General FAQs regarding the IDRC Doctoral Research Awards 2020

Questions

1. I am a doctoral student interested in the IDRA. Could you please send me information concerning this award?

2. Can the IDRA be used to cover doctoral tuition fees?

3. How can this award be used?

4. What are my chances of being recommended for an IDRA?

5. Do I qualify for an IDRA if I am registered in a doctoral program but have not yet started my courses?

6. I am a citizen of a developing country. Am I eligible for an IDRA?

7. Which countries do you recognize as developing countries?

8. What do you mean by some countries of research “will be subject to approval” by IDRC?

9. If I provide the title of my research proposal, could you tell me in advance if my project is aligned with IDRC’s interests?

10. Before applying, can I contact IDRC program specialists to discuss my research proposal and gain their input?

11. The website states that candidates must "have completed coursework and passed comprehensive examinations by the time of award tenure." Do I need to have completed my comprehensive exams when applying for the award?

12. My university requires me to complete one course after returning from the field. Would I still be eligible for an IDRA if for this reason I have  not completed all coursework before going to the field?

13. My total research costs will most likely exceed the CA$20,000 that IDRC offers. Can I look for additional funding outside IDRC?

14. I am a professor supervising a doctoral student who is eligible to apply for an IDRA. Your website indicates that the research supervisor should have "approved the research proposal" before the application is submitted. Do you mean that the student’s proposal should have been formally approved by the university supervisory committee, or that the supervisor has read and approved the research proposal that the student intends to submit to IDRC?

15. Are  the application deadlines the same every year?

16. I applied for an IDRA in the past but was not successful. Can I reapply?

17. I would like to start my field research before the awards are announced. Is this possible?

18. You indicate that you will be announcing the results in October/November. What are the exact dates?

19. What does it mean when a candidate receives a conditional award?

20. How much time must I spend in the field?

21. Can I use the IDRA for two different field research trips?

22. What if I am recommended for an award but my visa is delayed?

23. I am a nursing mother or a single custodial parent. May I use funds to cover my child’s airfare, that of a caregiver, or any childcare expenses?

24. Can a part-time doctoral student apply for this award and receive it (if awarded) while still being part-time?

25. Would you tell me more about the David and Ruth Hopper and Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia Canada Fund or the Bentley Research Fellowship?

26. I am eligible for both Bene and IDRC Doctoral Research Awards. Can I apply for both, and can I receive both awards at the same time?

 

Answers

1. I am a doctoral student interested in the IDRA. Could you please send me information concerning this award?

All details concerning the IDRA, including eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and required documents, are available on the funding page.

2. Can the IDRA be used to cover doctoral tuition fees? 

No, this award cannot be used to pay university tuition fees. It is not a scholarship; it is a field research award (see Question 3).

3. How can this award be used? 

This award covers field research expenses for advanced doctoral students who intend to conduct their field research in one or more developing countries. Funds may be used to collect data and samples in the field, conduct interviews or surveys with local populations, and organize focus groups or workshops. Candidates must use findings from their field research to write their doctoral dissertation or thesis. You are not eligible for this award if you intend to use it only to analyze or disseminate final results, finalize videos, or spend time in a lab. 

4. What are my chances of being recommended for an IDRA? 

The process is highly competitive. We receive a high number of applications during each call and we will recommend approximately 20 candidates. Evaluation criteria are available on the funding page.

5. Do I qualify for an IDRA if I am registered in a doctoral program but have not yet started my courses? 

No, you do not qualify. When you apply, you must have already completed some courses in your doctoral program. IDRC evaluators will need to see the transcripts of the doctoral courses completed to date (as well as the transcripts of your completed master’s program). You must also submit a letter of approval from your research supervisor for your research proposal. You cannot submit your application without those documents.

6. I am a citizen of a developing country. Am I eligible for an IDRA? 

As mentioned in the call page, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or a citizen of a developing country, excluding countries in southern and eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia (but including Afghanistan). 

7. Which countries do you recognize as developing countries? 

IDRC recognizes the OECD DAC List of ODA Recipients, which lists the countries and territories eligible for Official Development Assistance. However, we currently do not support awards that involve research in certain parts of the world as indicated in our IDRA call page. Visit the funding page for more details.

8. What do you mean by some countries of research “will be subject to approval” by IDRC? 

This only concerns candidates who have been recommended for an award. If you are planning to conduct your field research in a high-risk country with immediate and serious security challenges, IDRC may ask you to delay your field research, present a security plan, or change the country of research. The granting of your award will be conditional upon satisfactory responses to these security concerns.

9If I provide the title of my research proposal, could you tell me in advance if my project is aligned with IDRC’s interests? 

It is not possible for an IDRC staff member to determine whether the research complies with our interests by reading a title or short summary alone. This will be determined during the evaluation process. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine whether their research is relevant to IDRC’s development outcome areas of interest. These areas are listed in the Who can apply section of the IDRA call page, located on the IDRC funding page.

10. Before applying, can I contact IDRC program specialists to discuss my research proposal and gain their input?

No. This would represent an unfair advantage and would place IDRC in a position of conflict of interest. 

11. The website states that candidates must "have completed coursework and passed comprehensive examinations by the time of award tenure." Do I need to have completed my comprehensive exams when applying for the award? 

No, you do not need to complete all of your courses and comprehensive exams at the time of application. If you are selected for an award, you have up to 12 months from the date indicated in the letter of offer to start your field research. This allows time to finish your courses and pass your comprehensive exams. When you are ready to conduct your field research, you must sign a contract. Before preparing this contract, we will require your university supervisor’s confirmation that all courses have been completed and that comprehensive exams have been passed. Once the contract is issued and signed, we will transfer your funds.

12. My university requires me to complete one course after returning from the field. Would I still be eligible for an IDRA if for this reason I have not completed all coursework before going to the field?

If your university requires you to complete one or two seminar courses after your return from the field, this will not be a problem. We will need an official letter from your university or from your research supervisor (signed on university letterhead) indicating which course(s) must be completed after your return and explaining the reason(s).

13. My total research costs will most likely exceed the CA$20,000 that IDRC offers. Can I look for additional funding outside IDRC? 

Yes, we allow you to cumulate external awards. However, you must indicate in your budget which field research expenses you intend to cover with the IDRA and which you intend to cover from other funding sources. It is your responsibility to ensure that your other sources of funding allow you to accept the IDRA.

14. I am a professor supervising a doctoral student who is eligible to apply for an IDRA. Your website indicates that the research supervisor should have "approved the research proposal" by the time of application. Do you mean that the student's proposal should have been formally approved by the university supervisory committee, or that the supervisor has read and approved the research proposal that the student intends to submit to IDRC? 

We mean the latter. We expect the candidate's research supervisor to have read and approved the final version of the research proposal being submitted to IDRC. We want to ensure that the research supervisor agrees with the proposal submitted by the candidate, that he/she has read it carefully, has made comments to the candidate, and has ensured that the candidate has integrated these comments. We also want to ensure that the research supervisor is giving proper guidance to the candidate. The letter of approval requested in the application package must come from the research supervisor on official university letterhead and be signed (the letter can then be scanned and uploaded to the online application system).

15. Are the application deadlines the same every year? 

No, the application deadlines change annually. It is important to check the Funding page regularly to confirm the application deadlines.

16. I applied for an IDRA in the past but was not successful. Can I reapply? 

Yes, but you may only ever apply twice to the IDRA call and this must be in consecutive years. 

If you were an unsuccessful candidate during the most recent call and would like to reapply, you may do so by submitting a revised and improved proposal and all requested documents. In the application form, clearly explain the changes made to the research proposal since your first application. In the proposal, indicate (by highlighting in colour or using the track-changes feature) where substantive changes have been made. You must submit a new and complete application, including a new letter from your research supervisor approving the revised version of your research proposal. Evaluators’ comments from previous calls will not be provided. Candidates whose research projects do not suit the development outcome areas listed in the call will not be allowed to reapply. 

17. I would like to start my field research before the awards are announced. Is this possible? 

Yes, but the award is not retroactive. Field research expenses will only be covered from the date indicated in the letter of offer. If you have finished your field research by the time the results are announced, you will no longer be eligible to receive the award. If you are in the field when the results are announced, this award will not cover the used portion of your airfare or other research expenses incurred before this date, but it would cover the remaining portion.

18. You indicate that you will be announcing the results in October/November. What is the exact date? 

The exact date is difficult to predict, but results should be announced in October or at the beginning of November on the IDRA call page located on the IDRC funding page. If results are considerably delayed, a notice will be posted in the awards@idrc.ca autoreply.

19. What does it mean when a candidate receives a conditional award? 

Receiving a conditional award means that you have been recommended for an award but on condition that you make changes to your proposal. You will have to respond to the evaluators’ comments and the award will only be granted if your reply is satisfactory. Any delay in responding could delay your departure to the field.

20. How much time must I spend in the field?

You must plan to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks in the field when your research involves one or more countries in one region. The regions are: Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Far East Asia, Caribbean, Central America, South America, Oceania. 

When your research involves more than one region, you must plan to spend a minimum of five consecutive weeks in the field in each region.

The maximum time for which research costs can be covered under this award is 12 months in the field; if you plan to stay longer, you must cover additional costs from another source of funding.

See FAQ 21 for restrictions on the number of flights allowed.

NOTE: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, please be realistic and prepare to be flexible in the proposed departure and return dates, as well as in the design of your field research.

21. Can I use the IDRA for two different field research trips? 

If you outlined more than two trips in your initial proposal and the evaluators agreed with your reasons for additional trips, you may use the award to cover the related field research expenses (housing, local transportation, interpretation, etc.). However, please be aware that we will only cover one return airfare from Canada to a country or region of research. You must cover any airfare related to other trips to and from Canada to another country or region of research. If you fly from one region directly to another (e.g. West Africa to Central America), IDRC will cover the flight out and the return home, but you must cover the flight between regions. (NB: In-country or in-region flights during field research are considered eligible research expenses.)

22. What if I am recommended for an award but my visa is delayed? 

There are some exceptional circumstances in which candidates cannot leave for the field when planned because of visa difficulties, health problems, or other reasons. If such a situation arises, send us a written explanation and additional documentation (photocopy of your visa request, medical certificate, etc.). To avoid delays, please ensure that you request any necessary visa(s) as early as possible.

23. I am a nursing mother or a single custodial parent. May I use funds to cover my child’s airfare, that of a caregiver, or childcare expenses? 

A nursing mother or a single custodial parent can include childcare or babysitting expenses in the budget, but no airfare or related travel expenses (for a child or an accompanying caregiver). The allowable cost is limited to overnight childcare costs, as reasonable and applicable in Canada or in the country of research (i.e. where the child is residing for the duration of the parent’s travel).

24. Can a part-time doctoral student apply for this award and receive it (if awarded) while still being part-time? 

Part-time doctoral students are eligible to apply for the award, and receive it, if awarded (unless their university program rules otherwise), as long as it is understood that it is their responsibility to cover the tuition fees while in the field, as well as maintaining their university enrollment status.

25.Could you tell me more about the David and Ruth Hopper and Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia Canada Fund or the Bentley Research Fellowship?

Women candidates applying to IDRC Doctoral Research Awards calls in odd-numbered years will automatically be considered for the David and Ruth Hopper and Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia Canada Research Fellowship. Thanks to a bequest from Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia, the David and Ruth Hopper and Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia Canada Fund was established in 2017. There is no need to indicate interest; the top women candidates will automatically be considered for this fellowship.

Candidates applying to the IDRC Doctoral Research Awards calls in even-numbered years who are working on issues related to climate resilience and sustainable food systems will automatically be considered for the Bentley Research Fellowship. There is no need to indicate interest; the top candidates in this area will automatically be considered for this fellowship. Thanks to a bequest from C. Fred Bentley, this fellowship was established in 1999 and is managed by IDRC.

26. I am eligible for both Bene and IDRC Doctoral Research Awards. Can I apply for both, and, can I receive both awards at the same time? 

Yes, if you are eligible you may apply for both the IDRA and the Bene awards, but in your application forms for each award you must inform us of your intentions to apply for the other award. Please note that if you are recommended for both awards you will have to choose only one of them. No candidate will be permitted to hold two IDRC awards at the same time.