Knowledge Synthesis Grants

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What effects will the quest for energy and natural resources have on our society and our position on the world stage?

June 2015 competition

Value and Duration
Application Process
Evaluation and Adjudication
Administrative Regulations and Related Information
Contact Information


The ability to collectively and sustainably access and benefit from natural resources and energy in the face of socio-economic, cultural and governance issues, regulatory frameworks, and the development of new technologies, is recognized by Canadians as central to their future.

Sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources, along with Canadian interest in natural resources and energy abroad, is critical to a prosperous future. Canadians have always been well aware of the rich resources of their country, and have debated how best to manage those resources. However, foreign interest in Canada’s resources is growing. The demands on natural resources are increasing. And our ability to capitalize on these resources with new processes and technologies is being transformed.

In its 2014 strategy, Seizing Canada’s Moment: Moving Forward in Science, Technology and Innovation, the Government of Canada identified “natural resources and energy,” as well as “environment and agriculture,” as research priorities for the country. The strategy stresses that the complexity of global challenges such as climate change and energy requires “international research collaborations across many disciplines.”

Natural resources and energy is one of six future challenge areas identified through SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative. These complex issues were identified following an extensive foresight exercise, and reflect key challenges that Canada is likely to face in an evolving global context over the coming decades, and to which the social sciences and humanities research community can contribute its knowledge, talent and expertise.

SSHRC is, therefore, launching a Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunity to which social sciences and humanities researchers can contribute insights focusing on the future challenge area “What effects will the quest for energy and natural resources have on our society and our position on the world stage?”

In support of the objectives noted below, these grants will foster a deeper understanding of the state of knowledge in the social sciences and humanities regarding the human aspects of the search for and the extraction, production and use of energy and natural resources. The resulting syntheses will also help identify roles that the academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors may play in seizing future opportunities and mitigating risks related to new global geographies and economies of energy and natural resources. This knowledge will pave the way for developing robust policies, practices and tools for a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for Canada and the world.


The objectives of this funding opportunity are three-fold:

  • State of Knowledge and Research Gaps:
    • describe the state of knowledge of the Future Challenge Area theme under consideration;
    • identify knowledge gaps within the theme; and
    • identify the most promising policies and practices related to the theme.
  • Research Data:
    • assess the quality, accuracy and rigour of current work in the field; and
    • identify gaps in the quantitative and qualitative data available.
  • Knowledge Mobilization:
    • mobilize knowledge related to promising policies and practices within the academic, private and public policy sectors; and
    • facilitate dialogue between academic researchers, cross-sectoral stakeholders and policy-makers in government.

Knowledge Synthesis Grants are not intended to support original research. Rather, they are intended to support the synthesis of existing research knowledge and the identification of knowledge gaps. This call is particularly focused on the state of research knowledge emerging over the past 10 years.

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to support researchers, teams of researchers and knowledge users to produce knowledge syntheses and scoping reviews that will contribute to the use of synthesized evidence in decision-making and practice.

The call for proposals invites applications from researchers in any discipline that may inform and contribute to the objectives of this funding opportunity. The Imagining Canada’s Future foresight initiative highlighted four enduring issues that are central to all six future challenge areas:

  • sustainable, resilient communities;
  • creativity, innovation and prosperity;
  • values, cultures, inclusion and diversity; and
  • governance and institutions.

As well, the Imagining Canada’s Future initiative identified the importance of international, institutional and gender dimensions as cross-cutting. For this particular future challenge area, Imagining Canada’s Future consultations concluded that “A broad perspective encompassing regional ecosystems and community sustainability, rather than simply natural resources, necessitates research about changes in culture and society, human behaviour, institutional reform, technological advances, business and economic success, and sustainable design.”

Proposals should address one or more of the specific questions listed under the themes below. However, applicants may choose to identify and/or develop specific aspects or elements within the questions to frame the knowledge synthesis.



Two overall themes, described below—notably, domestic and international—frame key issues that draw from the “energy and natural resources” future challenge area, as well as from relevant issues in the comprehensive list of six future challenge areas and subquestions. Other issues demonstrably relevant to the themes and subquestions listed below are welcome, as are international comparisons and collaborations that may inform policy issues relevant for Canada. Note that the two themes are not mutually exclusive, as there are important linkages between the two. 

1. What will be the cultural, environmental, economic, gender, political and social implications of the quest for and extraction, production and use of energy and natural resources in Canada?

  • What effects might the global quest for valuable natural resources have on Canada’s rural and remote, resource-based communities, such as in the North and the Arctic?
  • What could be the cultural, social, economic and environmental impacts on different groups and communities of disruptive technologies for accessing and developing natural resources (e.g., fracking, deep‑sea drilling, drones, genetic modification)?
  • How can Canadian natural resources be developed in such a way as to respect the rights, experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples; create sustainable benefits for Aboriginal communities, entrepreneurs and businesses; and encourage reconciliation and positive engagement between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians?
  • What effects might the development—or halted development—of Canadian energy, natural resources and alternatives have on governance and regulatory systems, public opinion, the economy and decision‑making?
  • How will global pressures (e.g., population growth, climate change, water management) change the resilience of Canadian communities by affecting access to, equity in and availability of food, water and energy?
  • What knowledge, learning outcomes and delivery methods will be needed for Canada’s education system to support labour market demands in ways that result in positive and inclusive economic and social outcomes for a diversity of workers, employers, citizens and consumers?
  • Historically, how are Canada’s values and cultures linked to its natural resources, and how might upcoming changes affect these, including as reflected in the arts and literature?

2. What effects will the quest for energy and natural resources have on Canada’s position on the world stage?

  • What effects might the development of Canadian energy and natural resources have on Canada’s sovereignty and/or political strengths, weaknesses and alliances, particularly in the Arctic?
  • What conflict and security issues might emerge as a result of changing global pressures on, and increasing demand for, energy and natural and rare resources?
  • What are global peak population’s potential impacts for Canada’s energy and resource consumption, and for climate change?
  • How might possible changes in the energy and natural resource sectors affect Canada’s foreign investments, external relations, trade, economic competitiveness, and immigration?
  • How can Canada leverage its knowledge, expertise and leadership in energy and resource management (including through education, technology, governance, and management systems) to strengthen these sectors internationally, and to achieve international development goals in developing and emerging economies?
  • How is consumer behaviour in emerging countries changing the face of resource extraction, marketing, transport and pricing, globally?
  • Given the impacts of lower oil prices, what are Canada’s other international competitive assets in energy and natural resources (including nuclear power, hydro-electricity and new non-hydro renewable technologies) that could be supported to help offset falling exports and investment?
  • What effects could global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases and/or stagnating demand have on development of Canada’s energy and natural resources, and what are the related economic, environmental and geopolitical implications?


Value and Duration

Knowledge Synthesis Grants are one–year grants worth up to $25,000. However, all synthesis reports must be completed by May 13, 2016. Up to 15 grants will be awarded.

Successful applicants will be provided with a set of guidelines for completion of their synthesis report.

By applying for this funding opportunity, applicants consent, should they be awarded a Knowledge Synthesis Grant, to SSHRC sharing the resulting synthesis report with other interested organizations and individuals.

Successful applicants or their delegates will be expected to attend two knowledge mobilization workshops, in Ottawa and Calgary, to discuss the knowledge syntheses. Travel costs for these meetings should be included in the budget submitted as part of the application. Details on the meetings (scheduled for December 2015 and June 2016, respectively) will be provided to successful applicants.




Applicants must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application.

Applicants who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but who have failed to submit a final research report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for this or any other SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.

Postdoctoral fellows/researchers are eligible to apply for a Knowledge Synthesis Grant. For SSHRC to release grant funds, however, successful applicants must have formally established an affiliation with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution before the grant is awarded, and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.


Co-applicants may be individuals from any of the following:

  • Canadian: Postsecondary institutions; not-for-profit organizations; philanthropic foundations; think tanks; and municipal, territorial or provincial governments.
  • International: Postsecondary institutions.

Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to be co-applicants for a Knowledge Synthesis Grant under the same conditions as those outlined in Applicants.


Any individual who will make a significant contribution to the research initiative is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.

Note that individuals from the private sector or federal government may participate only as collaborators.


Grant funds may only be administered by an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.


Application Process

Applications must be emailed as a .pdf file attachment, using the following format:

  • single-sided,  8 1/2" x 11" (21.5 cm x 28 cm) paper size;
  • single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch;
  • body text in a minimum 12 pt Times New Roman font;
  • all margins set at a minimum of 3/4" (1.87 cm);
  • name of the institution appears within the set margins at the top right corner of every page; and
  • all pages, including the printed copies of the CV, numbered consecutively and indicating the total number of pages sent (e.g., 1 of 14 or 1/14 … 14/14).

Applications must include the following:

  1. a letter (maximum four pages, not including references) containing:
    • a descriptive title (maximum 255 characters);
    • a description of the knowledge synthesis project, including the significance, expected contributions and impacts of the proposed synthesis, contextualized within the current literature and accounting for previous work done in the area(s);
    • an outline of the relevant expertise and experience of the applicant/team;
    • a work plan, including timelines, and a description of the proposed methodology and approach;
    • the applicant’s signature; and
    • in the upper right-hand corner of each page, the applicant’s name and the theme and subtheme(s) under which the proposal falls;
  2. an itemized budget (maximum two pages), including justification of proposed expenditures;
  3. a knowledge mobilization plan (maximum two pages), identifying the target research users expected to receive the synthesis results, how the results will be shared with these users, and one or more examples of knowledge mobilization the applicant/team has conducted with research users;
  4. a half-page summary of the proposal, written in clear, non-technical language (by submitting an application, applicants consent, should they be awarded a Knowledge Synthesis Grant, to the use of this summary for promotional purposes outside the research community, to inform politicians, media and members of the public who request information about research funded by SSHRC);
  5. a SSHRC Web CV for each applicant and co-applicant (the CCV cannot be accepted at this time);
  6. the discipline codes that are applicable to the proposal;
  7. a list of research contributions (maximum four pages) for each applicant and co‑applicant, describing:
    • research contributions over the last six years (refereed, non-refereed and forthcoming contributions, creative outputs, etc.);
    • other contributions to research and the advancement of knowledge within the last six years, including research contributions to non-academic audiences (general public, policy-makers, private sector, not-for-profit organizations, etc.);
    • career interruptions and special circumstances; and
    • contributions to training within the last six years, including roles in supervising or co-supervising ongoing and/or completed theses, listing these by the student’s level of studies;
  8. a separate page containing the signature of an authorized signatory from the applicant’s institution, certifying that the institution will administer any award in accordance with SSHRC policies; and
  9. a signed Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information for each applicant and co-applicant.

All application materials must be submitted in .pdf format and be received by 8:00 p.m. (eastern) September 10, 2015.

Email complete applications to:KSGENR– Applications submitted in whole or in part by other means will not be considered.


Evaluation and Adjudication

SSHRC’s goal, through this funding opportunity, is to support syntheses covering a range of the subthemes outlined within each of the two broad thematic areas, as set out above.

Please note that grants may not necessarily be allocated evenly across subthemes; and, where there are value-added differences in approach and coverage, more than one grant may be allocated to a single subtheme.

An expert adjudication committee will assess all applications, using the following criteria:

Challenge (40%):

  • expected contribution to the funding opportunity’s stated objectives;
  • significance of the applicant’s chosen topic or area(s) for synthesis, based on the issues identified in this call for proposals;
  • potential influence and impact in informing policy and practice in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors; and
  • identification of research gaps that might be addressed by a forward-looking research agenda in the chosen area(s).

Feasibility (20%):

  • ability to meet the objectives of the funding opportunity;
  • appropriateness of the methodology or approach and of the work plan, including timelines for the design and conduct of the activity; and
  • appropriateness of the requested budget.

Capability (40%):

  • qualifications of the applicant/team to carry out the proposed project (expertise in the content area, synthesis methods, information retrieval, knowledge mobilization, etc.).

Communication of results

Research offices will be informed of the competition results pertaining to their applicants by way of SSHRC’s secure site.


Administrative Regulations and Related Information

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.

For descriptions of SSHRC terms, see Definitions of Terms.

Successful applicants will be required to share the results of their project with SSHRC. SSHRC will use this information to develop its policies and practices. It may also share this information with other interested sectors of the Government of Canada, as well as other organizations. This does not in any way limit how researchers may otherwise publish or use the results of their research.

Privacy notice

SSHRC is responsible for complying with the Privacy Act, and all information collected by SSHRC is subject to, and governed in accordance with, this Act. SSHRC is committed to the protection of the personal information under its control. The personal information that you provide is collected by the agency under the authority of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act, and stored in the SSHRC personal information bank PPU 055, as described in Info Source. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Only the information needed to deliver, administer and promote the Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition and awards is collected. This may include sharing application information with other agencies and departments of the Government of Canada, as well as other organizations, that are specifically interested in supporting the research and related activities generated through Knowledge Synthesis Grants awards and with which SSHRC has established agreements. For more specific information about the organizations/institutions involved in this Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition, please contact SSHRC program staff. Further details on the use and disclosure of the information collected by SSHRC are available under Use and Disclosure of Personal Information in Applications for SSHRC Awards.

In addition to protecting your personal information, the Privacy Act gives you the right to request access to and correction of your personal information. For more information about these rights, or about our privacy practices, please contact the SSHRC Access to Information and Privacy manager at 613-992-1058 or You also have the right to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if you think your personal information has been handled improperly.


Contact Information

For more information about this funding opportunity, or for advice on how to prepare your application, please contact:

Jacques Critchley
Senior Program Officer
Office of the Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges
Tel.: 613-992-5145

Email applications to: