Knowledge Synthesis Grants

Informing Best Practices in Environmental and Impact Assessments

July 2019 Competition

Value $30,000
Duration One year
Application deadline July 10, 2019 (8 p.m. eastern)
Results announced September 2019
Apply See details below

Value and duration
Application process
Evaluation and adjudication
Regulations, policies and related information
Contact information



SSHRC and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) have launched this Knowledge Synthesis Grants (KSG) competition to stimulate social sciences and humanities research that will help inform best practices related to environmental and impact assessments. Environmental assessment and impact assessment (which take into consideration a broader range of factors, such as socio-economic) are planning and decision-making tools to minimize or avoid the potential adverse environmental effects of a project and to maximize positive impacts and incorporate environmental and other factors into decision-making.

Federal assessments are required for major natural resources projects or large-scale infrastructure projects, such as mines, pipelines, liquefied natural gas, hydroelectricity, ports, etc. that are described in regulation, designated for assessment by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change or on federal lands.

An estimated $500 billion in investment in natural resource-sector projects are expected over the next 10 years in Canada. The proposed Impact Assessment Act will focus on projects that pose significant risks to the environment in areas of federal jurisdiction. Project decisions will be made based on robust science and evidence. By recognizing Indigenous rights and knowledge in project assessments, and working in partnership with Indigenous peoples from the start, the federal governmental will advance Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and ensure better project decisions. The act will also ensure assessments are undertaken in a manner that provides certainty and predictability for industry.

Under the proposed act, the federal government will assess potential impacts and effects of projects not only from the environmental but also from the social, economic and health perspectives.

This shift toward a broader assessment approach calls for better understanding of the ways in which the human and social environments interact with the natural environment. With this broader scope, practitioners, communities and decision-makers face challenges, including which social and economic components to consider and the role they play in decision-making; how the assessment can contribute to the government’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation; which methodologies to use to determine positive and negative impacts; and what are the best methods for engaging Indigenous peoples and the public.

These grants aim to increase the understanding of existing knowledge in the social sciences and humanities and its application to environmental and impact assessments. By examining the themes, including from an inter-disciplinary perspective, the knowledge synthesis should identify lessons learned, best practices and critical gaps that may be addressed through future research.



This funding opportunity will support researchers, teams of researchers and knowledge users in producing knowledge syntheses and scoping reviews that:

  • support the use of evidence in decision-making, and the application of best practices; and
  • assist in developing future research agendas.

Applicants must address the following three objectives of the funding opportunity in their proposals:

State of knowledge, strengths and gaps:

  • critically assess the state of knowledge of the theme under consideration from a variety of sources, as appropriate;
  • identify knowledge strengths and gaps within the theme; and
  • identify the most promising policies and practices related to the theme.

Research data:

  • assess the quality, accuracy and rigour (i.e., methodological approaches) of current work in the field; and
  • identify strengths and gaps in the quantitative and qualitative data available.

Knowledge mobilization:

  • engage cross-sectoral stakeholders, including government policy-makers, throughout the project to mobilize knowledge related to promising policies and practices; and
  • use effective knowledge mobilization methods to facilitate the sharing of research findings with multisectoral stakeholders (academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors).

Expected outcomes

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.

In support of the objectives below, Knowledge Synthesis Grants will help in identifying roles the academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors may play in developing robust policies, best practices, and tools.

Successful applicants will be expected to:

  • Complete a synthesis report and two-page evidence brief within six months of receiving the award.
  • Attend a kick-off webinar.
  • Attend or send a delegate to a knowledge mobilization forum in Ottawa, attended by multisector stakeholders and CEAA representatives, to discuss the knowledge syntheses. Travel costs for the forum should be included in the budget submitted as part of the application. Details on the meetings (tentatively scheduled for March 2020) will be provided to successful applicants.
  • Identify and invite a cross-sectoral knowledge or policy user to the knowledge mobilization forum, and include them in the travel costs in the budget submitted as part of the application.

Successful applicants will also be provided with guidelines for completing their synthesis report and a two-page evidence brief.

For examples of previously funded Knowledge Synthesis Grants projects, see the webpage dedicated to each future challenge area.

Related initiatives

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



The questions provided below are illustrative of, rather than restrictive to, the broad issues that encompass a given topic. Additional relevant issues and subquestions are welcomed. The themes are interconnected, and researchers may combine themes or subquestions.

Socio-economic effects

  • What quantitative and qualitative research methods are most appropriate for generating reliable estimates of direct and indirect social and economic effects? What are the reasons for any differences between the predictions and the reality?
  • How do major projects affect social infrastructure? How are subgroups of the population impacted differently?
  • What are the effects of major projects on in- and out-migration? Do they vary by age, gender and socio-culture group?
  • How significant are major projects in creating employment and skill-development opportunities for local communities? To what extent do these opportunities vary across gender and socio-cultural groups (e.g., Indigenous or other minority groups)?
  • Do major projects contribute to the diversification of the local economy?

Gender-based analysis plus

  • How should culturally relevant gender-based analysis, including Indigenous gender-based analysis, inform the impact assessment process?
  • What gender-sensitive and culturally sensitive indicators can be developed using existing data to support application of gender-based analysis for impact assessments?
  • How can theories of embodiment and relationships between the land and the body be incorporated into impact assessments?
  • What are best practices to create safe, inclusive project sites for women, people with disabilities, and gender diverse people?
  • What are key indicators of a high-quality, inclusive, diversity-focused and gender-sensitive impact assessment process?


  • How should sustainability principles be implemented in an assessment?
  • How can adaptive management frameworks and the precautionary principle, as defined by the UN Rio Declaration, be used to inform project monitoring?
  • To what extent do environmental assessments or impact assessments drive creativity and innovation in a way that contributes to sustainability?
  • How can human and ecological systems be considered in an interconnected and holistic manner?
  • How can socio-economic–ecological integrity and resilience be assessed or measured?

Indigenous partnership and engagement

  • How can the process of impact assessments best contribute to reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples?
  • How can impact assessments better align with Indigenous community priorities?
  • What best practices for fostering reconciliation have been used in other jurisdictions (e.g., provinces and territories, Indigenous communities, and other countries) that could be applied usefully to environmental and impact assessments?
  • What are best practices for including Indigenous knowledge in the assessment of major projects?
  • Are there good examples of partnerships between academia and Indigenous communities in environmental or impact assessments?

Public participation and transparency

  • What public participation approaches have been the most well received by communities in past assessments and why?
  • How can technology help or hinder public participation?
  • What role can the public play in the scientific analysis of assessments? What are best practices for including community knowledge?
  • What strategies and practices have been developed to engage young people in the impact assessment process? How has this engagement changed the process or outcomes?

Regional and strategic assessment

  • What can we learn and adopt from best practices in regional assessments, including those in other jurisdictions (e.g., provinces and territories, Indigenous communities, and other countries)?
  • What data and information is required to undertake a regional assessment? What are best practices for sharing relevant information among jurisdictions?
  • What systems-approach methodologies can be used for regional impact assessments? What are best practices?

The call for proposals invites applications from researchers in any discipline that may inform and contribute to the objectives of this funding opportunity. Researchers may choose to address themes and subquestions from the perspective of a particular discipline, or may address them through interdisciplinary or collaborative research approaches; using quantitative or qualitative research, or mixed methods; or using international comparisons, gender-based analyses or institutional perspectives.

This Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunity is guided by the following perspectives:

  • Drawing on domestic, international or cross-sectoral literature, what can the Canadian academic community tell us about these issues?
  • How might the findings guide public policy, practice and research agendas, for Canada and the world?


Value and duration

Knowledge Synthesis Grants are one-year grants worth up to $30,000. However, all synthesis reports must be completed by March 2020. Up to 13 grants may be awarded.

By applying for this funding opportunity, successful applicants consent to SSHRC sharing the resulting synthesis report with other interested organizations and individuals.



Subject matter

Knowledge Synthesis Grant proposals may involve any of the disciplines and approaches or subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding. Please see Subject Matter Eligibility for more information.

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development are not eligible for funding under this funding opportunity.


Applicants must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian institution 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 to be applicants.

See Institutions below for more information on institutional eligibility requirements and processes for Knowledge Synthesis Grants.

Applicants who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but who have failed to submit an end of grant 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 researchers are eligible to be applicants if they have established a formal affiliation with an eligible institution at the time of application and maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period.


Grant funds may only be administered by an eligible Canadian 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.

Indigenous not-for-profit organizations being assessed for or holding institutional eligibility to administer multiple grants over a five-year period are eligible to apply. Institutional eligibility must be obtained before funding is released.

Institutions may contact Corporate Strategy and Performance if they have questions about institutional eligibility.


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

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


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.

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

Multiple applications and holding multiple awards

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.


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 applicant appears at the top right corner of every page;
  • all pages, including the CV attachments, numbered consecutively and indicating the total number of pages sent (e.g., 1 of 14 or 1/14 … 14/14); and
  • each section below begins on a new page.

Applications must include the following:

  • 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 parliamentarians, media and members of the public who request information about research funded by SSHRC);
  • a proposal (maximum four pages, not including references) containing:
    • a descriptive title (maximum 255 characters);
    • the theme(s) and subtheme(s) addressed by the proposal;
    • 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 research done;
    • 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; and
    • the applicant’s signature.
  • an itemized budget (maximum two pages, including the Budget Form), including justification of proposed expenditures;
  • a knowledge mobilization plan (maximum two pages), identifying the target research users of 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;
  • up to three discipline codes applicable to the proposal;
  • a list of co-applicants and collaborators (names and roles only);
  • a separate page signed by an authorized signatory from the applicant’s institution, certifying that the institution will administer any award in accordance with SSHRC policies;
  • a SSHRC Web CV for each applicant and co-applicant (CCVs cannot be accepted at this time);
  • 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; and
  • 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), July 10, 2019.

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


Evaluation and adjudication

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.

SSHRC’s goal, through this funding opportunity, is to support syntheses covering a range of the subthemes outlined within each of the 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. In addition to using the criteria below, the overall coverage of themes among recommended applications will be taken into consideration, to ensure a broad distribution of topics will be addressed.

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.

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research are relevant for researchers 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.

Evaluation criteria and scoring

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

Challenge—The aim and importance of the endeavour (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—The plan to achieve excellence (30%):

  • 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;
  • quality and appropriateness of knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable; and
  • appropriateness of the requested budget.

Capability—The expertise to succeed (30%):

  • qualifications of the applicant/team to carry out the proposed project (expertise in the content area, synthesis methods, information retrieval, etc.); and
  • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration/other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and the media), and of impacts on policy and practice.

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 in order 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

SSHRC informs all applicants in writing of the outcome of their applications within the month following adjudication.


Regulations, policies and related information

SSHRC reserves the right to determine the eligibility of applications based on the information included. 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 SSHRC’s Open Access overview for more information. The SSHRC Research Data Archiving Policy has been retired. In March 2021, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and SSHRC launched the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. As of April 1, 2021, this new policy replaces SSHRC’s Research Data Archiving policy, for all active grants.

Guidelines and related support material

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

Successful applicants will be required to share the results of their project with SSHRC and CEAA. 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 with 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 with 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. SSHRC will contact you to obtain your consent prior to any use or disclosure of personal information in a manner not outlined above or on Info Source. 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 Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information.

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, please contact:

Tel.: 343-552-9333