Guidelines are now available for our 2020 Scholar and Research Trainee competitions

15 October 2019

Guidelines are now available for our 2020 Scholar and Research Trainee competitions; applications will open on November 4, 2019.

We are introducing a number of changes for our 2020 competitions including: increasing the Research Trainee award stipend, launching a new, user-friendly interface for MSFHR ApplyNet (our online grants management system) and introducing a new equity and diversity survey. Our program changes are based on data gathered from our annual program learning and improvement cycle, environmental scanning, and stakeholder feedback.

New for 2020:

Increasing the annual amount of the Research Trainee award from a base of $37K to $45K 

The 2020 Research Trainee competition will see the elimination of the tiered stipend system based on years of experience post-degree. There is now a single universal stipend amount ($45K) for the Research Trainee award. The change is for new award recipients only and will not affect current MSFHR Research Trainee award holders.

The last stipend increase was in 2013; the new Research Trainee award amount is reflective of environmental benchmarking of comparable awards for health research trainees across Canada.

Launching a new, more user-friendly version of MSFHR ApplyNet

All of our 2020 competitions will launch in an updated version of ApplyNet, our online grants management system (GMS).

The new system will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the application process for our applicants, peer reviewers, staff and other users. It offers a more streamlined, easy to use interface and enables us to collect and report on data more effectively.

We have done extensive user acceptance testing to ensure the new ApplyNet will meet functionality needs of all users, and our team will provide support to all system users through tutorials and the MSFHR Help Desk.

By the end of October, all MSFHR ApplyNet users will receive an email from asking them to accept the system’s new Terms & Conditions and to reset their passwords. MSFHR ApplyNet users who have questions or do not receive an email from by the end of October should contact our Help Desk.

Introducing an equity and diversity survey

As part of MSFHR’s ongoing work in supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), we are enhancing our data collection efforts with a new demographic survey of applicants and peer reviewers based on similar data collected by CIHR, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Diversity in research is important for cultivating talent and promoting inclusive excellence, which in turn drives discovery and helps build a more innovative and impactful health research system.

Our survey will enable us to understand diversity as it relates to our own work, but as important, its findings will contribute to the bigger picture understanding of BC’s and Canada’s research system diversity and to subsequent conversations about actions that may need to be taken. It will ask applicants to share their gender, age, Indigenous identity, racialized identity, sexual orientation and disability. While identified users (applicants, co-applicants, research users, trainee supervisors and peer reviewers) will be required to complete the survey, each question has the option to respond “I prefer not to answer”. Only anonymized, aggregate data will be shared with any internal or external stakeholders.

One dimension of equity where MSFHR has established processes in place is in fostering gender equity in our funding programs. We strive for gender-balanced peer review panels and in 2018, we introduced unconscious bias training for our peer reviewers. For our 2019 competitions, we piloted a gender neutral peer review process. After careful review of the data and peer reviewer feedback, we will not be moving beyond the pilot stage with the gender neutral peer review. As a learning organization, we will continue to explore new processes and possible interventions for enhancing gender equity in health research funding. Watch for an upcoming Forward Thinking post where we will explore our learnings about gender neutral peer review in more detail.