Knowledge Synthesis Grants

Understanding the future of Canada-UK trade relationships

March 2018 International Competition

Value C$30,000
(~£17,290.55, subject to the exchange rate of January 29, 2018)
Duration One year
Application deadline March 28, 2018 (Closed)
Results announced June 2018
Apply See details below

Value and Duration
Application Process
Evaluation and Adjudication
Regulations, Policies and Related Information
Contact Information


SSHRC in Canada, and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the United Kingdom, have launched this dedicated Knowledge Synthesis Grants (KSG) competition to assess the state of research knowledge on Canada-UK trade relationships, in a post-Brexit context.

Canada and the UK share a sovereign and have among the oldest continuous traditions of parliamentary democracy. The two countries have also prospered from a productive commercial relationship. Their two-way merchandise trade totaled more than C$25.3 billion in 2016, making the UK Canada’s fifth-largest merchandise trade partner. Canada and the UK also have strong partnerships in science, technology and innovation, and there are many links between Canadian and UK researchers, universities, funding agencies, commercialization groups and companies.

On June 23, 2016, the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union. The UK’s resulting plans to withdraw from the EU by 2019 have increased interest in gaining a better understanding of post-Brexit bilateral trade relations, including the potential offered by possible new bilateral trade, such as through seamless transition of agreements between the UK and its major trading partners, including Canada. Social sciences and humanities research has an important role to play in this.

This dedicated KSG competition aims to foster international collaboration and support the synthesis of existing knowledge capable of identifying research strengths and gaps and contribute evidence for policy.

Synthesizing research knowledge on the diverse issues related to international trade between Canada and the UK will deepen understanding of how future trading relationships could maximize the benefits to both countries, and will help define potential areas in which both countries could play a vital leadership role.



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.

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

This is an international competition and will only accept international, collaborative research projects. Proposed projects must involve a minimum of two researchers, one of whom is affiliated with an institution in Canada, the other with an institution in the UK. These institutions must be eligible to administer SSHRC and ESRC funding, respectively. The team may also include researchers from other countries.

Applicants must address the following three objectives of the funding opportunity in their proposal for a knowledge synthesis or scoping review:

State of Knowledge, Strengths and Gaps:

  • critically assess the state of knowledge in 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 sharing research findings with multisectoral stakeholders (academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors)

The scope of the project should fall within the timeline and funding provided under the grant. A knowledge synthesis report is due within six months of obtaining the grant.

Successful applicants will be expected to attend two knowledge mobilization events with key stakeholders: a preliminary workshop in Ottawa, Canada, in July 2018; and a forum to share the knowledge synthesis reports’ results, in London, UK, in December 2018. Travel costs for these meetings should be included in the budget submitted as part of the application.

Successful applicants will be provided with details on the meetings, and guidelines for completing their synthesis report.

The call for proposals invites applications for collaborative knowledge synthesis 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 approaches; using quantitative or qualitative research, or mixed methods; or using international comparisons, gender-based analyses or institutional perspectives.



The themes described below frame key issues and relevant questions on topics related to international trade between Canada and the UK in a post-Brexit context. The examples provided are illustrative of, rather than restrictive to, the broad issues that encompass a given topic. The themes described are interconnected, and researchers may combine themes or subquestions.

This funding opportunity is guided by the following perspectives:

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

UK-Canada trade relationships in the context of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and Brexit

  • What kind of post-Brexit trade relationship scenarios between Canada and the UK can be identified?
  • How can trade agreements such as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) serve as models to shape future post-Brexit Canada-UK trade relationships? What are the key strengths and weaknesses of CETA and/or NAFTA?
  • How will the absence of UK access to the EU single market for supply chain and distribution models impact UK-Canada trade relationships?


  • How can progressive trade agendas (bilateral or multilateral) be prepared and organized as comprehensive, whole-of-government approaches (from policy direction to negotiations to implementation of signed agreements)?
  • How will any new framework for UK-Canada trade relationships be managed and governed? What are possible dispute resolution mechanisms and structures?
  • What structures, mechanisms and tools are needed to foster inclusive and transparent engagement of citizens and stakeholders to advance international trade?
  • What skill sets and capacities do governments need to advance international trade negotiations and trade relations?

Prosperity and sustainability: Inclusion, labour and environment

  • What are the key socio-economic and political impacts on specific sectors of the economy, both in Canada and the UK, (agriculture, manufacturing, etc.)?
  • How does trade policy unpack the distributional and geographical aspects (winners/losers) of trade among workers; among small and medium enterprises and large corporations; in rural or urban settings?
  • How can trade policy support goals for increasing diversity and inclusion, including opportunities for women and small and medium enterprises?
  • How can trade agendas in the context of economic growth and social well-being address income inequality and environmental protection?

Trade barriers: From tariffs and regulatory barriers to non-tariff barriers

  • How important are regulatory barriers to trade, in which sectors, and how can they be resolved?
  • How important are tariff barriers relative to non-tariff barriers such as quotas, regulatory standards, administrative/bureaucratic delays, embargos, quality standards (e.g., food, health, safety, environmental), licences, etc.? How can/should non-tariff barriers be addressed?
  • How should government procurement and subsidies be regulated?

Technological and digital transformations, cross-border trade in services, and geography

  • How can services, particularly financial services, be accommodated in any agreement?
  • What are the impacts of barriers to mobility (e.g., temporary entry and stay)?
  • How are transformational impacts of technology, including automation, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, and sustainability, affecting trade and labour?
  • How and why does geography (geographical distances) remain an important factor for trade?
  • How can Canada and the UK’s international trade agreements foster their country’s respective economic growth agendas in priority sectors (i.e., clean technology, digital infrastructure, environment, financial services industries)?
  • How do advancements in artificial-intelligence development, and respective trade policies of the United States and China, impact Canadian and UK trade?


Value and Duration

Up to 20 grants may be awarded, of up to C$30,000 in total per project (~£17,290.55, subject to the exchange rate of January 29, 2018). Applicants should consult the exchange rate before submitting their team’s application. For projects selected for funding, each country’s applicant or team will receive a grant from their respective country’s funder for their portion of the project.

The international teams should include with their application balanced budget requests for both portions of the project, directed to SSHRC and the ESRC, respectively. Budgets cannot exceed a maximum 60/40-per cent split across the two agencies (e.g., C$18,000/£7,000 or £10,000/C$12,000).

For Canadian researchers, their portion of the project will be funded by SSHRC based on the funding request they submitted via the itemized budget.

For British researchers, their portion of the project will be funded by the ESRC based on the funding request submitted via the itemized budget.

KSGs are one-year grants. However, all synthesis reports must be completed within six months and submitted to SSHRC by November 2018, for discussion at a December 2018 forum.

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



Subject matter

KSG proposals may involve any 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.


Applications must include two applicants (principal investigators), with one of these based in Canada and one in the UK. In your application, identify one of these individuals as the project co-ordinator.

Canadian Applicants

Applicants must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution at the time of application. If the Canadian postsecondary institution with which they are affiliated is not a SSHRC eligible institution, the institution must meet the requirements to administer grants and awards, as outlined in the Institutional Eligibility Requirements for the Administration of Grants and Awards, and must contact SSHRC at least five business days prior to the application deadline to begin the eligibility process. Applicants successful in the competition must be affiliated with an eligible institution before funding can be released.

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 researchers are eligible to apply for a KSG. 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 KSG under the same conditions as those outlined in Applicants.


Any individual who will make 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.


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

UK Applicants

Applicants are eligible for funding whether or not they are established members of a recognized research organization. For further information, consult the ESRC Research Funding Guide. Applicants for research grants who are not established members of a recognized research organization must be accommodated by the research organization and provided with appropriate facilities to carry out the research.

Research proposals may be submitted jointly by more than one applicant. In such cases, one person must be regarded as the principal applicant taking the lead responsibility for the conduct of the research and the observance of the terms and conditions. Correspondence regarding the research proposal and grant will be addressed to the principal applicant only. All co-applicants must make a significant contribution to the conduct of the research.

Research proposals will not normally be accepted from persons who have failed to produce evidence of satisfactory conduct on any research previously supported by the ESRC. The ESRC does not allow the resubmission of any previously unsuccessful proposals (including proposals previously submitted to another research council), unless they have been specifically invited to do so. For further information, see the ESRC resubmission policy.


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 project co-ordinator 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, 1/14, 14/14); and
  • each section below begins on a new page.

Applications must include the following:

  • information clearly identifying one applicant (principal investigator) from Canada and one from the UK, with one of these identified as the project co-ordinator and primary contact (one page);
  • a half-page summary of the proposal, written in clear, non-technical language (by submitting an application, applicants consent, should they be awarded a KSG, 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 or the ESRC);
  • 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 work done;
    • an outline of the relevant expertise and experience of the teams;
    • a work plan, including timelines, and a description of the proposed methodology and approach; and
    • the signature of both applicants (principal investigators).
  • one itemized budget per agency (maximum two pages, using the forms for Canadian funds and UK funds), including justification of proposed expenditures, with a maximum 60/40 split across the two agencies (e.g., C$18,000/£7,000 or £10,000/C$12,000);
  • 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 teams have 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 applicants’ institutions, certifying that the institution will administer any award in accordance with SSHRC and ESRC policies;
  • a SSHRC Web CV for each of the two applicants (principal investigators) and any co-applicants (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 (principal investigator) and co-applicant.

All application materials must be submitted in .pdf format and be received by SSHRC by 8:00 p.m. (eastern), March 28, 2018.

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


Evaluation and Adjudication

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

An expert adjudication committee will assess all applications in accordance with SSHRC’s Manual for Adjudication Committee Members. In addition to using the criteria below, the overall coverage of themes among recommended applications will be taken into consideration, to ensure a good distribution of topics will be addressed. 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.

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 (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 (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.

Communication of results

Applicants will be informed of competition results within the month following adjudication.


Regulations, Policies and Related Information

All Canadian 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.

All UK applicants must comply with the latest edition of the ESRC Research Funding Guide.

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

Guidelines and related support material

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

  • For guidance on connecting with research users to create impact, see SSHRC’s definition of knowledge mobilization and Guidelines for Effective Knowledge Mobilization.
  • The ESRC is committed to knowledge exchange and encouraging collaboration between researchers and the private, public and civil society sectors. Collaborative working benefits both the researchers and the individuals/organizations involved. Through collaboration, partners learn about each other’s expertise, share knowledge and gain an appreciation of different professional cultures. Collaborative activity can, therefore, lead to a better understanding of the ways in which academic research can add value and offer insights to key issues of concern for policy and practice. To be most effective, knowledge exchange should not be treated as an add-on at the end of a research project, but considered before the start and built into a project. For more information on the ESRC’s definition of “knowledge exchange,” please see Tips for doing knowledge exchange.
  • Applicants should consult the Guidelines for Effective Research Training. These guidelines may also be useful to reviewers and postsecondary institutions.

Successful applicants will be required to share the results of their project with SSHRC. SSHRC and the ESRC 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 or the Government of the United Kingdom, 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 KSG competition and awards is collected. This may include sharing application information with other agencies and departments of the Government of Canada or the Government of the United Kingdom, as well as other organizations, that are specifically interested in supporting the research and related activities generated through KSG awards and with which SSHRC has established agreements. SSHRC or the ESRC 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 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.

Related opportunities

SSHRC and its partner organizations offer several initiatives that may complement this funding opportunity. See SSHRC’s Funding page to learn more.


Contact Information

Rachel Conlon
Senior Program Officer
Office of the Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges
Tel.: 613-944-5327

Manija Kamal
Senior Policy Manager for International Strategy
Research, Partnerships and International Directorate
Tel.: +44 (0) 179 341 3084