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Annual SSHRC Leaders Meeting, December 4 to 5, 2014

On December 4 and 5, 2014, SSHRC held its seventh annual SSHRC Leaders meeting at the Marriott Hotel. The event was attended by SSHRC Leaders representing 52 institutions. The aim of the meeting was to:

  1. identify and address issues of key interest from the research community about SSHRC programs and policies;
  2. facilitate a discussion between university administrators and senior leaders in the public sector;
  3. share best practices that promote and support excellence in research, research training and knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities in Canada; and
  4. engage senior university administrators in the consultation process for development of new policies and research-related initiatives.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

After the welcome from Ursula Gobel, associate vice-president, Future Challenges, and the introductory sessions, Brent Herbert-Copely, vice-president, Research Programs, moderated a full morning of discussion on the merit review process and funding opportunity success rates.

Adèle Savoie, director, programs planning and operations, provided an overview of committee structures and composition, outlined the challenges of recruiting members and assessors, and highlighted the high satisfaction rate, among observers and members with adjudication procedures.

Jean-François Fortin, director, research training portfolio, provided an update on scholarship and fellowship competition results and procedures, as well as on the new Canada Graduate Scholarships—Master’s Scholarships competition protocols and acceptance rates.

Tim Wilson, director, research grants and partnerships, presented a compilation of data on success rates in SSHRC’s grant competitions, which demonstrated the pressure on the merit review system.

Following the presentations, the Leaders discussed ways in which SSHRC and the universities can relieve pressure on the merit review system, and made a number of suggestions.

Ursula Gobel provided an update on engagement activities related to the Imagining Canada’s Future initiative before hosting a panel session, during which SSHRC Leaders provided updates on regional events held at their institutions, focussing on the six Future Challenge Areas. The panelists were Marilyn Taylor (Royal Roads University), Ruby Heap (University of Ottawa), Carmen Robertson (University of Regina), Marie-Andrée Roy (Université du Québec à Montréal), Andrew Nelson (Western University), Julia Wright (Dalhousie University) and Sandra Crocker (Carleton University).

SSHRC Leaders were invited to join SSHRC staff for a special presentation by Public Policy Forum Executive Vice-President Paul Ledwell, who is also an advisory board member for ERA-Can+. Ledwell provided an overview of Horizon 2020, the new European Union framework in support of research and innovation.

The final session for the day was a panel discussion featuring SSHRC Leaders and Deputy Minister university champions, on the relationship between academics and policy-makers, and the role of research in government policy-making. The panel participants were SSHRC Leaders David Wolfe (University of Toronto) and Serge Brochu (Université de Montréal), and Deputy Minister University Champions Jean-François Tremblay (deputy secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office) and Colleen Sword (deputy minister, Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada).

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ted Hewitt, executive vice-president and COO, opened the day by advising that SSHRC continued to be focussed on its strategic priorities while the search for a new president was underway. He then provided an update on a number of strategic priorities and funding areas at SSHRC, including the Research Support Fund, the newly announced Canada First Research Excellence Fund and Community and Colleges Social Innovation Fund, as well as the new tri-agency open access and data management policies.

Hewitt then hosted a panel discussion on open access and data management initiatives in the research and research funding context. Panelists provided their perspectives on the data revolution and how to manage access and retention. The panelists were Kevin Fitzgibbons (associate vice-president, corporate planning and policy, NSERC), Jean-Marc Mangin (executive director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences), Leslie Weir (chief librarian, University of Ottawa) and Amos Hayes (technical manager, Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, Carleton University).

A “World Café” session gave Leaders an opportunity to participate in breakout discussions and ask questions on a number of developments related to programs and policy at SSHRC, including the Research Portal and the Canadian Common CV; effective research training; industry-academic partnerships; Mitacs internships for social sciences and humanities; cross-agency interdisciplinarity; and the SSHRC Impact Awards.

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences presented the report Measuring the Impacts of Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and hosted a noontime discussion focussing on issues of scholarship, capacity-building–such as through mentorship and the impacts of research on the economy, society and culture.

Brent Herbert-Copley hosted a session on SSHRC’s Aboriginal research integrated strategy (ARIS), featuring SSHRC and university research policy leaders. Senior Program Officer Gail Zboch provided an overview of the history and evolution of SSHRC’s policies and Aboriginal research funding programs, emphasizing the key role that the Aboriginal Advisory Circle played in developing SSHRC’s definition of Aboriginal research, Aboriginal Research Statement of Principles, and Aboriginal Research Guidelines for Merit Review. Craig McNaughton, special advisor to the vice-president, Research Programs, provided an overview of the consultation, and of ongoing development work on the Talent portion of ARIS, which will focus on graduate students and emerging scholars.

Carmen Robertson, associate dean, graduate and research, University of Regina, provided insights into her research experience involving indigenous art. She explained that, in order to work with aboriginal knowledge keepers, strong bonds must be built, and researchers must take a community-building approach.

Carrie Dyck, vice-president, research, pro tempore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, emphasized the importance of establishing relationships with First Nations, and how these will be enhanced by ARIS’s guiding principles.

The meeting concluded with a plenary discussion.