Open Competitive Call for Proposals: Mobilizing Principles for Equitable Global Health Research
Launch date: April 1, 2022
Deadline for submission: May 13, 2022, 17h00 EDT
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Population and Public Health (CIHR-IPPH) are pleased to announce a new funding opportunity to identify and implement effective knowledge mobilization strategies to integrate the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research’s (CCGHR) Principles for Global Health Research (known hereafter as the Principles) across the global health research ecosystem.
The Principles were developed by the CCGHR (now, the Canadian Association for Global Health) through a consultative process that involved over 300 people within and outside Canada. Developed for all those involved in global health research (GHR) — including people designing, conducting, using, teaching, learning about, assessing, funding or collaborating on GHR — the Principles identify equity as a central pillar. The six Principles are: authentic partnering, inclusion, shared benefits, commitment to the future, responsiveness to the causes of inequities and humility.
Since their publication in 2015, the Principles are increasingly seen as an exemplar in global health and health equity more broadly. However, awareness of these Principles and their uptake can be further strengthened. The goal of this funding opportunity is to support the fulsome integration of the Principles into action across the Canadian GHR ecosystem. By supporting action on the Principles, we can ensure global health is practised in an equitable way and is actively anti-colonial in its orientation.
For many people, the raison d’être of global health is the achievement of health equity for all people worldwide. Reaffirming this view is the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3 which seeks to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Yet, after decades of programming and billions of dollars invested in global health, alarming health inequities persist across and within countries. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these health inequities, underscoring the need for the field of global health to do more and to do better.
Global health is an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. GHR — research focused on achieving health equity globally — can make important contributions to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. GHR is paradoxically also culpable in perpetuating the same health inequities that it generally seeks to understand and address. For example, the rising calls for the decolonization of global health have called out practices such as ‘parasitic research’ and ‘foreign gaze’ as symptoms of the deeply entrenched power imbalances between global health researchers and populations in high-income countries (HICs) and those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Responding to the need to ensure GHR is conducted in an ethical way, the CCGHR (now, the Canadian Association for Global Health) developed the Principles for Global Health Research (the Principles) through a consultative process that involved over 300 people. Developed for all those involved in GHR — including people designing, conducting, using, teaching, learning about, assessing, funding or collaborating on GHR — the Principles identify equity as a central pillar. The six Principles are: authentic partnering, inclusion, shared benefits, commitment to the future, responsiveness to the causes of inequities and humility.
Since their publication in 2015, the Principles are increasingly being used by the GHR community, including by universities, non-academic research organizations, governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations, to inform training, curriculum development, research design and research funding. They are seen as an exemplar in global health and health equity more broadly. The time is ripe to mobilize their integration across the GHR ecosystem.
Aim and objectives #aim
The overall goal of this Call is to support the identification and implementation of effective knowledge mobilization strategies for integrating the Principles into action across the Canadian GHR ecosystem. By supporting action on the Principles, we hope to ensure global health is practised in an equitable way and is actively anti-colonial in its orientation.
Specifically, the Call seeks to support research and knowledge mobilization activities that will rigorously:
- take stock of awareness and application of the Principles within the Canadian GHR ecosystem (including researchers, universities and academic settings, research and policy partners in LMICs, NGOs and research funders);
- identify and implement the best strategies and opportunities for encouraging the uptake and institutionalization of the Principles across the Canadian GHR ecosystem; and
- create open-access tools and resources and provide guidance and support to facilitate and scale-up the use and institutionalization of the Principles in Canada and around the world.
Funding scope and duration
This initiative is co-funded by CIHR and IDRC. IDRC’s ability to fund the grant is subject to sufficient funds being made available to IDRC by the Parliament of Canada and CIHR. The Call and subsequent granting processes are managed by IDRC. As a result of the Call, one grant of up to CAD600,000 will be issued by IDRC.
The project duration will not exceed 36 months, including all research activities and final reporting.
It is the policy of IDRC that research work involving human participants be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards, in keeping with IDRC’s Corporate Principles on Research Ethics.
Prior to commencing research, applicants may need to obtain approval from an official institutional or national research ethics body. In contexts where there is no official institutional or national research ethics body, the applications will need to propose how they plan on setting up an ethics committee for the project.
Following IDRC’s approval of the project, successful organizations are expected to submit their ethics protocols to IDRC and to monitor their application as the research is implemented.
Applications must describe how the cross-cutting considerations presented below will be integrated into the design and implementation of the proposed research project. While it may not be possible to address all considerations in the same depth, they will be assessed in the selection process.
A) Gender equality and inclusion considerations
IDRC and CIHR are committed to equality in all aspects of their work. We support the generation and application of knowledge — including by individuals from diverse genders, cultures, communities, histories and experiences — that tackles the systems which perpetuate inequalities. Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to, the following: gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion and ability. Taking an intersectional approach to gender equality recognizes these differences and understands diversity as central to advancing equality. Given that gender inequality is a significant barrier across all dimensions of diversity, IDRC and CIHR invest in specific efforts in ensuring their work promotes gender equality and inclusion.
Accordingly, proposals should demonstrate how gender equality and inclusion will be promoted and adopted using an intersectional approach, both with respect to the following: (i) team composition and organizations comprising the team and (ii) the design and implementation of the proposed research and knowledge mobilization activities.
For additional background, please see IDRC’s Equality Statement and Annex I for a series of questions that can be used to help guide these aspects of your proposal. Also refer to these Best practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and review resources on “How to integrate sex and gender in research” available on the CIHR website. The Nominated Principal Applicant must complete one of the sex- and gender-based analysis training modules available online through the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health and submit a certificate of completion along with their proposal. Applicants should select and complete the training module most applicable to their research project.
B) Capacity strengthening
Projects that combine research/mobilization with capacity strengthening of researchers, civil society organizations, research users and community members are strongly encouraged, as are projects that have a mix of experienced and early-career researchers.
Examples of capacity strengthening activities include training, mentoring, networking, opportunities for publishing, presenting or engaging with research users and opportunities to take on new roles and responsibilities, among others.
Capacity strengthening can focus on a range of research-related skills such as the ability to identify and analyze development challenges; conceive, conduct, manage and communicate high quality research and/or share and use the knowledge and innovation generated by research to address challenges over time and in a sustainable manner. Strengthening leadership skills, particularly for marginalized or underrepresented students, early-career researchers or emerging community leaders, is also an important capacity strengthening consideration.
C) Southern leadership
IDRC and CIHR share a commitment to scientifically and ethically sound GHR that prioritizes authentic partnerships and centers leaders and perspectives from the Global South. Applications for this funding to support the uptake and institutionalization of the Principles will themselves be evaluated for how they act on and uphold the Principles, as well as their plans and strategies to include community, including partners from the Global South.
IDRC and CIHR are committed to research that drives solutions and improves the lives of people in Canada and around the world. IDRC’s Strategy 2030 includes as a key objective to share knowledge for greater uptake and use — increasing the reach and impact that IDRC-supported research has in driving solutions and in influencing national, regional and global development agendas, including through synthesizing and communicating results. Similarly, the CIHR Strategic Plan 2021-2031 and CIHR Framework for Action on Global Health Research prioritize improved integration of evidence into health policies, practices and products. To strengthen the link between research and impact CIHR is committed to prioritizing knowledge mobilization at all stages of discovery, investing in implementation science and strengthening the capacity of researchers to facilitate research uptake and knowledge users to leverage and use research findings.
Applications must include a knowledge mobilization strategy that identifies key knowledge users and that describes the anticipated approach to engage these strategic stakeholders (ideally throughout the research process) to support research uptake and use and/or to scale impact (by optimizing impact beyond the original project boundaries).
Timeline for this Call
While developing your proposal, keep in mind the following timeline:
Launch of the Call for proposals
April 1, 2022
Deadline for proposal submission
May 13, 2022
External peer-review of proposals
May 16 – 27, 2022
Recommendation to IDRC-CIHR internal review team for final decision
May 30, 2022
Applicants informed of final decision
June 6, 2022
Contract development begins with the selected applicant
June 6 – July 29, 2022
Project start date
August 1, 2022
This Call is targeted to eligible Lead Applicant Organizations that are legally founded and registered in Canada as independent entities, can receive and administer funds, and be allowed to conduct or coordinate proposed project activities. Eligible Lead Applicant Organizations include Canadian postsecondary institutions and/or their affiliated institutions (including hospitals, research institutes and other non-profit organizations with a mandate for health research and/or knowledge translation) OR Canadian non-governmental organizations (including Indigenous-led community organizations) with a research or knowledge mobilization mandate.
Lead Applicant Organizations are encouraged to develop and apply as a consortium. In the case of a consortium, a Lead Applicant Organization must be identified. The Lead Applicant Organization should demonstrate experience in leading or working within consortia or networks of researchers, policymakers and practitioners.
The Nominated Principal Applicant must be an independent researcher or a knowledge user affiliated with the Lead Applicant Organization at the time of funding. If the Nominated Principal Applicant is a knowledge user, there must be at least one co-Principal Applicant who is an independent researcher.
Eligible applicants are invited to submit full proposals via email to PGHR-PRSM@idrc.ca before the deadline. An acknowledgement of receipt of submissions will be sent to all applicants whose application was received before the closing date and time.
- Applications must be received no later than May 13, 2022 at 17h00 EDT
- Applications can be submitted in either English or French.
- Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
We invite you to refer to the consolidated point of reference on IDRC’s website for applicants when applying for and managing IDRC grants. This one-stop shop provides an overview of administrative, technical and financial considerations you should keep in mind while developing your proposals.
Applications will first be screened for general eligibility using the eligibility criteria outlined above. Applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria and/or do not conform with the format and requirements will be removed from the competition.
Eligible applications will be assessed by an independent Expert Review Committee. This committee is comprised of external reviewers from different related disciplines, including with expertise in gender, global health, ethics, diversity and inclusion, and knowledge mobilization. The committee will assess the applications according to the evaluation criteria outlined below. Proposals will be judged both on their own merit as well as how they compare with other applications submitted.
The review committee will provide a IDRC and CIHR-IPPH joint internal review committee with a ranked list of applications. A grant will be awarded to the top-rated application subject to the availability of funds. However, the approval for funding of the top-rated proposal by the IDRC and CIHR-IPPH joint internal review committee is subject to relevant policy or legal considerations. If the top ranked proposal is rejected by the joint internal review committee, the next highly rated proposal will be selected.
Following the eligibility and evaluation review processes, successful and non-successful applicants will receive notification of the results by June 6, 2022. The successful application may receive specific comments from the reviewers to be addressed, including suggested budgetary adjustments.
Other than holding a valid legal status, applicants are required to agree with the terms and conditions of IDRC’s Grant agreement before receiving approval for any grant. The process for finalizing the project proposal, budget and administrative documentation is expected to take place between June 6 and July 29, 2022. The project is anticipated to have an official start date of August 1, 2022.
The Expert Review Committee will consider the following review criteria in the evaluation of all proposals.
I. Project objectives and design
II. Cross cutting considerations
III. Knowledge and expertise on equitable research partnerships
IV. Expertise in knowledge mobilization
Formats and requirements
Applications should be concise and presented in single-spaced, 12-point Arial font text, with a maximum length (not including abstract and annexes) of up to 10 pages for English submissions and up to 12 pages for French submissions.
Each application should have the following sections:
- Cover page
- Abstract (no more than 200 words)
- Objectives (general and specific)
- Cross-cutting considerations
- Expected results including outputs and outcomes (quantify where possible; e.g., number of peer-reviewed publications anticipated)
- Knowledge-mobilization strategy
- Ethics considerations
- Project administration and governance (include roles and responsibilities of project team)
- Workplan and budget justification
- Risks and mitigation plan (including navigating the COVID-19 pandemic context, see Annex III)
As part of the application process, applicants will also be required to submit the following documents as Annexes:
- Budget in CAD
- To be prepared and submitted based on the budget template.
- As a guide, please consult the budget considerations.
- Data Management Plan (see Developing a data management plan: guidance for applicants and grantees)
- Institutions and personnel:
- A copy of the legal or corporate registration of the Lead Applicant Organization with whom the Nominated Principal Applicant is affiliated.
- An attestation of the Lead Applicant Organization's capacity to manage a grant of this size and complexity (largest grants managed to date, compliance with other donor reporting and legal requirements, ability to manage third parties).
- Letters of commitment from the Lead and any collaborating organizations.
- The CVs of the Nominated Principal Applicant and proposed team members.
- Nominated Principal Applicant certificate of completion sex- and gender-based analysis.
- IDRC’s institutional profile questionnaire must be completed, signed and submitted along with the proposal by the Lead Applicant Organization.
Successful applicants will be required to provide additional documentation prior to confirmation of funding of their projects, as outlined in Annex II.
Any enquiries related to the Call and application process should be sent by email to PGHR-PRSM@idrc.ca. To provide a response before the Call deadline, IDRC must receive enquiries five business days in advance of the deadline date.
Enquiries that affect all applicants and that we receive on or before the above-mentioned deadline will be added to the Frequently Asked Questions with IDRC’s responses. We will not reveal the source of the enquiries.
Conflict of interest
In submitting an application, the applicant must avoid any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest and will declare to IDRC any such conflict of interest. If any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest cannot be resolved to IDRC’s satisfaction, IDRC has the right to immediately reject the applicant from consideration.
Permission for use and disclosure of information
By submitting an application under this Call, the applicant consents to the disclosure of the documents submitted by the applicant to the reviewers involved in the selection process, both within IDRC and externally. The applicant further consents to the disclosure of the name of the applicant, the name of the lead researcher and the name of the proposed project in any announcement of selected proposals.
Furthermore, as a Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC is subject to Canada’s Access to Information Act. Consequently, any submissions in response to this Call for proposals will be held by IDRC in a manner consistent with the Access to Information Act, including IDRC's obligations to disclose documents requested by members of the public.
- Applicants must be committed to publishing research findings in the public domain in accordance with IDRC’s Open Access Policy and our Open Data Statement of Principles.
- IDRC does not make grants for basic operating expenses, endowments, or facilities for individual school districts, colleges, universities or human services organizations. It does not generally make grants to individuals or make program-related investments. No curriculum projects within individual schools or colleges are supported.
- Although there is no limit on the number of co-applicants in one application, IDRC will only negotiate Grant Agreements with the Lead Applicant Organization.
- After an institutional assessment of an applicant’s organization is performed, IDRC reserves the right to require the applicant’s organization to partner with another institution as a condition of receiving the grant.
- IDRC reserves the right to reject proposals based on the geographical location of the applicant’s organization or based on relevant policy or legislative considerations.
- IDRC reserves the right to cancel the process at any time without prior notice and/or at its discretion to grant all or none of the awards under this process.
- IDRC reserves the right to rescind its selection of a project if it is deemed that the information provided in the application is false or misleading, or where the activities envisaged within the project are not viable (such as restrictions which make it difficult to transfer funds to partners or an inability to efficiently secure appropriate country approvals from prospective grantees).
Annex I — Ensuring research ideas are rooted in social and gender equality.
IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work. Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to, gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion and ability.
Achieving equality varies by place and must be situated within the socio-cultural, political and economic contexts in the different regions where IDRC works; similarly, inequalities are not static and can vary and change over time.
In order to identify the best strategies and opportunities to further act on or institutionalize the Principles across ecosystem actors, it is critical for research projects to strongly consider investigating the roles of sex, gender and other diverse identities and experiences as well as their relationship to the history, structures and functioning of global health systems.
IDRC recognizes the importance of striking a balance between ambition and pragmatism.
Actions to address gender and other social inequalities require doing the groundwork to interrogate and surface the ultimate root causes of inequality, while at the same time, changing gendered structural dynamics takes time, trust and long-term commitments to policies and practices.
The questions below are intended to guide you in reflecting how your research is rooted in social and gender equality and how you can strengthen these dimensions in your proposal.
- Does your proposal intend to understand and address gender inequalities and their underlying causes?
- Do you have a stand-alone objective on addressing social and gender equality? How are other objectives framed in relation to addressing gender and inclusion?
- Is there a logical theory of change of how your research objectives will promote or lead to gender equality? What impact will your research proposal have on social and gender equality?
- In the context of your proposal, what are the power structures and power dynamics that exist between men and women and other groups which underpin gender inequality? What are some possible avenues to address and change these conditions?
- How does your research problem affect men, women, boys and girls? How is this affected by identities or experiences such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, income levels and where individuals live (e.g., rural, urban settings)?
- Do the members of your research team understand contextual gender issues? Do you have the right skills and experience in your consortium? Which of your team members will take the lead in designing, implementing, monitoring and assessing your project’s objectives to address gender inequality and inclusion?
- Does your research team have a good balance between male and female scientists or other identities?
- Have you clearly budgeted for gender activities and staffing? Have you allocated sufficient time and resources to strengthen the capacity of your team, partners and other stakeholders on gender and inclusion issues?
- Has your project identified clear outcomes and indicators with respect to social and gender equality? Are these integrated into project measurement tools? For example, do you plan to collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data? Have you planned to undertake a pre- and post-project gender analysis?
Please note that these are some assumptions that we have come across that are important to avoid in your proposal:
- Assuming women or a certain group do a task so that they will benefit is not adequate. Instead, it will be important for your project to identify the gender inequality and outline steps by which your research will help re-define the power dynamic.
- Adding “especially women and marginalized groups” after each of your objectives is not adequate — you must be able to define how gender dynamics are present in your research objectives. Research rigour and quality is critical.
- Addressing gender in the project is not just the responsibility of the gender experts only — rather, the entire team must understand gender dynamics at play in your research.
- Addressing gender takes real resources. Saying gender cannot be integrated because you don’t have resources is not acceptable. Budget resources for gender at the outset.
- The woman on the team does not always qualify as the gender expert. Get real gender expertise and partnerships that bring in the necessary skills.
Annex II — Institutional Assessment Documentation.
Successful applicants will be required to provide the following documents to allow IDRC to undertake an institutional assessment prior to confirmation of funding:
- Most recent audited financial statements*, including but not limited to:
a. Balance Sheet, Statement of Income and Expenses or Profit and Loss and Statement of Cash Flow;
b. Notes to the Financial Statements;
c. Audit Report;
d. Any Management or Internal Control Letters and related follow-up response.
- Current organizational chart.
- Human resources manuals.
- Finance and administration manuals.
- Policy/procedure for procurement.
- List of active external donors and their current contributions.
- Latest annual report.
*The latest financial statements duly authorized by a financial officer if audited statement is not available.
Annex III — COVID-19 Implications .
As the pandemic continues, IDRC anticipates limited travel in many regions of the world for some time to come.
IDRC does not have a formal policy to guide IDRC proponents with respect to travel plans given this context. Instead, we ask you to exercise your good judgement in proposing whether and what travel (international, regional and/or national) is essential to your project and, when justified as essential, how best to manage that travel to meet the needs of your project. We ask you to pay particular attention to public health guidelines in the countries or regions where you consider travel to be essential and to prepare to be adaptable. If a project proposal is successful and a grant is awarded, note that IDRC will be open to reasonable requests for budget changes as circumstances related to COVID-19 evolve.
COVID-19 testing for research personnel — both pre- and post-travel — is an eligible project expense, as are the costs of quarantining before (and after) extensive fieldwork (again as required by local/national health guidelines). The cost of personal protection equipment (PPE) is an eligible project expense — for researchers and participants alike.
However, like any other costs related to illness, costs of treatment for COVID-19 contracted while working on a project is not an eligible project expense. Rather, grantees (and any sub-grantees) are expected to have travel health insurance in place to cover such costs. Such travel health insurance should be absorbed through the project’s indirect costs.
The overarching principle should be the well-being, safety and security of all researchers and all participants. And regardless of your travel plans, you should apply all recommended public health practices (PPE, social distancing, avoid congregating particularly indoors, etc.) for all your field activities.