Knowledge Synthesis Grants

How will Canada continue to thrive in an interconnected world and evolving global landscape?

November 2016 Competition

Value $25,000
Duration One year
Application deadline January 12, 2017 (Closed)
Results announced March 2017
Apply See details below

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


What will the course of a globalized future look like? How will societies address the promise and the peril of global forces shaping our future? These topics will be explored in this, the fifth Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition launched as part of SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative.

The global context is rapidly evolving. Important progress has been made to reduce poverty, improve individual well-being, and foster peace and security. Nevertheless, significant economic, social, environmental and security challenges persist, with important implications for all societies. In some countries, active citizen engagement and use of new technologies are contributing to more open and democratic institutions. In others, they have exposed profound distrust between people and governments, often affecting safety, human rights and dignity.

Rapid scientific and technological advances, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, have enabled millions of people to lead healthier, more productive lives. However, these same developments are contributing to disruptions that impact people’s livelihoods and social cohesion.

Meanwhile, the world population will continue to grow, although at a slower pace. Low or stagnant population growth in Western countries has re-opened debates about population distribution, youth and aging, families, the movement and displacement of people, and social values. The economic aspects of globalization, including support or opposition to free trade and open economies, are dominating political agendas worldwide. Trust is waning in international organizations’ and democratic institutions’ abilities to sustain inclusive societies.

These and other phenomena, such as rapid urbanization, climate change, social inequity, and economic uncertainty, are testing the ability of communities, government at all levels, and international institutions to mitigate and respond effectively to associated challenges.

As a culturally and socially diverse society, Canada is well positioned to contribute and shape responses to the emerging global risks and opportunities playing out in Canada and around the world. Synthesizing research knowledge on these diverse and important issues will help foster a deeper understanding of what these issues mean for Canadians today and tomorrow, and define areas in which Canada can 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 evidence’s use 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 future challenge area 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 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, not-for-profit and public policy sectors;
  • facilitate dialogue between academic researchers, cross-sectoral stakeholders and policy-makers in government; and
  • facilitate the use of resulting findings by stakeholders.

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 to develop robust policies, best practices, and tools.

Successful applicants or their delegates will be expected to attend two knowledge mobilization workshops in Ottawa, with multisector stakeholders, 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 (tentatively scheduled for May and November 2017) will be provided to successful applicants.

Successful applicants will also be provided with guidelines for completing their synthesis report.

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



The Imagining Canada’s Future foresight initiative highlighted six future challenge areas, and the four enduring issues below. These provide additional perspectives through which researchers can address the various themes and subquestions:

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

The themes described below frame key issues and relevant questions that draw from the future challenge areas and subquestions. The examples provided are illustrative of, rather than restrictive to, the broad issues that encompass a given topic. Additional relevant issues and subquestions are welcome. The themes are interconnected, and researchers may combine themes or subquestions.

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?

International relations and globalization

  • How are changing global realities such as climate change, the movement of people, and international trade shaping international policies, institutions, and governance?
  • How are the roles of and relations between state and non-state actors evolving in terms of global and domestic governance issues?
  • How are foreign policy and international development agendas impacting the prosperity and well-being of emerging and low-income nations?
  • What critical knowledge about the world do Canadians need to remain competitive and engaged in advanced knowledge economies?
  • What support, knowledge and skillsets do Canadian firms need in order to be successful in domestic and foreign markets?
  • How is the free movement of goods, services, capital and people, which is associated with open economies, impacting countries around the world?

Demographics and the movement of people

  • What are the challenges and opportunities of an aging population in Canada?
  • How are societies worldwide responding to the needs and aspirations of youth?
  • How are Canadian families evolving in light of changing demographics and societal values, and how is their well-being measured?
  • What are the potential impacts of low or stagnant population growth on countries and regions around the world?
  • How are global migration and the legal status of migrants impacting urban, rural or remote communities, including regions with low population growth?

Conflict, public safety and global security

  • How are countries and communities building resilience in the face of global shocks such as natural disasters, economic crises or emerging conflicts?
  • How are immigrants, refugees and diasporas responding to events or conflicts occurring in their region or country of origin?
  • How are rises in religious or political extremism, radicalization and associated violence impacting societies?
  • How are international alliances dedicated to peace and global security adapting to new patterns of conflict, and to changing technologies?

Inequality, discrimination and identity

  • How are social inequity and political marginalization impacting citizens’ trust in democratic institutions and processes?
  • How do combinations of multiple and cross-cutting inequities—gender, racial, age, education, economic, cultural or technological—contribute to disparity and marginalization?
  • What links exist between a pluralistic society, well-being and prosperity?
  • How are ideas about belonging, citizenship and civic identity evolving in multicultural and diverse societies?


Value and Duration

Knowledge Synthesis Grants are one-year grants worth up to $25,000. However, all synthesis reports must be completed by October 2017. Up to 30 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 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.


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 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 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.


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:

  1. 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);
  2. 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 applicant/team;
    • a work plan, including timelines, and a description of the proposed methodology and approach; and
    • the applicant’s signature.
  3. an itemized budget (maximum two pages), including justification of proposed expenditures;
  4. 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;
  5. up to three discipline codes applicable to the proposal;
  6. a list of co-applicants and collaborators (names and roles only);
  7. 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;
  8. a SSHRC Web CV for each applicant and co-applicant (CCVs cannot be accepted at this time);
  9. 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
  10. 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), January 12, 2017.

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 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.

An expert adjudication committee will assess all applications in accordance with SSHRC’s Manual for Adjudication Committee Members, and 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 (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 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. 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:

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. 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.

Related opportunities

SSHRC and its partner organizations offer several initiatives that may complement the Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunity.

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


Contact Information

For more information about this funding opportunity, please contact:

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