Information for referees
The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships (Banting PDF) program of Canada provides funding to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research-based growth. For more information about the program, please refer to About Us.
The objective of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program is to:
- attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally
- develop their leadership potential
- position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow
Application for this fellowship includes an assessment from three (3) referees.
Arm’s length referee: One of the three referees must be at arm’s length from the applicant. If you are this referee, “arm’s length referee” must be clearly identified under “Relationship to candidate” in the assessment form.
Please refer to the application guide for more details.
Banting PDF applications are reviewed by one of three multidisciplinary selection committees based on broad discipline areas: Health, Natural Sciences and/or Engineering, and Social Sciences and/or Humanities.
Selection committee members consider referee assessments as a way of corroborating their own evaluation of the application. Since referee assessments play a critical role in the review process, referees should be mindful of using them to evaluate (versus advocate for) the application. There are three parts to their assessment:
- Applicant's research excellence and demonstrated leadership.
- Merit of the proposed research
- Suitability of the proposed research environment
Providing evidence and examples to support the assessment in comparison to the particular norms of the research area(s) is very useful. For example, it would be useful to:
- identify existing knowledge gaps within the discipline related to the proposal
- outline avenues for research dissemination, according to disciplinary norms and/or the needs of knowledge users
- explain authorship norms for publications within the discipline
- describe the impact of the applicant’s various research and leadership contributions (e.g., impact on the discipline and/or community, significance for collaborating partners and/or knowledge users)
- assess the track-record in the context of research/leadership opportunities available to the applicant, career stage etc.
- highlight how the applicant has overcome challenges in their academic/research endeavor (if applicable)
The following instructions are provided to referees for completing the assessment in ResearchNet:
Section 1: Applicant’s research excellence and demonstrated leadership (4500 characters max.)
Please provide an assessment of the applicant's research excellence and demonstrated leadership. Include examples to support your assessment in comparison to the norms particular to the research area(s) (e.g., publication norms for the discipline).
Criterion: Applicant’s research excellence and leadership in the research domain
- Quality of the applicant's contribution to research and development to date (demonstrated capacity for research excellence) and sphere of influence achieved to date by the applicant(demonstrated capacity for leadership in the research domain).
Section 2: Merit of the proposed research (4500 characters max.)
Please provide an assessment of merit of the proposed research. If the research is in an area outside of the applicant's documented expertise, please speak to the feasibility of the applicant to successfully carry out this research.
Criterion: Applicant's proposed research program
- Potential for the research program, executed in the proposed institutional environment - to position the applicant for significant impact through a research-intensive career (potential for significant impact).
Section 3: Suitability of the proposed research environment (4500 characters max.)
Please provide an assessment of suitability of the proposed research environment from your perspective.
Note: It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide referees with the information that they need in order to complete their assessments.
Referees must complete all sections of the assessment online via Researchnet. They will not be able to upload documents in ResearchNet or submit assessments offline. Only once all sections (including the section requiring information about the referee) have been completed will the submit button be available.
Limiting Unconscious Bias
Biases may manifest themselves in several ways and could be based on a school of thought, fundamental versus applied or translational research, areas of research or approaches (including emerging ones), size or reputation of a participating institution, age, cultural background, language or gender of the applicant.
Referees are cautioned against using any inappropriate judgment of an application based on such factors and are asked to constantly guard against the possibility of implicit bias influencing their assessment or the review of the application by the selection committee.
The Tri-Agencies are actively engaged in promoting equity and diversity, as well as in decreasing unconscious (or implicit) bias in their review processes. You must review the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page before beginning the review of an application.
The following best practices and considerations should be taken into account when providing a referee assessment:
- Be accurate, fair, clear and balanced.
- Avoid being unduly personal; Use the applicant’s family name instead of their first name.
- Support your points by providing specific examples of accomplishments where possible.
- Use superlative descriptors (e.g., excellent, outstanding) judiciously and support them with evidence.
- Do not include information related to ethnicity, age, hobbies, marital status, religion, etc.
- Avoid sharing personal information about the applicant. Such information may be helpful only in explaining academic delays or interruptions and should be addressed with caution.
- The use of stereotypical adjectives when describing character and skills, especially when providing a letter for a woman should be avoided (e.g., avoid words such as nice, kind, agreeable, sympathetic, compassionate, selfless, giving, caring, warm, nurturing, maternal, etc.)
- Consider whether the assessment unintentionally includes gaps, or doubt-raising, negative or unexplained statements (e.g., ‘might make an excellent leader’ versus ‘is an established leader’).
For research involving and engaging with Indigenous communities, see the “Research respectfully involving and engaging Indigenous communities” section of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page.
Request for an assessment
Referees will receive a request via email from ResearchNet (an application platform used by the Banting PDF program) with instructions on how to link to the assessment form.
Deadline for the assessment
The referee assessment should be submitted via ResearchNet no later than the assessment required deadline date displayed on the online referee assessment page. Please contact the applicant if you have any questions about the deadline.
Applicants will not be able to submit their applications if the assessments are not received by their submission deadline.
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