Jane Aubin, chief scientific officer and vice-president research of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) paid a visit to York University on Friday, April 27 to discuss and receive feedback from York researchers on proposed reforms to the CIHR’s open suite of programs and peer review system.
The proposals are expected to fundamentally change the way that curiosity driven research is funded by converting the present open competition into two streams that will focus on research programs or projects. Proposal adjudication will move from the present face-to-face discussion to stage gated system where face-to-face peer review will only occur in the last of three steps. The proposed changes involve broader committee structures than are presently in place
The visit to York University was part of a national consultation by the CIHR to engage the research community and seek feedback on the new architecture.
During the visit, Aubin conducted a town hall meeting that was well attended by the York research community. At the town hall, there was extensive discussion of the proposed changes. Researchers put forward a broad spectrum of views on the appropriateness and roll out of the proposed changes to the system.
The York research community expressed some concern and is seeking to fully understand the impact of the changes for research at each stage of their careers, and from the perspectives of various disciplines. The University’s reseach community encouraged CIHR to be inclusive in accounting for all disciplines when establishing their evaluation criteria.
A key point made during the discussion was that every intent will be made to fully involve the research community in finalizing changes and transition planning for the new program and system. Phasing in of the changes would occur gradually over some years.
The transition will include education, training and support for applicants and reviewers, along with collaborations with institutions and partners to ensure a thorough understanding of system-wide changes and smooth transitioning of the program changes.
The target is to announce some decisions about the design of the new open suite of programs in the fall of 2012. The first funded researchers under a new set of funding schemes would then be announced in 2014-15.
CIHR will continue to engage the research community over the coming weeks to obtain feedback and analyze the information. Input from the University research community is still welcome. Comments or questions on the proposed reforms can be submitted to Roadmap-Plan.Strategique@cihr-irsc.gc.ca
York has provided CIHR with an institutional submission, which can be found on the VPRI website.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s agency for health research. CIHR‘s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada.