2021 Innovative Approaches to Research in the Pandemic Context: Frequently Asked Questions
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- Subject eligibility
- Applicant eligibility
- Early career researchers
- Notice of intent to apply
- Full application
- Review process
- Research administrator process
See the 2021 Innovative Approaches to Research in the Pandemic Context competition overview for information on the competition objectives, eligibility requirements and review process, and for definitions of early career researcher, independent researcher and other terms.
The Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration serves as the general guidelines for eligibility of expenses and use of funds related to the direct costs of research.
Can I apply to the 2021 Innovative Approaches to Research in the Pandemic Context competition to develop approaches outside of community and field-based research?
These rapid response grants support the exploration and development of novel and innovative research methodologies. The project may involve any discipline, thematic area, approach or subject area for funding across the three agencies.
Are projects required to be interdisciplinary, as they are for the Exploration and Transformation competitions?
Projects are not required to be interdisciplinary; however, the applicant is encouraged to consider how the development of a new research methodology could be applied to different disciplines, if appropriate.
Can I apply for a rapid response grant to expand on research activities supported by another grant?
The objective of this rapid response competition is to accelerate the exploration, development and testing of bold new directions in research methodologies. If you have an idea that fits this description and builds on activities already supported by another grant, you may apply for funding through this opportunity to support it.
One of the evaluation criteria is high reward. What if it's not possible to predict the outcomes of this project?
Although it's impossible to predict all the outcomes, you should be able to outline some of the basic results that should occur if you attain your objectives.
Can I apply if I am on leave?
Yes, as long as you still fit within the eligibility criteria and the institution supports your application and submits it to the agency.
If a researcher’s salary is paid from a Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant, can they apply for a New Frontiers in Research (NFRF) grant and still hold the CFREF salary support?
A researcher who is a nominated principal investigator (NPI), co-principal investigator (co-PI) or co-applicant on an NFRF grant cannot be paid from both CFREF and NFRF grant funds. If a CFREF-funded researcher becomes a grant holder or co-grant holder of an NFRF grant, they must be paid from another source as of the start date of the NFRF grant. It is not possible to defer the start date of the NFRF grant to maintain CFREF salary support (or for any other reason).
Can I submit multiple applications to this call?
Individuals may participate in only one application to this competition, in any role.
Is an individual who is indirectly employed by a federal, provincial or municipal government (e.g., in police services, education, health care) eligible to be a co-applicant?
Individuals indirectly employed by a federal, provincial or municipal government (e.g., employees in police services, education, health care) are eligible to be co-applicants. Their eligible expenses would be limited to those that are related to the execution of the project that are not within the mandate of the individual’s organization of employment.
Early career researchers
Who is considered an early career researcher?
An early career researcher (ECR) is a researcher within five years of the start date of their first research-related appointment, minus the length of any eligible delays in research (e.g., illness, maternity, parental, pandemic-related), as of the first of the month in which the competition is launched. More details are available in the competition overview under the early career researcher section.
An ECR must also be considered an independent researcher.
How will my past period of leave (parental, medical, etc.) affect my eligibility as an ECR for this competition?
All eligible leaves (including parental, medical, bereavement, and family care) that occurred after your first academic appointment will be considered, as long as they adhered to the requirements of your institution. The amount of time deducted for eligible leaves will be doubled, prolonging the period for which you remain eligible as an ECR.
For example, if the date used for calculating ECR eligibility is January 1, 2019 (please consult the competition overview for the actual ECR eligibility date for your competition), your first academic appointment was on September 1, 2012, and in 2014 you began a parental leave for a period of one year, your calculation for ECR eligibility would be as follows:
Time from September 1, 2012 and January 1, 2019 (date for calculating ECR eligibility in this example):
equals six years and four months (76 months)
12 months of parental leave multiplied by two (equals 24 months)
equals a total of 52 months, or four years and four months.
Since the maximum allowable duration to have ECR status since your first academic appointment is five years (or 60 months), you would, in the above example, be eligible to apply to this funding opportunity as an ECR.
Note that professional leaves (administrative, training and sabbatical) are not credited.
How will pandemic-related research interruptions affect my ECR status?
Research interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., closures) are recognized as, and may be counted as, an eligible delay (credited at twice the amount of time) beginning March 1, 2020.
What is considered a part-time appointment?
The agencies defer to institutional policy on what is considered a part-time appointment. Please contact the institution where the appointment is or was held to confirm whether it was part- or full-time.
What is considered an academic appointment?
An academic appointment is one in which an individual holds a position at a postsecondary institution (either in Canada or internationally) that allows them to be an independent researcher. It does not include positions where the individual is under the supervision of another person. This definition includes part-time positions, contract positions, adjuncts and sessional instructors.
While it may be the policy of certain institutions to consider a postdoctoral fellowship an academic appointment, for the purpose of this competition it is not considered to be one.
Is it a requirement to have a co-principal investigator (co-PI) or co-applicants to apply to this call?
Applications to this call may be submitted by an NPI alone or by a team, which may include up to one co-PI and any number of co-applicants and/or collaborators.
I am the NPI and I have just been informed that one of my co-applicants is on another NOI. What do I do?
The individual will need to decide which project they want to be involved with. Should you need to remove them, go to the Participants section of your application and click Remove beside their name.
I am the NPI and I have just been informed that my co-PI or one of my co-applicants will not be able to accept their invitation to join the application by the deadline. What happens if I submit the application before they accept their invitation?
The invitation will expire and the team member will not appear as a participant. For the NOI, the person can be re-invited once the portal opens for the full application. Following the full application deadline, it will not be possible to add team members until the competition is over (please refer to the Awards section of these FAQs).
Should international participants (co-PIs, co-applicants) who identify as Indigenous in their respective countries self-identify as Indigenous on the Convergence Portal?
If the participant is from North America, they may self-identify as Indigenous (e.g., First Nations, Métis, Inuit or North American Indian). If the participant is from outside North America (e.g., New Zealand), they may self-identify as a member of a visible minority in the Canadian context. While we acknowledge Indigenous Peoples outside of North America, data collected through the Convergence Portal helps in evaluating participation among Indigenous Peoples within the Canadian context.
Notice of intent to apply
I am an NPI and my affiliation will change between now and the start date of the grant. How do I manage my affiliations in the Convergence Portal?
In the Convergence Portal, include all of your current affiliations and identify your primary affiliation. Include the affiliation associated with your NOI, even if you have not yet started the appointment. Enter both your current and upcoming affiliations, indicating your current affiliation as your primary one. In the eligibility profile, when asked to choose the affiliation associated with your application, select your upcoming one.
How will the competition results be communicated to applicants?
Funding decisions will be communicated to applicants in January 2022, through Notifications of Decision, accessible through the Convergence Portal.
My institution is providing financial and in-kind support for this project. How do I attach a letter to demonstrate its commitment to my project?
There is no mechanism to include a letter of support in the application. You can include a description of the support in the budget justification section.
Can I include my or a team member’s self-identifying information?
Self-identifying information (including, but not limited to, gender, Indigenous identity, disability, racial background) may be included if it is relevant to the research project and ONLY with the person’s consent.
What does “a randomized selection process will be used to select the applications to be awarded grants, from among those deemed ‘fundable’” mean?
All applications will be assessed, using a rigorous process, against the criteria of the funding opportunity. All applications that are considered excellent (i.e., that meet the expectations of all the criteria) are considered fundable. If there are more excellent applications than there is available budget, a random process will be used to select from among the excellent applications those to be awarded funding. The randomized selection process provides an equal opportunity for each “fundable” application to be awarded a grant.
Why use this process over a standard and established review process?
This randomized selection process is based on established review processes involving critical assessment of applications against all criteria. It reduces the burden on the research community (applicants and reviewers), ensures a fair and equitable process for all applicants, and is in consideration of the unique characteristics of this funding opportunity.
Research administrator process
Is there a limit on how many applications can come from one institution?
No, there are no quotas or limits to the number of applications from one institution, but research administrators are expected to only submit applications that comply with eligibility requirements and fit the program.
Why can’t I find an NOI from an NPI from my institution?
The list of NOIs that a research administrator can view is based on the affiliation the NPI selected in their eligibility profile. Before contacting the Helpdesk, please confirm with the NPI that they selected your institution as their administering organization in their eligibility profile.
How do I return an application to the NPI?
If the status of the application is:
- “in progress,” there is no need to return it as the NPI has not yet submitted it to the research administrator;
- “received by administrator,” you can return the application by clicking “Return to applicant;”
- “received by agency,” it can no longer be returned to the applicant, as it has already been submitted it to the agencies.
How do I confirm that a co-PI from a different institution is an ECR?
There is no prescribed method for doing so; however, options include:
- contacting the co-PI for the necessary information; or
- asking the co-PI’s research administrator to confirm the individual’s ECR status.
In the Convergence Portal, the Terms and Conditions for Research Administrators state that “prior to submission of the application, the institution has obtained written approval from any other institutions involved in the application process.” What do we need to do?
The same terms and conditions are used in the Research Portal. There is no formal mechanism for notifying institutions if any of their employees are co-PIs or co-applicants in an application. An NPI’s research administrator is responsible for informing the institutions. Each institution can develop their own processes to address this clause. No copies of the written approval will be requested from the agencies for submission.
What expenses are eligible under NFRF? Are co-applicants eligible to receive compensation?
The NFRF program uses the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration as its general guidelines for eligibility of expenses and use of funds related to the direct costs of research. Exceptions to the guidelines for these rapid response grants are noted in the competition overview. Co-applicants are eligible to receive compensation in certain cases.
Do you allow patients to be paid?
Yes, NFRF follows CIHR’s Considerations when paying patient partners in research.
How are indirect costs calculated?
Indirect costs can equal up to 25% of the direct costs of the proposed research. For more information, please refer to the indirect costs section of the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, and the Research Support Fund’s list of eligible and ineligible expenditures.
A breakdown of the indirect costs is not required, but these costs must be included as an amount in the budget table. The NPI’s research administrator will need to confirm that the indirect costs are appropriate before they forward the application.
The amount of indirect costs requested is allocated to the NPI’s primary affiliation (the administering organization) to offset the indirect costs of proposed research. It is not possible to increase the amount of direct costs requested by reducing the amount of indirect costs.
To which institution should the indirect costs go?
Indirect costs are incurred where the research is done. Accordingly, indirect costs are expected to be shared among applicants in the same proportion that the direct costs would be shared (if applicable). The administering organization (the NPI’s primary affiliation) will administer the process.
Does the NPI also have access to the funds to support the indirect costs of research?
Only the NPI, the co-PI and co-applicants have authority to expend the funds supporting the direct costs of research. The host institution has authority to expend the funds for the indirect costs. It is expected that the host institution may distribute a portion of these costs to the institutions of the co-PIs and/or co-applicants.
What is required in terms of annual financial reports?
The Statement of Account Form (Form 300) (PDF, 500 KB) is to be used to report the annual financial expenditures for NFRF grants. Two accounts must be created at the host institution for each grant: one to track expenditures related to the direct costs of research, and another to track expenditures related to the indirect costs of research. The indirect funds received for a NFRF grant must not be transferred to the Research Support Fund account at the institution.
How will expenditures for indirect funds be reported? What level of detail is required?
Only one Statement of Account Form (Form 300) (PDF, 500 KB) per grant is required to report expenditures. The expenditures of indirect funds, therefore, must be included. This is to be captured on line 11 (Other Expenditures) as a single value. A breakdown of expenditures is not required for indirect costs. It is expected that the expenditure of indirect funds will be proportional to the expenditure of direct research funds, as reflected in the application.
For example, if an NPI was awarded $100,000 for direct costs and $25,000 for indirect costs in Year 1 and they only spent $50,000 for direct costs, the amount charged for indirect costs would be: ($25,000 ÷ $100,000) × $50,000 = $12,500.
How do I add a co-PI or co-applicants after the grant has been awarded?
Email NFRF-FNFR@chairs-chaires.gc.ca, copying the individuals you wish to add and providing an explanation for their inclusion in the project and their affiliation status. Potential applicants will also need to complete an eligibility profile (which staff will send to them) and a user profile in the Convergence Portal. The request will be reviewed and a decision made regarding the inclusion of additional participants.
How do I add collaborators after the grant has been awarded?
Email NFRF-FNFR@chairs-chaires.gc.ca, copying the individuals you wish to add and providing an explanation for their inclusion in the project, along with the following information: their first name, family name, position or role, department (optional), organization and country of organization. The request will be reviewed and a decision made regarding the inclusion of additional participants.
What happens if the NPI’s primary affiliation changes?
In cases where the NPI’s new primary affiliation is with a Canadian institution currently holding full institutional eligibility with one of the agencies (see the list of eligible institutions for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council or Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), the NPI would retain their grant and it would follow them to the new institution.
In cases where the NPI’s new primary affiliation is not with a Canadian institution holding full institutional eligibility with one of the agencies, it is expected that the NPI will continue to be involved in the project as a co-PI or co-applicant, insofar as this is possible, to continue to provide the expertise needed to complete the project (note: international co-applicants are eligible to access and use grant funds).
If there is:
- a co-PI who meets the eligibility requirements to be the NPI, the grant can be transferred to the co-PI (the co-PI becomes the NPI and the original NPI becomes a co-PI or co-applicant, if eligible);
- no co-PI, but a co-applicant meets the eligibility requirements to be the NPI, the grant can be transferred to the co-applicant (the co-applicant becomes the NPI and the original NPI becomes a co-PIor co-applicant, if eligible);
- no eligible co-PI or co-applicant on the application, the grant cannot be transferred and will be terminated.
In all cases, the co-PI and/or co-applicant must have been named such in the original application; they cannot have been added after the grant was awarded. The team must also demonstrate that the required expertise is still available, address the question of project leadership, and explain how the planned work will be completed.
How can I provide feedback about this funding opportunity?
We value our community’s feedback and it helps us shape future competitions. Please direct your feedback to NFRF-FNFR@chairs-chaires.gc.ca.
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