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Guidelines for Support of Tools for Research and Related Activities

Context
Definition
Avenues of Available Funding
Duration
Application Process
Eligible Expenses


Context

Tools for research and related activities are a key aspect of the social sciences and humanities research environment. New and existing tools support the creation and mobilization of research knowledge.

SSHRC has long provided support for research tools that are routine in nature (such as a survey or questionnaire) and that are already considered eligible expenses according to the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide—and it continues to do so.

The guidelines presented here are intended to provide assistance to researchers submitting requests for support for tools distinct from a typical component of a research grant.

SSHRC provides support for tools in cases where the tools:

  • are directly linked to achieving the objectives for which the grant is being awarded;
  • include research as an integral component of the development and/or use of the tool;
  • have the potential to be used in more than one context and/or by more than one group of researchers; and
  • are, typically, relatively small.

Stand-alone tools do not meet these guidelines, and are therefore not eligible for SSHRC funding, since they do not include a research component. Requests for stand-alone tools are eligible in Partnership Grants applications in cases where knowledge mobilization will be the primary purpose of the tool’s use.

The aim of these guidelines is to ensure that SSHRC funds are available to support the direct costs of research, and to support tools associated with the direct costs of research and related activities. They also aim to ensure that SSHRC funds are managed efficiently, do not duplicate funding available from other sources—either through SSHRC or other funding agencies, including the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)—and benefit the larger research enterprise.

SSHRC does not support capital investments in large research tools and infrastructure.

SSHRC works to ensure the tools it supports are state of the art, sustainable, and linked to the strengths and needs of the researchers, communities and institutions involved. Proposals for tools should either indicate that the tool is highly specialized (i.e., where a tool is developed to meet a very specific research need, such as in the case of a psychometric test) or provide a plan, including demonstrable impacts, to meet the needs of more than one audience.


Definition

SSHRC defines research and related tools as vehicles that broadly facilitate research and related activities. Social science and humanities tools enable researchers to collect, organize, analyze, visualize, mobilize and store quantitative and qualitative data and creative outputs. Tools can be created as part of a research or related undertaking, or purchased off the shelf.

For example, researchers who wish to undertake a survey or questionnaire as part of their proposed project need not take any special measures when preparing their application, and will not need to refer to the Guidelines for Support of Tools for Research and Related Activities as part of their application process. However, researchers wishing to create a clean, structured data set to be used by multiple parties in multiple contexts should refer to these guidelines to ensure that their expenses are eligible, and to assist committee members with the adjudication of their application.

Examples of tools that may be partially or entirely eligible for SSHRC support include:

  • tools that facilitate research and knowledge mobilization, such as the development of—and research costs related to—bibliographies, geographic information systems, or video gaming;
  • tools related to the creation and/or cleansing of a data set, database or administrative data, or to the creation of a website;
  • tools that facilitate access to holdings or collections, such as the development of—and research costs related to—repository guides, inventories, documentary materials, or special indexes; and
  • standard instruments and equipment—such as computers and mobile devices—linked directly to the development of the tool, and tools that have a large research or knowledge mobilization component.

Avenues of Available Funding

Applicants seeking funding from SSHRC for research tools have the following options:

All SSHRC grants: Less than $7,000 for tools for research and related activities

A request for funding of up to $7,000 for research tools may be included in any SSHRC grant application without the need to specifically refer to the Guidelines for Support of Tools for Research and Related Activities.

Insight Grants only: Between $7,000 and $100,000 for tools for research and related activities

Applicants including in their funding request to SSHRC up to $100,000 for eligible expenses related to one or more proposed tools must follow the application process described below.

Partnership Grants only: Between $7,000 and $500,000 for tools for research and related activities

Applicants including in their funding request to SSHRC up to $500,000 for eligible expenses related to one or more proposed tools must follow the application process described below.

Not eligible for SSHRC funding:

  • Tool-related expenses greater than the $7,000 limit described above for Insight Development Grants, Partnership Development Grants and Connection Grants applications.
  • Tool-related expenses greater than the maximums described above for tools for research and related activities for Insight Grants and Partnership Grants applications.

Other sources of funding

SSHRC recognizes that researchers and their partners may require funding for tools for research and related activities valued beyond the limits set in these guidelines. While these guidelines define the limits to tool-related funding available from SSHRC, applicants may wish to seek sources of complementary funding.

At the early stages of developing a proposal involving tools and before approaching SSHRC, researchers are encouraged to contact a research grants administrator at their institution for guidance and to determine the best fit for their proposal; this includes looking at all opportunities for potential funding, including those available through sources such as the CFI.

For more information on funding from the CFI, please visit the CFI website, or contact the CFI liaison officer at your institution.


Duration

Funding for tools must be used within the duration of the grant awarded (see Avenues of Available Funding above).


Application Process

As part of the grant application process, applicants are required to submit, among other things, a description of the proposed project, a budget and a budget justification. To apply for funding for tools, applicants must, in all cases, follow the instructions below and refer to the detailed information provided in the application instructions for the pertinent funding opportunity.

Budget: In the application’s budget module, under “Other expenses (specify),” specify “Tool,” then enter, in the appropriate column, the amount related to the tool.

Budget justification: Follow the instructions in the application in order to provide justification for the expenses related to the tool.

Description of your project: Address the following:

  • How will the tool enable the applicant(s) to meet the goals of the proposed project?
  • In what way will the tool be a unique resource for the research community?
  • How could the tool have an impact across the wider research community?
  • To what extent is the tool standards-based and interoperable?
  • Does the tool have a clear purpose and audience?
  • Is there a longer-term plan for sustaining the tool beyond its creation and initial use to meet the goal(s) of the proposed project?
  • Will the tool be integrated with and support the strategic plans of the applicant’s organization or institution?
  • Does the tool need to be built, or will it be purchased off the shelf?

Eligible Expenses

Eligible expenses for social science and humanities tools include expenses that are directly linked to achieving the objectives for which the grant is being awarded. The total funding requested for the tool(s), including any training that may be required to operate it, cannot exceed the maximums described in Avenues of Available Funding above.

Examples of eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • salaries and stipends related to the creation and operation of a tool for a research or related activity;
  • training that may be required to operate the tool;
  • consulting fees and/or technical expertise directly related to the tool;
  • user costs for instrumentation and virtual research environments (e.g., virtual spaces for creating, manipulating and sharing data);
  • development of digital data infrastructure, including databases, data sets and/or tools, or of collections integrating physical and digital entities; and
  • some entities and systems that disseminate research outcomes.

Examples of expenses that are ineligible and/or excluded from SSHRC support for tools include:

  • tools where the total costs associated with the tool exceed the maximums described in Avenues of Available Funding above;
  • tools where the total costs associated with the tool, split across multiple SSHRC applications, exceed the maximums described in Avenues of Available Funding above;
  • digitization of collections or archives;
  • ongoing operating expenses for a tool;
  • most types of research infrastructure eligible for CFI funding, such as construction, renovation, rental or development of facilities, laboratories, and/or buildings; and
  • platforms related to scholarly journals and journals themselves.

For a complete list and descriptions of direct costs of research and research-related activities that SSHRC considers eligible for funding, please consult the Use of Grant Funds section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.