Jane Aubin, chief scientific officer and vice-president research of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), met with researchers, research leaders and staff at York University on Wednesday, May 15 to discuss proposed reforms to the CIHR’s open suite of programs and peer review system.
Aubin followed up on the last meeting held at York on April 27, 2012 to review why the changes to the open suite of programs and peer review process are necessary, provide an overview of the new design, outline the implementation of the plan and the timelines.
The changes include conversion of the present open competition into two separate complementary funding streams comprised of a project scheme and a foundation scheme. The peer review process will include an application focused review, a multistage review, structured review criteria and a remote review of applications at the initial stage(s). A college of reviewers will be put into place to support the peer review across the spectrum of health research.
“The forum provided the York community with an opportunity contribute to the discussion about the important changes taking place at CIHR and how these new developments will affect researchers,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “We look forward to the implementation of the improved application processes.”
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 addressed a number of potential impacts by the new changes to the system.
The York research community reiterated the need to monitor the impact of the changes for researchers at each stage of their careers to ensure that the new system is working. Some concern was also expressed over the review of applications by way of e-meetings, which may not be as conducive to the evaluation discussion as face to face meetings. The need for discussion when reviewing applications was stressed.
The transition to the new open suite of programs and peer review processes will be phased in over a number of years: piloting key peer review design elements, gradually phasing in the new funding schemes and gradually phasing out the existing open funding program. 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.
More information can be found here.