This funding opportunity is no longer offered. For information on currently offered SSHRC funding opportunities, see Funding
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February 2010 Competition
Value and Duration
Evaluation and Adjudication
The Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) program supports
leading-edge research with true potential for intellectual breakthrough
that addresses broad and critical issues of intellectual, social, economic
and cultural significance through the effective coordination and integration
of diverse research activities and research results.
The conceptual framework and research questions of MCRI projects should
be of such breadth and scope as to require the participation of many scholars
of different perspectives and with different types of expertise working
together in an enriching and effective fashion.
The size and composition of the research team should be determined by
the complexity of the issues under study. In addition, there should be
a mechanism in place to facilitate dialogue among the various disciplines
that is necessary to explore fully the multifaceted and complex issues
The MCRI program seeks to support research with a strong analytical component,
research of such significance and quality that it brings international
recognition to the team, involves appropriate partners and stakeholders
and produces results that will have a major impact on Canadian scholarship
This issue-driven program seeks to strengthen Canadian research capacity
in the humanities and social sciences by promoting broadly based research
and unique student training opportunities in a collaborative, inter-disciplinary,
inter-postsecondary institution research environment.
The program is intended for leading scholars with solid track records
and past experience in collaborative research, student training and grant
management, and who demonstrate the leadership and other skills necessary
for managing a complex, inter-disciplinary, multi-institutional project.
The MCRI program also seeks to foster unique opportunities to collaborate
on important international research in which the Canadian team plays the
lead role in the direction of the research. International scholars can
be invited to join an MCRI team as co-applicants
(co-investigators) or visiting scholars. However, the number of international
scholars appointed as co-investigators cannot exceed the number of Canadian
co-investigators on the research team. Funding allocations should also
reflect this balance.
The specific objectives of the MCRI program are to:
support leading edge, collaborative research that meets high standards
of excellence, promises a significant contribution to the advancement
and transfer of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences, and
encourages discussion and debate from a broad perspective on critical
issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance
for Canadian scholarship and society;
promote broadly based collaborative research as the central mode
of research activityboth within and among disciplines, departments
and faculties, as well as with other sciences, at universities across
the country and abroad;
promote the development of active partnerships with private or public
sector groups to ensure their participation in the design and conduct
of the research project and in the dissemination of research results;
promote the development of links with appropriate stakeholders;
provide unique opportunities for training students and postdoctoral
fellows in a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment;
support research that achieves integrated and comprehensive syntheses
of the issues under study;
encourage dynamic and innovative approaches
to disseminating research
findings that will have a major impact on Canadian scholarship
and society by reaching both traditional and new audiences, including
Canadian and international scholars, policy makers, stakeholders
and the general public; and
involve postsecondary institutions in long-term
commitments to the development of unique, large-scale, inter-postsecondary institution
For this program, collaboration is defined as an ongoing, active
and integrated working relationship among the members of a broadly based
team of researchers, each of whom brings different perspectives to complex
research questions requiring long-term funding.
The research should be of such scope as to require broadly based collaboration
among researchers from various disciplines, sectors and institutions.
The application should clearly identify, from the outset, the critical
issues the proposed research will address.
The main thrust of the proposed research must be in areas falling within
the humanities and social sciences disciplines and within SSHRC's mandate.
The MCRI program does not provide ongoing support to research centres,
major editorial projects, reference works, research tools, data banks
or basic networking. However, the latter three may receive support as
a funded component of a proposal. SSHRC encourages applicants to discuss
proposals with a program officer before submitting
Value and Duration
Grants are awarded for seven years. This is subject to a satisfactory
site visit by a SSHRC-appointed committee that reviews the project's progress
at its mid-point. If the review committee deems progress to be unsatisfactory,
SSHRC may suspend or cancel funding.
Eligible proposals must be of such a scope that they require a minimum
budget of $100,000 for each of the seven years. The maximum budget is
$2.5 million over seven years.
Grant holders normally receive a "start-up" visit in January,
the month after SSHRC announces competition results. Funds are released
shortly thereafteronce team membership and non-SSHRC funding sources
Extensions beyond the seven-year period of the grant are possible, but
they are not automatic: at least three months before the end of the grant
period, the project director must request an extension in writing, outlining
the reasons for, and financial implications of, the request.
Applications must be submitted by the project director on behalf of the
research team. The project director must satisfy all the regular eligibility
requirements for an applicant (principal investigator) as set out in the
Institutions that propose to administer any grant awarded under this program must meet the requirements for managing SSHRC funds and must hold or obtain institutional eligibility.
SSHRC regulations no longer prevent a researcher who holds an MCRI grant
as project director from holding a Standard Research Grant as principal
investigator at the same time (or vice versa). Nevertheless, evaluation
committees may well raise questions about the feasibility of undertaking
other research projects at the same time as fulfilling the heavy demands
of leading an MCRI team. In any case, no researcher can hold the position
of project director on two MCRI grants at the same time.
The research team must represent a minimum of two Canadian postsecondary
institutions (including the Canadian host institution), and must include
sufficient members to cover the diverse perspectives and expertise required
by the breadth of the research questions outlined in the proposal. The
team may include co-applicants (co-investigators) and collaborators in
accordance with SSHRC definitions.
In accordance with SSHRC’s policy of encouraging international
collaboration, provided that their benefit to the project is demonstrated,
researchers affiliated with a foreign institution may be invited to join
MCRI teams as co-applicants
and have access to research funds for work carried out as part of Canadian-led
teams. During the seven-year period of the grant, researchers affiliated
with a foreign institution may also be brought to the research site as
visiting scholars for up to three months. Applicants and project directors
should nevertheless bear in mind that the majority of co-applicants (co-investigators)
must be affiliated with a Canadian institution, and that the project’s
funding allocations should reflect this fact.
Evaluation and Adjudication
All applications are adjudicated, and available funds awarded, through
a competitive process. All applications are evaluated by the MCRI adjudication
committee, a broadly based, multi-disciplinary, peer-review committee
of leading Canadian and international scholars. The committee provides
comments on its recommendations, but does not invite resubmissions,
nor does it provide scores
The MCRI program involves a two-stage application process:
Stage 1: Letter of Intent
For the letter of intent (LOI) stage, the applicant
completes a Web-based application. This includes an outline of the proposal
that clearly identifies the critical issue or issues to be addressed and
that takes into account all the program's evaluation criteria. The project
director and all co-investigators and collaborators must complete Web
CVs. Detailed application instructions are provided with the application
Unsuccessful Applicants: Reapplying for an MCRI Grant
Applicants who were unsuccessful at either stage of the competition,
and who decide to reapply, should devote adequate time to revising the
project proposal. In particular, it is essential to take full account
of the adjudication committee's comments, as these are made available
to any subsequent adjudication committee. Applicants who were unsuccessful
at the formal application stage of the most recent competition will receive
a three-week extension (i.e., February 21 deadline, rather than January
31) if they decide to submit a letter of intent in the very next competition.
Successful Applicants: Applying for a Second MCRI Grant
SSHRC’s adjudication committees consider applications for a second
MCRI grant on an equal basis with new applications. Adding knowledge or
disseminating research results as a follow-up activity to a previously funded
MCRI project do not constitute grounds for receiving a second MCRI grant.
To compete with new applicants, second-time applicants must present persuasive
arguments for the leading-edge nature of their proposed research and its
major impacts. They must also demonstrate their capacity to deliver promised
outputs from their first MCRI grant.
In addition to the other requirements, applicants who have received and
completed an MCRI grant, and who wish to apply for a second grant, must
include with their letter of intent a supplementary three-page document
that describes: the nature and impact to date of the research results
from their first grant, the partnerships developed, and the links made
with stakeholders. This supplement should specifically report on progress
made in the period after the mid-term site visit and respond to any recommendations
made by the site visit committee. Committee members receive copies of
the mid-term report and any follow-up correspondence. The letter of intent
should explain the links between the completed and proposed research.
The applicant should also append to the supplement a list of publications
that have resulted directly from the first MCRI grant.
Stage 2: Formal Application
Only those applicants successful at the letter of intent stage are invited
to submit a formal application. These applicants and their research teams
will also receive a $20,000 development fund to help defray the cost of
planning and preparing the formal application and bringing team members
to the interview.
Please note that the project director cannot be changed between
the letter of intent stage and the formal application stage.
For the MCRI program, SSHRC consults external assessors only at the formal
application stage. The adjudication committee considers, but is not bound
by, the judgements of the external assessors. Applicants may indicate
in a covering letter potential assessors who, in their opinion, might
not provide an impartial review. The committee decides which proposals
to recommend to proceed to the formal application stage, and which formal
applications to recommend for funding.
Applications allow 20 pages for a detailed description of the proposed
program. The description should first and foremost identify the critical
issue or issues to be addressed. This description should take into account
all adjudication committee comments and should address all of the evaluation
criteria set out below.
The project director and up to three members of the research team attend
a one-hour interview with the adjudication committee to respond to questions.
The final level of funding, and any conditions of funding, are negotiated
through consultation with SSHRC, the project director and the host institution.
All applicants receive a copy of the adjudication committee's comments
on the letter of intent and formal application, including, in the latter
case, the external assessments.
In its deliberations concerning both the Letters of Intent and the Formal
Applications, the MCRI adjudication committee uses the following main
Quality, significance, breadth and scope of the proposed research:
- overall quality and significance of the proposed research;
- promise of leading-edge research with potential for intellectual breakthrough;
- necessary breadth and scope to address broad and critical issues of
intellectual, social, economic and/or cultural significance; and
- potential for major impact on Canadian and international scholarship.
Strength and skills of the Project Director:
- capacity to provide the necessary intellectual leadership for a large,
diverse multi-institutional team of researchers;
- ability to establish and maintain a solid management structure that
will ensure the effective integration of team members, students and
research results; and
- proven record of solid research as well as previous experience in
collaborative research and grant management.
Strength and expertise of the team:
- degree to which the team has the different perspectives and necessary
expertise to shed new light on, and cover the multiple facets of, the
- individual strengths of each team member and his/her potential for
successful collaboration and effective student training and mentoring; and
- involvement of appropriate partners and stakeholders in the design
and conduct of the research.
- potential to attract the best students and provide unique training
opportunities for them in a well-structured, cross-disciplinary research
- number of students and the overall quality of the proposed training
- career development opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and other
- degree to which the scholarly results will offer an integrated and
comprehensive analysis of the issues under study;
- impact on the scholarly community and on the Canadian public;
- breadth of outreach to new audiences, including policy-makers, partners,
stakeholders and the general public;
- number, significance and effectiveness of concrete deliverables by
the end of the grant period; and
- plans for knowledge transfer.
- overall financial planning;
- justification of the expenditures proposed; and
- level of institutional and partner funding secured.
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.
All direct costs related to the conduct and communication of research as identified in the Guide are eligible expenses. Given the vital importance, for large-scale research projects, of effectively managing and integrating research activities and team members, applicants may request funds for both the financial and research administration of the project.
If you have any questions about the MCRI program, please contact:
MCRI Program Coordinator