General FAQs – Trees and People: Resilience in a changing climate – John G. Bene Fellowship 2018

Questions

1. I am a master’s/doctoral student interested in the Bene fellowship. Could you please send me information concerning this award?

2. Can the Bene fellowship be used to cover tuition fees?

3. How can this award be used?

4. Do I qualify for the Bene fellowship if I am registered in a master’s or doctoral program but have not yet started my courses?

5. I am a citizen of a developing country. Am I eligible for the Bene fellowship?

6. Which countries do you recognize as developing countries?

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

8. If I provide you with the title of my research proposal, can you tell me in advance if my project is aligned with IDRC’s mission and Bene scope?

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

10. The website states that doctoral 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?

11. My university requires me to complete one course after returning from the field. Would I still be eligible for the Bene fellowship if for this reason I do not complete all my coursework before going to the field?

12. My total research costs will most likely exceed the CA$15,000 that IDRC offers. Can I look for additional funding outside IDRC?

13. I am a professor supervising a student who is eligible to apply for the Bene fellowship. Your website indicates that the research supervisor should have "approved the research proposal" by the time of application. Do you mean that you want the student's proposal to have been formally approved by the university supervisory committee? Or do you mean that the supervisor has read and approved the research proposal that the student intends to submit to IDRC?

14. Do the application deadlines remain the same every year?

15. I would like to start my field research before the award is announced. Is this possible?

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

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

18. Can I conduct my field research in less than three months?

19. Can I use the Bene fellowship for two different field research trips?

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

21. I am thinking of taking my child with me to the developing country where I will conduct my research. Could I use some of the funds to cover my child’s airfare?

22. Can a part-time student apply for this award, and receive it (if awarded) while still having part-time status?

 

1. I am a master’s/doctoral student interested in the Bene fellowship. Could you please send me information concerning this award?

All details concerning the Bene fellowship, including the eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and required documents, are available on our website in the Bene call page.

2. Can the Bene fellowship be used to cover 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 master’s or 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 thesis. You are not eligible for this award if you intend to use this award only to analyze or disseminate final results, finalize videos, or spend time in a lab. Candidates must conduct their field research for a minimum of three consecutive months and a maximum of 12.

4. Do I qualify for the Bene fellowship if I am registered in a master’s or doctoral program but have not yet started my courses?

No, you do not. When you apply, you must have already completed some courses in your program. Evaluators will need to see the transcripts of the courses completed to date. You must also submit a letter of approval from your research supervisor for your research proposal. You cannot submit your application without those documents.

5. I am a citizen of a developing country. Am I eligible for the Bene fellowship?

No. This award is only offered to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada who are pursuing their master’s or doctoral studies at a recognized Canadian university.

6. 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 on our Bene call page.

7. 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, 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.

8. If I provide you with the title of my research proposal, can you tell me in advance if my project is aligned with IDRC’s mission and Bene scope?

It is the applicant’s responsibility to read the call for applications to ensure that the research fits. It is not possible for an IDRC staff member to determine if the research complies with our criteria by reading a title or short summary alone. This will be determined during the evaluation process.

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

No. Again, this would be an unfair advantage and could place IDRC in a position of conflict of interest. We would no longer ask the program specialists you spoke with to evaluate the proposal.

10. The website states that doctoral 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 have completed all 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 gives you 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.

Note: for Master’s candidates, there is no requirement to have completed all courses before the commencement of the award.

11. My university requires me to complete one course after returning from the field. Would I still be eligible for the Bene fellowship if for this reason I do not complete all my 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).

12. My total research costs will most likely exceed the CA$15,000 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 Bene fellowship 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 Bene.

13. I am a professor supervising a student who is eligible to apply for the Bene fellowship. Your website indicates that the research supervisor should have "approved the research proposal" by the time of application. Do you mean that you want the student's proposal to have been formally approved by the university supervisory committee? Or do you mean that the supervisor has read and approved the research proposal that the student intends to submit to IDRC?

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, be on official university letterhead, and be signed (the letter can then be scanned and uploaded to the online application system).

14. Do the application deadlines remain the same every year?

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

15. I would like to start my field research before the award is announced. Is this possible?

Yes; however, 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.

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

The exact date is difficult to predict. However, results should be announced by the end of October or beginning of November on the Bene call page. If results are considerably delayed, a notice will be posted in the awards@idrc.ca autoreply.

17. 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 some changes to your proposal. You will have to respond to the evaluators’ comments. The award will be granted only if your reply is satisfactory. Any delay in responding could delay your departure to the field.

18. Can I conduct my field research in less than three months?

Field research for less than three consecutive months in the same country will not be accepted. The award covers 3-12 months of field research.

19. Can I use the Bene Fellowship 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 can use the award to cover the field research expenses relating to these (housing, local transportation, interpretation, etc.). However, please be aware that we will only cover one return airfare from Canada to your country of research. You must cover any airfare related to subsequent trips.

20. 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 you request any necessary visa(s) as early as possible.

21. I am thinking of taking my child with me to the developing country where I will conduct my research. Could I use some of the funds to cover my child’s airfare?

No. The award does not cover any expenses related to your relatives, spouse, or children under any circumstances.

22. Can a part-time student apply for this award, and receive it (if awarded) while still having part-time status?

Part-time students are eligible to apply for the award, and receive it, if awarded (if their university program does not rule 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.