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Annual SSHRC Leaders Meeting, December 5 to 6, 2013

On December 5 and 6, SSHRC held its sixth annual SSHRC Leaders meeting at the Delta Ottawa City Centre Hotel. The event was attended by Leaders representing 52 institutions and aimed to:

  1. To discuss SSHRC’s program architecture renewal in terms of its original principles and objectives and to get the Leaders’ feedback on the effects and impact of it on their institutions in order to help shape future improvements to program delivery.
  2. To engage Leaders in a discussion of the pressures on the merit review system and explore ways to ensure its ongoing sustainability.
  3. To engage Leaders on key recent developments at SSHRC including the next phases of SSHRC’s program architecture renewal and the launch of the Future Challenge Areas.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

After the introductory sessions, Chad Gaffield, SSHRC president, discussed the current state of funding for social sciences and humanities research in Canada, including the increased demand for external funding and the impact this has had on SSHRC. He also stressed the importance of the Future Challenge Areas, which have been well received and are drawing international attention. These are challenges that were identified by Canadians as areas of importance and are all of the social sciences and humanities community will need to play a leading role if Canada is to continue to thrive.

Gisele Yasmeen, special advisor to the president, moderated two discussions on SSHRC’s Program Architecture Renewal. The first focussed on the changes from SSHRC’s point of view and was presented by a panel of SSHRC program directors. The second focused on the experience of institutions and what they have done to adapt to the changes. A panel of SSHRC Leaders provided an account of what they had observed on their campuses as well as shared some of the best practices from their institutions. The panel included Janice Ristock (University of Manitoba), Marie-Andrée Roy (Université du Québec à Montréal) and Tim Kenyon (University of Waterloo), each of whom shared comments from their researchers and research offices on SSHRC’s new program architecture.

Yasmeen also hosted a session on SSHRC’s Future Challenge Areas. Panelists including Thérèse DeGroote, senior policy advisor, Brent Herbert-Copley, vice-president, research capacity and research, and Pekka Sinervo, senior vice-president, research of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, discussed the overall goals of the Imagining Canada’s Future project and provided an overview of all of the work done to identify the six future challenge areas that were approved by SSHRC’s governing Council and released to the public.

SSHRC Leaders were invited to join SSHRC staff for a special presentation by Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Reid and co-author of The Big Shift: The Seismic Change In Canadian Politics, Business, And Culture And What It Means For Our Future.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ted Hewitt, executive vice-president, opened a session on the merit review system by discussing four phases of the research funding process: application, merit review, research and results. Leaders were asked to think about how their institutions divide their resources over these four phases and whether the balance of resources is appropriate. As mentioned in an earlier session, the number of applications being submitted to SSHRC is increasing which is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the merit review system and raising concerns regarding its sustainability. SSHRC and the institutions rely on the same pool of volunteer merit reviewers and Leaders were asked to consider ways that SSHRC and the institutions can relieve some of the pressure on the system.

A World Café session gave Leaders an opportunity to participate in breakout discussions on recent developments related to SSHRC programs and policy. Topics included Tri-agency Canada Graduate Scholarships Harmonization; SSHRC’s postdoctoral support; Evaluation of SSHRC’s Knowledge Mobilization Funding Opportunities; Research Portal and the Canadian Common CV; Aboriginal Research Integrated Strategy; and developing a framework to measure impact in the humanities and social sciences (led by representatives of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences).

During a session on Digital Scholarship, a panel comprising representative from SSHRC and the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences discussed various issues:

  • Ted Hewitt, executive vice-president, discussed Big Data, an area of importance in particular for social science and humanities fields that rely more and more on Big Data in order to conduct their research and the subject of a consultation led by SSHRC in collaboration with NSERC, CIHR, CFI and GENOME Canada.
  • Christine Trauttmansdorff, executive director, corporate strategy and performance, discussed the consultations on the draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy which is expected to be implemented in 2014.
  • Jean-Francois Fortin, director, research portfolio, provided an update on the upcoming 2014 Aid to Scholarly Journals competition which will be open to both open access and subscription-based journals.
  • Eleanor Fast, director of policy and programming, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences discussed the Federation’s plans to draft an Open Access policy for the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program.

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