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General FAQs – Trees and People: Resilience in a Changing Climate – John G. Bene Fellowship 2020

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 the Bene scope?

9. Before applying, can I contact IDRC program specialists to discuss my research proposal and gain 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 coursework before going to the field?

12. My total research costs will most likely exceed the CA$15,000 that IDRC offers. May 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. Are the application deadlines 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 September/October. What is the exact date?

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

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

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

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

23. I applied for the Bene fellowship in the past but was not successful. Can I reapply?

24. I am eligible for both Bene and IDRC Doctoral Research Awards (IDRA). Can I apply for both? Can I receive both awards at the same time?

Answers

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 the funding 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  a field research award, not a scholarship (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 the funds only to analyze or disseminate final results, finalize videos, or spend time in a lab.

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 these 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. Visit the funding page for more details.

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

This only concerns the candidate who has 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 that you 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 the title of my research proposal, can you tell me in advance if my project is aligned with IDRC’s mission and the 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 gain their input?

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

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 the 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.

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 coursework before going to the field?

Yes, you would still be eligible if your university requires you to complete one or two seminar courses after your return from the field. 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. May 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?

We mean the latter. We expect the candidate's research supervisor to have read and approved the final version of the research proposal that is 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 provided 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. 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.

15. I would like to start my field research before the award is 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.

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

The exact date is difficult to predict, but results should be announced by the end of September or beginning of October on the Bene call page located on the IDRC funding 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 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.

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

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.

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, and 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 Question 19 about restrictions on the number of flights.

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

If more than two trips were outlined in your initial proposal and the evaluators agreed with your reasons for additional trips, you may 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 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.)

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

A nursing mother or a single custody 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).

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 (unless their university program rules otherwise), as long as it is understood that it is the student’s responsibility to cover tuition fees while in the field, as well as maintaining university enrollment status.

23. I applied for the Bene fellowship in the past but was not successful. Can I reapply?

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

If you were an unsuccessful candidate during last year’s call and would like to reapply, you may do so by submitting a revised and improved proposal and all the requested documents. In the application form, explain clearly 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.

24. I am eligible for both Bene and IDRC Doctoral Research Awards (IDRA). Can I apply for both? 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. However, in both application forms you must inform us of your intentions to apply for the other award. Please note that if you are recommended for both, you will have to choose only one of the awards. No candidate will be permitted to hold two IDRC awards at the same time.