Canada Research Chairs are awarded following a rigorous peer review process involving the College of Reviewers and the Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee (IAC).
All nominations submitted to the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) are reviewed by a minimum of three members of the College of Reviewers who are carefully selected by CRCP staff.
- If the reviewers concur and their assessment is favorable, the Chairs Secretariat makes a recommendation to the Steering Committee to support the nomination.
- In the case of foreign nominations (where the candidate is outside of Canada at the time of nomination), where peer review is unanimously favourable, the executive director of the Chairs program has the delegated authority to approve the funding recommendation made by the College of Reviewers.
- If any of the three assessments are not favorable (where either the ratings are unsupportive, where concerns are raised within the review(s) or where the ratings are supportive but concerns are raised within the review(s)), the nomination is reviewed by the IAC, which then recommends to the Steering Committee whether or not to support the nomination (see Assessment of Reviews by the Chairs Secretariat below).
The success of the CRCP’s peer review process is made possible by the members of the College of Reviewers—dedicated volunteers who generously give their time and expertise in assessing nominations. Their efforts benefit scientific communities throughout Canada and internationally, and are greatly appreciated by the Chairs Secretariat.
The CRCP is committed to excellence in research and research training, and understands that the goals of excellence and equity are compatible and mutually supporting. Sound equity practices ensure that the largest possible pool of qualified candidates is accessed, without compromising the integrity of the program’s selection process.
Reviewers and committee members are instructed to reinforce standards of rigor, fairness, respect and equity when assessing the productivity of nominees as part of the peer review process.
College of Reviewers
All nominations, whether for a new chair, the renewal of a current chair, the advancement of a Tier 2 chairholder to a Tier 1 chair, or a resubmission, are assessed by the College of Reviewers.
The College of Reviewers is made up of experts (including current chairholders) from a wide range of fields of research.
Selection of Reviewers
For each chair nomination and each request for infrastructure support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (the CFI), the Chairs Secretariat carefully selects a minimum of three reviewers from the College of Reviewers. The Secretariat bases its selection on:
- the expertise of the reviewer, which should be as close as possible to the nominee’s field(s); and
- the reviewer’s capacity to provide a detailed, unbiased and critical review.
For interdisciplinary research, the Secretariat makes efforts to ensure that the referees selected have—individually or collectively—expertise in all the relevant disciplines and aspects of the proposal. When appropriate, referees from different research environments (e.g., academia, industry and government) are selected.
Assessment of Reviews by the Chairs Secretariat
All reviews received from the College of Reviewers are carefully examined and assessed by the Chairs Secretariat to ensure that reviewers have evaluated the merits of the nomination based on the CRCP’s selection criteria.
The Secretariat will secure additional reviews in cases where a reviewer does not submit their review, or if any one of the three reviews does not meet the Secretariat’s expectations in that it is sparse, not thoughtful, or does not discuss the evaluation criteria of the program, and/or does not provide reassurance that the external reviewer has done his/her due diligence in reviewing the nomination.
If the reviewers concur and the written assessments and funding recommendations are favourable, the Secretariat makes a recommendation to the Steering Committee to support the chair. All nominations for which concerns are raised within the reviews provided are sent for additional peer review by the IAC.
Note: It is not uncommon for a nomination to be sent to the IAC for peer review in cases where the ratings provided by the external reviewers are positive, but where a concern (or several) is raised within the content of a review. In these cases, the IAC is responsible for making a final funding recommendation.
In the case of a resubmission of an unsuccessful new nomination, an entirely new set of reviewers is chosen from the College of Reviewers to review the nomination. In other words, reviewers of a resubmitted nomination are never the same as those who reviewed the original unsuccessful nomination.
Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee
The IAC plays a key role in upholding the high level of excellence and prestige of the CRCP and a major role in ensuring the consistency of program standards.
The committee is made up of 16 experts from the College of Reviewers. Quality, experience, excellent judgment and proven ability to recognize excellence are the prime criteria for selecting committee members. A balanced membership is achieved by taking into account factors such as language, gender, region, sector of the economy, discipline and type of institution.
On the question of language, members are selected to ensure that the committee has the capacity to review proposals in Canada’s both official languages.
In addition, the committee includes internationally recognized researchers from outside Canada.
The interdisciplinary nature of the peer review process is a fundamental part of ensuring a high level of excellence within the CRCP. Given the important role the IAC plays within the peer review process, committee members are chosen very carefully.
Members must have had recent peer review experience and a solid understanding of current peer review practices in the various discipline groupings.
Effectiveness as an interdisciplinary committee member is also a membership requirement. Members are selected on the basis of having the ability to recognize excellence across the various discipline groupings, and to review nominations that are outside their area of expertise.
Members are expected to be able to fully participate in all meeting deliberations.
IAC members’ recommendations to the Steering Committee are informed by the reviews provided by the College of Reviewers, as well as by their own assessment of nominations stemming from IAC committee discussions. Having members serve on the IAC for several years ensures that the committee’s recommendations remain calibrated with previous decisions, and with respect to the CRCP’s selection criteria.
Expedited Peer Review of Foreign Nominations
In the case of nominations of foreign researchers who are employed outside of Canada at the time of submission, and where the assessment from the College of Reviewers is unanimously favourable, the peer review process is expedited. The executive director of the CRCP has the delegated authority to approve recommendations in such cases.
The IAC will review all foreign nominations that do not receive a favourable assessment from the College of Reviewers. Evaluations of these foreign nominations will take place at the same time as other nominations referred to the IAC within a given cycle. In cases where the foreign nomination was submitted late in a cycle, the unfavourable decision may be reviewed by IAC at its subsequent meeting.
Emerging Negative Decisions
Renewal nominations that are not recommended for support by the IAC are automatically entered into the Emerging Negative Decision (END) process. For these nominations, the institution is sent a synopsis of the IAC’s concerns and a copy of all of the reviewers’ reports.
The institution must provide the following supplementary information addressing the concerns raised by the peer reviewers:
- a one-page (maximum) letter outlining the institution’s support for the proposed research program; and
- a two-page (maximum) report addressing the concerns raised by the IAC (appendixes not permitted).
Institutions must submit this supplementary information by the deadline provided by the Secretariat.
At a subsequent meeting, the IAC reviews the original renewal nomination and the supplementary information provided by the institution, and makes a final funding recommendation to the Steering Committee. If the institution fails to provide the supplementary information by the deadline provided by the Secretariat, the nomination is automatically sent to the Steering Committee with a recommendation not to fund the nomination.
The Steering Committee considers the funding recommendations made by the Secretariat and IAC and makes the final funding decisions. The Secretariat then informs institutions of decisions and provides them with a copy of all review documentation. Institutions are encouraged to share this documentation with the candidates.
The executive director of the Secretariat informs institutions where funding decisions are not favourable.
Appeals of peer review decisions are not considered unless an administrative error was made in the management of the peer review process.
Decisions on Infrastructure Support Requests
In the case of requests for infrastructure support from the CFI (including cluster requests for infrastructure support, where the CFI funding is to be shared by two or more chairholders), reviewers make their recommendation to the Secretariat, which is responsible for the coordination of the peer review process on behalf of the CFI. The Secretariat communicates the reviewers’ recommendation to the CFI, which then makes the final decision on the request for infrastructure support.
See Requests for Infrastructure Support under Nominate a Chair for more information.
Instructions to Peer Reviewers
The instructions provided to peer reviewers can be found at the following links:
Canada Research Chairs Secretariat
350 Albert Street, P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, ON K1P 6G4
Institutions, chairholders or potential nominees should contact their designated CRC program officer for additional information about the nomination process. Browse by province for the program officer assigned to your institution.