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Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants Final Evaluation Report

Management Response and Action Plan

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Insight program includes six main funding opportunities, two of which were the focus of the present evaluation: Insight Grants (IG) and Insight Development Grants (IDG). Both IG and IDG were developed as part of SSHRC’s Program Architecture Renewal. IDGs were first offered in 2011-12, and support research in its initial stages to develop research capacity. IGs were first offered in 2012-13, and support excellence and the advancement and mobilization of knowledge in mature research programs.

The evaluation was conducted in accordance with subsection 42.1(1) of the Financial Administration Act, and the Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation (2009), which requires that every department conduct a review every five years of the relevance and effectiveness of each ongoing program for which it is responsible. The evaluation was designed to address the five core evaluation issues stipulated in the Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation (2009), which fall within two broad categories: relevance and performance.

Nine evaluation methods were used to collect, analyze and synthesize data across multiple lines of evidence: a document review, a literature review, an administrative data review (including of applications and final research reports), a cost-efficiency analysis, key informant interviews, a researcher survey, a student survey, survey focus groups, and case studies.

The evaluation confirmed that the IG/IDG objectives aligned with current federal priorities, roles and responsibilities. The evaluation also demonstrated the continued need for social science and humanities research; and for the IG/IDG funding opportunities, specifically, to support social science and humanities (SSH) researchers in Canada, as few equivalent alternatives exist.

The evaluation report made the following recommendations:

  1. IG and IDG remain clearly relevant to support SSH research in Canada, are making effective contributions to expected outcomes, and are managed efficiently, and so should continue to receive federal support.
  2. SSHRC should continue to encourage knowledge mobilization of SSH research, including examining the feasibility of improved monitoring of uptake/use of grantees’ research, and through promotion of achievements and best practices.
  3. SSHRC should explore the feasibility of and potential options for following up with trainees hired through IDG and IG in order to collect more robust information on training experiences and career outcomes.
  4. IG/IDG program management should continue to proactively monitor and investigate further the impacts of grant amounts, success rates and teleconference adjudication on the achievement of outcomes.

The recommendations made were very useful. They highlighted areas that SSHRC will continue to monitor, as well as areas where further data collection would be warranted. The observed effects of the funding opportunity delivery changes (shifting from Standard Research Grants and Research Development Initiatives to IG and IDG) were based on short-term data, and, often, a single line of evidence, and were generally small and inconsistent. A longer timeframe is required to determine the impact of the IDG and IG funding opportunities on the achievement of expected outcomes, given the recent implementation of the IG and IDG, the duration of IG (up to five years), and the fact that many outcomes can only be measured after the end of grants.

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




Evaluation of Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants: Management Response Action Plan (MRAP)
Recommendation Management Response Responsibility Priority / Timeline

Recommendation 1:
IG and IDG remain clearly relevant to support SSH research in Canada, are making effective contributions to expected outcomes, and are managed efficiently, and so should continue to receive federal support.

Agreed.

Not applicable

Not applicable

Recommendation 2:
SSHRC should continue to encourage knowledge mobilization of SSH research, including examining the feasibility of improved monitoring of uptake/use of grantees’ research, and through promotion of achievements and best practices.

Agreed.

  • To better encourage knowledge mobilization, SSHRC will highlight guidelines and best practices in knowledge mobilization during program outreach visits and webinars.

Research Grants and Partnerships Division

Priority: Low

Timeline: March 2017

  • To improve the monitoring of uptake and use of grantees’ research, SSHRC will look at the possibility of identifying and contacting a cohort of Standard Research Grants recipients to ask them to complete a short report on outcomes and impacts of their funded research at least five years after the end of their grant. This will allow SSHRC to decide whether and how this approach should be integrated into the reporting process for grantees.

Corporate Strategy and Performance Division /
Research Grants and Partnerships Division /
Evaluation Division

Priority: Low

Timeline: December 2017

  • To improve the promotion of achievements, SSHRC will develop and implement a systematic process for program officer review of final research reports and achievement reports received by SSHRC, with the goal of documenting and promoting innovative research insights on, and good practices in, knowledge mobilization.

Research Grants and Partnerships Division/
Communications Division

Priority: Low

Timeline: December 2017

Recommendation 3:
SSHRC should explore the feasibility of and potential options for following up with trainees hired through IDG and IG in order to collect more robust information on training experiences and career outcomes.

Agreed.

To enhance information on trainees, SSHRC will establish a working group to identify and investigate different options for following up with trainees, and to collect additional information on training experiences and career outcomes, while being mindful of issues of administrative burden.

Corporate Strategy and Performance Division /
Research Grants and Partnerships Division /
Evaluation Division

Priority: Low

Timeline: September 2018

Recommendation 4:
IG/IDG program management should continue to proactively monitor and investigate further the impacts of grant amounts, success rates and teleconference adjudication on the achievement of outcomes.

Agreed.

SSHRC will continue to monitor and improve program design and delivery issues raised. Particularly, it will:

  • analyze optimum grant size/duration for achieving key immediate outcomes;
  • in consultation with key stakeholders, explore ways of ensuring the flexibility of programs to support smaller grant sizes;
  • provide guidance to committee chairs on best practices in chairing teleconference meetings; and
  • review technological options for improving teleconference meetings.

Research Grants and Partnerships Division /
Information and Innovation Solutions Division /
Corporate Strategy and Performance Division /
Evaluation Division

Priority: High

Timeline: September 2017