Selection committee guide
This document is a guide for members of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships selection committees of the three federal granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). It describes the selection process for members and chairs of these committees, as well as the policies, guidelines and deliverables that define each stage of the review process.
Members of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships selection committees are appointed from the Canadian and international academic communities and are familiar with the mandate, structures and programs of the federal granting agencies. New members and those appointed from other sectors should refer to Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency for more detailed information regarding federal granting agency mandates.
Although this Selection committee guide strives to be comprehensive, committee members may still have questions after reading it. Members are asked to direct all questions to the program administrator responsible for their selection committee.
- Overview of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program
- Roles and responsibilities
- Review process
- Policies and guidelines
- Selection committee membership
1. Overview of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program
Announced in the 2010 Federal Budget and officially launched on July 6, 2010, the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships (PDF) program seeks to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally, to develop their leadership potential and to position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow, positively contributing to Canada's economic, social and research-based growth through leadership in a research-intensive career. Canadian and international candidates are eligible to apply for a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. Each Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship is valued at $70,000 (taxable) per annum for two years.
Prospective candidates wishing to apply for a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship must do so in close collaboration with the host institution at which they seek to conduct their postdoctoral training. In light of the small number of awards in the program, and the demands of both the application process and the review process, institutions have been asked to be highly selective in terms of the applicants they endorse, as Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships will ultimately be awarded to a prestigious group of researchers who have demonstrated both research excellence and leadership, and synergy with the institution's strategic priorities. Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships awards must be taken up and held at the host institution that provided the initial endorsement.
The 70 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships awarded each year are equally divided among the three federal granting agencies, with the 70th award rotating annually.
The Vanier-Banting Secretariat, which is housed at CIHR, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the program.
2. Roles and responsibilities
2.1 Selection committee
Selection committee chairs play an important oversight role on the committee. Each committee has one chair.
The chair is responsible for:
- providing guidance to the Vanier-Banting Secretariat on the delivery of the program;
- ensuring the orderly and complete evaluation of applications during the selection committee meeting;
- leading the committee's efforts to maintain the highest quality of evaluation and to ensure consistency and equity in the approach used during the meeting;
- ensuring the transmission of recommendations to the Secretariat;
- ensuring that, throughout the evaluation process, all important aspects of an application are considered in light of the selection criteria; and
- representing the committee in dealings with the Secretariat on policy issues including submitting a report to the Secretariat following the meeting and presenting the report to the Tri-Agency Programs (TAP) Management Committee.
The chair is not responsible for reviewing applications.
Note: The Secretariat asks that selection committee members not make formal recommendations for a future chair (i.e., no formal letters of recommendation are required). Instead, informal suggestions about potential chairs should be made to the Banting PDF program administrator.
All evaluators are responsible for:
- adhering to the Banting PDF guidelines and regulations pertaining to the review of applications, conflicts of interest, communications with applicants, and confidentiality;
- advising Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff on policy and procedural issues associated with the review of applications;
- advising and assisting the committee chair in the preparation of the committee report following the selection committee meeting; and
- recommending potential new selection committee members for future competitions.
Each evaluator can be assigned one or more of the four roles listed below.
A primary or secondary reviewer is a committee member who:
- is assigned to review one or more applications; and
- serves on the selection committee to which the applications assigned to them were submitted for review.
Primary and secondary reviewers are responsible for:
- conducting a review of each of their assigned applications based on the selection criteria;
- pre-scoring Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships applications;
- submitting their pre-scores in a timely fashion to the Vanier-Banting Secretariat using ResearchNet; and
- presenting and discussing applications during committee deliberations.
18.104.22.168 Third readers
A third reader is a member who:
- is assigned to review one or more applications to be discussed at the meeting;
- serves on the selection committee to which those applications were submitted for review; and
- has not already acted as the primary or secondary reviewer on those applications.
Third readers are responsible for:
- conducting a review of each of their assigned applications based on the selection criteria, paying particular attention to the third criterion;
- pre-scoring Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships applications prior to the selection committee meeting;
- submitting their pre-scores in a timely fashion to the Vanier-Banting Secretariat; and
- participating in the discussion and final outcomes of the assigned applications during committee deliberations.
22.214.171.124 Guest readers
A guest reader is a selection committee member who:
- is assigned to review an application from another Banting PDF selection committee; and
- has expertise in one or more of the principal research areas of the proposed research program.
Guest readers are responsible for:
- conducting a review of each of their assigned applications based on the selection criteria;
- pre-scoring the assigned applications;
- verbally presenting their pre-scores to the selection committee at the meeting; and
- participating in the discussion (including final scoring and ranking) of applications during committee deliberations.
For more information, see 3.1.4 (b) Identifying applications for review by guest readers.
126.96.36.199 Guest experts
A guest expert is a selection committee member who:
- is assigned to review an application that is from another Banting PDF selection committee and in which the proposed research respectfully involves Indigenous communities; and
- has expertise in Indigenous research.
Guest experts are responsible for:
- conducting a review of each of their assigned applications based on the selection criteria, focusing on the Indigenous components of the application; and
- providing input on the Indigenous components of the application during committee deliberations.
For more information, see 3.1.4 (c) Identifying applications for guest experts.
2.2 Program administrator
The main responsibilities of the Banting PDF program administrator during the competition include:
- acting as a liaison and maintaining a good working relationship between the committee and the Vanier-Banting Secretariat;
- advising the committee on the Secretariat's policies, guidelines and procedures and helping to ensure, on an ongoing basis, consistency in the evaluation of all applications;
- serving as the "committee memory" to ensure consistency in approach from year to year;
- bringing relevant documentation to the attention of the committee to help with its deliberations, and assisting members with using the reference material provided by the Secretariat;
- ensuring that recommendations are accurately recorded;
- ensuring that recommended awards conform to the Secretariat's guidelines;
- bringing any problems to the attention of the committee chair and/or of the Banting PDF program team leader, manager and/or executive director; and
- recommending, in consultation with the committee, potential new committee members for future competitions.
The program administrator is not a committee member and does not have voting rights on the committee.
2.3 Executive director, manager, VBS lead and team leader
The main responsibilities of the Banting PDF executive director, manager, VBS lead and team leader include:
- monitoring the quality of review and the effectiveness of the program;
- ruling on policy issues;
- identifying and monitoring policy issues and providing advice to the program administrator on interpreting policies and rules; and
- leading, along with the program administrator, the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships selection committee's policy discussion.
Communication of secure documents
Throughout the competition cycle, Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff may need to provide selection committee members with documents that contain sensitive information. In most cases, these documents will be shared by posting them on the appropriate pages within ResearchNet, the electronic web portal used for submitting reviews.
3. Review process
The review process consists of the following ten phases, which are further described below:
Prior to the selection committee meeting
- 3.1.1 Receiving and assigning applications
- 3.1.2 Identifying conflicts of interest
- 3.1.3 Pre-scoring applications (as reviewers)
- 3.1.4 Conducting preliminary ranking of applications and assigning third readers, guest readers, guests experts
- 3.1.5 Pre-scoring applications (as readers)
- 3.1.6 Providing the updated pre-score ranked list of applications
During the selection committee meeting
After the selection committee meeting
3.1 Prior to the selection committee meeting
3.1.1 Receiving and assigning applications
Applications are received by the Vanier-Banting Secretariat through ResearchNet, and the program administrator assigns them to committee members for review.
Each agency-specific selection committee is multidisciplinary. Committee members are therefore asked to review and score applications in a number of different research areas related to the federal granting agency's mandate, including applications in areas that may not correspond to the members’ exact areas of expertise. Each application is evaluated by two reviewers: one serves as the primary reviewer, and the other serves as the secondary reviewer.
The program administrator assigns a subset of applications to each reviewer using ResearchNet, the electronic web portal used for submitting reviews. In doing so, the program administrator seeks to balance workload among committee members while also taking into consideration members’ language abilities and areas of expertise, as well as potential conflicts of interest between members and applications. Each committee member is responsible for reviewing their assigned applications.
As soon as the applications are assigned, each committee member is granted access to ResearchNet to review their Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships assignments. Members will receive an email notification advising them that their assignments are available.
3.1.2 Identifying conflicts of interest
Selection committee members identify additional conflicts of interest with those applications to which they were assigned.
Members are asked to use ResearchNet to identify potential conflicts with reviewing the applications assigned to them. A list of conflicts is provided below. Since this list is not exhaustive, reviewers should consult the Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Guidelines that appear as the first mandatory task in ResearchNet. Should a member feel, for any reason, that they are unable to review an application that they initially accepted as an assignment, they should contact the program administrator immediately, and the application will be re-assigned to another reviewer as appropriate.
Are you in conflict with the applicant?
The following guidelines governing conflicts of interest apply to the evaluation of Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships applications. Guidelines of this nature cannot foresee all possible situations, and the federal granting agencies rely on the judgment of committee members in identifying conflicts. Since both the applicant and the research environment are evaluated, a committee member may not act as a reviewer for an application if:
- the member is affiliated with the applicant’s proposed host institution;
- the applicant is currently affiliated with the department of the committee member;
- the applicant is, has been, or will be under the direct or co-supervision of the committee member; or
- the applicant has or has had a personal or professional relationship with the committee member.
When a committee member is in conflict with a particular application, they will be asked to leave the room during the selection committee meeting before the deliberations on that application begin.
It is the responsibility of committee members to declare any conflicts of interest prior to the review of an application. In cases where the guidelines do not clearly describe a situation, or where the committee or chair has difficulties making a decision about a particular situation, Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff has the responsibility to rule.
3.1.3 Pre-scoring applications (as reviewers)
Once conflicts of interest have been identified, committee members may begin reviewing and pre-scoring their assigned applications. Reviewers use ResearchNet to pre-score all of their assigned applications and to submit their pre-scores electronically to the Vanier-Banting Secretariat prior to the selection committee meeting. A specific submission deadline will be communicated to committee members in due course.
The review process is, by nature, subjective. Bias may manifest itself in any number of ways and could be based on one or more of the following factors, among others:
- school of thought
- type of research (e.g., fundamental, applied, translational)
- field of study
- research approach
- type of research contribution
- size or reputation of a participating institution
- cultural background
Reviewers are cautioned against using inappropriate judgment of applications based on such factors and are asked to constantly guard against the possibility of explicit or implicit bias influencing the decision-making process.
To avoid implicit bias related to the alphabetical order of the applications in ResearchNet, reviewers are invited to randomize the applications by application number by clicking on the application number column.
Can we improve equity and reduce bias in the review process?
The Tri-Agencies are actively engaged in promoting equity and diversity, as well as in decreasing unconscious bias in their review processes. To this end, the Secretariat has curated a list of resources for selection committee members regarding equity, diversity and inclusion considerations. All members must review the material, especially the Tri-agency unconscious bias training module.
Considerations for reviewing applications in which the proposed research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities
Applicants whose proposed research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities are asked to include “This research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities” at the beginning of their lay abstract (see note below). The program administrator for each selection committee (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) will endeavour to ensure that the primary or secondary reviewer on these applications has expertise in Indigenous research.
Primary and secondary reviewers are asked to identify any application whose research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities and that are not identified as such in the lay abstract. This will ensure that applications whose research respectfully involves Indigenous communities receive due attention.
All committee members assigned to these applications (primary reviewer, secondary reviewer and, if applicable, third reader, guest reader and/or guest expert) are expected to consult and take into consideration the guidelines outlined for reviewing applications respectfully involving Indigenous research. These guidelines, along with other important considerations, are available through the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page.
Specifically the following two documents will provide guidance on the review of these applications:
Article 9.1 provides examples of conditions under which community engagement is required
- research conducted on First Nations, Inuit or Métis lands;
- recruitment criteria that include Indigenous identity as a factor in the research
- research that seeks input from participants regarding a community’s cultural heritage, artefacts, traditional knowledge or unique characteristics;
- research in which Indigenous identity or membership in an Indigenous community is used as a variable for the purpose of analysis of the research data; and
- interpretation of research results that will refer to Indigenous communities, peoples, language, history or culture.
The following key concepts from SSHRC’s guidelines should be evident in the research proposal (as applicable): and should be substantiated within the supervisor’s statement:
- Indigenous or traditional knowledge
- Respect, relevance and contribution
The research proposal should reflect that the applicant and their supervisor/host institution are aware of and referring to relevant principles and protocols established for this kind of research. There should be evidence of engagement with the community in a culturally appropriate manner.
Is the application eligible for support?
Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff is responsible for screening all applications against eligibility requirements to ensure that the candidate is eligible to apply to the program. Committee members are invited to bring any concerns or questions regarding the eligibility of an application to the attention of Secretariat staff but should proceed with evaluating the application while the situation is being assessed.
Is the proposed research contrary to the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research?
If a committee member suspects that an applicant’s proposed research is contrary to the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, or if the member has any ethical concerns with respect to the application, they should inform the program administrator of their concerns as soon as possible and proceed with evaluating the application while the situation is being assessed.
b) Selection criteria
Applications are evaluated and selected based on the following three criteria, weighted equally:
- Applicant’s research excellence and leadership in the research domain
- Quality of the applicant's proposed research program
- Institutional commitment and demonstrated synergy between applicant and institutional strategic priorities
Note: The Application guide summarizes the steps applicants should follow to complete and submit their application, and includes information on how each component of the application relates to the selection criteria.
Members should base their reviews only on the information included in the application.
Applicant’s research excellence and leadership in the research domain
Demonstrated capacity for research excellence based on track record as defined by the quality of the applicant's research contributions, and demonstrated capacity for leadership in the research domain as defined by the sphere of influence achieved to date by the applicant.
Impact of their activities in their research community
The applicant’s level of influence according to the following spheres of impact:
|The stage and nature of the applicant’s career path.||
Quality of applicant's proposed research program
Potential of the proposed research program, executed in the proposed institutional environment, to position the applicant to have significant impact through a research-intensive career.
|The quality of the proposal in terms of its novelty/originality, feasibility and significance||
|The environment(s) in which the proposed research will be conducted||
|Research respectfully involving indigenous peoples (if applicable) – community engagement||
Sex- and Gender Based Analysis Plus (SGBA+): In assessing the quality of the applicant’s research proposal, consideration of sex, gender and diversity in the research design must be considered, if applicable:
|Institutional commitment and demonstrated synergy between applicant and institutional strategic priorities||
Institutional commitment to champion the development of the applicant's research and leadership
Professional development opportunities offered by the institution
|Institution’s research capacity in the area of the applicant's proposed research program, providing an intellectually stimulating environment to position the applicant as a research leader||
Alignment and synergy between the applicant's research ambitions and the institution's strategic priorities
Institutional potential to benefit strategically from engaging with the applicant.
The evaluation on this criterion should not be based on an assessment of the institution per se but on the institution’s:
Members are expected to give a pre-score (i.e., a score that is given before the selection committee meeting and that may or not coincide with the final score) between 0.1 and 9.0 (in increments of 0.1, with 9.0 being strong and 0.1 being weak) to their assigned applications for each of the three selection criteria. ResearchNet will automatically calculate the overall pre-score of the application by averaging the primary and secondary reviewers’ pre-scores for each criterion.
In order to encourage reviewers to differentiate between highly promising applicants, and in order to ensure that the full range of the scale is used, a forced binning system has been implemented. Reviewers must ensure that their assigned applications fall within each of the three bins identified in the table below, distributing the applications according to the proportions indicated, and allocating the remaining 20% as they deem appropriate to compensate for a relatively strong or a relatively weak subset of applications:
|Recommended||7.5 – 9.0||10%|
|Could be recommended||5.1 – 7.4||50%|
|Not recommended||0.1 – 5.0||20%|
NEW: In addition, within the top bin, members must assign a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 2 applications between 8.0 and 9.0.
Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review a number of applications before entering pre-scores, as this will provide a meaningful frame of reference for pre-scoring all of their assigned applications. Members will be provided with an electronic worksheet, which can facilitate the task of pre-scoring and binning.
In order for this system to work effectively, it is essential that the entire range within a bin be used. Therefore, reviewers should make every effort to distinguish between applications within a given bin in order to avoid ties.
Reviewer pre-scores must be submitted electronically to the Vanier-Banting Secretariat via ResearchNet prior to the selection committee meeting. The exact submission deadline will be confirmed by the program administrator. It is critical that this deadline be respected, as Secretariat staff cannot determine which applications will be reviewed at the selection committee meeting or which applications will require a third reader until all of these pre-scores have been received. Members are encouraged to contact Secretariat staff at any time if they need assistance during the pre-scoring process.
Reminder: Committee members who have been assigned applications in which the proposed research respectfully involves Indigenous communities are expected to consult and take into consideration the guidelines outlined for reviewing applications involving this type of research. These guidelines, along with other important considerations, are available through the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page. Members are expected to read the material before they begin the pre-scoring process.
3.1.4 Conducting preliminary ranking of applications and assigning third readers, guest readers, guest experts
Once all of the primary and secondary reviewers’ pre-scores have been received, the program administrator calculates the average of the two reviewers' overall pre-scores and ranks the applications from strongest to weakest.
The program administrator identifies applications where there is a discrepancy of 2.0 or more points between the primary and secondary reviewers’ pre-scores and where one of those pre-scores is higher than the overall score of the 24th-ranked application. (The exact number of “discrepant” applications will depend on the number of discrepancies.)
The program administrator then provides the selection committee with a preliminary ranked list of all the applications, identifying those that will be discussed at the meeting, namely:
- the 40 top-ranked applications; and
- all discrepant applications (as defined above).
This preliminary list will not include the pre-scores assigned to the applications.
Upon receiving this list, committee members are asked to promptly identify any of the following:
- additional applications that they feel should also be discussed at the meeting and reviewed by a third reader;
- applications that they feel should also be reviewed by a guest reader; and/or
- applications that they feel should also be reviewed by a guest expert.
a) Identifying additional applications to be discussed at the meeting and reviewed by third readers
Identifying additional applications is not necessary and, in any case, should be done judiciously in order to ensure that only the strongest applications and the most contentious are discussed. (Note: A given application may be flagged only by its primary or secondary reviewer.)
The program administrator will then assign a third reader to review the following set of applications:
- all discrepant applications;
- any additional applications that have been flagged by reviewers;
- the application ranked on the funding cut-off line (i.e., the 23rd-ranked application or, in the case of the selection committee awarding the 70th fellowship, the 24th-ranked application);
- the five applications ranked immediately inside the funding cut-off line (i.e., those ranked 18 to 22 inclusively or, in the case of the selection committee awarding the 70th fellowship, those ranked 19 to 23 inclusively); and
- the five applications ranked immediately outside the funding cut-off line (i.e., those ranked 24 to 28 inclusively or, in the case of the selection committee awarding the 70th fellowship, those ranked 25 to 29 inclusively).
b) Identifying applications for review by guest readers
On occasion, a research proposal spans the mandate boundaries of more than one selection committee (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC). If expertise from another committee would be beneficial, an application can be flagged by the primary and/or secondary reviewer for evaluation by a guest reader serving on one of the other selection committees.
The program administrator will assign a guest reader to review these flagged applications.
c) Identifying applications for guest experts
In the event that a selection committee has no members with expertise in Indigenous research, the program administrator assigned to that committee will assign a guest expert to any application whose research respectfully involves Indigenous communities.
d) Declaring conflicts of interest
Third readers, guest readers and guest experts must contact the Secretariat’s program administrator to identify any conflicts of interest with the applications assigned to them.
3.1.5 Pre-scoring applications (as third readers)
The third reader is responsible for reviewing and pre-scoring their assigned applications. This evaluation should be based on the same three criteria, the same scoring system (i.e. minding the scale; comparing applications against those they evaluated as a primary or secondary reviewer), and the same guidelines outlined above for the primary and secondary reviewers. Third readers should, however, pay particular attention to the third selection criterion: Institutional commitment and demonstrated synergy between applicant and institutional strategic priorities.
Third readers must contact the Secretariat’s program administrator to identify any conflicts of interest with the applications assigned to them.
Third readers are to submit their pre-scores electronically to the program administrator, respecting the deadline provided. (The exact deadline will be confirmed by the program administrator.)
Pre-scores provided by the readers are not calculated into the overall scores of the applications. Rather, these pre-scores represent additional feedback to help inform discussion during the meeting. Readers are expected to be ready during committee deliberations to provide comments on the application's strengths and weaknesses.
3.1.6 Providing updated pre-score ranked list of applications
Prior to the selection committee meeting in Ottawa, the Secretariat’s program administrator prepares an updated pre-score ranked list of applications—including pre-scores by the primary and secondary reviewers and, where applicable, by the third reader—and makes the list available to the selection committee members. This list of applications that will be discussed at the selection committee meeting will consist of:
- the 40 top-ranked applications; and
- any additional applications that were assigned to a third reader.
No other applications are expected to be discussed at the meeting.
3.2 During the selection committee meeting
3.2.1 Meeting in Ottawa
Note: Committee members are required to bring to the meeting their personal notes on applications assigned to them. All notes must be securely destroyed at the end of the meeting.
Members convene in Ottawa for the selection committee meeting, the dates of which are provided by the program administrator.
At the meeting, the following applications are reviewed one at a time, in rank order from strongest to weakest:
- the 40 top-ranked applications;
- all discrepant applications; and
- any additional applications that were identified for discussion by the primary or secondary reviewer.
The total number of applications to be discussed depends on the number of discrepancies and the number of additional applications flagged by reviewers.
The procedure for reviewing an application during the meeting consists of the following steps:
- The primary reviewer verbally summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the application by addressing each criterion in turn and speaking to points raised in the three referee assessments. This summary should take approximately three minutes.
- The secondary reviewer provides comments, as needed, to highlight agreement or disagreement with the primary reviewer's analysis. These comments should take approximately two minutes.
- The third reader, if applicable, then adds any other information that they feel is required by the committee in order to assess the application, focusing especially on the third selection criterion (Institutional commitment and demonstrated synergy between applicant and institutional strategic priorities). These additional details should take approximately one minute.
- The guest reader, if applicable, then adds any other information that they feel is required by the committee in order to assess the application. These additional details should take approximately two minutes.
- The guest expert, if applicable, then adds any other information that they feel is required by the committee in order to assess the application, focusing on the Indigenous components of the application. These additional details should take approximately two minutes.
- Other committee members may make comments or raise questions in order to clarify information presented by the reviewers, readers and/or guest experts, which may lead to committee discussion.
- The committee comes to a consensus on the application's final score, taking into consideration the feedback provided by the primary and secondary reviewers as well as by any readers and/or guest experts. The selection committee is expected to decide on a consensus score for each of the three selection criteria, and these scores are then averaged to arrive at a final score for the application. Note: For an application to be considered eligible for funding, it must attain an average score of at least 5.1 in each of the three criteria.
- Once all applications have been discussed and scored, the ranking of the applications is reviewed to determine a quality cut-off line for funding (below which applications are deemed to be not strong enough to receive funding in the eventuality that funds become available) and to resolve any ties in scores between the 23rd-ranked application—or, in the case of the selection committee offering the 70th fellowship, the 24th-ranked application—and applications at the quality cut-off line.
Following the competition, the committee's final rating on each criterion for an individual application is made available to the applicant. This constitutes feedback to the applicant on the relative strengths and weaknesses of their application and on the application’s relative ranking. Committee members do not submit written comments on individual applications.
The final ranked list of all applications is submitted to the TAP Steering Committee for approval.
Any comments related to the selection process should be brought to the attention of the committee's program administrator.
3.2.2 Establishing funding recommendations
Each agency-specific selection committee finalizes its ranked list and establishes a quality cut-off line for funding.
The final ranked list of all applications identified by each agency-specific committee, including the quality cut-off line for potentially funding alternate applications, is submitted to the TAP Steering Committee for approval.
In the event that Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff offer an award to a next-in-line applicant (after another applicant has declined their offer of award), staff will not go below the quality cut-off lines established by the selection committees.
Approval from the TAP Steering Committee results in funding 70 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship recipients.
3.2.3 Discussing policy
At the end of the selection committee meeting, once the committee has made its recommendations, committee members are asked to participate in a policy discussion. The discussion generally includes commenting on the quality of the applications reviewed, suggesting improvements to the review process and program policies, identifying future membership needs, addressing competition and travel logistics (including hotel accommodations), and providing feedback on program administration by the Vanier-Banting Secretariat.
Note: Prior to the meeting, members are invited to give some thought to individuals who would be appropriate to serve as future committee members. Suggestions can be provided to the program administrator.
3.3 After the selection committee meeting
3.3.1 Preparing and submitting the chair's report
Following the meeting and in consultation with selection committee members and Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff, the chair prepares and submits their report.
This report serves to communicate the committee's comments and recommendations for improvements to the competition processes and program policies.
In addition to the final ranked list of all applications, the report should include relevant comments on such matters as:
- review procedures followed by the committee;
- specific difficulties encountered in assessing applications;
- recommendations for policy revisions;
- suggestions for information to be submitted by applicants (application materials);
- evaluation criteria;
- suggestions for modifying the electronic application process; and
- suggestions for membership.
The report is presented to the TAP Steering Committee.
4. Policies and guidelines
In addition to the conflict of interest guidelines noted above, selection committee members are asked to keep in mind the following policies and guidelines when reviewing applications.
4.1 Confidentiality of application material
When logged onto ResearchNet, users will be asked to read and agree to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers, which describes the expectations and requirements of the Tri-Agencies.
Application material is provided to committee members in confidence and should be used for review purposes only and kept in a secure location. For example, committee members should avoid saving confidential documents in shared networks and/or on cloud services. In addition, material that committee members no longer require should be destroyed in a secure manner (i.e., shredded). All binders, files, personal notes, assessments, etc. must be left with Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff at the conclusion of the meeting. If the Secretariat requires committee member assistance with providing additional information on a particular case after the competition, committee members will be provided with new copies of the relevant material.
4.2 Confidentiality of recommendations
All funding recommendations are subject to approval by the TAP Steering Committee and may be changed for reasons related to budget, administrative error, or lack of full compliance with program and agency-specific policies.
All matters discussed during selection committee meetings or teleconferences are confidential. Notifying applicants of the results of committee deliberations is the responsibility of the Vanier-Banting Secretariat, following the official approval by the TAP Steering Committee.
Applications are confidential and must not be discussed with or divulged to others. Any release of information to an applicant must be done through the Secretariat.
Results must not be disclosed by committee members prior to the Secretariat's official release. If approached by an applicant and/or university representatives concerning a decision or any other matter, committee members should decline discussion and refer the individual to the Secretariat. Staff will act as the liaison between the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships selection committee and the applicant.
4.3 Privacy Act
Canada's Privacy Act stipulates that personal information provided by applicants must be used only for the purpose of assessing applications and making funding decisions. The use or disclosure of such information for any other purpose is illegal.
The information gathered for this purpose must be collected directly from the individual. It may be collected from other sources only as part of the formal review process. For this reason, Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships selection committee members must not use or consider information about an applicant that has been obtained independently.
In light of the large number of applications to the program, selection committee members are not required to provide written assessments of individual applications. Applicants have a right to access information about their application that is held by the Vanier-Banting Secretariat; however, they do not have the right to access the names of persons who reviewed their application.
Selection committee membership will be published on this website approximately 60 days after funding decisions have been announced.
It is important that committee members adhere strictly to the guidelines set out in the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations.
4.4 Canadian Human Rights Act
The activities of federal granting agencies are subject to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The purpose of the Act is to give effect to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered. Where the ground of discrimination is pregnancy or childbirth, the discrimination shall be deemed to be on the ground of sex.
4.5 Official languages
The federal granting agencies, like all other federal institutions, play a key role in implementing the Official Languages Act. The federal granting agencies have an obligation to ensure that:
- any member of the public can communicate with and obtain services from the federal granting agencies in either official language; and
- their work environments are conducive to the effective use of both official languages and accommodate the use of either official language by their employees.
The federal granting agencies must ensure that their committees/panels and their staff are fully aware of their obligations and rights regarding official languages by providing documentation on official languages to employees and selection committee members and by including relevant guidelines in the instructions to selection committees.
In accordance with an active offer of bilingual service to the public, the Vanier-Banting Secretariat will try to appoint as many experts as possible with the appropriate language capabilities to serve on selection committees.
Selection committees must ensure that all applications receive a full evaluation (subject to the guidelines regarding level of effort for lower quality applications as noted above), regardless of the official language of presentation. On occasion, this may entail consultation with Secretariat staff to identify Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships selection committee members with adequate linguistic capability.
4.6 Ethical considerations
Committee members play an important role in alerting staff to concerns they may have with respect to the ethics of the research being proposed. Examples of problems include the following:
- use of animals in experiments where the significance of the proposed research does not appear to justify either the use of animal subjects or the proposed experimental protocol
- inadequate sensitivity to the use of humans in experiments
- inadequate training in the handling of hazardous chemicals or biological substances
If a member has any concerns with respect to ethical matters, these should be discussed immediately with Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff to determine if there is a means of resolving any apparent problems quickly or if the award of a fellowship should be delayed pending the resolution of the problem. While such concerns are being addressed, the review of applications should continue without being influenced by this issue.
4.7 Responsible conduct of research
The three federal granting agencies have defined their expectations with respect to scientific integrity in the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research.
The federal granting agencies expect the highest standard of integrity in the research they fund. The electronic submission of an application to the Vanier-Banting Secretariat commits the applicant to a number of principles, including compliance with the integrity policy. Should members identify, during the evaluation process, what appears to be a lack of integrity, they should bring it to the attention of Secretariat staff at the earliest opportunity. The Vanier-Banting Secretariat will refer any allegations to the Secretariat for the Responsible Conduct of Research for investigation. Such allegations should not be a consideration during the review process, nor should they be part of the committee's evaluation discussions.
A member may, during the evaluation process, encounter possible misconduct situations (e.g., apparent misrepresentation of publications and/or data, plagiarism and other problems such as a lack of appropriate control/monitoring within the university itself or undue restriction on the dissemination of research supported by federal funds). Members should alert the program administrator of these situations at the earliest opportunity.
Selection and review process
The Vanier-Banting Secretariat expects the highest standards of integrity in the review process that it manages. The Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research indicates that information provided by applicants for the purpose of selection and review cannot be used by reviewers without the author's permission. In addition, committee members should reveal to the federal granting agencies any material conflict of interest, financial or other, that might influence the Secretariat's decision on whether the member should review applications. Committee members are responsible for respecting the confidentiality of application material and for declaring material conflicts of interest. Should committee members become aware of a situation that violates the integrity of the review process, they should discuss this immediately with Secretariat staff.
5. Selection committee membership
5.1 Recruitment process
The federal granting agencies regularly solicit nominations for their selection committees from universities, industry and/or the government sector. Nominations are also put forward by current and previous committee members and by Vanier-Banting Secretariat staff.
The slate of nominees for each committee is prepared by Secretariat staff and is subject to final approval by Vanier-Banting Secretariat management. Chosen in a similar way, the committee chair has usually already served on a committee for one or more competitions.
5.2 Committee member selection criteria
The most important criterion governing committee membership is academic and research excellence. The value of the review process rests on the credibility of committee members and their recognized expertise and productivity in their fields. Although each committee is representative of the community it serves, members themselves are not expected to act as representatives of any particular group, institution, region or country. Committees are structured to ensure:
- participation from a broad range of Canadian institutions/organizations, including small institutions/organizations, and experts in their field;
- appropriate representation on the basis of areas of expertise, region, language and gender;
- appropriate understanding of the research environment in Canada;
- appropriate competence in both official languages; and
- adequate international representation.
5.3 Term of membership
Membership rotation and renewal are both essential to ensuring the vitality of the selection committee process. Membership rotation is critical because it allows for broader representation of institutions and complementary expertise. However, the continuity of membership renewal is also desirable, since the presence of experienced members on a committee promotes consistency in the selection process and assists in the orientation of new members.
Selection committee members usually serve no more than three consecutive years. The extension of a term beyond three years for one additional year may be accepted in exceptional circumstances. Members who have completed their three-year term on the committee may be appointed as chair for an additional two years.
Under normal circumstances, approximately one-third of committee members retire each year.
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