research creation are being implemented in the renewed program architecture.

 

Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Better connect social sciences and humanities research within and beyond academia, to maximize intellectual, cultural, social and economic impact Ongoing

SO 1.0
SO 2.0
SO 3.0

Plans for meeting this priority and progress towards achievement

Continue to phase in Connection, a program of renewed funding opportunities for researchers and institutions to undertake knowledge mobilization activities, working as individuals, in teams, and through formal partnerships.

  • The first competition for the Partnership Grants (Insight and Connection) was delivered.
  • The Connection programming for individuals and teams (workshops, conferences, public outreach, knowledge mobilization tools, etc.) was designed and launched.

Promote knowledge mobilization objectives throughout SSHRC’s programs, processes and policies, and align adjudication criteria and processes with these objectives.

  • A comprehensive brief on open access was completed. A project plan to proceed with the development of a tri-agency policy on open access was approved.

 

Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Improve SSHRC’s governance, management and service delivery, focusing on results for Canadians New

SO 1.0
SO 2.0
SO 3.0
SO 4.0

Plans for meeting this priority and progress towards achievement

Continue to engage SSHRC’s stakeholders in dialogue on issues related to the design, development and implementation of SSHRC policies and programs, particularly those relating to renewed programs.

  • Promotional material was produced to highlight opportunities for the private sector to partner and collaborate with SSHRC researchers, and was posted on SSHRC’s website.
  • The Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research was launched in December 2011.
  • A policy statement on official languages was developed.
  • Engagement activities associated with the renewal of priority areas and the Talent program architecture renewal were undertaken.

Work with researchers, research institutions and partners to better capture and communicate the results and impacts of social sciences and humanities research.

  • SSHRC developed new tools to strengthen brand recognition of SSHRC’s new Talent, Insight and Connection programs.
  • The SSHRC Research Achievement Reporting System was developed for Insight Grants.
  • The 2011 career survey of SSHRC scholarship and fellowship award holders is complete. The report is posted on SSHRC’s website.
  • Implementation of the action plan outlined in “Framework for Increasing and Capturing Results and Impacts of SSHRC Investments” continued. New application processes require applicants to identify expected benefits and outcomes of, and audiences for, proposed research.

Improve service delivery to applicants and award holders by further developing electronic application and assessment processes, and by renewing award administration systems.

  • The framework to manage and control all information management and information technology projects, including monthly dashboard tracking, was successfully implemented.
  • A project management centre of excellence was provided for SSHRC. The Project Management Office has had extensive collaboration with the program architecture renewal team, and has provided advice to programs and communications divisions.
  • Full electronic submissions have been enabled through the development of electronic forms for all new funding opportunities.

Improve governance and management practices by building stronger links between strategic, operational, financial and human resource planning.

  • An action plan for improvements to Council governance was developed and implemented.
  • A Corporate Risk Management Framework was implemented as part of the integrated corporate planning cycle.
  • Activity-based resource planning for divisional plans was implemented.
  • Key components of the People Strategy action plan have been implemented.
  • A new Performance Management Program for Executives, defining competencies and including corporate commitments and succession planning, was introduced.
  • The operating budget management framework was enhanced.

Risk Analysis

SSHRC administers a significant budget, roughly $340 million for SSHRC programs and $332 million for the Indirect Costs Program. Despite the size of this budget, the overall level of risk to the organization is low in terms of continuity of government operations, the maintenance of services to and protection of interests of the Canadian public, and the safety and security of the Canadian public.

Credibility and viability of decision-making for the allocation of funding is of central importance to the agency. Decisions about awards for most programs are based on recommendations from committees of experts and peers actively engaged in research of their own. This peer review process emphasizes the quality of the proposed research and the track record of the researcher. Peer reviewers are not used for the Indirect Costs Program, which uses a formula to calculate the funding allocations for eligible institutions.

Like all organizations, SSHRC is exposed to a variety of risks that could have an impact on the achievement of its objectives and mandate. The ability to identify and respond to changing circumstances is critical to its success. To this end, SSHRC has adopted an integrated risk management framework, which provides a comprehensive view of operational and corporate risks, and assigns responsibility for their management and mitigation. The approach is part of SSHRC’s annual planning cycle, which integrates priority-setting, resource allocation and risk management. This approach aligns with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s new Framework for the Management of Risk. In 2011-12, as part of its annual planning cycle, SSHRC reviewed and updated its Corporate Risk Profile and Corporate Risk Management Framework to ensure that each risk would be systematically monitored by senior management. The framework integrates the results of the Corporate Risk Profile, while identifying triggers, controls and mitigation strategies for each risk. It also outlines processes and expectations for the ongoing monitoring and reporting of risks within SSHRC’s integrated planning cycle.

Through the review of the Corporate Risk Profile, three risks were deemed to fall outside of the management risk tolerance threshold and require dedicated resources and more rigorous monitoring and follow-up:

  • To mitigate the risk that roles, authorities and accountabilities are unclear within the organization’s decision-making processes, activities included updating the delegations of authority and related policies, and undertaking an in-depth review of SSHRC’s governance structure.
  • To mitigate the risk that SSHRC does not adequately leverage technology to support the needs of the organization, to promote efficiency or to innovate, activities included developing a new information technology strategy, creating a new system for identifying and prioritizing activities and projects, establishing a project management office, and identifying and laying the groundwork for the implementation of a new grants management system.
  • To mitigate the risk that operating funding will not support program delivery requirements, activities included developing a resource management framework outlining a more formal annual budgeting and review process that integrates corporate, financial and human resource planning, and undertaking a review of business processes, aimed at streamlining and finding efficiencies.

To maintain its credibility and ensure that its decision-making processes continue to be transparent and rigorous, SSHRC is committed to continuously improving its risk management processes and practices.

Summary of Performance

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
 680.6 699.0 697.9

Note: The increase in spending and total authorities comes from Budget 2011 announcements, which increased the budgets for the Indirect Costs Program ($10 million) and SSHRC’s Grants and Scholarships ($7 million).

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
 208 216 +8

Note: The increase in FTEs can be attributed to an increase in number of positions due to Budget 2011 operating funding, as well as a lower than expected vacancy rate for 2011-12.

Summary of Performance Tables

Progress Towards Strategic Outcome


Strategic Outcome 1.0: People—A first-class research capacity in the social sciences and humanities
Performance Indicators Targets 2011-12 Performance
Employment rates of SSHRC-funded scholarship and fellowship recipients by degree versus other Organisation for Economic Co–operation and Development nations 85% master’s
85% doctorates
90% postdoctorates
47% master’s
90% doctorates
95% postdoctorates
Proportion of Chairs awarded to Canadians, returning expatriates and foreigners 75% from within Canada
25% from abroad (12.5% expatriate Canadians, 12.5% foreigners)
78.7% from within Canada
21.3% from abroad (9.8% expatriate Canadians, 11.5% foreigners)
Proportion of SSHRC Talent-funded researchers receiving Canadian and/or international recognition or prizes 5% Not available
Performance Summary, Excluding Internal Services
Program Activity 2010-11
Actual
Spending
2011-12 ($ millions) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main
Estimates
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
1.1 Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes 119.3 120.4 120.4 120.8 120.3 An innovative and knowledge-based economy  
1.2 Research Chairs 55.0 61.0 61.0 61.0 57.0
Total 174.3 181.4 181.4 181.8 177.3


Strategic Outcome 2.0: Research—New knowledge based on excellent research in the social sciences and humanities
Performance Indicators Targets 2011-12 Performance
Number of research projects cited for Canadian and/or international recognition or prizes  100  Not available
Average number of research contributions per grant  14  16
Ratio of actual financial contributions leveraged from formal Partnerships Grants compared with SSHRC funding 0.35:1 ($) 0.96:1 ($)
Performance Summary, Excluding Internal Services
Program Activity 2010-11
Actual
Spending
2011-12 ($ millions) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main
Estimates
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
 2.1 Investigator-Framed Research 89.8 87.5 87.5 89.1 88.4 An innovative and knowledge-based economy
2.2 Targeted Research and Training Initiatives 16.0 9.7 9.7 10.1 8.9
 2.3 Strategic Research Development 27.0 31.0 31.0 36.5 35.4
Total 132.8 128.2 128.2 135.7 132.7  


Strategic Outcome 3.0: Knowledge Mobilization—Facilitating the use of social sciences and humanities knowledge within and beyond academia
Performance Indicators Targets 2011-12 Performance
 Ratio of actual financial contributions leveraged via Connection Grants compared with SSHRC funding  0.35:1 0.39:1
 Proportion of researchers and partners indicating their partnership to be “quite successful” (≥4 on a 5-point scale)  50%  Not available
Performance Summary, Excluding Internal Services
Program Activity 2010-11
Actual
Spending
2011-12 ($ millions) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main
Estimates
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
 3.1 Research Dissemination and Knowledge Translation 8.9 7.6 7.6 7.6 11.9 An innovative and knowledge-based economy 
 3.2 Research Networking 26.1 21.3 24.3 24.6 27.6
Total 35.0 28.9 31.9 32.2 39.5  


Strategic Outcome 4.0: Institutional Environment—A strong Canadian science and research environment
Performance Indicators Targets 2011-12 Performance
Number of Canadian universities appearing in Top 300 QS World University Rankings  16  14

Note: The observed decrease of the number of Canadian universities in the top 300 QS World University Rankings may be due to the change in coverage to include institutions from emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Performance Summary, Excluding Internal Services
Program Activity 2010-11
Actual
Spending
2011-12 ($ millions) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
Main
Estimates
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
 4.1 Indirect Costs of Research  324.9 322.7 322.7 332.0 332.0 An innovative and knowledge-based economy 
Total  324.9 322.7 322.7 332.0 332.0
Performance Summary for Internal Services
Program Activity 2010-11
Actual
Spending
2011-12 ($ millions)
Main
Estimates
Planned
Spending
Total
Authorities
Actual
Spending
5.1 Internal Services  17.3 16.4 16.4 17.3 16.4

Expenditure Profile

During the 2011-12 fiscal year, SSHRC spent $698 million (including Indirect Costs Program expenditures) to meet the expected results of its program activities and to contribute to its strategic outcomes. SSHRC’s total actual spending for 2011-12 was $366 million for core programs and $332 million for the Indirect Costs Program (excluding operating expenditures). The figure below illustrates SSHRC’s spending trend since 2007-08.

SSHRC expenditures, 2007-08 to 2011-12

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SSHRC continued its funding commitments to government priorities, including those associated with the S&T strategy. This includes funding projects related to the digital economy, management, business and finance, the environment, and northern communities. SSHRC received an additional $7 million to support research related to the digital economy in Budget 2011.

As part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan (CEAP), SSHRC received $7 million to increase support for the CGS. The graph demonstrates a few sunsetting programs, such as the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence ($1 million) and the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research ($3 million), and the sunsetting of funding received through the CEAP ($7 million). These three items account for 1.6 per cent of SSHRC’s total spending.

SSHRC's spending trend, 2007-08 to 2013-14

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Estimates by Vote

For information on SSHRC’s organizational votes and/or statutory expenditures, please see the Public Accounts of Canada 2012 (Volume II). An electronic version of the Public Accounts is available on Public Works and Government Services Canada’s website.

Section II: Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Strategic Outcome 1.0: People—A first-class research capacity in the social sciences and humanities

It is widely recognized that for Canada to gain economic advantage and become a truly innovative nation, we need skilled people who can succeed in a knowledge-based global society. SSHRC’s first strategic outcome focuses squarely on ensuring that Canada is able to develop the research capacity our country needs to succeed in the 21st century. SSHRC awards fellowships and scholarships to promising students at the master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral levels to train the knowledge workers of tomorrow. It bestows prestigious research chairs in the social sciences and humanities to attract and retain top researchers. It also offers prizes to recognize and inspire the highest standards of scholarship.

Distribution of spending in the area of people, 2011-12

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In 2011-12, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) awarded fellowships and scholarships to 1,300 full-time master’s students and 1,086 doctoral candidates. Award holders are to receive research training in a variety of social sciences and humanities disciplines and to gain skills and experience that will help them build successful careers in all sectors of society. Further, 129 of these graduate students also received CGS—Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements to pursue research study opportunities outside Canada, thereby gaining valuable international experience and strengthening collaboration between Canadian and foreign universities. To help new scholars establish a research base at a critical early point in their careers, SSHRC also awarded 175 SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships to the most promising new researchers in the social sciences and humanities.

SSHRC also administers the Canada Research Chairs Program on behalf of SSHRC, CIHR and NSERC. The Research Chairs program activity invested $57 million in more than 400 chairs to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds in the social sciences and humanities.

Overall, people funding constituted 25.8 per cent of SSHRC’s grants expenditures (including the Indirect Costs Program) in 2011-12.

Program Activity 1.1: Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes

SSHRC offers several award programs for advanced study and research in the social sciences and humanities at the master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral levels. These programs help train Canada’s researchers and the leaders of tomorrow. In addition, SSHRC offers special fellowships to experienced researchers, and supplementary awards to outstanding doctoral and postdoctoral fellowship recipients. Finally, two commemorative prizes recognize the extraordinary dedication and creativity of Canada’s best researchers.

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
120.4 120.8 120.3

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
25 24 -1

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Highly qualified personnel, expert in research, are available to pursue knowledge-intensive careers within universities, industry, government and other sectors.   Improvement in students’ degree completion time (in months)

Master’s: 23 months

Doctorate: 68 months

Master’s: 23 months

Doctorate: 61 months
Percentage of foreign Vanier candidates put forward by universities 30% 31.3%
Proportion of SSHRC doctoral fellows and postdoctoral researchers indicating the quality level of the overall research experience to be “above average” 80% 85%

Performance summary and analysis of program activity

A major report released in 2011 by Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council stated that harnessing an excellent talent pool is the key to lifting Canada into the top tier of innovation leaders. The following table details the results of SSHRC’s highly competitive fellowships and scholarships competitions held in 2011-12, which awarded 2,833 fellowships and scholarships totalling nearly $120 million.

Distribution of Grants and Scholarships Spending in the area of Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes, 2011-12

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SSHRC completed the design phase of the review and renewal of the suite of Talent programs, including a national consultation with key SSHRC stakeholders. The implementation of the renewed suite of Talent funding opportunities will take place over the next three fiscal years and will include the harmonization of the tri-agency CGS program.

Together with CIHR and NSERC, SSHRC implemented the federal government’s flagship Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program. In 2011-12, the second year of the program, the three granting agencies finished integrating the resources and mechanisms for delivery of the program, and awarded all 140 fellowships. They also developed a performance measurement strategy to monitor the performance of the program.

Program Description Targets 2011-12 Results 2011-12 Expenditures 2011-12 ($ millions)
Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s Scholarships The Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master’s Scholarships funding opportunity seeks to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students in the social sciences and humanities who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate and early graduate studies.

1,300 awards

1,300 awards

22.7

Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Scholarships The Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarships funding opportunity aims to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students who demonstrate a high standard of scholarly achievement in undergraduate and graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities.

430 awards

561 awards

49.0
Georges Philias Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships The Vanier CGS program was created to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and to brand Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. 55 awards 58 awards 8.2

Canada Graduate Scholarships—Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements

The CGS—MSFSS support high-calibre Canadian graduate students in building global linkages and international networks through the pursuit of exceptional research experience abroad. 125 awards 129 awards 0.7
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships The SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships funding opportunity aims to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students who demonstrate a high standard of scholarly achievement in undergraduate and graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities. $23 million 525 awards 23.3
Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships funding opportunity aims to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally, to develop their leadership potential and to position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow, positively contributing to Canada’s economic, social and research-based growth through a research-intensive career. 23 awards 25 awards 1.5
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships The SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships funding opportunity supports the most promising Canadian new scholars in the social sciences and humanities and assists them in establishing a research base at an important time in their research careers. $11 million 175 awards 12.1

 

SSHRC Prizes 2011-12

SSHRC Gold Medal for Achievement in Research ($100,000): Constance Backhouse, University of Ottawa—The SSHRC Gold Medal for Achievement in Research is the Council’s highest research honour. It is awarded to an individual whose leadership, dedication and originality of thought have significantly advanced understanding in his or her field of research, enriched Canadian society, and contributed to the country’s cultural and intellectual life.

SSHRC Aurora Prize ($25,000): James Stewart, The University of British Columbia—The SSHRC Aurora Prize recognizes an outstanding new scholar who is building a reputation for exciting and original research in the social sciences or humanities.

SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize ($10,000): May Chazan, University of Toronto—The SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize is awarded each year to the most outstanding SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship recipient.

SSHRC William E. Taylor Fellowship ($5,000): Agnès Blais, Université Laval—The William E. Taylor Fellowship is awarded each year to the most outstanding SSHRC doctoral award recipient.

Molson Prize ($50,000): Peter Victor, York University—Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts, in conjunction with SSHRC, awards a $50,000 prize to a distinguished Canadian performing research in the social sciences and humanities. Funded by an endowment from the Molson Family Foundation, the Molson Prizes honour Canadians who have made important contributions to Canada’s cultural and intellectual heritage.

 

The Value of Vanier

The support through the Vanier scholarship has been invaluable and allowed me the freedom to focus on my research and my development as a scholar. I have been able to carry out participatory research and engage the stakeholders and the community in real and meaningful ways. The Vanier scholarship provided opportunities to collaborate with other scholars and peers in my field, write, and present my own research. It has helped me develop my skills as a researcher and writer and further my development within my field.

—Jihan Abbas
PhD candidate at Carleton University and Vanier scholar

A second round of the SSHRC Scholarships and Fellowships survey was launched in March 2011, with the final report completed in September 2011. The survey assessed the career progression of a new cohort of SSHRC CGS master’s scholars and doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, to compare trends in employment (CGS master’s scholars who received their award in 2004, SSHRC doctoral recipients from 2000 to 2002 and SSHRC postdoctoral recipients from 2002 to 2004).

The 2011 survey results regarding degree completion rates for SSHRC scholarship and fellowship award holders appear in the following graph.

Completion of Degree

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SSHRC Scholarships and Fellowships: Degree Completion

  • Most CGS Master’s Scholarship recipients finished their program in less than two years (84 per cent), and the rest took between three and four years.
  • The median time-to-completion of CGS master’s recipients is 23 months (24 months average). This is exactly the same median time-to-completion as for the first-round cohort of the survey in 2010, but shorter than the national median time-to-completion.
  • Most SSHRC doctoral fellowship recipients took from four to more than six years to complete their program of study. Almost half (46 per cent) took between four and six years, and three in 10 (31 per cent) took more than six years. One in five (19 per cent) took less than four years.
  • Most postdoctoral fellowship recipients spent less than two years in their program (61 per cent), and 37 per cent spent between two and four years in a postdoctoral program.
  • Many SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship recipients did not complete their fellowship term because they found a position in the academic sector.

In 2011, SSHRC undertook a summative evaluation of the SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships funding opportunity. The purpose of this evaluation, which covers a 17-year period, was to assess program relevance and continued need, design and delivery, and performance. The evaluation was developed to evaluate longer-term outcomes and trends over time.

SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships Evaluation: Key Findings

  • Although the program context has changed in many respects, most of the changes reinforce the relevance of supporting postdoctoral research in the social sciences and humanities.
  • SSHRC is the major source of funding for postdoctoral research in the social sciences and humanities in Canada, and there is a continuing need for the program.
  • Overall, the SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships program contributes to research outputs and knowledge advancements in all disciplines of the social sciences and humanities, and these outputs are being disseminated in academia and beyond.
  • The evaluation’s expert panel’s assessment of the postdoctoral award holders’ research outputs supports the reported high quality of research funded by the program.
  • A decisive 99 per cent of surveyed award holders reported that the support had been pivotal in helping them advance their careers and in giving them time to focus on their own research, which was considered to positively impact their career.
  • The development of networks was also a positive program outcome for most award holders, and most of those consulted mentioned it as being important for their overall development as researchers.

 

SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship Irreplaceable in Advancing Career

“In the recipient’s view, SSHRC’s Postdoctoral Fellowships role was irreplaceable in his career development. The validation provided by the postdoctoral fellowship was tremendously important to him at the time. There was no other source of post-PhD funding available, and given the job environment, he believes that without that opportunity he would have ended up in a cycle of sessional lectureships that would have severely limited his research work and his potential to contribute to the research base in Canada.”

The evaluation of SSHRC’s prizes and special fellowships was planned and conducted in 2011-12. This evaluation was intended to assess the extent to which the prizes and special fellowships address SSHRC’s strategic priorities. The evaluation findings informed senior management’s planning regarding future programming and renewal decisions.

SSHRC Prizes and Special Fellowships Evaluation Key Findings

  • Overall, the prizes and special fellowships appear to be reasonably well aligned with both SSHRC’s and the federal government’s strategic directions. Less evident is the degree of alignment with more precise priorities that better reflect the evolving collaborative and multidisciplinary social sciences and humanities context and the topics of pressing concern for Canadians.
  • Evaluation evidence indicates that a number of design elements warrant attention:
    • identifying the responsibilities of all parties involved in the prizes and special fellowships;
    • specifying the most viable delivery model or models for program components; and
    • measuring and reporting on the value attached to co-delivery of prizes and special fellowships.
  • Survey participants perceived that special fellowships have contributed to the successful development of partnerships and/or communities of practice in the targeted research field.
  • Both key informants and survey respondents indicated that the prizes and special fellowships contributed positively to career development, opportunities and recognition.

Lessons learned

As a result of the SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships evaluation, the departmental evaluation committee accepted the following recommendations:

  • Given the contextual shifts, SSHRC should revisit the program objectives to reflect the reality that some future PhD graduates will end up in sectors other than academia. Program objectives should be adjusted to:
    • enable outstanding early-career social sciences and humanities researchers, in partnership with their host institution/organization, to expand their skill set for a research-intensive career in and beyond academia; and
    • foster the broader mobility of emerging scholars in their career pathways towards stimulating and dynamic research environments, not only in the university sector, but also in other sectors.
  • SSHRC should place greater emphasis on securing the host institution’s commitment to developing the award holder’s research potential, as well as positioning him or her for a successful research-intensive career.
  • SSHRC should advance its development and implementation of performance measurement tools to collect results data for the SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships funding opportunity.

In response to the evaluation recommendations, a management response and action plan was developed and is currently being implemented. This document will be posted on the SSHRC website under Evaluation Reports on the Reports and Publications page. In addition, SSHRC is planning on developing a performance measurement strategy in fall 2012 to ensure the systematic collection of performance information for ongoing program monitoring and evaluation.

The Prizes and Special Research Fellowships evaluation resulted in recommendations that included the following:

  • SSHRC should undertake a redesign study of its prizes and special fellowships that includes considering the current and near-future strategic needs for social sciences and humanities research from SSHRC’s perspective.
  • SSHRC should develop a performance measurement and evaluation strategy with clear objectives and performance targets, and ensure that reporting requirements for the prizes and special fellowships are specified, implemented and monitored.

These recommendations were addressed in the management response and action plan for the Prizes and Special Research Fellowships evaluation. This document will be posted on the SSHRC website under Evaluation Reports on the Reports and Publications page. At this time, a SSHRC working group is examining various options to address the recommendations related to program design, with the goal of developing a performance measurement and evaluation strategy.

Program Activity 1.2: Research Chairs

Chairs programs support faculty positions within postsecondary and research institutions by providing funding for salaries and research activities. Chairs programs serve to attract the best and most productive researchers to Canada, and to retain those already here. In turn, these top researchers attract and support the best and most promising new scholars and graduate students. Ultimately, this helps to cultivate centres of world-class research excellence at Canadian universities, and to brand Canada as a top destination for research.

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
61.0 61.0 57.0*

* The variance between planned and actual spending relates to approximately 10 per cent of chairs not being filled at any given point in time due to normal turnover of incumbents.

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
9 9 0

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
World-class researchers are attracted to enhance research capacity in Canadian universities and research institutes, and to build a critical mass of expertise in priority S&T areas. Proportion of universities agreeing that the chairs have created and/or enhanced research centres and clusters in areas of strategic importance

63%

65%

Proportion of chairholders reporting enhanced Canadian and international collaboration resulting from the chair position ≥60% 66%
Average number of highly qualified personnel trained per social sciences and humanities chair 14 14.3

Performance summary and analysis of program activity

SSHRC administers the Canada Research Chairs Program on behalf of SSHRC, CIHR and NSERC. The program was designed to create 2,000 high-profile research professorships for established and up-and-coming researchers at Canadian universities. Attracting internationally renowned scholars, the program helps keep research jobs and expertise in Canada and increase national research capacity in social sciences, humanities, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering. SSHRC’s president serves as chair of the program’s steering committee.

The Research Chairs program activity invested $57 million in more than 400 chairs to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds in the social sciences and humanities.

Canada Research Chairs

At the end of November 2011, there were 1,819 active Canada Research Chairs at 71 universities across Canada, in all discipline areas. Of these positions, 24.5 per cent were filled by researchers recruited from abroad, including 206 Canadian expatriates. At that time, 408 (22.4 per cent) of active Canada Research Chairs were in the social sciences and humanities, and, therefore, funded by SSHRC. A total of 385 new or renewed chairs in all discipline areas were announced in 2011-12.

 

Percentage of Active Chairs by Main Discipline, 2011-12

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A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the annual reports produced by social sciences and humanities chairholders was undertaken in 2011. The findings are summarized as follows:

  • Evidence that these chairholders’ research was directly linked to SSHRC’s research priorities was identified in the majority of the research projects. In 2011, most of the social sciences and humanities research fell into the innovation, leadership and prosperity priority area (71 per cent).
  • These chairholders perform exceptional work in the training of highly qualified personnel, training more than 3,500 individuals in 2011.
  • Social sciences and humanities chairholders are extremely effective in leveraging additional research resources. They reported leveraging $50 million in additional research funds in 2011.
  • Social sciences and humanities chairholders are closely connected and engaged in policy-making and support to decision-makers. Over 90 per cent reported engaging in knowledge translation activities that included research collaboration with organizations and individuals outside academia.
  • These chairholders are recognized for their contribution to the advancement of knowledge. Approximately 75 per cent published scientific articles or books in 2011.
  • Social sciences and humanities chairholders are directly engaged with national and international organizations and with the Canadian public.

Social Innovation: A Powerful Collective Force

Whether it is a matter of job creation, family policies, workforce training or economic revitalization, working together to produce solutions that trigger social innovation is not only beneficial to citizens, but also to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. According to Denis Bourque, Canada Research Chair in Community Organization and co‑ordinator of one component of a SSHRC-funded research alliance at the Université du Québec en Outaouais, social innovation is a new and effective response to hopes and collective needs that cannot be addressed through conventional approaches. The Carrefour jeunesse-emploi network of Quebec and the citizen-initiated community real estate company in Trois-Rivières are good examples.

“Thanks to support from the city of Trois-Rivières, a Caisse populaire, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and a budget advisory organization, the Société immobilière communautaireTrois-Rivières helps low-income renters become home owners. Ultimately, everyone wins!”

—René Lachapelle, representative of the Regroupement québécois
des intervenants et intervenantes en action communautaire

Canada Excellence Research Chairs

The first Canada Excellence Research Chairs were awarded in 2010-11. A total of 18 inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chairs have activated their awards at 13 universities across the country. All chairs awarded fell within CIHR or NSERC’s mandate areas, so grants funding for these chairs flows through these agencies. A performance measurement strategy, including a risk-assessment strategy, developed for the program continues to be implemented by the Chairs Secretariat. A second competition to fund 10 new chairs was announced in Budget 2011, with a focus on one of SSHRC’s priority areas, the digital economy.

Program Description Targets 2011-12 Results 2011-12
Canada Research Chairs The Canada Research Chairs Program aims to invest $300 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Chairholders aim to achieve research excellence in social sciences, humanities, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering. They improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada’s international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people through student supervision, teaching and the co-ordination of other researchers’ work.

2,000 chairs; 400 within SSHRC’s mandate area

1,819 chairs,*
408 within SSHRC’s mandate area

Canada Excellence Research Chairs The ability to attract the highest calibre of researchers and scholars is a critical factor for Canada’s future prosperity. As a result, the Government of Canada designed the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program to attract Canadian and international leading scientists and scholars who can contribute positively to Canada’s global competitiveness and well-being, and to help Canadian universities compete in the global market for research talent. Chairholders’ work will spark the creation of new services and policies that support Canada’s economic competitiveness, help sustain the environment, and improve quality of life. Up to 20 chairs 18 chairs, 0 within SSHRC’s mandate area (all chairs were within CIHR’s or NSERC’s mandate areas)

*Due to normal turnover of incumbents, approximately 10 per cent of chairs are not filled at any given time, giving rise to the variance.

Lessons learned
The 10th-year evaluation of the Canada Research Chairs Program was formally accepted by the Steering Committee in January 2011. The evaluation study found that overall, the program was relevant, successful and well implemented. The evaluation resulted in a number of program and policy recommendations. In response, the Chairs Secretariat is continuing to use the means at its disposal (e.g., university site visits, presentations at conferences, biannual newsletters) to gather intelligence on the strategic use of the program by institutions, to encourage institutions to be transparent in the management of their Canada Research Chairs, and to share best practices. The Chairs Secretariat has also increased its monitoring in areas such as chairholders’ progress and the support available to chairholders to enable them to carry out the activities outlined in their research program.

The 2011 qualitative and quantitative analysis of the annual reports produced by social sciences and humanities chairholders also resulted in a number of suggested changes to better capture program monitoring and outcomes/impact information. A redesigned report will be implemented in spring 2013.

Strategic Outcome 2.0: Research—New knowledge based on excellent research in the social sciences and humanities

SSHRC’s investments in research result in the creation of new knowledge. As Canada increasingly recognizes the importance of knowledge as a commodity, and as world economies become increasingly knowledge-based, SSHRC’s support towards research achievements is particularly significant.

Just as the S&T strategy reflects the federal government’s commitment to supporting “basic research across a broad spectrum of science,” as well as “applied research in areas of strength and opportunity,” SSHRC’s program activities in support of investigator-framed research and targeted and strategic research advance both elements of the science, technology and innovation agenda. Grants awarded to top researchers build a store of knowledge that will allow Canada to respond to the forces of change, be they social, economic or political. Specific investments, such as those addressing Canada’s Northern Strategy or aiming to improve business practices in Canada, illustrate SSHRC’s commitment to advancing the government’s vision and change agenda to benefit Canadians. Looking forward, SSHRC is enhancing its ability to support science and innovation through programming offered in partnership with the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Distribution of Spending in the Area of Research, 2011-12

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Note: Totals may not sum up because of rounding.

In 2011-12, SSHRC awarded 1,557 new grants to researchers to carry out world-class research at postsecondary institutions across Canada. Grants were awarded to enhance knowledge and understanding of the past and present, and to inform thinking about critical social, cultural, economic, technological and environmental issues, both within the research community and across the public, not-for-profit and private sectors.

SSHRC awards grants based on independent adjudication of research proposals. Expert selection committees evaluate, rank and recommend which proposals to fund, based on criteria such as the originality and significance of the research, the quality of training offered to students, and the potential impacts of the research within and outside the academic world. More than 400 committee members participated in SSHRC research applications adjudication in 2011-12. Approximately 5,900 written assessments of proposals supported the work of the expert selection committees.

Overall, research funding constituted 19.0 per cent of SSHRC’s grants expenditures (including the Indirect Costs Program) in 2011-12.

Program Activity 2.1: Investigator-Framed Research

SSHRC research grants support individual and team projects and programs of research for which the applicant(s) proposes/propose the research topic and methodology. These range from individuals or small groups working in libraries and archives to large, multidisciplinary, collaborative projects with researchers, partners and assistants conducting fieldwork across the country and around the world.

Note: Totals may not sum up because of rounding.

Distribution of Grants and Scholarships Spending in the Area of Investigator-Framed Research, 2011-12

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2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
87.5 89.1 88.4

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
33 33 0

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Investigator-framed research creates a synergy contributing to observable knowledge advancement and dissemination of research results throughout the academic community and beyond. Proportion of budget planned and actually spent on students and highly qualified personnel

30%

32%

Proportion of applications received in SSHRC-identified priority areas 70% 65%

The final Standard Research Grants competition was adjudicated in spring 2011. A number of SSHRC programs marked their final competitions in 2011-12, as the organization transitioned to its new funding opportunities under Talent, Insight and Connection. In fall 2011, SSHRC launched its new Insight Grants funding opportunity supporting research excellence in the social sciences and humanities, carried out by both emerging and established scholars. These grants, valued at $50,000 to $500,000 over three to five years, provide stable support for long-term research initiatives enabling individual scholars and research teams to address complex issues pertaining to individuals and societies. The second Insight Development Grants competition was held in February 2012.

Program Description Targets 2011-12 Results 2011-12 Expenditures 2011-12 ($ millions)
Standard Research Grants Standard Research Grants support new and ongoing programs of research through three-year grants, based on peer review judgment of the probable significance of the contribution to knowledge in the social sciences and humanities.

N/A

1,017 grants

70.9

Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Major Collaborative Research Initiatives grants support significant, high-quality research that has a strong analytical component, involves appropriate partners and stakeholders, and produces results that will have a major impact on Canadian scholarship and society. N/A 4 grants 6.3
Insight Development Grants Insight Development Grants support research in its initial stages by new and regular scholars. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas. N/A 246 grants 7.1

Performance summary and analysis of program activity
In 2011-12, the funding opportunities under this program activity supported a total of 2,859 new and ongoing projects across all areas of the social sciences and humanities. A total of 1,267 new grants were awarded following peer review of proposals in 2011-12. Grants awarded to these top researchers build a store of knowledge that allows Canada to respond to the forces of change, be they social, economic or political.

The final Standard Research Grants were adjudicated in spring 2011. SSHRC received 2,749 eligible applications and awarded 1,017 Standard Research Grants, including 198 special one-year grants awarded to meritorious new scholars. The 2010 evaluation of the Standard Research Grants program showed that, on average, $26,730 was disbursed to students and postdoctoral fellows from each Standard Research Grant. In proportion, on average, $320 out of every $1,000 (32 per cent) awarded for each grant was disbursed to students and postdoctoral fellows.

As part of its program renewal, SSHRC launched its Insight program in 2010. With a focus on generating new knowledge—often spanning disciplines and sectors to tackle questions that transcend any single area of study—grants through SSHRC’s Insight program also aim to provide a high-quality research training experience for students—aligning with SSHRC’s talent-development priorities—and to ultimately “mobilize” research knowledge, delivering it to users to effect intellectual, cultural, social and economic change. The program includes:

  • Insight Development Grants, which support research in its initial stages; enable the development of new research questions; and create opportunities for experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and ideas; and
  • Insight Grants, which provide funding for emerging and established scholars to conduct their research.

In 2011-12, SSHRC received 630 eligible applications to the second Insight Development Grants competition, from 343 new scholars and 287 regular scholars. A total of 246 grants were awarded. In 2011-12, 61 per cent of the Insight Development Grant applications, and 65 per cent of the grants awarded, addressed one of SSHRC’s research priority areas, for total funding of $13.1 million. Also in 2011-12, SSHRC attracted 1,799 applications to the first Insight Grants competition and awarded 486 grants.

During the application phase, eligible applicants for Insight Development Grants and Insight Grants provided information about expected scholarly and social benefits, as well as the potential target audience that could benefit from the proposed research. Both categories of applicants mentioned knowledge creation and/or intellectual outcomes as an expected scholarly benefit arising from their research (31 per cent for Insight Grant applicants and 26 per cent for Insight Development Grant applicants), followed by student training and enhancement of theory and collaboration. Enriched public discourse, enhanced policy and enhanced professional practice were frequently cited by Insight Grant and Insight Development Grant applicants as expected social benefits associated with their research.

Reinventing Oneself to Tackle Globalization Head On

According to Christian Lévesque, a teacher at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal and co-director of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work, it is essential that regional stakeholders co-ordinate their efforts in order to attract investments in a context of globalization. Funded in part by SSHRC, the scientific program at the Centre (which comprises 16 Canadian universities and 25 educational institutions from other countries) is a leader in studying the effects of globalization and the range of possible responses. The industrial cluster, which mobilizes stakeholders from the same sector in a given region, is one such response. This socio-economic tool ensures better co-ordination of efforts by businesses, unions, educational institutions, professional and economic associations, and government agencies. This co-ordination is crucial for training highly skilled workers and for implementing structures that foster innovation in all its forms—two conditions essential to prosperity.

Thanks to the support from SSHRC, we were able to better understand the dynamics of innovation inside the aeronautics industry cluster in the Montréal area, particularly with respect to human resources, which constitute, in our opinion, one of the key strengths of businesses and regions in a globalized economy.”

—Christian Lévesque, professor, École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal

SSHRC committed to adjust its peer review processes to support the objectives of the renewed program architecture, while maintaining SSHRC’s internationally recognized standards of excellence. In 2011-12:

  • New committee structure and adjudication processes were developed for new funding opportunities under the Insight program.
  • A task force’s four recommendations were endorsed, and detailed implementation plans are now being implemented.
  • Revisions to the appeals policy, along with a detailed internal process for managing appeals, have been approved. The revised appeals policy is posted on SSHRC’s website, and the changes have been communicated internally.

Lessons learned
SSHRC analyzed and used the results of the 2010 evaluation of its Standard Research Grants and Research Development Initiatives funding opportunities to inform the development of its new Insight umbrella program. In order to refine and improve the information-sharing and application processes for the funding opportunities under Insight, SSHRC also surveyed all applicants to its new Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants, along with those to its other new funding opportunities.

Applicants were surveyed online just after the submission deadlines regarding their experience of applying to the first Insight Grants and second Insight Development Grants competitions. The results of the survey show that the levels of satisfaction with different aspects of the application process, including the online forms, the program literature and SSHRC’s instructions and support, were high among applicants to the Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants funding opportunities. Respondents to the second Insight Development Grants competition were more likely to have understood the objectives and the purpose of the Insight umbrella program.

After the first Insight Development Grants competition, a number of changes were made to the application process that may explain the high satisfaction rating: four modules were added, instructions were clarified, information was included on changes made to the funding opportunity, and improved descriptions of the funding opportunity were provided. The main recommendations arising from the survey pertain to reviewing the requirements related to the required Knowledge Mobilization Plan, in order to reduce duplication across modules and further clarifying the descriptions and terminology of the funding opportunities. SSHRC management will analyze and integrate these recommendations in the next Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants competitions.

Program Activity 2.2: Targeted Research and Training Initiatives

SSHRC develops and funds programs to support strategic research programs, both on its own and in partnership with other fund providers, including government, private and community organizations. These programs generate new knowledge on pressing social, economic and cultural issues of particular importance to Canadians. One particular stream of strategic programs supports research that will contribute to better understanding of the impacts of the knowledge-based economy on Canada’s economic, social, political and cultural life, and will help to improve Canadians’ ability to influence the future for the common good.

Distribution of Grants and Scholarships Spending in the Area of Targeted Research and Training Initiatives, 2011-12

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2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
9.7 10.1 8.9

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
12 13 +1

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Excellent SSHRC-funded research targeted in areas of importance to Canadians (as defined by SSHRC, in consultation with the research community and various stakeholders). Proportion of applications received in SSHRC-identified priority areas

70%

80%

Performance summary and analysis of program activity
SSHRC will continue to integrate its existing targeted research and training initiatives across its funding opportunities, by directly supporting the development of excellent research inquiry in specific areas or themes identified as being of interest to Canadians (e.g., aboriginal research; digital economy; innovation, leadership and prosperity).

In 2011-12, SSHRC launched the development of a framework, Imagining Canada’s Future, to renew its priority areas in consultation with stakeholders from across Canadian society. This forward-looking project aims to identify key future challenges for Canada in an evolving global context through engagement with academic, public, private and not-for-profit sector partners. It will also ensure that SSHRC’s priorities maximize the intellectual, economic, social and cultural impacts of social sciences and humanities research for the benefit of Canadians. Once the future challenge areas have been identified, reviewed and approved by SSHRC’s governing council, they will be integrated, as appropriate, within SSHRC’s Talent, Insight and Connection programs in order to stimulate research and research-related activities in these areas.

A successful knowledge-based economy in Canada is about seeing knowledge applied so that society can reap the benefits—greater prosperity, improved quality of life and increased productivity. Through targeted research and training initiatives, SSHRC supports the development of research inquiry in areas of importance to Canadians, such as innovation, leadership and prosperity, and northern communities, or in particular areas of interest, such as the support provided for artist-researchers.

Cultivating a Digital Culture

How do you preserve an oral culture thousands of years old and ensure its traditions are passed down to the next generation? If you are the people of Arviat, Nunavut, the answer lies in digital media—in particular, through the Nanisiniq Arviat History Project. University of British Columbia professor Frank Tester led a SSHRC-funded project that trained local youth to work with digital tools—from video cameras to the web, Facebook and Twitter—and had them record conversations with elders about the history and traditional knowledge of their people. “You cannot have a healthy, productive population that contributes to the economy if those people don’t have a grounded sense of who they are,” says Tester. Blending Inuktitut and English, the project connected the youth to their heritage and equipped them with practical, transferable research and media production skills.

Strategic Joint Initiatives
SSHRC maintained or renewed investments in selected, targeted joint initiatives with a number of partners in 2011-12. These initiatives included:

  • the Metropolis Project, funded by SSHRC and a consortium of 15 federal departments and agencies led by Citizenship and Immigration Canada;
  • the Canadian Initiative on Social Statistics Research Data Centres, with CIHR and Statistics Canada;
  • the Sport Participation Research Initiative in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage;
  • the identification of policy research interests of the federal policy community, in partnership with Policy Horizons Canada;
  • research on urban aboriginal issues, with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians) and the National Association of Friendship Centres;
  • the Digging into Data Challenge, which is sponsored by eight leading funders from four countries, including: SSHRC; the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation (all United States); the Joint Information Systems Committee, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (all United Kingdom); and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research;
  • research and related activities addressing issues identified by the Kanishka Project, being funded up to $3.7 million by Public Safety Canada, in full or in part, with SSHRC; and
  • the signing of the Belmont Forum memorandum of understanding by SSHRC and research funding agencies from 10 nations—committing them to work proactively and on an action-oriented basis, guided by the Belmont Challenge, to enhance co-operation and co-ordination of global environmental change research.

These initiatives gave researchers access to resources and funding to conduct timely research and share useful results with funding partners, researchers and Canadians. Through these joint activities, close to $4 million was invested in 2011-12 to support initiatives that address particular issues of interest, in partnership with other stakeholders, including governments, think tanks, and private and community organizations.

In a recent review of partnering mechanisms, models and practices commissioned by SSHRC, the joint SSHRC-Sport Canada Sport Participation Research Initiative was showcased as a successful model for the development of future partnership agreements embedded within SSHRC’s new program architecture. Since 2005, the initiative has provided funding for 49 research grants and 38 fellowship supplements (doctoral and postdoctoral), for a total of $3.3 million, in order to build Canada’s capacity to conduct research related to participation in sport in Canada. In the coming year, SSHRC is collaborating with Sport Canada in undertaking an impact assessment of funded grants and supplements under the initiative.

Aging and Sports

Through a joint SSHRC-Sport Canada initiative, researchers are looking at matters related to participation in sport in Canada. The project, led by Joseph Baker at York University, examines older adults’ beliefs and expectations about how aging affects their involvement in preventive health behaviours like physical activity. Specific stereotypes about mental health decline are particularly important predictors of behaviour. The influence that social stereotypes about aging have on health and functioning is more complex than previously thought. Older athletes can play an important part as role models for older adults, since these individuals continually challenge the established stereotypes of old age as a time of decreasing function and increasing disease.

Lessons learned
In implementing its renewed program architecture, SSHRC has streamlined its approach to funding and opened the door to innovative ways of carrying out research through social sciences research in order to deliver all manner of benefits to Canadians—social, economic, environmental, cultural and technological. Recent studies and consultations with external stakeholders confirmed SSHRC’s continued support to targeted training and research initiatives branded within its program architecture. For example, the review of partnerships and partnering strategies provided helpful insights for further articulation of SSHRC’s strategic foci, including its role in supporting researcher-negotiated partnerships and partnership agreements (such as the Sport Participation Research Initiative), as well as inter-funding agency partnership strategies.

Program Activity 2.3: Strategic Research Development

Strategic grants through programs in this program activity are available to faculty, postsecondary institutions, scholarly associations and not-for-profit organizations to explore, develop and define new perspectives, challenges, and priorities in conducting research, in disseminating research results, and in training new researchers. Strategic research development programs also help develop related research capacity through the promotion of new modes of research collaboration and partnerships.

Distribution of Grants and Scholarships Spending in the Area of Strategic Research and Development, 2011-12

[D]

Note: Other Funding Opportunities is a sum of programs with less than or equal to $1M.

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
31.0 36.5 35.4*

* The variance between planned and actual spending relates to implementation of the renewed program architecture.

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
6 7 +1

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Research institutions are supported to conduct research development. New research and new researchers are attracted in strategic and targeted areas. Number of SSHRC institutional grants awarded

SSHRC Institutional Grants: 72

Aid to Small Universities: 22

SSHRC Institutional Grants: 79

Aid to Small Universities: 21

The Strategic Research Development program activity helps researchers explore new methods and lines of inquiry and develop new perspectives, new partnerships and new international opportunities. The program activity’s focus on collaboration, as well as co-creation of knowledge, promotes a research process that benefits Canadians in all sectors of society. For example, the Community-University Research Alliances funding opportunity brings community and university stakeholders together, to their mutual benefit. In this way, the program activity inspires an entrepreneurial spirit among researchers, paving the way for future breakthroughs.

Performance summary and analysis of program activity
SSHRC supports many partnership mechanisms involving formal partnerships (with financial and/or in-kind contributions from partners) between the academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors, within Canada and internationally. Partnership Grants and Partnership Development Grants are SSHRC’s newly created funding opportunities. While Partnership Grants support initiatives that advance research and/or knowledge mobilization, Partnership Development Grants are designed to develop and test new partnership approaches to research and related activities. In 2011-12, SSHRC awarded 25 Partnership Grants (involving 454 distinct partners) and 72 Partnership Development Grants (involving 283 distinct partners). For every dollar requested through SSHRC, Partnership Grant holders are, on average, leveraging up to $0.96 in partner contributions (cash and in-kind), with 83 per cent of these contributions confirmed. Furthermore, Partnership Development Grant holders are leveraging up to $2.18 through partner contributions.

Research addressing issues within SSHRC priority areas was encouraged in the Partnership Development Grants and Partnerships Grants competitions. Close to 80 per cent of all partnership applications selected a priority area, as listed below.

Partnerships Grants and Partnerships Development Grants by Priority Area, 2011-12

Priority Area Partnership Grants Award Partnershipd Development Grants Awards
No.

%

No.

%

Aboriginal Research 5 20.0 10 13.9
Canadian Environmental Issues 4 16.0 10 13.9
Digital Economy 6 24.0 14 19.4
Innovation, Leadership and Prosperity 5 20.0 22 30.6
Northern Communities: Towards Social and Economic Prosperity 0 0 1 1.4
Open –Themed Grants 5 20.0 15 20.8
TOTAL 25 100.0 72 100.0

SSHRC undertook or pursued targeted strategic activities in collaboration with Canadian and international partners, including as follows:

  • In partnership with Industry Canada, SSHRC launched an initiative to explore what recent research on public investments in higher education research and development could be marshalled to inform innovation policy. The initiative included 14 competitively awarded Knowledge Synthesis Grants focused on how best to leverage public investments in university- and college-based research to stimulate innovation and economic growth. As part of this initiative, two workshops were held with researchers, policy makers and representatives from organizations with a stake in Canada’s science and innovation policy to share knowledge and increase the impact of this project’s findings. A final report will be completed in 2012.
  • With the National Endowment for the Humanities (United States), the National Science Foundation (United States) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (United Kingdom), SSHRC participated in the second round of the Digging into Data Challenge. Eight new projects, ranging in duration from six to 24 months (the last one to be completed by January 31, 2014), were funded, for $869,116 in total. Building on the assessment conducted by the Council on Library and Information Resources, each awarded project will be a partnership between two or more national teams, from at least two participating countries.
  • In partnership with NSERC and CIHR, SSHRC participated in the 2011-12 competition rounds of the College and Community Innovation Program. SSHRC contributed more than $200,000 to increase innovation at the community and/or regional level by enabling Canadian colleges to increase their capacity to work with local companies (e.g., small and medium-sized enterprises), across the broad spectrum of social, health and natural sciences and the humanities.
  • With the International Development Research Centre, SSHRC participated in the midterm review of the first cohort of four International Community-University Research Alliances. In 2011-12, SSHRC contributed $800,000 to support the 51 Canadian researchers involved in these international research activities.

Multiple Perspectives, One Future

Few people would be surprised that forestry companies and environmental organizations might not always see eye to eye on sustainability strategies. Professor Donald Floyd at the University of New Brunswick is in the midst of a Community-University Research Alliances project that’s bringing the two sides together—to come up with constructive solutions and identify ways of collaborating over the long term. “SSHRC’s support has been critical to this project because of the Council’s broad view of interdisciplinary problem solving. That’s what’s needed here: a mix of sound ecological science and insight into the sociology of public involvement,” Floyd says. With forestry producer J.D. Irving, Limited and a number of non-governmental organizations engaged, this research project is helping stakeholders reach common ground on approaching issues such as biodiversity, conservation, forest habitats, climate change and carbon emissions. The aim is to ensure a vibrant economic and environmental future for the region.

Lessons learned
To measure the degree to which SSHRC’s program renewal is achieving its goals, as well as to improve SSHRC’s application processes for future competitions, a post-application survey was administered to applicants of both the Partnership Development Grants (n=153) and Partnership Grants (n=134) competitions (i.e., letter of intent, formal application) between December 2011 and April 2012. Data from these surveys were analyzed and compared, and it was found that most respondents were satisfied with the application process. However, the majority of comments concerned the role and involvement of partners in the application process, given their limited knowledge of research funding, limited time and Internet access—as well as significant issues for international partners. Many partners felt that too much work was involved in applying, leaving them on the verge of abandoning the project, and four partners ultimately did leave. The final report suggested changes to address the majority of the issues mentioned by respondents.

SSHRC undertook outreach activities in 2011-12 specifically targeting private sector organizations. The activities were geared towards raising awareness of SSHRC’s partnership funding opportunities and inviting businesses to take advantage of research as a competitive asset. A key example of the success of such partnerships is TD Bank’s achievement of carbon-neutral status through its involvement with the SSHRC-funded Network for Business Sustainability at The University of Western Ontario. The outreach activities are meeting SSHRC’s objectives of promoting greater awareness and understanding of SSHRC and the contribution of social sciences and humanities research in their respective areas of interest, as well as generating interest in future collaboration. This is particularly relevant in fulfilling the goals of SSHRC’s partnership strategy, which focuses on increasing knowledge co-creation and mobilization between researchers and collaborators across disciplines and across sectors—nationally and internationally—for mutual benefit.

Strategic Outcome 3.0: Knowledge Mobilization—Facilitating the use of social sciences and humanities knowledge within and beyond academia

A knowledge-based society requires multidirectional approaches to the flow of research knowledge, particularly between knowledge producers and knowledge users. SSHRC-funded knowledge mobilization activities build links between the research community and the larger community, and allow for fruitful exchanges and the cross-fertilization of ideas. This outreach and co-creation of knowledge fosters an entrepreneurial spirit and strengthens Canada’s competitiveness as a knowledge-based society. In keeping with the renewal of its programs, SSHRC will be reframing its knowledge mobilization activities under the new Connection umbrella program, increasing opportunities for engaging stakeholders from outside of the research community in the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

Distribution of Spending in the Area of Knowledge Mobilization, 2011-12

[D]

In 2011-12, SSHRC awarded 496 grants through the two program activities falling under the strategic outcome Knowledge Mobilization. Funding through this strategic outcome represented $39.5 million. Overall, knowledge mobilization funding constituted 5.5 per cent of SSHRC’s grants expenditures in 2011-12.

Program Activity 3.1: Research Dissemination and Knowledge Translation

This program activity supports the effective dissemination of social sciences and humanities research results, both within and beyond academia. Through grants to researchers and research institutions, it helps to ensure that research results are accessible to potential users, through both dissemination and engagement activities. Accessibility includes both the availability of research results to a range of audiences through publications (research publishing), as well as the tailoring of research results to the needs of potential users (knowledge translation).

Distribution of Grants and Scholarships Spending in the Area of Research Dissemination and Knowledge Translation, 2011-12

[D]

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
7.6 7.6 11.9*

* The variance between planned and actual spending relates to increased spending in grants.

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
5 5 0

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Effective dissemination of research results both within and beyond academia. Proportion of targeted audiences who claim access to social sciences and humanities research at least to “some extent” (≥4 on a 5‑point scale)

50%

Not available

Performance summary and analysis of program activity
SSHRC’s support for knowledge mobilization activities enhances access to and maximizes the impact of publicly funded research in the social sciences and humanities. To this end, SSHRC continued its integration of knowledge mobilization activities across its suite of programs, particularly through the new Connection umbrella program, so that Canadian and international policy-makers, business and community leaders, educators, media representatives, and countless others benefit from SSHRC-funded activities such as workshops; policy briefs; public debates; development of interactive technology, software and Internet tools; and artistic exhibitions and performances. This integration is helping to enhance the profile of SSHRC’s knowledge mobilization activities, and will further benefit all users and co-creators of social sciences and humanities knowledge in Canada.

SSHRC’s Knowledge Mobilization Strategy is about seeing knowledge applied so that society can reap the benefits: greater prosperity, improved quality of life and increased productivity. SSHRC focuses exactly on these areas, cultivating connections among researchers, industry, government and international partners to ensure Canadian innovations find their way into the hands of those who will put them to work for maximum impact.

The strategy led to results in areas of key importance to Canadians. Over 1,700 SSHRC award holders submitted final research reports in 2011-12. Fifty-two per cent of these award holders indicated that their research’s primary areas of impact were social or cultural, and 45 per cent indicated that their research results affected the development of programs and policies, contributed to public debate or had economic impacts.

Designing Integration: Regional Co-operation on Climate Change Governance in North America

A two-day workshop, funded through a Public Outreach Grant—Canadian Environmental Issues, brought together researchers from five disciplines and three North American countries to present papers on varying aspects of North American climate governance, providing a very rich picture of the complex forms of climate co‑operation operating across multiple levels and via multiple agencies and networks. The workshop included policy-makers from Canada, the United States and Mexico, representing federal, sub-federal and international agencies; as well as representatives from think tanks, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The representation allowed for the dissemination of information to the policy community and provided an opportunity for researchers to ensure the saliency and accuracy of their research activities by “ground checking” their findings with practitioners. The workshop papers formed the basis of working papers that were disseminated on the Internet, and also formed the basis of a peer-reviewed, edited volume to be published in 2013 by University of Toronto Press.

—Dr. Alastair Neil Craik, recipient of the SSHRC Public Outreach Grant

Through the Public Outreach Grants funding opportunity, SSHRC ensured that researchers studying areas of strategic importance to Canada (through SSHRC’s priority areas) had opportunities to engage creatively with the broader public by sharing knowledge and enhancing the process through which research is put to use.

In 2011-12, the new, combined Public Outreach Grants funding opportunity funded 95 projects that piloted ground-breaking intersectoral dissemination initiatives. The Public Outreach Grants funding opportunity received more than double its typical intake of applications. Almost 60 per cent of these grants were in the five SSHRC priority areas, as listed in the following table.

Public Outreach Grants by Priority Area, 2011-12

Priority Area Applications Funded Total Award
No.

%

$ millions

Digital Economy 9 9.5 0.48
Canadian Environmental Issues 11 11.5 0.68
Aboriginal Research 13 13.7 0.84
Management, Business and Finance 15 15.8 1.16
Northern Communities: Towards Social and Economic Prosperity 7 7.4 0.16
Open-Themed Grants 40 42.1 2.53
Total 95 100.0 6.30

Lessons learned
The Aid to Scholarly Journals funding opportunity, which is adjudicated tri-annually, has as its main objective increased access to, and readership for, original research results in the social sciences and humanities through Canadian scholarly journals. Recast in 2008 from the original and long-running Aid to Research and Transfer Journals, the funding opportunity has seen an increase in applications from 186 in 2008-09 to 193 in its most recent round. Building on the 2008 introduction of a new funding formula and evaluation criteria, this funding opportunity implemented several policy-related changes in its 2011-12 round, including a new requirement that journals formalize the administrative arrangements in place to receive and manage grant funds. As well, a mechanism was introduced to measure the number of applicant journals that are using a “moving wall” business model to open access and subscription-based information (which SSHRC already collects).

Program Activity 3.2: Research Networking

This program activity supports interactions between researchers in academia and other sectors and between researchers and users of research results in a range of sectors. These interactions enable researchers, research trainees and others to share and collaborate on research plans and results. Research networking is an important part of the research enterprise that is difficult to fund through traditional research grants. Dedicated funding for networking activities acknowledges its important role in fostering high-impact research and innovation. Research networking is supported through grants to researchers and research institutions to fund both discrete events such as conferences and workshops as well as more sustained collaborative relationships such as research networks and clusters.

Distribution of Grants and Scholarships Spending in the Area of Research Networking, 2011-12

[D]

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
24.3 24.6 27.6*

* The variance between planned and actual spending relates to increased spending in grants.

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
5 6 +1

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Researchers interact and work with each other, across disciplines and sectors, and with potential users of research in a range of sectors outside of academia in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Proportion of targeted audiences that claim use of social sciences and humanities research at least to “some extent” (≥4 on a 5-point scale)

50%

Not available

Performance summary and analysis of program activity
SSHRC’s support of networking activities allows Canadians to connect across sectors, and to demonstrate leadership on the world stage in the development of practical solutions to complex issues. Canadian researchers are able to cultivate relationships with their peers from other disciplines and partners from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and abroad. Through SSHRC’s continued integration of knowledge mobilization activities into the design and launch of its new Insight and Connection programming, research results flow more easily between stakeholders and the research community, bringing results to Canadians and maximizing the impacts of the collaborative process. This collaboration benefits Canada in at least two ways: it increases Canada’s international reputation in social sciences and humanities research and research training, and it fosters the development of the collaborative inquiry essential for improving Canada’s competitiveness in the global economy.

The Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Knowledge Mobilization competition results to date demonstrate the potential of the NCE approach to have further impacts and outcomes in the social sciences and humanities. NCE events also provide an ideal venue for highlighting social sciences and humanities impacts, trends and avenues for exploration.

Two of the three NCE-Knowledge Mobilization recipients have a strong footing in the social sciences and humanities: Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts with Dalhousie University as its host, and the Promotion of Relationships and Prevention of Violence Network, formerly an NCE New Initiative, for which the host institution is Queen’s University.

Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND)

Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) is one of three Networks of Centres of Excellence to receive funding in 2009. Its primary goal is to conduct world-class research into new media, animation and games. Since GRAND’s inception, it has recognized the importance of integrating the social sciences and humanities. The fact that the network has two renowned co-directors, one of whom is a computer scientist (Kelly Booth) and the other of whom is a social scientist (Abby Goodrum), exemplifies GRAND’s integrated approach.

In 2011, Barry Wellman, a prominent member of GRAND, co-authored a landmark publication entitled Networked, The New Social Operating System (MIT Press, in Kindle and hard cover). Two conclusions presented are that “networked individualism” is tightly tied to technological changes, and that the world of networked individuals will be shaped by: the architecture of the Internet, emerging legal strictures on information and evolving social norms.

The conceptualization, methods and findings of Networked, The New Social Operating System are influencing public discourse both nationally and internationally. They are also informing GRAND, particularly where there is a focus on a) the distribution of work across Canada through networking or b) the ways in which social networks, the personalized Internet, and always-on mobile connectivity are affecting Canadians’ intertwining of digital media with in-person contact and privacy behaviours.

Lessons learned
In November 2011, 18 projects funded by Strategic Knowledge Clusters were reviewed during a two-day mid-term evaluation. The review committee concluded that 15 of these projects were meeting or exceeding original project and program objectives, and highlighted several networks demonstrating exemplary work. The policy discussion from this meeting was combined with that regarding the Community-University Research Alliances mid-term evaluation, in order to provide helpful insights and inform future mid-term evaluations of the Partnership Grants funding opportunity. The committee ultimately recommended the continuation of funding for all funded projects, with the proviso that SSHRC staff follow up as appropriate for additional information.

Strategic Outcome 4.0: Institutional Environment—A strong Canadian science and research environment

Funding provided to institutions to maintain world-class research environments supports them in attracting and retaining the top researchers in all disciplines whose work is critical to Canada’s science, technology and innovation system. Program activities in support of the institutional environment ensure that Canada has well-equipped, appropriately staffed research facilities that meet regulatory requirements and international accreditation standards and that enhance Canada’s reputation as a setting for research excellence. Other activities allow institutions to administer research projects and to provide the legal, marketing or financial services associated with commercialization.

Program Activity 4.1: Indirect Costs of Research

In Canada, the provincial and federal governments jointly support academic research. The provinces provide the basic physical infrastructure and, supported in part by the Canada Health and Social Transfer, direct and indirect operating costs. The federal government funds the direct costs of research, mainly through the three national research granting agencies—SSHRC, CIHR and NSERC.

The term “indirect costs” refers to the central and departmental administrative costs that institutions incur to support research, but are not attributable to specific research projects. In its 2003 budget, the Government of Canada announced a new program to support the indirect costs associated with the conduct of academic research in institutions that receive research grant funds from any of the three federal granting agencies. This grant program recognizes the growing indirect costs of conducting publicly funded academic research.

The program was created to help postsecondary institutions maximize the investments in research in one of two ways: secure additional support for the indirect costs of conducting research or support their mandates to teach and provide community services. By financing a portion of the indirect costs incurred by postsecondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes, the federal government both supports world-class research facilities and addresses the needs of smaller Canadian postsecondary institutions.

The Indirect Costs Program is administered by the SSHRC-hosted Chairs Secretariat on behalf of the three national research granting agencies.

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
322.7 332.0 332.4*

*Budget 2011 included an additional $10.0 million for the Indirect Costs Program.

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
5 5 0

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Universities and colleges have the necessary resources, research facilities and services to carry out and mobilize world-class research.

Proportion of institutions reporting maintained or improved capacity to support research activities by providing:

  • Management and administration services
  • Research resources (such as libraries)
  • Research facilities
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Intellectual property management

80%

Not available

Performance summary and analysis of program activity
Since the Indirect Costs Program’s inception in 2001, SSHRC has allocated, on behalf of the three granting agencies, more than $2.8 billion in grants to more than 150 eligible Canadian postsecondary institutions. Indirect Costs grants to institutions equalled $331.7 million in 2011-12, providing vital support to the academic research environment in Canada. The Indirect Costs Program provides support in five priority expenditure areas: research facilities, research resources, management and administration, regulatory requirements and accreditation, and intellectual property management. The program’s funds have benefited research capacity in all five areas for the entire range of institutions.

Indirect Costs grants have allowed Canadian research institutions to raise their research profiles both at home and abroad. This has been especially true for small and mid-sized institutions with relatively young research programs. The funds, through their support of research administration and accounting services, have also contributed meaningfully by allowing for increased accountability and effectiveness in the research enterprise. By removing some of the administrative burden from researchers and centralizing research funding management, many institutions have been able to significantly improve their ability to manage the research funding they receive, and to enhance the support provided to their researchers at various levels.

As a whole, institutions funded by the program use their grants largely for research management and administration and for research facilities. Combined, these two categories accounted for 68 per cent of total spending in 2011-12. The distribution of funds among the five expenditure areas has remained fairly stable since the program’s inception, with a gradual increase in the proportion of funds allotted to compliance with regulatory requirements and accreditation, as well as to research management and administration, offset by a similar decline in the proportion spent on research resources and facilities.

Proportion of Grants Budget Allocated to Priority Expenditures Areas, 2011-12

[D]

 

Supporting the Research Enterprise

“Memorial University benefits greatly from the Indirect Costs Program. These funds ensure that researchers are supported in all areas of research. In 2010, Memorial released a 50-page report, entitled “The Shining: Research Stars 2010,” which describes some of the significant university research projects of 2009-10 and depicts some of Memorial’s research stars. These stories help depict some of the ground-breaking research that is currently ongoing at the university. The continued growth of research at Memorial and the many success stories that result are greatly assisted by the ongoing support received by the Indirect Costs Program.”

—Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador

Lessons learned
In response to recommendations from the 2008-09 summative evaluation of the Indirect Costs Program, the program has established a working group to explore ways in which it can work with institutions to: 1) provide more information on the impact of the program and make this information publicly available; and 2) establish a baseline measurement of the state of the research environment. The working group is composed of senior administrators from various organizations (universities, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, and the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators).

As of June 2012, institutions have to make public via their websites information about the use and the impact of their Indirect Costs grants. This was proposed by the working group, and, following a consultation in summer 2011, endorsed by institutions. Overall, institutions were very supportive of this initiative. The new public disclosure requirement was officially communicated to institutions in January 2012, with the first reporting period being 2011-12.

The working group has also been tasked with identifying a set of indicators to assess the health of the postsecondary research environment every five years. Bearing in mind that the initiative must align with the existing needs and motivations of universities and stakeholder groups to collect and use data, the working group has proposed indicators for three of the five components that define the health of the research environment (quality of facilities; availability and quality of research resources; and management and administration capacity). A broad consultation is being prepared, with the goal of seeking feedback from the various communities that will participate in and benefit from the baseline assessment. Work continues on identifying indicators for the two remaining components (degree of regulatory compliance and intellectual property management capacity).

Program Activity 5.1 Internal Services

Internal Services are groups of related activities and resources that are administered to support the needs of programs and other corporate obligations of an organization. These groups are: Management and Oversight Services; Communications Services; Legal Services; Human Resources Management Services; Financial Management Services; Information Management Services; Information Technology Services; Real Property Services; Materiel Services; Acquisition Services; and Travel and Other Administrative Services. Internal Services include only those activities and resources that apply across an organization and not to those provided specifically to a program.

2011-12 Financial Resources ($ millions)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
16.4 17.3 16.4

2011-12 Human Resources (FTEs)

Planned Actual Difference
108 114 +6

 

Program Activity Performance Summary
Expected
Results
Performance
Indicators
Targets Performance
Status
Effective management frameworks (policies, processes and controls) for all activities and resources that apply across the organization.

Treasury Board Secretariat’s Management Accountability Framework (MAF) rating for the area of Management #3—Effectiveness of the Corporate Management Structure

“Acceptable” MAF rating

Opportunity for improvement

(Most recent MAF assessment 2009)

Treasury Board Secretariat’s MAF rating for the area of Management #12—Effectiveness of Information Management “Acceptable” MAF rating

Acceptable

(Most recent MAF assessment 2009)

Treasury Board Secretariat’s MAF rating for the area of Management #17—Effectiveness of Financial Management and Control “Acceptable” MAF rating

Acceptable

(Most recent MAF assessment 2009)

 

SSHRC and NSERC use a common administrative services model for their general administration and for services relating to human resources, finance, awards administration, and information and technology management. This shared approach has proven highly efficient. SSHRC has separate units providing corporate services related to governance, policy, planning, statistics, program evaluation, performance measurement, communications and international affairs.

In 2011-12, SSHRC continued to transform its business tools and processes, for example, SSHRC implemented:

  • application forms and electronic submission for the renewed program architecture;
  • components of its human resources strategy action plan, including a recruitment strategy, assignment and shadowing program, staffing policy review, leadership development stream and accreditation program); and
  • a Corporate Risk Management Framework as part of its integrated planning cycle.

As of March 31, SSHRC had procedures in place to ensure that funded projects had been reviewed to determine their potential effects on the environment, in accordance with the requirements of the legislation.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan

SSHRC received temporary additional funding, as part of CEAP, in Budget 2009 for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and additional ongoing funding in Budget 2010. In 2011-12, SSHRC delivered on its commitment to CEAP by supporting 100 Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarships, totalling $3.5 million. These scholarships target high-performing graduate students undertaking research training in business-related areas.



Section III: Supplementary Information

Financial Highlights

Condensed Statement of Financial Position
As at March 31, 2012
($ thousands)
  Change % 2011-12 2010-11
Total net liabilities (8.3) 7,236 7,895
Total net financial assets (20.1) 4,178 5,226
Departmental net debt 14.6 3,058 2,669
Total non-financial assets (14.0) 1,467 1,705
Departmental net financial position (65.0) (1,591) (964)


Condensed Statement of Operations and Departmental Net Financial Position
For the Year Ended March 31, 2012
($ thousands)
  Change % 2011-12 2010-11
Total expenses 1.6 701,065 690,192
Total revenues 0 0 0
Net cost of operations before government funding and transfers 1.6 701,065 690,192
Departmental net financial position (65.0) (1,591) (964)

 


Allocation of SSHRC Expenses Between Grants and Operating Expenses, 2011-12

[D]

As illustrated above, SSHRC allocates 96 per cent of its available budget directly to researchers and institutions across Canada to support university- and college-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities.

Financial Statements

SSHRC has posted on its website:

List of Supplementary Information Tables

Electronic supplementary information tables listed in the 2011–12 Departmental Performance Report can be found on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s website.



Section IV: Other Items of Interest

Additional Information

Results-Based Action Plan for Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act 2009-12

Status Report on the Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act

Organizational Contact Information

Christine Trauttmansdorff                      
Director                                               
Corporate Strategy and Performance                 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Telephone: 613-944-6230
Fax: 613-996-4824
Email: christine.trauttmansdorff@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca
350 Albert Street
P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6G4

Nathalie Mendonça                                        
Manager                                                
Communications Division                        
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Telephone: 613-992-0694
Fax: 613-992-2803
Email: nathalie.mendonca@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca
350 Albert Street
P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6G4