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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) | Stage Two (Full Proposals) | Two-stage Call for Proposals for Research Teams for Women RISE

May 11, 2022

1. Does the Lead Applicant PI need to be a resident of the country/countries of focus?

According to the Call for Proposals, “A Principal Investigator (PI) is an LMIC researcher (citizen or permanent resident of an LMIC country/territory) based in the LMIC Lead Applicant Organization and residing in an eligible LMIC country/territory where the research is proposed.”

2. If there are multiple countries of focus, do we need a Lead Applicant PI in each one?

In addition to the mandatory eligibility criteria of having one LMIC Lead PI, one Canada based Co-PI and one Decision-Maker Co-PI, an application can have up to 5 LMIC Co-PIs who are based in 5 Co-Applicant Organizations (one in each). If research activities are being carried out in different countries, each country will need to have an additional Decision-Maker Co-PI. Each application is also allowed to have up to 5 Third-Party Organizations.

3. How many co-applicants can we have in one proposal from the LMIC (apart from the Lead applicant PI)?

In addition to the mandatory eligibility criteria of having one LMIC PI, one Canada-based Co-PI and one Decision-Maker Co-PI, an application can have up to 5 LMIC Co-PIs who are based in 5 Co-Applicant Organizations (one in each). If research activities are being carried out in different countries, each country will need to have an additional Decision-Maker Co-PI. Each application is also allowed to have up to 5 Third-Party Organizations.

4. Will a Decision-Maker from an NGO from an LMIC be eligible or do we have to have a Decision-Maker from a government department?

If the Decision-Maker Co-PI is not from a government entity, the team needs to justify how the chosen Decision-Maker Co-PI has the ability to support the research, act to implement the research findings and influence relevant levels of government.

5. For teams preparing a multi-national research project, should there be a Decision-Maker Co-PI for each country or only one from the country of the PI?

A Decision-Maker will be required for each country where the research will take place.

6. If the other team members do not come from the same organization as the Canadian co-PI will they be considered as a third party even if they come in as academic or scientific experts (no funds transfer involved)?

Other experts can join the research project, as needed and justified, and be contracted directly. As per the Call for Proposals: “Grant agreements allow the Lead Applicant Organization and Canadian Co-Applicant Organization to sub-grant to LMIC Co-Applicant Organizations and contract Third-Party Organizations or consultants for specific services.” 

7. At the Full Proposal stage can an applicant apply to a new or different Specific Research Area?

No. The choice made at the Concept Note stage will be applied at the Full Proposal stage. Switching types of research or the Specific Research Area is not allowed at this Full Proposal stage and opting into a Specific Research Area is not allowed at this point.

8. Can the LMIC Lead PI or Canada-based PI change for the Full Proposal?

No. The LMIC Lead Applicant PI and the Canada-based PI listed at the Concept Note stage must remain the same for the Full Application.

9. Can the Decision-Maker co-PI be changed?

The Decision-maker co-PI can only change if explicitly requested or recommended in the comments from the Women RISE External Reviewers Committee.

10. Can team members be added after the Concept Note but before the Full Proposal stage?

The Full Application needs to include information on the full proposed team. This will be part of the evaluation criteria of the applications as listed under “Research Team capacity.” Additional team members can be added in the Full Proposal stage.

11. Can a new LMIC Co-Applicant Organization or Third-Party Organizations be added?

Yes.

12. Can the research project change country or region in the Full Proposal?

In principle, no. In extenuating circumstances, teams can seek approval from Women RISE to change research locations. Requests with justification must be made and approved in advance of the application deadline.

Not all LMICs are eligible for this Call. Only countries listed in Annex 1 of the Call are eligible.

13. Can Research Teams from more than one application merge?

No.

14. Can a Research Team decline to participate in initiative wide meetings and Knowledge Mobilization activities?

No. Research Teams (RTs) will be expected to participate in and contribute to both project-based and initiative-wide Women RISE meetings and knowledge mobilization activities. Knowledge mobilization activities will be discussed at the kick-off meeting and implemented throughout the duration of this initiative. Proposed budgets must set aside funds for participation of the PI, Canada-based Co-PI and Decision-Maker Co-PI to travel and attend kick-off, mid-term and final Women RISE meetings.

15. What is the role of the Health Policy and Research Organization (HPRO)? What are some examples of knowledge mobilization activities that will be carried out by the HPRO?

RTs will be supported by a Women RISE HPRO that will facilitate knowledge mobilization, capacity strengthening and networking among all successful RTs. The HPRO will support RTs in collective research mobilization activities and facilitate relationships and interactions that promote the integration of research evidence into policy. Additionally, the HPRO will coordinate and support capacity strengthening among RTs, especially as it relates to gender-transformative research and health equity. RTs will be expected to participate in and contribute to knowledge mobilization and capacity building activities with the HPRO and/or with other funded RTs.

A plan for activities will be jointly developed in a meeting between the HPRO and RTs. Activities could include, for example, a newsletter, translations, participation in scientific conferences, convening webinars and panel discussions, success stories for social media and other thematic and/or geographic based knowledge mobilization activities.

16. Can LMIC Co-Applicant Organizations or Third-Party Organizations receive funding directly from IDRC if the Lead Organization or Canadian Co-Applicant organization are running into trouble with agreements of funds transfer?

No. IDRC will only negotiate funding agreements with the Lead Applicant Organization and the Canadian Co-Applicant Organization. The Lead Applicant Organization and the Canadian Co-Applicant Organization must develop and administer sub-grant agreements with the LMIC Co-Applicant Organizations and contracts with Third-Party Organizations or consultants.

17. Is co-funding required?

No. Co-funding is not required for this Call. Nevertheless, for those applicants that are selected to receive a grant, IDRC’s policy on local contributions will apply as follows:

  • Any applicant selected to receive IDRC funding will be required to make local contributions to the project.
  • Local contributions represent cash amounts expended by the applicant from its own resources, from private grants or from grants received from local, provincial or national authorities for the purpose of the project.
  • In-kind contributions may include salaries of regular staff, equipment and infrastructure and overhead costs.
  • Cash and/or in-kind contributions should be reflected in the project budget.

18. How should the project budget be distributed between the Lead Applicant Organization, the Co-Applicant Organizations and Third-Party Organizations?

As stated above, IDRC will directly fund the Lead Applicant Organization and the Canadian Co-Applicant Organization. The proposed budget must fit with the stated project activities of the Lead Applicant, Co-Applicants and Third-Party organizations (if applicable).

The Lead Applicant Organization or Canadian Co-Applicant Organization are allowed to enter into sub-granting agreements with LMIC Co-Applicant Organizations. There are no restrictions on the portion of the total budget allocated by the Lead Applicant Organization or Canadian Co-Applicant Organization to the LMIC Co-Applicant Organizations. The Third-Party Organization budget should not exceed a maximum of 20 percent of the total requested budget.

19. Can overhead costs be included in the total project budget?

IDRC expects grantees to absorb the overhead or administrative costs of a project as part of its IDRC grantee contribution. Where an organization has a supportable indirect costs recovery policy, IDRC may allow indirect costs (see below) of up to 13% of all IDRC grantee-administered costs. The indirect cost rate proposed in the budget should not exceed the grantee’s organizational rate and should be verifiable. 

Where a project includes sub-IDRC grantees who are administering a portion of the project, the maximum contribution may be shared between the proposing institution and the collaborating institution, but it should never exceed 13% of the total budget in aggregate.

20. For LMICs, what specific country procedures, clearances or permissions would be required?

In some cases, IDRC has agreements for scientific and technical cooperation with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed in order to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction.

If relevant, country procedures only apply to applications that are selected for funding and are not required prior to submitting a Concept Note or Full Proposal. IDRC reserves the right to not pursue the funding of a selected project if the country approval is not secured within six months after IDRC officially announces approval of the project, as this would jeopardize the timely completion of the initiative.

21. Are these country procedures only applicable to the Lead Applicant Organization?

No. If needed, country procedures apply to any Co-Applicant conducting research in the country where research activities are being implemented.

22. Is there a specific format and content for the Full Proposal?

Yes. This is described in the Guidelines on Preparing Full Proposals for Stage Two document. Annexes are excluded from the maximum word counts.

Project duration should be presented in months.

23. Should the budget currency be in Canadian dollars?

The total amount of funding requested by the Lead Applicant Organization should be presented in its working currency and its equivalent in Canadian dollars. The amount of funding being requested by the Canadian Co-applicant Organization should be presented in Canadian dollars.

24. Are there any guidelines regarding where the money has to be allocated and what percentage of it has to be spent in the LMIC?

You will need to submit a budget that is based on your proposed activities. It is expected that each RT will submit one unified Full Proposal. Accompanying the Full Proposal, the Principal Investigator and Canada-based Co-Principal Investigator will submit two separate budgets according to the IDRC template.

You need to be cognizant of the following evaluation criteria listed in the Guidelines on Preparing Full Proposals for Stage Two document:

Appropriateness of budget (5%):

  • The proposed budget is justified in relation to the planned activities. 
  • The budget outlines feasibility of planned activities within project timelines. 
  • The budget shows an anticipation of difficulties that may be encountered and embeds appropriate risk mitigation strategies. 
  • The budget must include the resources required to participate in-person (subject to COVID-19 restrictions) in the international Women RISE kick-off, mid-term and final meetings. 

25. In reference to “Where an organization has a supportable indirect costs recovery policy…,” can you please clarify what “supportable” means in this context?

Supportable means that the information/Indirect Cost recovery policy can be provided as back-up to IDRC, if and when requested. 

26. In reference to “The indirect cost rate proposed in the budget should not exceed the grantee’s organizational rate and should be verifiable,” can you please clarify what “verifiable” means in this context?

Verifiable means that the organization can provide back-up information on how Indirect Costs are being calculated and they should not exceed the rate stated in their policy. Furthermore, the Indirect Costs stated in the proposed budget cannot exceed 13%, which is the maximum allowable under IDRC’s Granting policy.

27. Does the LMIC have to administer the funds and transfer them to a Canadian partner? If this is complicated, can IDRC transfer the funds directly to the Canadian organization?

There is no expectation of transfer of funds between the Lead Applicant Organization and Canadian Co-Applicant Organization. As per the Call for Proposals: “The grants will be managed by IDRC. For those Full Proposals selected for funding, IDRC will exclusively enter into funding agreements (IDRC’s standard Grant Agreement), with the identified Lead Applicant Organization and the organization where the Canadian Co-PI is based (Canadian Co-Applicant Organization). Please see Annex 4 for more information on authorization requirements and minimum requirements to receive an IDRC grant.

28. Can salaries be earmarked in the budget for the Lead Applicant from an LMIC, the Canadian Co-Applicant, the Decision-Maker from an LMIC and other co-investigators from Canada and an LMIC?

Yes, they can; however, salaries should be kept within the maximum of 25% of the total proposed budget for the project.

29. For full proposals that are selected for funding, is the funding provided before the research activities are initiated? Or can the research activities be initiated and then reimbursed once funding is received?

Upon signing of the Grant Agreement and Project Commencement, IDRC will advance funds to the Lead Applicant Organization equivalent to the first six (6) months of project implementations, as per the approved Grant/Project budget. All subsequent payments will be disbursed as stated in Part 3 - Schedule of Project Milestones subject to interim financial reporting which considers expenses incurred in the reporting period and projected expense for the subsequent period. With the exception of the final payment, all other payments are considered advances until the Project Milestones are satisfactorily achieved and a financial report of actual expenses incurred against the payment is accepted by the Centre. The final payment at the end of the project is based on the final financial report.

Research work and expenses can be initiated upon the Project/Grant “Commence Date” and no project-related expenses will be paid if these expenses were incurred prior to the Grant/Commencement Date or after the Grant Duration.

More details are provided in the “Grant Structure and Conditions of Funding” section of the Call for Proposals, which states: “The grants will be managed by IDRC. For those Full Proposals selected for funding, IDRC will exclusively enter into funding agreements (IDRC’s standard Grant Agreement), with the identified Lead Applicant Organization and the organization where the Canadian Co-PI is based (Canadian Co-Applicant Organization). Please see Annex 4 for more information on authorization requirements and minimum requirements to receive an IDRC grant.”

30. Could you provide further clarification on the aspect of the Call requiring that “all research must be undertaken in the designated recipient countries,” especially in terms of deliverables, engagement level, etc. of the Canadian Co-Investigators?

Funding research activities in the locations where the research will take place is allowed and expected, be it in one or more places, including in Canada. This is as long as this is part of the research activities, serves research purposes and is adequately justified.

31. How many applications will be invited to the grant negotiation stage after the Full Proposal stage? How will you decide how many get invited?

Full proposals will be judged both on their own merit as well as how they compare with other applications submitted. There is $20M available to fund projects under this Call. So, the number invited will depend on several factors, including the ranking by the external scientific review committee to identify the top list of candidates, the total proposed budget amounts of these applications and the number of top list candidates applying for the window of the Special Research Areas.

32. In terms of letters of support (section 2), who is acceptable as signatories? Is it best to have the heads of the department, faculty, etc.?

According to the Call document: “Signed letters of support from all organizations in the RT, namely: Lead Applicant Organization, Canadian Co-Applicant Organization, Organization with which the Decision-Maker Co-Principal Investigator is affiliated, and other LMIC Co-Applicant Organizations and Third-Party Organizations.” These need to be from those that have signing authority to sign on behalf of their organization.

The letters from the Lead Applicant Organization and the Canadian Co-Applicant Organization must be signed by their Legal Signatories. Said signatories should be the ones stated in these organizations’ respective IPQs.

Regarding “Signed letters of support from relevant government ministries or other key stakeholders, where appropriate.” These need to be signed by heads of organizations or relevant departments.

For an application to be considered complete, all required documents must be received before the deadline in PDF or word format. There is no specific template for these letters.

33. Our team potentially includes people from other countries than Canada and LMICs. Will it be possible to upload their CV in section 4?

Yes. In addition to the mandatory eligibility criteria of having one LMIC PI, one Canada based Co-PI, and one Decision Maker Co-PI, an application can have up to 5 LMIC Co-PIs who are based in 5 Co-Applicant Organizations (one in each).

If research activities are being carried out in different countries, each country will need to have an additional Decision Maker Co-PI. Each application is also allowed to have up to 5 Third-Party Organizations.

34. When should the PI and Co-PI complete the gender modules?

The PI and Co-PIs are required to 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. Applicants should select and complete the training module most applicable to their research project. Applicants are required to review the “How to integrate sex and gender in research” section of the CIHR website.

35. Who should submit the application, the Lead Applicant (from a LMIC), the Canadian-based Co-Principal Investigator or the institution of the Canadian-based Co-Principal Investigator?

The Principal Investigator and the Lead Applicant Organization submit the application.

36. Will I receive reviewers’ comments on my application?

Only applicants who are assessed by the external Scientific Review Committee to move onto the grant negotiation stage will receive reviewers’ comments on their applications.

37. If funded, will extensions be granted for research teams to complete their projects?

Because of the specific timeframe of Women RISE, extensions will not be possible or allowed.

38. When will applicants be informed of the outcome?

It is anticipated that the applicants will be notified on July 29, 2022, on whether their application was successful at the Full Proposal stage.

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 Call. Moreover, grants will only be awarded subject to the availability of funding.

39. Is it mandatory that the 3 investigators (Principal Investigator as well as Canada-based Coinvestigator and Decision-Making Coinvestigator) travel and attend the meetings? Is it possible for at least two to travel? Or will virtual workshops be considered for those who cannot travel?

It is mandatory for the PI and the Co-PIs to participate in the proposal strengthening workshop, as well as the inception, mid-term and final meetings. The proposal strengthening workshop is planned as a virtual workshop. The format of other meetings will be decided in due course.