Advice for Writing a Successful SSHRC Application

SSHRC at a Glance

The information below provides an overview of SSHRC’s funding opportunities and their evaluation criteria, and their relationship to the Future Challenge Areas. Consult your faculty’s Research Facilitator to determine which opportunity is right for you and learn about the types of institutional support that are available to you in the development of your application.

SSHRC Funding Opportunities

Information on SSHRC competition results (applications received, grants awarded, etc.).


Objective of funding support: Events and short-term outreach activities and targeted knowledge mobilization initiatives.

Applicant: Individual applicant or team

Duration: short-term

Value: $7,000 to $25,000 for events, and up to $50,000 for other outreach activities; higher amounts for outreach activities may be considered if well justified

Leveraged Funding: minimum of 50% of the amount requested from SSHRC

SSHRC Deadline: February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1

Internal Deadline: Consult your faculty Research Facilitator

Results announced: June 30, March 31, September 30 and December 31


Insight Development

Objective of funding support: Research in its early stages.

Applicant: Individual Researcher or Team

Duration: 1-2 years

Value: $7,000 to $25,000 for events, and up to $50,000 for other outreach activities; higher amounts for outreach activities may be considered if well justified

Leveraged Funding: Not required

SSHRC Deadline: February 3

Internal Deadline: Consult your faculty Research Facilitator

Results announced: June



Objective of funding support: Long-term research initiatives.

Applicant: Individual Researcher or Team

Duration: 2-5 years


  • Stream A: $7,000 to $100,000
  • Stream B: $100,000 to $400,000

In both streams, a minimum request of $7,000 is required in at least one of the years. A maximum of $100,000 is available in a single year.

Leveraged Funding: Not required

SSHRC Deadline: October 15 at 8:00pm eastern

Internal Deadline: Consult your faculty Research Facilitator

Results announced: Spring


Partnership Engage 

Objectives of funding support:better address the short-term needs, challenges and opportunities of researchers and institutions.The Engage grants are designed for a single partner organization from the not-for-profit, public or private sector.

Applicant: Individual Researcher or Team

Duration: one year

Value: $7,000$- $25,000

Leveraged Funding: Required but not defined (more than $0)

SSHRC Deadline:  8:00 P.M. on September 15, December 15, March 15 and June 15

Internal Deadline: Consult your faculty Research Facilitator

Results announced: At end of each funding cycle (November, February, May and August)

Partnership Development

Objectives of funding support:

  1. foster new partnerships involving existing and/or potential partners;
  2. design and test new partnership approaches for research.

Applicant: Teams/partnerships

Duration: 1-3 years

Value: $75,000$- $200,000

Leveraged Funding: Required but not defined (more than $0)

SSHRC Deadline: November 30

Internal Deadline: Consult your faculty Research Facilitator

Results announced: March



Objective of funding support: New and existing formal partnerships to advance research, research training and/or knowledge mobilization through mutual co-operation and sharing of intellectual leadership.

Applicant: Institution (teams/partnerships)

Duration: 4-7 years

Value: Letter of Intent: $20,000
Full Application: Maximum $500,000 per year, up to $2.5 million in total

Leveraged Funding: 35% of the requested budget from SSHRC

SSHRC Deadline: Letter of Intent: February 15
Full Application: November 1 (by invitation)

Internal Deadline: Consult your faculty Research Facilitator. For letters of support from the host institution, visit the SSHRC Partnership Grant Program page for required documents and deadlines.

Results announced: Spring

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria and scoring scheme are used by adjudication committee members to evaluate SSHRC applications. The weighting of each varies by funding opportunity. (see Table A) Adjudication committee members are guided by the SSHRC Manual for Adjudication Committee Members 2015-16 and the Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research. They assign a score for each of the three criteria listed above, based on the scoring table (see Table B). The appropriate weighting is then applied to arrive at a final score. Applications must receive a score of 3.0 or higher for each of the three criteria in order to be recommended for funding.


Challenge — The aim and importance of the endeavour

  • originality, significance and expected contribution to knowledge (all); more specifically, to the partner organization (Engage)
  • appropriateness of the literature review;
  • appropriateness of the theoretical approach or framework;
  • appropriateness of the methods/approach;
  • quality of training and mentoring to be provided to students, emerging scholars and other highly qualified personnel, and opportunities for them to contribute; and
  • potential for the project results to have influence and impact within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community.
  • research’s relevance to needs, challenges and/or opportunities facing the partner organization (Engage)
  • potential for long-term viability and identification of progress indicators (PDG/PG)

Feasibility — The plan to achieve excellence

  • probability that the objectives will be met within the timeline proposed;
  • involvement of partner organization in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities (Engagement)
  • quality and genuineness of the formal partnership and associated management and governance arrangements and leadership, including involvement of partner organizations and others in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities (PDG/PG);
  • appropriateness of the requested budget and justification of proposed costs;indications of financial and in-kind contributions from other sources, where appropriate;
  • indications of financial and in-kind contributions from other sources, where appropriate (IG/IDG)/ indications of other planned resources, including leveraging of cash and in-kind support from the host institutions (Engage/PG/PDG)
  • quality and appropriateness of knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable; and
  • appropriateness of the strategies for conducting the activity/activities proposed (all except Engage).


Capability — The expertise to succeed

  • quality, quantity and significance of past experience and published and/or creative outputs of the applicant and any co-applicants, relative to their roles in the project and their respective stages of career;
  • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration/other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and media), and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.;
  • evidence of contributions to the development of talent;
  • potential of the applicant/co-applicant to make future contributions;(all except Engage)
  • experience in formal partnerships (PDG/PG)
  • quality and significance of the host institution and partners organization' commitment and experience in collaboration and formal partnership (PG)


Table A - SSHRC Evaluation Criteria Weighting by Funding Opportunity
Evaluation criteria Connection
Insight Development
Partnership Development
Challenge 40 50 40 60 50 40
Feasibility 30 20 20 20 20 30
Capability 30 30 40 20 30 30
Table B - Scoring Table
Score Descriptor
5 - 6 Very good - excellent
4 - 4.9 Good - very good
3 - 3.9 Satisfactory - good
Below 3 Unsatisfactory
Future Challenge Areas
  • No budgetary envelope is dedicated to funding projects connected to the Future Challenge Areas.
  • Your research project does not need to be linked to the Future Challenge Areas.
  • If you choose to highlight the connection between your project and the Future Challenge Areas, keep the explanation short so as to save space for other content.

Advice from uOttawa Experts

The information below represent a compilation of strategic advice from the University of Ottawa’s experts in developing SSHRC funding applications, such as your faculty Research Facilitator. Meet with your expert to receive tailored advice!

Find your Faculty Research Facilitator

General Advice

Consult your Faculty Research Facilitator

  • Begin early. If your proposal is not funded, revise and resubmit. Grant writing is a learning process.
  • Make sure your title accurately captures your research project.
  • Ensure each part of your proposal responds to the required content in the instructions and to the evaluation criteria.
  • Make explicit the connections between your research questions and objectives, your objectives and methods, your methods and results, and your results and dissemination plan.
  • Justify the appropriateness and effectiveness of your research strategies and methodology.
  • Explain discipline-specific terminology, ideas and concepts.
  • Make sure your literature review is current.
  • Outline the risks and pitfalls, if any, and explain how they will be overcome and/or outline alternate plans.
  • Provide an expected timeframe for the execution of the research.
  • Demonstrate in very concrete ways the long-term financial viability of the project.
  • Ask colleagues to read your application to ensure the science behind your ideas is being conveyed clearly. (i.e. accuracy and appropriateness of the methodological and theoretical framework, and of the literature review.)
  • Make sure you have filled out all of the fields, including check boxes, on your application. Remember that it is best to justify why something is not applicable than have the reviewer make an erroneous judgement.
Writing Style and Structure

Depending on the SSHRC adjudication committee, there may only be one expert in your field. (For Partnership and Partnership Development Grants, remember that not all committee members are academics.)

  • Someone outside of your field must be able to understand your proposal. Your faculty Research Facilitator is an excellent barometer of whether you have reached this goal.
  • Guide your reader: use headings that correspond to those identified in the instructions to organize your information so that it is easy to follow.
  • Make sure you use transitions between paragraphs.
  • Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations. If you use them remember to write them out in long form the first time.
  • Leave blank spaces and/or add tables/illustrations to lighten the text.
  • Have colleagues and your faculty Research Facilitator proofread your application before submitting.
Proposal Resubmission
  • There is no need to change your title.
  • Responding to criticisms from external assessors or the selection committee:
    1. Although you need to seriously consider the comments your receive, you do not need to respond to them.
    2. If you choose to respond to the criticism, do so tactfully as there may be returning committee members!
    3. It is also recommended you focus on responding to the committee comments rather than those of the external assessors. The latter only read your proposal, and, therefore, do not benefit from the comparative perspective which would enable them to have a better understanding of the quality of the proposals submitted to the competition. (Please remember that committee membership changes from one year to the next, thus, not all members have the same points of reference in relation to your application/file.) 
Team Applications

The composition of the team is considered under the "Feasibility" and "Capacity" criteria of all SSHRC grants. In order to maximize the score for these criteria, build your team in relation to the experience, expertise and resources required for the project to be successfully completed. Explain this team building rationale to the reader.

  • There is no set number of co-applicants and collaborators.
  • Make sure the team members' expertise and responsibilities are clearly delineated and articulated. The overall picture should be one of complementary expertise and capacity. Indicate how the respective contributions are weighted amongst team members.
  • Indicate previous experience of fruitful collaborations amongst the team members and give examples of successfully completed projects (subject, major outputs and impact) that are relevant to the proposed research project. 
  • A team submission does not necessarily guarantee a better score than one submitted by an individual researcher. 
  • Do not put forward a new scholar as principal investigator simply on the basis that they might gain from the different weighting used for new scholars.
Research Relevance and Impact


  • Identify and explain the problem/challenge you are trying to solve. Approach this from two angles: current research issues and the social/political/economic/legal/etc problems. By connecting the two you suggest that specific research (methodology/approach/etc) can provide a solution to a social/political/economic/education or other problem that exists.
  • Underscore the importance of finding a solution to the challenge/problem by connecting it to:
    1. current situations and debates.
    2. a known authority who is calling for research on this topic (e.g. a person/organization/group or report/commission/investigation at the local, provincial, federal or international level).
  • Anticipate the problems and challenges of the proposed research and explain how you will manage them.
  • Explain how your proposed research is different from previous studies you undertook on the same topic.
  • Explain the research project's contribution and impact in your field of study and for the intended public and/or the country. Be realistic in doing so. 


 Examples of known authorities

  • President/Prime Minister
  • International Organization
  • Federal ministers
  • Provincial premiers
  • Royal Commission
  • Expert


 Research Impact

  • Be realistic about the impact of your research!
  • Define the geographical scope of your impact: local, regional, national, international.
  • Indicate the impact by targeted sector/group :
    • Academic: researchers, students, etc
    • Non-academic: policy makers, professionals (lawyers, educators, doctors), private sector (business leaders), community associations, general public, etc.
  • Explain how your research methods, approach, and results will contribute to the existing research questions/debates in your field and more generally.
  • Explain how your results will be used by groups you are targeting and how it benefits them.


Examples of contributions and impacts of the research in your field

  • Introduction of a new theme
    Impact: Increase in the scope of the field
  • Addition of new data
    Impact: Better in-depth understanding of the context or analysis
  • New methodological or analytical approach
    Impact: New interpretation or comprehension of the data


 Examples of contributions and impacts outside of your field

  • Develop site guidelines to protect the environment
    Impact: Improve environmental protection.
  • Develop or improve teaching methods in a certain field
    Impact: Improve student learning.
  • Develop or improve legal codes to protect human rights
    Impact: Improve human rights protection.
Knowledge Mobilization

SSHRC considers that "knowledge mobilization" (KM) is an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of activities relating to the production and use of research results encompass many types of activities, including knowledge synthesis; dissemination; transfer; exchange; and co-creation by researchers and knowledge users. For example, KM activities can include integrated knowledge translation activities in which participants and partners are involved in developing the research project. These types of activities can be described in the methodology section.



  • Identify your target audience(s)/user group(s) and indicate whether they have been or will be involved in the development of the KM plan.
  • Provide information about how you plan to reach the target group(s) (e.g. workshops, reports, website). Don't forget to explain how they will benefit from these activities.
  • Explain the breadth and scope of the knowledge mobilization activities.
  • If you propose to build a web page, make sure you indicate who will host and moderate it; how you will attract users and how it will be maintained.
  • Discuss the method of evaluating success and impacts of the activities in the short (e.g. # of publications, presentations, attendees, etc.), medium (e.g. # of students trained, policy development, etc.) and long-term (e.g. paradigm shift, new service/policy, improved quality of life/safety/security, etc.)
  • Knowledge mobilisation activities should increase every year as the research activities decrease.


Examples of target audiences

  • Academics: researchers, students, etc
  • Non-academic: policy makers, professionals (lawyers, educators, doctors), private sector (business leaders), community associations, general public, etc.
  • Remember to indicate where they are located.


 Examples of the purpose of knowledge mobilization initiatives

  1. Within academia:
    • informs, advances and/or improves research agendas, knowledge, theory, and/or methods.
  2. Beyond academia:
    • informs: public debates, policies, processes, decisions and/or practices used in business, government, the media, practitioner communities and civil society;
    • enhances/improves services; and/or
    • raises awareness or interest.


Examples of knowledge mobilization methods:

  • Documents: books, refereed journal articles, pamphlets, policy papers, reports, knowledge syntheses
  • Meetings/Events: workshops, conferences, symposia, round tables, forums
  • On-line: social media, websites, videos (You Tube or other)
  • Media coverage: articles/commentaries/opinions/interviews (newspaper, television, radio, on-line)
  • Artistic Representations/Performances: films, plays, exhibits, festivals
  • Tools: toolkits, manuals, databases,  
  • Teaching/Training: train the trainer workshops/modules/guidelines, curriculum, professional development modules, courses
Research Training and Mentoring


  • Describe the role and responsibility of postdoctoral fellows and students by level of study (undergraduate, master, doctoral). Don't forget to indicate who will supervise them.
  • Underscore the knowledge and skills students (distinguish by level of study) and emerging scholars will acquire. P.S. Do not limit your explanation to the academic context, but extend it to the job market.
  • Develop student skills by integrating them into various research activities in a meaningful way (e.g. data collection and database design, presentations at conferences or to community groups, publications, survey development etc.)
  • Describe the research training activities and the mentorship approach.


Examples of Student Training Activities 

  • Read primary sources and highlight issues relevant to the goals/focus/subject of the research program;
  • Conduct or retrieve interviews with authors, inventors, specialists, etc.;
  • Collaborate on data analysis;
  • Participate in the dissemination of results: co-writing articles or participating in conferences;
  • Attend seminars and conferences on the research subject;
  • Participate in training workshops or symposiums;
  • Update databases and upload documents online;
  • Perform digital transcriptions and uniformity checks ;
  • Conduct research at archival centres;


Examples of Benefits for Students

  • Detailed knowledge in the specific research domain;
  • A head start on research for thesis writing;
  • Introduction to a professional network (professors, researchers, specialists, etc.);
  • Familiarity with research methods, work methodology and data analysis;
  • Opportunity to present their own research (colloquia, symposiums, etc.) 





The budget and its justification are considered under the "Feasibility" criterion of all SSHRC grants. If a committee judges that the budget should be cut by 50% or more, the proposal will not be funded.

  • Ensure that the budget relates closely to the methodology described in your proposal.
  • Explain how amounts are calculated.
  • Follow institutional guidelines where applicable. 
  • Ask for the amount you really need- no more, no less! Items you include in your budget should align with your research program. For example, do not include a high-end computer when only basic functions are required.
  • Justify each line item in your budget. For example: University of Ottawa research assistant salaries are consistent with the CUPE 2626 Collective Agreement.
  • Do not include conference travel in the first year of the project unless preliminary research has already yielded findings to present.
  • Identify how many undergraduate, masters and doctoral students will be working on the project, their roles and responsibilities, the number of hours they will work, the cost per student and a short description of the work to be completed.
  • If a postdoctoral fellow is requested in the budget, explain their role and responsibilities. Ensure that the explanation clearly outlines why an M.A. or PhD student cannot perform these tasks.
  • If you include a coordinator, justify their role and explain how the project cannot be done without them.
  • List all contributions (cash and in-kind), including seed funding you have received from the University for this research.
  • If your project does not lend itself to cash and in-kind contributions indicate it to the reader.


 Contractual Staff Paid from Grants and External Contracts

  • Generic Job Descriptions*: The generic job descriptions are an important tool in supporting salary equity as well as in fostering employee retention in the management of human resources in the research field.
  • HR Budgeting Tool for Generic Job Descriptions*: This table provides a 5 year projection of contractual employees (Policy 47) taking into account the length of the contract, the benefits, and yearly salary increases.
  • HR Budgeting Tool Instructions*

* Find these tools on the Human Resources in Research web page.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral appointments: The minimum level of funding for a postdoctoral stipend or fellowship is $34,000 per year. Consult the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies site for more information.


Graduate Students

Research Assistantships 

  • Work related to professor's research project
  • Benefits
  • Payroll deductions(income tax and union dues)
  • Employer-employee relation
  • Maximum of 10 hours a week for full-time students
  • Can be offered to both part-time and full-time students
  • Follow this link (CUPE2626) to view a summary table of student remuneration as per the Collective Agreement between the University of Ottawa and CUPE 2626 and estimated future rates.

Soft Funded Research Bursary(SFRB) or Stipends

  • Work related to student's thesis (or program requirements)
  • No benefits or holidays
  • No payroll deductions for income taxes
  • No employer-employee relation
  • Maximum of 5 hours a week (work requested from the professor)
  • For full-time, graduate students only
  • The amount per student is not limited to a specific amount, but must be reasonable and in line with amounts offered to research assistants . If well justified, you may choose to offer more. (Example: A student is highly involved in all aspects of the project and will be publishing, etc.)
  • The stipends recommended for research bursaries are the following:
    • Masters: $12,000 (recommended annual amount)
    • Doctorate: $15,000 (recommended annual amount)


Conference and Research Travel Costs 

  • Provide the name and a brief description of the conference(s) that you and/or your students will attend.
  • Refer to University Policy 21 "Travel Expenses" which provides a set of principles for eligible travel and travel expense reimbursements.
  • Airfare: Use the following phrases to justify your costs  "most practical, economical and direct route possible", "lowest fare", or "economy fare"
  • Accommodations-- Use the following phrases to justify your costs: "government personnel prices" or "CAUBO prices".


Professional and Technical Services

Consulting fees for professional and technical services are allowable expenditures only if it is demonstrated in the Budget Justification that expert advice is needed. If a grant is awarded and you have planned to contract consultants for amounts in excess of $25,000, two independent cost quotations will be required. Types of services: translation, transcription, web development, specialized interviewers. Your justification must highlight why they are necessary for the project.


Non-disposable Equipment - Computer Hardware

Purchase or rental of computers and associated hardware is allowable only if these are not accessible through the university or employer.


Non-disposable Equipment - Other 

Purchase or rental of equipment (e.g., audio or video equipment) is allowable only if it is not accessible through the institution or employer. 



You may include other supply items (e.g., software, stationery, postage, telephone calls) only if they relate directly to the research. Software must be specialized, well justified and not offered by the University. You must demonstrate that the purchase of other office supplies such a toner and stationary is necessary for the research project.

What's new?

  • On June 14, SSHRC will launch a new funding opportunity: PDG-Engage
  • SSHRC Insight Grants will have two streams of funding this fall.

Did you know?

A failing grade in one evaluation criteria, results in a failing grade for the whole application. Craft all your documents with the same care as your research project.

Back to top