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Annual SSHRC Leaders Meeting, December 3 to 4, 2015

On December 3 and 4, SSHRC held its eighth annual SSHRC Leaders meeting at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. The event was attended by Leaders representing 52 institutions and aimed to:

  • identify and address issues of key interest from the research community regarding SSHRC programs and policies;
  • share best practices that promote and support excellence in research, research training and knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities in Canada; and
  • engage senior university administrators in the consultation process for development of new policies and research-related initiative.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Following the welcome and opening remarks from Ursula Gobel, associate vice-president, Future Challenges, Brent Herbert-Copley, executive vice-president, provided the context and vision that underscore SSHRC’s strategic plan for 2016-20. He was joined by Dominique Bérubé, vice-president, Research Programs and Gobel, who outlined the elements of the three strategic objectives. The presentation was open to comments from the Leaders.

The next session was an update on SSHRC’s funding opportunities and merit review processes, which was moderated by Bérubé. The following individuals presented during this session:

  • Adèle Savoie, director, Programs Planning and Operations, provided an overview of committee structures and composition, as well as the challenges of recruiting members and assessors, and an outline of a new application ranking system.
  • Valérie Laflamme, manager, Research Training, provided an update on scholarship and fellowship competition results, and highlighted new joint initiatives to fund postdoctoral scholars.
  • Tim Wilson, executive director, Research Grants and Partnerships, presented an updated analysis of success rates in SSHRC’s grant competitions and highlighted some changes to merit review processes. Wilson also provided an overview of the results of three programs: the Community and College Social Innovation Fund, Aid to Small Universities, and SSHRC Institutional Grants.

After the presentations, the Leaders participated in open discussions during which they put forward a number of suggestions related to these topics.

In the afternoon, Ursula Gobel gave an update on the Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, including the knowledge synthesis grants opportunities, partnerships and related outreach activities. She then hosted a panel session with SSHRC Leaders on the future of learning and teaching – one of the six Future Challenge Areas. The panelists were Antonia Maioni (McGill University), Sally Rutherford (Canadian Association of Graduate Studies) and John O’Meara (Lakehead University).

Tim Wilson introduced a discussion on the steps that SSHRC has taken to support emerging researchers. Presentations by Vincent Larivière (Université de Montréal), Silvia Vilches (Royal Roads University) and Andrew Nelson (Western University) examined the environment for postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty. The session concluded with a plenary discussion on options to address the barriers facing junior faculty and emerging researchers.

The final session for the day, led by Matthew Lucas, executive director, Corporate Strategy and Performance, examined the evolving technical policy and regulatory environment for research data. Lucas outlined the international context for the adoption of common data management practices, and introduced the draft Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management. Three members of the tri-agency policy advisory group presented their research and administrative experiences and perspectives on data management: Chuck Humphrey (Canadian Association of University Libraries and University of Alberta), Christopher Cochrane (University of Toronto) and Martha Whitehead (Queen’s University). The presentations were followed by a plenary discussion.

Friday, December 4, 2015

SSHRC President Ted Hewitt opened the day by noting that December 6 is the anniversary of the École Polytechnique de Montréal tragedy. He called on the Leaders to take the pledge to end violence against women established by the Status of Women Canada. Hewitt then provided a short update on SSHRC priority activities, including the Trans-Atlantic Platform and meetings with representatives of the new government. He stated that SSHRC will continue to work with other Canadian funding agencies and international partners to support social sciences and humanities research.

A World Café session gave Leaders an opportunity to participate in breakout discussions on a number of developments related to SSHRC programs, policies and strategic initiatives:

  • Plans for marking Canada's 150th anniversary
  • Aboriginal Peoples, research and talent
  • Revision of the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Masters allocation formula
  • Academic-Industry partnerships
  • Merit review
  • Program evaluations

The meeting concluded with a plenary discussion session.