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Date published: March 20, 2020

Insight Grants

Value Stream A: $7,000 to $100,000
Stream B: $100,001 to $400,000
Duration 2 to 5 years
Application deadlineFootnote * October 15, 2019 (8 p.m. eastern)
Results announced April 2020
Apply Web CV, application and instructions

Insight Grants are expected to respond to the objectives of the Insight program.

Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities. Funding is available to both emerging and established scholars for research initiatives of two to five years.

Stable support for long-term research initiatives is central to advancing knowledge. It enables scholars to address complex issues pertaining to individuals and societies, and to further our collective understanding.

Insight Grants support research proposed by scholars and judged worthy of funding by their peers and/or other experts. Insight Grant research initiatives may be undertaken by an individual researcher or a team of researchers working in collaboration.

Applicants choose from one of two streams, depending on the amount of funding required. Both streams will be adjudicated by the same committees, and will receive the same rigorous level of merit review. The deadlines and application process are identical for both; however, the targeted success rate for Stream A is higher than for Stream B.

SSHRC welcomes applications involving Indigenous research, as well as those involving research-creation.

Related initiatives

SSHRC and its partner organizations offer initiatives that complement this funding opportunity:

  • The John R. Evans Leaders Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) offers infrastructure funding to support applicants’ research and/or research-related partnership activities. See the CFI website or contact the CFI liaison officer at your institution for more information.
  • The Department of National Defence Research Initiative supports research related to Defence Research and Development Canada’s priorities.
  • Applicants working with Canadian businesses and/or eligible not-for-profit organizations may be eligible for internship cofunding, through the Mitacs Accelerate program, for graduate students and/or postdoctoral researchers involved in their project.
  • The Sport Participation Research Initiative supports research on matters related to enhancing participation in sport in Canada.
  • The Initiative for Digital Citizen Research, a joint initiative with the Department of Canadian Heritage, supports research and related activities on or related to online disinformation in the Canadian context.

Please consult SSHRC’s Funding search tool to learn more about specific joint initiatives.

SSHRC invites all applicants to review Imagining Canada’s Future’s 16 future global challenges and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. This is not an evaluation criterion for merit review and does not offer additional or dedicated research funds for this funding opportunity.

Insight Grants are valued at $7,000 to $100,000 per year over two to five years, up to a total of $400,000.

Applicants may choose one of two streams when applying for an Insight Grant, depending on the amount of funding required:

  • Stream A for requests between $7,000 and $100,000; or
  • Stream B for requests between $100,001 and $400,000.

Subject matter

Most SSHRC funding is awarded through open competitions. Proposals may involve any disciplines, thematic areas, approaches or subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. Please see Subject Matter Eligibility for more information.

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development, preparation of teaching materials, organization of a conference or workshop, digitization of a collection, or creation of a database are not eligible for funding under this funding opportunity.

An application will be declared ineligible if it is determined more than 30 per cent of the requested budget has been allocated to ineligible expenses (see examples under Use of Grant Funds in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide).

Please note:

  • Insight Grant funds cannot be used for remuneration and/or travel and subsistence costs of presenters or guest speakers, or for research costs of collaborators;
  • no team members (applicant, co-applicant or collaborator) can be remunerated with grant funds, including postdoctoral fellows serving in any of these capacities; and
  • consultation fees are eligible for expert and/or professional and technical services that contribute directly to the proposed research as long as the service is not being provided by a team member or other persons whose status would make them eligible to apply for a SSHRC grant.


Applications may be submitted by an individual researcher or a team of researchers (consisting of one applicant and one or more co-applicants and/or collaborators).

Applicants (except postdoctoral researchers and PhD students) must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application and before funding can be released. Researchers who maintain an affiliation with a Canadian postsecondary institution, but whose primary affiliation is with a non-Canadian postsecondary institution, are not eligible for applicant status.

Applicants who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but have failed to submit an end-of-grant report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for another SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to apply for this grant. However, in order for SSHRC to release grant funds, successful applicants must formally establish an affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution within five months of the grant start date (i.e., by September 2020 for the current competition), and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.

Students enrolled in a program of study are not eligible to apply. However, a PhD candidate is eligible to apply if they:

  • will have met all requirements for the PhD before the grant is awarded, including all course work and successful defence of their dissertation; and
  • establish a formal affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution within five months of the grant start date, and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.


Grant funds may only be administered by an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution. Institutions proposing to administer a grant awarded under this funding opportunity must hold or obtain institutional eligibility. Please see SSHRC’s list of eligible institutions.

Institutions may contact Corporate Strategy and Performance to begin the institutional eligibility application process, or if they have questions about institutional eligibility.


An individual is eligible to be a co-applicant if they are formally affiliated with any of the following:

  • Canadian: Eligible postsecondary institution.
  • International: Not eligible for co-applicant status.

Co-applicants not affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application must contact SSHRC. Any co-applicants on a successful application must be affiliated with an eligible institution before the grant is awarded.

Researchers who maintain an affiliation with a Canadian postsecondary institution, but whose primary affiliation is with a non-Canadian postsecondary institution, are not eligible for co-applicant status.

Postdoctoral researchers and PhD candidates are eligible to be co-applicants under the same conditions as those described under Applicants section above.


Any individual who makes a significant contribution to the project is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.

Multiple applications and holding multiple awards

Individuals may apply, as an applicant, for only one Insight Grant at a time.

Normally, researchers may not apply as an applicant for an Insight Grant and an Insight Development Grant within the same calendar year. However, in 2017, SSHRC approved an exception to this regulation to allow researchers who applied unsuccessfully for an Insight Development Grant in February to apply for an Insight Grant in October. SSHRC will extend this exception to the multiple applications regulations for the foreseeable future. Therefore, researchers who applied for an Insight Development Grant in February 2019 and were not successful may apply for an Insight Grant in October 2019.

A researcher who applies for an Insight Grant in October 2019 may apply for an Insight Development Grant in February 2020, provided that the objectives of the research are significantly different.

Please see SSHRC’s regulations regarding multiple applications and holding multiple awards for more information.


Grant holders will be expected to report on the use of grant funds, on funded activities undertaken during the grant period, and on outcomes. Successful applicants will be informed of reporting requirements upon receiving their Notice of Award.

Applicants must complete the application form in accordance with accompanying instructions. Applications must be submitted electronically by an authorized research grants officer, or equivalent, from the applicant’s institution.

Eligible PhD students and postdoctoral researchers may submit their applications directly to SSHRC.

Applicants needing help while preparing their application should communicate with SSHRC well in advance of the application deadline.

Applications are adjudicated, and available funds awarded, through a merit review process. SSHRC bases funding decisions on the recommendations of the adjudication committee and on the funds available. Committee discussions are guided by the principle of minimum essential funding.

Evaluation process

Two groups of individuals will be involved in the evaluation of Insight Grant applications:

  • external assessors; and
  • members of the Insight Grant adjudication committees.

These groups include national and international scholars from the research community and may include experts from other sectors as needed. Participants in the review process, if not in a conflict of interest with the applicant or any team members, are asked to evaluate the proposal based on the evaluation criteria below.

SSHRC will seek, but cannot guarantee, a minimum of two external assessments per application. External assessors usually read only one application and provide the adjudication committee with their assessment thereof.

Committee members read an entire cohort of applications, along with the pertinent assessments provided by external assessors. Members, as a group, then evaluate and rank all the proposals assigned to their committee. Adjudication committees consider but are not bound by the judgments of the external assessors.

Normally, applications initially determined by committee consensus to be ranked in the lowest 35 per cent are not discussed during the final stage of adjudication.

Committee structure

In the application form, applicants will be asked to select the committee they consider most appropriate for the review of their proposal. There are four types of committees from which to choose:

  • discipline-based;
  • groups of disciplines;
  • multi/interdisciplinary (one humanities-focused, and one social sciences-focused); and
  • thematic.

In the case of applicants who have selected a multi/interdisciplinary committee, relevant expertise to review the proposal may also be sought from within the larger pool of Insight Grant committee membership. Applicants may contact SSHRC to discuss committee selection.

SSHRC will make efforts to accommodate applicant preferences. However, it reserves the right to determine an application’s review process and committee assignment.

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research are relevant for researchers (applicants and project directors) and students preparing SSHRC applications related to Indigenous research. SSHRC provides these guidelines to merit reviewers to help build understanding of Indigenous research and research-related activities, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific evaluation criteria in the context of Indigenous research. SSHRC relies on a community of merit reviewers with experience and expertise in Indigenous research to judge the extent to which the guidelines may be applied to a particular research proposal. The guidelines may also be of use to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Indigenous research.

Note: The adjudication of Indigenous research proposals may involve a more tailored adjudication. If a sufficient number of Indigenous research applications are received, SSHRC may establish a distinct adjudication committee.

Evaluation criteria and scoring

The following criteria and scoring scheme are used to evaluate the applications:

  1. Challenge—The aim and importance of the endeavour (40%):
    • originality, significance and expected contribution to knowledge;
    • appropriateness of the literature review;
    • appropriateness of the theoretical approach or framework;
    • appropriateness of the methods/approach;
    • quality of training and mentoring to be provided to students, emerging scholars and other highly qualified personnel, and opportunities for them to contribute; and
    • potential for the project results to have influence and impact within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community.
  2. Feasibility—The plan to achieve excellence (20%):
    • appropriateness of the proposed timeline, and probability that the objectives will be met;
    • expertise of the applicant or team in relation to the proposed research;
    • appropriateness of the requested budget, justification of proposed costs, and, where applicable, other cash and/or in-kind contributions; and
    • quality and appropriateness of knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable.
  3. Capability—The expertise to succeed (40%):
    • quality, quantity and significance of past experience and published and/or creative outputs of the applicant and any co-applicants, relative to their roles in the project and to the stage of their career;
    • evidence of past knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration / other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and media), and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.; and
    • quality and quantity of past contributions to the development of training and mentoring of students, postdoctoral researchers and other highly qualified personnel.

Note: Adjudicators will consider information regarding only the last six years of research contributions. Any career interruptions will be taken into consideration.

Scoring table

Adjudication committee members assign a score for each of the three criteria above, based on the following scoring table. The appropriate weighting is then applied to arrive at a final score. Applications must receive a score of 3.0 or higher for each of the three criteria to be recommended for funding.

Score Descriptor
5-6 Very good to excellent
4-4.9 Good to very good
3-3.9 Satisfactory to good
Below 3 Unsatisfactory

Communication of results

Research offices will be informed of their applicants’ competition results via SSHRC’s secure site.All applicants will be provided, in addition to SSHRC’s notice of decision, any external assessments received and a summary of the adjudication committee’s evaluation of their proposal, where applicable.

SSHRC reserves the right to determine the eligibility of applications, based on the information therein. SSHRC also reserves the right to interpret the regulations and policies governing its funding opportunities.

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. See the Open Access overview for more information. SSHRC also encourages researchers to manage, in accordance with both community standards and best practices, data arising from their research.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their applications:

For more information, contact:

Tel.: 613-996-6976

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