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Management response summary evaluation of the SSHRC Fellowships
June 2015

Context

The evaluation of SSHRC’s Fellowships was led by the Evaluation division and overseen by an Evaluation Advisory Committee, which consisted of the evaluation team and program management and staff. Since the Postdoctoral Fellowships funding opportunity was evaluated in 2012 and its context has not changed since then, the present evaluation concentrates on the Doctoral funding opportunity for the period spanning the fiscal years 2009-2010 to 2013-2014. The design of the evaluation was completed in January 2014, while data collection and reporting were conducted through 2014 and 2015.

Since 1978, SSHRC has administered its Doctoral Fellowships funding opportunity. The objective is 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.

This evaluation employed multiple lines of evidence to examine evaluation questions, with responsibility shared between the external consultant, Science-Metrix, and SSHRC’s internal evaluators. The following methods were used during the data collection phase: an administrative data review, a literature/document review, surveys, focus groups, key informant interviews and a cost-efficiency analysis. The evaluation addressed the two core issues of relevance and performance. In this analysis, performance is comprised of ‘effectiveness’ and ‘program design and efficiency’.

Overall, most lines of evidence indicate that the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships program contributes to research outputs and knowledge advancements in all disciplines and areas of the social sciences and humanities, and that these advancements and outputs were being disseminated in academia and beyond.

Conclusions

The evaluation was an important and beneficial exercise as part of the mandated review of continued relevancy of SSHRC’s funding opportunities. The analysis and outcome of the evaluation complements previous evaluations and show consistent relevance and performance. It also aligns with the feedback received by SSHRC through previous consultation with applicants and stakeholders as part the renewal of SSHRC’s Talent program and through ongoing feedback received. Overall, the quality of the evaluation was high, and its conclusions are consistent with information that SSHRC staff generates in the course of program delivery.

The attached action plan provides specific information on the management response to recommendations contained in the evaluation report.


Prepared by:

Valérie Laflamme
Acting Director, Research Training Portfolio


Approved by:

Brent Herbert-Copley
Vice-President, Research Programs Directorate

Management Response and Action Plan

Recommendations Response Responsibility Priority / Timeline

1. The Doctoral Fellowships should continue to receive support at the federal level given its high relevance, clear contribution to expected outcomes and efficient delivery

Agreed.
The Steering Committee is pleased to note that the Evaluation of the SSHRC Fellowships found that there is a continued need for the program and that it is aligned with the 2014 Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy.

Research Training Portfolio

Non applicable
Non applicable

2. The Doctoral Fellowships funding opportunity should update and revise the current form administered at the end of the period of tenure of the fellowship, in order to develop an electronic achievement reporting process.

Agreed.
1) A Performance Measurement Strategy for Talent is currently developed and will be presented to management for approval by December 2015.

Research Training Portfolio;
Corporate Strategy and Performance Division;
Information and Innovative Solutions Division; 
Programs Planning and Operations Division

 

1) Medium
December 2015.

 

2) An electronic achievement reporting process for SSHRC’s Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships is scheduled for implementation in Fall 2016.

 

2) Medium
Fall 2016.

3.  In collaboration with universities, SSHRC should promote the acquisition of professional skills by doctoral students.

Agreed.
SSHRC is continuously engaged with postsecondary institutions and various organizations (such as CAGS) to promote the acquisition of professional skills by doctoral students.
1) In June 2014, SSHRC published the Guidelines for effective research training.
These guidelines are intended to support and extend the impact of the scholarly commitment to effective research training, by ensuring that, across all SSHRC funding opportunities, everything possible is done to maximize the impact of training, and of investments in training, in the social sciences and humanities. SSHRC considers that research training should, when applicable and possible, do the following: build both academic competencies and general professional skills that would be transferable to a variety of settings; include international or intersectoral opportunities; and include specific, effective mentoring and institutional support.

Research Training Portfolio

 







1) Medium
Completed.

 

2) SSHRC will begin monitoring the use of the guidelines through the achievement reporting process scheduled for implementation in Fall 2016.

 

2) Low
Fall 2016.

4. The Doctoral Fellowships funding opportunity should develop and implement a system to monitor the effectiveness of measures taken to better communicate eligibility and scoring criteria.

Partially Agreed.
At this point, SSHRC will not develop and implement a new system to monitor the effectiveness of measures taken to better communicate eligibility and scoring criteria. However, the following measures will be taken:
1) In the short term, SSHRC will identify the improvements since 2009 on the clarity and transparency of its selection process for the SSHRC Doctoral funding opportunity.

Research Training Portfolio

 








1) Low
Fall 2016.

 

2) SSHRC will continue to gather data and evidence through various sources from applicants and key stakeholders regarding the effectiveness of measures taken to better communicate eligibility and scoring criteria.

 

2) Low
Completed.