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SSHRC Leaders 2019 Annual Meeting—Executive Summary

The 12th SSHRC Leaders annual meeting was held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa, on December 5 and 6, 2019. The meeting was attended by 65 postsecondary administrators who are appointed by their university presidents to serve as points of contact between SSHRC and their respective institution. The meeting participation rate of 83% clearly demonstrates the continued relevance and mutual benefit of the SSHRC Leaders network. The objectives of the meeting were to identify and address key issues of interest to the research community about SSHRC programs and policies, share best practices and engage and consult in the development of new policies and research-related initiatives.

This report summarizes the main ideas that were presented and discussed at the meeting in order to share and mobilize insights generated. The agenda for the SSHRC Leaders’ meeting was developed in consultation with representatives from the Leaders network and SSHRC management. Eight sessions were held.  

The first day’s sessions featured

  • an update on and discussions of programs and competitions;
  • a discussion of open access and scholarly publications;
  • a conversation with SSHRC’s executive;
  • a review of lessons learned about institutional equity, diversity and inclusion action plans.

In addition, various World Café sessions were offered, including on: 1) Strengthening Indigenous Research Capacity—Dialogue with Institutions on best practices; 2) New Frontiers in Research Fund “Ask me anything”; and 3) Fine Arts and Research-Creation Engagement Strategy. The day closed with an orientation session for several SSHRC Leaders representing new and existing network members.

Day two began with a chat with guest Dr. Alejandro Adem, who provided observations from his first 100 days as president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. This session was followed by an update on SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative and more World Café sessions: 1) Early Career Researchers Support; 2) Canadian Research and Development Classification; 3) Tri-agency Post-Award Administration Renewal; and 4) Communicating the value of SSHRC-funded research.      

Overall, SSHRC Leaders expressed a high degree of satisfaction with and appreciation of the meeting. Leaders’ recommendations for future meetings included: 1) using online technologies to foster greater engagement between SSHRC Leaders at key junctures (e.g. crowdsourcing hot topics before meetings); 2) offering more opportunities for engagement (especially direct feedback to questions) and networking; and 3) offering more presentations in French. They also suggested that SSHRC should be careful not to repeat content at meetings and have sessions that tackle too much. Leaders reaffirmed their appreciation of 1) the inviting and stimulating meeting environment; 2) the response to meeting feedback; 3) reports of key takeaways from World Café sessions in a plenary; 4) having provided materials as much in advance as possible; and 5) offering simultaneous translation.

SSHRC is committed to following up on items discussed at this meeting, such as research data management policy, research classification standard, open access in the social sciences and humanities and the Strengthening Indigenous Research Capacity initiative as they move into implementation phases. The executives would like to take this opportunity to thank all SSHRC staff who made the event possible, as well as the SSHRC Leaders for their participation and thoughtful contributions.

The next SSHRC Leaders meeting will be held in June 2020 at Western University, London, Ontario, in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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