Subject Matter Eligibility

General Guidelines for the Eligibility of Subject Matter at SSHRC
Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health
Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications in Psychology


The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) support and promote high-quality research in a wide variety of disciplines and areas. This includes research that bridges more than one discipline or that requires the skills of several disciplines.

SSHRC collaborates closely with the other granting agencies to encourage and promote support to the full range of social sciences and humanities research and research training, including collaboration across disciplines and subject areas. The following guidelines have been prepared to assist applicants in directing their proposals to the most appropriate funding agency. These guidelines apply to research, research training, and related activities such as conferences or scholarly journals. In any given application, applicants should apply to the agency that is responsible for the dominant research discipline or area. A researcher, research team or student may not submit the same application to more than one of the three federal research granting agencies.

Applications submitted to SSHRC that would be more appropriately evaluated by NSERC or CIHR will not be accepted. In such cases, applicants may be required to submit a new application to the appropriate agency.

Applicants working in research areas where boundaries overlap are advised to state clearly in all applications for funding why they believe their proposals are primarily appropriate for support by the agency to which they are submitting their application.

Such applicants should contact the research services office at their institution for guidance. In addition, they should seek the advice of the appropriate program officer in charge of the program to which they are considering applying.

Complete guidelines on selecting the appropriate federal granting agency are also available.


General Guidelines for the Eligibility of Subject Matter at SSHRC

Applications to SSHRC as the primary source of research or research training support must meet the following two criteria:

  • The proposed research or related activities must be primarily in the social sciences and humanities (i.e., aligned with SSHRC's legislated mandate).
  • The intended outcome of the research must primarily be to add to our understanding and knowledge of individuals, groups and societies—what we think, how we live, and how we interact with each other and the world around us.

Applicants to any of SSHRC’s grant or scholarship funding opportunities who wish to collaborate with researchers working in fields other than the social sciences and humanities should explore options for Multi-agency Research Funding Collaboration.


Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health

The following are considerations when preparing or assessing the eligibility for SSHRC support of applications with subject matter related to health:

  • Investigators whose proposed research is health-related should consult CIHR’s mandate first to explore eligibility. CIHR has policies and procedures in place to adjudicate the full range of social sciences and humanities research proposals related to health research.
  • The use of social sciences or humanities theories, methodologies and hypotheses is, in and of itself, not sufficient to make a proposal eligible for SSHRC funding.

Ineligible for SSHRC Support

Examples of ineligible research include:

  • clinical education for health care professionals;
  • psychomotor research and kinesiology;
  • clinical research (e.g., treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a condition, disorder or disease; testing or evaluating the impact of interventions, medication or medical aids);
  • therapy (e.g., counselling, interventions, psychotherapy, rehabilitation, speech and occupational therapy, validation/testing of diagnostic tools); and
  • epidemiology.

Decision-Making and Consultation Process to Determine the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health

Decision-making with regard to eligibility is entrusted to SSHRC staff and management, rather than to the peer/merit review committees, which focus on assessing the excellence of proposals. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact SSHRC staff in advance of submitting their application if there are questions regarding subject matter eligibility. Staff will endeavour to provide advice to applicants. However, a final decision on eligibility can be made only following submission of a full proposal.

SSHRC staff also consult, as required, with outside experts and/or with officials at CIHR for assistance in arriving at a recommendation. Applicants whose proposals are deemed ineligible are informed via a formal letter.

Please note that SSHRC does not permit appeals on grounds of subject matter eligibility.


Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications in Psychology

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned guidelines for research related to health, applicants should consider the following guidelines in their decision to apply to a federal granting agency if their research is in the field of psychology:

  • SSHRC considers eligible applications within the broad areas of social, developmental, personality and educational psychology. SSHRC also considers eligible proposals related to theory and methods in these areas. SSHRC does not support clinically oriented research with an intent to improve health, or research involving clinical trials.

  • NSERC considers eligible applications that relate to fundamental psychological processes, their underlying neural mechanisms, their development within individuals, and their evolutionary and ecological context. Fundamental processes are understood to include:

    • sensation and perception;
    • sensorimotor integration;
    • motivation, emotion and reward;
    • learning and memory;
    • cognition and language;
    • sleep, arousal and the chrono-biological modulation of behaviour; and
    • statistical methods for analysis of psychological data.
  • NSERC does not support clinically oriented research.
  • CIHR supports all research in psychology that has direct relevance to, or ultimate impact on, human health.