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Canadian collaboration


An opportunity for scholars of cultural narratives to expand their horizons

UK researchers looking to expand international networks while also building their expertise in areas relating to cultural narratives may be interested in a collaborative scheme launched by UK and Canadian funders.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has joined up with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the Synthesising Research on Evolving Narratives of Histories and Cultures call.

There are two streams to the call, with the second open to UK researchers. The SSHRC and the AHRC will fund up to 20 projects, which should last for one year and be led by two applicants, one in each country. Teams can apply for up to C$30,000 (£17,700) in total, and the deadline is 15 December.

Josh Moulding, senior international partnerships manager at the AHRC, outlines the scheme’s scope and what applicants should focus on.

These are not standard research project grants. How would you define them?

These grants support researchers in producing knowledge synthesis reports and evidence briefs for use in decision-making and the application of best practice in relevant policy areas, as well as possibly assisting the development of future research agendas. Successful applicants will be asked to submit a final synthesis report in late 2024 and participate in a knowledge mobilisation virtual forum that we expect to take place early in 2025.

What topics can be examined?

We have published a list of subject areas that applicants may wish to consider. I would stress that applicants are not limited to these. They include things like how cultural heritage assets can be protected and how new technologies might aid the preservation of emerging or re-emerging cultures or historical narratives. 

Must bids have a geographical focus on Canada or the UK?

The call has been designed to align with the SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, and UK co-applicants will also need to demonstrate that the majority of their project’s UK component falls within the AHRC’s remit and aligns with our vision. 

Logically, project teams may choose to focus on issues specific to the UK or Canada. But as long as applicants address the call theme and demonstrate how the research can inform policy issues in those countries, the geographical focus of enquiry may lie elsewhere.

In terms of UK applicants’ expertise, the focus is on the subject expertise they bring to synthesising the research around the particular thematic question, and also experience in knowledge mobilisation.

How will proposals be assessed?

There will be three main criteria. First, there’s the challenge criterion: the aim and importance of the endeavour, which will comprise 40 per cent of the assessment. We’re looking for proposals that have a strong potential influence and impact in informing policy and practice in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. We’re also looking for applicants to identify research gaps that might be addressed by a forward-looking research agenda in the chosen area. 

The feasibility section counts for 30 per cent, which is fairly standard with AHRC international calls. We’re talking about the appropriateness of the methodology, the approach, the work plan. But in particular with this scheme, I would draw attention to the quality and appropriateness of knowledge mobilisation plans. That is, do you have effective dissemination, knowledge exchange and engagement plans and activities with stakeholders, both within and beyond the research community?

And the final criterion?

That’s capability—focusing on the researchers themselves—and that counts for 30 per cent. That’s looking at the qualifications of the applicant or the team to carry out the proposed project. Here, we’re talking about expertise in the research area, synthesis methods and information retrieval—and where appropriate, experience with Indigenous research. Once again, I’d say that foregrounding any knowledge exchange, mobilisation and policy-relevant activity in the past would be advantageous.

Is the call open to early career researchers?

Definitely. This is a good opportunity for them to build international networks to hopefully sustain them as they take forward their career.

Any advice for applicants?

There are three main objectives that all proposals must address: they relate to the state of knowledge, to research data and to knowledge mobilisation. At the risk of repeating myself, I would advise applicants to pay due care and attention to that final component.

Second, in terms of building a partnership with a Canadian collaborator, I’d advise researchers to make sure this is done as early as possible. That’s particularly important for this call because it will be the Canadian collaborator who submits the application to the SSHRC as the lead applicant. So building relationships with that person and the respective research officers is vital from a practical point of view. 

This is an extract from an article in Research Professional’s Funding Insight service. To subscribe contact sales@researchresearch.com