5.4 Merit-review process

All proposals requesting CFI funding are subject to formal independent merit-review. In the case of competition-based funds, the review process will determine the degree to which a proposal satisfies the criterion standards relative to competing proposals. In the case of the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which is an allocation-based fund, the review process will determine the degree to which a proposal satisfies the criteria relative to the CFI’s standard of excellence.

It is incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate in the proposal how the project satisfies each criterion standard. Depending on the fund and the nature of the request, the CFI will use one or a combination of different types of reviews. These are outlined below.

Competition-based funds typically use a two- or three-stage review process:

  • Review by an Expert Committee
  • Review by a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC)
  • Review by a Special Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (S-MAC).

Allocation-based funds (e.g., John R. Evans Leaders Fund) typically use a one-stage review process conducted by external experts. An Advisory Committee is used for more complex cases.

Figure 2: The CFI’s merit-review process

A three-step approach:
Step 1
Upon receipt of the proposal, CFI staff conduct an administrative review (to ensure completeness, eligibility and readiness for review)
Step 2
Proposal undergoes a one-, two- or three-stage review process (tailored to the type of funding program under which the proposal is submitted)
Step 3
The CFI receives funding recommendation (full or partial) plus any associated conditions and prepares funding recommendations for approval by our Board of Directors

5.4.1 Governing principles for reviewers

The CFI expects reviewers to maintain the highest standards of ethics in fulfilling their role. They are appointed as individuals not as advocates or representatives of their discipline or of any organization. All reviewers must adhere to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the federal research funding organizations. Members of the research community must not contact reviewers for information on committee deliberations. Reviewers are instructed not to discuss anything related to the review process or to specific proposals with other members of the research community. Reviewers will receive additional information or representations relating to proposals only from the CFI directly and must refer all inquiries or other material directed to them personally to the CFI for response.

5.4.2 Collaboration with the provinces and territories

As part of the review process, the CFI may share information with relevant provincial or territorial ministries to avoid duplication of work. The CFI may also offer the provincial or territorial ministries an opportunity to submit their views on projects for which they are being asked for funding.