Global Call for Ideas 2021-2023 – FAQs
Is CIFAR looking for any specific research areas, topics or questions?
No. In the Global Call for Ideas, we are open to receiving proposals from any area of research. However, the proposed research program should fit with CIFAR’s theme, The Future of Being Human. Please read the for further information.
How many proponents are expected to prepare an LOI?
We require that the Registration be prepared and submitted by a small core group of researchers, up to 4 in total. At the LOI stage, up to eight core members in total, who will participate fully as the research leaders for the proposed effort. In the full proposal stage, up to 15 members should be identified.
Do I have to be Canadian to apply?
No, but the proponents of a full proposal should include at least one researcher currently living and working in Canada (with or without Canadian citizenship).
I already collaborate with several researchers with whom I'd like to submit a Registration, but none of them are working in Canada. Does this matter?
Yes. See question above "Do I have to be Canadian to apply?"
I’m already part of an existing network of researchers – is it OK if we submit a Registration on an idea we’ve already been discussing for awhile?
Yes. Please read the for further information.
Does my proposal need to be in English?
Applications will be accepted in English and French, however, they may be translated and reviewed in English.
What kind of research support do CIFAR researchers receive?
CIFAR supports research in two ways: (1) CIFAR brings together researchers from across the world 2-3 times per year for face-to-face interactions and to maintain active collaboration. (2) CIFAR Fellows receive support on an individual basis, which is intended to enable researchers to have more time and space to work on the goals of the research program. This can be used quite flexibly – for teaching load adjustments, student stipends and postdoctoral fellow support amongst other uses – consistent with the policies of the researcher’s employer.
Do you provide money for infrastructure, individual researchers or existing research programs?
No. We also do not fund individuals to work alone, nor do we fund pre-existing research programs. We support global networks of researchers who work together on a common question, from an interdisciplinary perspective.
My LOI overlaps slightly with an area that you already support. Should I still apply?
Yes. In your LOI, please tell us how your idea is distinct from and extends CIFAR’s current research areas. Please review the for Selection for further information.
Can I ask my postdocs to be part of the LOI process?
No, this process does not serve as a training opportunity, although training opportunities are available within active CIFAR programs. To be a core CIFAR Fellow, a researcher must be best suited to support the interdisciplinary research program (i.e., researchers at the top of their respective fields, full-time permanent researchers), and must have the capacity to contribute in unique ways to the proposed research program. This is in line with CIFAR’s model to promote interdisciplinary approaches to research.
Many of the researchers I’d like to work with on my LOI are very senior. Is this okay?
The researchers involved have to be committed to the project and have the capacity to contribute in unique ways. While CIFAR does not require that early career researchers be included as members of teams, we strongly encourage applicants to engage researchers at various stages of their careers. Diversity of perspectives will only serve to improve research outcomes.
How do I know the process is fair?
CIFAR is committed to an open, fair, and transparent process. Like any competition, the purpose of our process is to seek out the very best ideas as judged against our criteria. Registrations will be reviewed by CIFAR for basic eligibility. LOIs will be externally reviewed by an International Body of Reviewers comprised of exceptional researchers that span disciplines and are selected for their expertise. The highest quality LOIs will be selected by a panel made up of eminent researchers who serve on our President’s Research Council. These LOIs will be selected to develop Full Proposals in Stage III.
What exactly is the Registration submission process?
On this site, you’ll find a place to enter the Registration submissions system. You will first set up an account for your team’s submission, and then activate that account. Then you will enter basic contact information for you and your team, answer a few questions, and respond to the criteria outlined in the Registration guidelines by filling in corresponding fields. You will also upload pdfs of your team’s CVs.
What kind of research do you support?
CIFAR supports bold, forward-looking research that is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and that necessitates long-term collaboration. Due to this approach, research programs are not expected to have immediate applied outcomes. We suggest visiting the CIFAR Research Programs page of our website to see the nature and diversity of programs CIFAR supports today.
It looks like CIFAR doesn't support research questions rooted in the Arts or Humanities. Will you accept LOIs with leadership from the Humanities?
Yes. CIFAR seeks to support research from across the academy. As a theme, the Future of Being Human is both a challenge and opportunity that could be expertly tackled by a variety of perspectives. We eagerly anticipate that through this theme, we may be well-positioned to support new areas of inquiry not currently represented across our portfolio and have designed the Pre-LOI Strategy Sessions to accommodate disciplines and groups who may be less familiar with our unique approach to interdisciplinary collaboration.
What is a Pre-LOI Strategy Session? Am I at a disadvantage if I don’t receive one?
Pre-LOI Strategy Sessions will primarily be offered to teams that have not previously worked with CIFAR and may benefit from more time to build an interdisciplinary team. A strategy session is absolutely not a requirement to submit an LOI - all eligible teams will be invited to submit LOIs.
Organized by CIFAR, Strategy Sessions are virtual workshops that offer CIFAR and the core team the chance to explore their proposed research program together. CIFAR will work closely with teams to introduce the CIFAR model and support the extension of their interdisciplinary network.
If I make it to Stage III and my team writes a full proposal but doesn’t end up becoming a CIFAR program, can we apply again at a later date?
Yes, you can apply again to future CIFAR calls if your proposal is not selected for Stage III.
Are you running this competition on an annual basis?
We hold Global Call competitions approximately every 3-4 years, dependent on the outcome of this competition, and the resources available to support new research efforts.
Some of your programs have been around a long time. Is that typical? How often do you start new programs?
Research support is only provided to CIFAR programs for a five-year period. At the end of five years, each program undergoes a rigorous external international review. The program is renewed only if it is deemed to be transformative and has charted out an ambitious collaborative research question for the next five years.
On average, CIFAR programs perform and evolve to successfully receive about 15 years of funding. In the last 10 years, we have launched 8 new programs and closed 8 programs.
What’s the maximum amount of time a CIFAR program can exist?
There is no time limit on CIFAR programs.
My research fits in really well with one of your existing programs. Can I apply to be in that program? Who should I contact?
Program membership is determined by the programs in consultation with CIFAR. For more information on a specific
program you can contact the CIFAR Senior Director, Research listed for each program.
Why has CIFAR decided to do this now?
The Canadian and global research communities have grown since CIFAR was launched in 1982. Today, we believe we need to reach out to new members of these communities in order to make sure we continue to support our vision to deepen our understanding of the world, creating knowledge that enriches human life and leads to a better future. We look forward to the many new ideas that will emerge from our Global Call for Ideas.
What is the standard size of an established CIFAR program?
In general, CIFAR programs start small, and tend to grow over time. On average, CIFAR programs are made up of 18-25 Fellows and have an Advisory Committee of 5-7 members.
Is a budget required for the LOI submission?
We do not expect applicants to provide any budget details. Our practice is to provide the necessary funding for a given program, based on the size of the team and the planned activity. CIFAR develops the necessary budget once a program has been approved.
Are references required in the LOI submission?
References may be included in the strict word limits if you wish. However, we recommend that applicants do not spend significant effort summarizing the current literature, but rather focus on the key ideas or challenges that emerge from the literature.
Is there a specified format for CV submission?
There is no standard format we expect. The only requirement is that it be no more than two pages for the Registration and LOI stages. The reason for the CV is for the assessment panel to be familiar with the applicants and co-applicants background, contributions, and any recognition they have received for their work. We are discouraging lengthy lists of publications, lectures, and committee involvement.
How much detail should I include in the Excellence of Research Team and Potential Leadership sections?
The excellence discussion should focus on those researchers who will make up the core research team. Applicants should identify the nature of the team that they argue should be brought together, and then identify some of the key researchers that they anticipate would likely be drawn to the collaboration, beyond the co-applicants. It's partly speculative, as we are not expecting that the applicants have already sought out and enlisted this broader group. However, we expect the applicants to argue who should be attracted based on the ambitious nature of the question or challenge that is being proposed.
The discussion on leadership should focus on the researcher(s) who would be Co-Directors of the program, were it to be supported.
What is the correct balance between addressing novel ideas versus offering practical solutions (on the ground) to a problem?
CIFAR supports novel, fundamental research. Our research programs are expected to have a program-driven Knowledge Mobilization plan to build new pathways for broader societal impact through cross-sectoral knowledge exchange. These are not simply one-way dissemination or translation of research output, but two-way exchanges of ideas and co-creation of impact. Program members should anticipate engaging with nonacademic stakeholders (e.g., industry, government, civil society or clinical practice), through iterative engagements throughout the lifetime of the program, to develop and execute their Knowledge Mobilization plan.
Are implications for policy and practice welcome, or should research questions be mostly focused on science advancement?
CIFAR programs are intended to advance new transformative knowledge and are expected to engage with stakeholders from outside academia. Throughout CIFAR’s history, many research programs and program members have engaged with policymakers, civil society leaders, and education leaders in postsecondary institutions to explore how their research may impact practice or policy.
What opportunities are there to engage non-university based partners?
All CIFAR research programs are expected to develop and execute a Knowledge Mobilization plan to engage with stakeholders outside of academia in intellectual exchanges that may both create broader impact and spur new questions or directions in research. In the past, these stakeholders have included the public sector, private sector, and civil society organizations.
Is there a minimum number of researchers I must include on the research team?
Yes, for the LOI a minimum of four additional researchers is required (not including the Principal Applicant). For the full proposal, seven additional researchers are required.
If I am the Principal Applicant on the LOI, do I have to be one of the Co-Directors put forward in the submission?
The proposed leadership of the program will be evaluated in the LOI and full proposal, however the Principal Applicant does not have to be one of the Co-Directors put forward to lead the program.
What is the ultimate goal of a CIFAR program? Is the main output of CIFAR scientific discussion papers? Or is it new collaborations? Is it interpreting research?
The ultimate goal is transformative knowledge, a body of evidence or thinking that profoundly changes or creates a field of study of importance to our understanding of the world. We will follow the path towards this goal by monitoring for short-term evidence of this, ie. new/renewed collaborations, new knowledge creation, knowledge mobilization etc.
I have a partner in the private sector. Can they be involved on the team?
Program members or advisors may come from the private sector so long as they are in a primary research-related role. Private sector partners could also become involved through other types of partnerships (e.g. knowledge mobilization).
CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.