Frequently asked questions: COVID-19
Is CIHR closed? Is it business as usual?
No, CIHR is not closed. The agency is continuing to operate and carry out some of its business activities. In order to facilitate social distancing, CIHR employees are working remotely from home. It should be noted that this is not business as usual. For the foreseeable future, CIHR is refocusing its resources to concentrate on the COVID-19 pandemic, including mitigating its effects on the research community.
Is CIHR moving to virtual peer review?
CIHR is following all applicable public health guidance. This means we have curtailed all work-related travel, including all travel for the purposes of peer review meetings.
Rest assured that the peer review process will continue to mimic the in-person face-to-face process as much as possible. While we’ve adapted some processes to account for the technology and the fact that meetings have moved online, all core aspects of in-person peer review have been retained.
The peer review process is not a copy of the asynchronous model used during the Reforms, nor the hybrid for the one competition used when we transitioned from the Reforms to in-person, face-to-face peer review.
We have successfully delivered the Spring 2020 competition and Fall 2020 Project Grant competitions using the virtual model. Because of the pandemic, we will also deliver the Spring 2021 competition using the virtual model. It is important to learn from this experience and, while this has been an adjustment for us all, we are pleased to see that for the Spring 2020 competition, most reviewers expressed satisfaction with the virtual peer review process and agreed to engage in future virtual peer review. We have also made changes to refine the process based on suggestions from the community.
While we have heard from the community that there are drawbacks to virtual peer review, we have also heard of the benefits that it brings (e.g., improved work-life balance, reduced carbon footprint). Virtual peer review also makes it possible for some individuals to participate in peer review where face-to-face meetings would not be feasible for them. This allows us to include a greater diversity of individuals across panels and provides the agency with a broader pool of reviewers. Virtual peer review also benefits diversity by including more international reviewers. This feedback and on-going evaluation of the virtual process will inform our thinking as we determine, with the community, our approach to peer review as we come out of the pandemic.
Will CIHR fund ongoing and incidental costs for participants of virtual peer review meetings?
Virtual peer review is the current reality for CIHR’s competitions. The tri-agencies recognize that participation in the virtual peer review process may result in costs that would not normally be incurred during face-to-face meetings.
Therefore, most peer reviewers who participate in virtual peer review meetings for CIHR competitions will receive an allowance of $50 per day to cover out-of-pocket expenses incurred while participating in these meetings. Expense claims are not required; CIHR will automatically pay the allowance to peer reviewers.
Reviewers who do not attend a full committee meeting, or who are free to complete their reviews according to their own schedules, e.g., those who review for the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Doctoral Foreign Study Award, the CIHR Fellowships, etc., are not entitled to the allowance.
In addition, to ensure that we are treating per review participants equitably, peer reviewers are eligible to be reimbursed up to $100 per day (with an invoice) or up to $50 per day (without an invoice) for dependent care costs (e.g., childcare, elder care, family with differing abilities).
Please note that Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in the Observer Program are eligible for this compensation.
For more information, please contact the CIHR Contact Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When do I need to submit my Grants in Aid of Research Statement of Account (Form 300)?
In order to provide necessary flexibility to grant recipients and administering institutions given the current situation with COVID-19, the deadline date for submitting the Grants in Aid of Research Statement of Account (Form 300) for the 2020-2021 fiscal year (April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021) has been postponed until September 30, 2021.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the CIHR Contact Center at email@example.com.
Will CIHR fund ongoing and incremental costs incurred by funded research activities during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Given the ever-evolving circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC recognize that grant recipients and/or research team members may continue to incur ongoing research costs, as well as incremental costs that would not normally be incurred (for example, compensation and travel) related to agency-funded research activities. The agencies would like to remain as flexible as possible to support grant recipients during this time and acknowledge that some of these costs may be eligible to be paid from agency grant funds. The agencies will therefore defer to administering institutions to determine if incremental costs are consistent with the principles and directives set out in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (and if they are, then those expenses will still be eligible to be paid from grant funds).
The agencies also understand that not all planned research activities are possible as research institutions are closed requiring that the majority of people work remotely, if they are able to work at all. The agencies consider that continuing to pay any members of the research team eligible to be paid from an agency grant is an eligible expense in the context of COVID-19 (and that these individuals should continue to be paid).
The agencies encourage grant recipients to consider their obligation to practice physical distancing and self- isolation requirements as directed by government and health authorities. As such, at the present time, the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) may be an appropriate use of grant funds if the PPE is required to conduct the research and if the PPE is not normally provided by the administering institution.
Where can I find information about upcoming webinars and Ask Me Anything sessions?
CIHR regularly holds webinars that allow us to share information, exchange ideas and discuss issues of importance with our stakeholders. Details of upcoming and archived webinars
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