Guide to addressing equity, diversity and inclusion in College and Community Innovation program grant applications


This guide is meant for the college community and complements additional resources created for various programs. It is intended to complement the CCI guide for research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities. If your proposed research involves First Nations, Inuit, or Métis Peoples, please ensure that you review both documents.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) are committed to achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive research enterprise. This commitment is essential to creating the innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and respond to local, national and global challenges. Quality research considers equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in both the research environment (e.g., forming a research team, student training) and within the research process.

The Research Environment The Research Process

The environment (in person, virtual, lab, field, etc.) where the research is conducted. Includes organizational systems, people, and culture.

Refers to the process of research including research questions, design of the study, methodology and data collection, analysis and interpretation, dissemination of results.

Definitions for terms throughout this document can be found in the Government of Canada's Guide on EDI Terminology and in Appendix A in the Best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion in research practice and design.

Meaningful EDI in grant applications

To achieve world-class research, we must address systemic barriers within our research environments. To make EDI meaningful in your proposals, try to address the following when proposing a concrete practice:

  • What barriers exist in my institution, region, field of research, etc., and what practice am I proposing to reduce those barriers and create inclusion?
    Example: We have identified a low representation of visible minorities within our field and on our research team. All team members, including students, will receive training on unconscious bias mitigation and antiracist research methodologies.
  • How will this practice be carried out, in detail and specific to my research environment? Include a timeline if appropriate.
    Example: This training will be delivered in-person or online in months 1 and 2 through the institution’s Professional and Continuing Education Services department. For team members who join the project later, the training will be delivered as part of onboarding within one month of their start date.
  • Why is the initiative that I am proposing appropriate to my research?
    Example: This training will help us identify, address and report bias and microaggressions to create a safer and more inclusive research environment.

This is just one of many potential practices that can help to remove EDI barriers in research. Please ensure that your examples are appropriate for your research environment, discipline, and project.

EDI in research teams and training

Your proposed actions to support EDI should contribute to the following overarching objectives:

  • The removal of systemic barriers to the recruitment and full participation of individuals from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, racialized peoples, and members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
  • The implementation of equitable and inclusive recruitment practices.
  • The implementation of equitable and inclusive practices in mentoring, training and access to development opportunities.
  • A research environment that is equitable, inclusive and accessible.

Meaningful incorporation of EDI means building and accessing equitable, inclusive practices that support and encourage diversity and are appropriate to the proposed research.

When applying to funding opportunities within the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, you must meaningfully include EDI considerations in the following two major components of your research proposal: the research team in the Applied Research Competence section and the student and trainee training in the Training section.

You must explain and demonstrate how you will intentionally and proactively consider EDI in recruiting, selecting, and training the research team. Make sure your choices are detailed and specific to the research team, trainees and proposed project.

It is insufficient to simply:

  • state that you will follow your institution’s EDI policy; or,
  • state that your team is complete or diverse.

The EDI practices in your proposal should strive to promote the participation of a diverse group of students and trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, and provide an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment.

Give examples of specific EDI practices you have or will implement to support your training plan. Remember to go through the process of describing what, how, and why for each initiative.

Remember: In your application, do not provide any personal information of your team members or information about the composition of your research team that could identify or disclose their private information.

Your research team’s privacy and confidentiality

A team member’s self-identification or demographic information is not necessarily evidence of an equitable and inclusive research environment (where research is conceived, designed, conducted and disseminated). Your proposal must be written in a manner that protects the privacy and confidentiality of all team members, including students and trainees. How an individual self-identifies is considered personal and confidential information.

Do not: 

  • ask past, current or potential team members to share individual self-identification data with you and do not make assumptions regarding self-identification
  • provide personal information of your team members
  • provide information about the composition of your research team in a way that could disclose their identities

If the lived experience(s) of the team members are relevant to the context of your proposed research, you may consider adding a brief, high-level statement of positionality to your proposal. Positionality statements allow you to express relevant information without disclosing any individual’s identity. For example, saying that a team has lived experiences with the intersections of race, gender and socio-economic marginalization does not identify any particular team member.

EDI in the research process

You should consider your work through the critical lenses of EDI and intersectionality by systematically examining how aspects of diversity and their intersections may affect the research process.

When applying to funding opportunities within the CCI program, you are encouraged to describe how you have integrated EDI into your research process. To do so, consider:

  • the topic of your research and the people who could potentially be most positively or negatively impacted, either as end-users or as research participants
  • who could be excluded from or by your activities;
  • how you might include people and organizations from such groups or communities in the co-development of the research design

This will help ensure that diverse perspectives and approaches are considered in your research and knowledge mobilization. Further questions for reflection during proposal development can be found below.

For additional information on unconscious bias, you are encouraged to complete a Bias in Peer Review training module, which takes approximately 20 minutes.

Questions for reflection during proposal development

The following questions are provided as examples only to help you consider what best practices could be implemented to support EDI in your research. You are not required to answer any of these questions in your application.

EDI in team development and training plans

  • Are the opportunities within the team communicated to all potential candidates in an open and transparent way (i.e., made publicly available)?
  • When selecting trainees and other team members, how will you mitigate unconscious bias in the selection process (e.g., when shortlisting CVs, interviewing candidates, etc.)?
  • What types of EDI training should the team receive based on the team members’ current level of EDI competencies and the team’s work environment (e.g., unconscious bias, antiracism, GBA+, etc.)?
  • If your institution’s strategic plan includes an EDI action plan, or EDI commitments and initiatives, what strategies could be applied to your proposed research in order to contribute to the institutional objectives and foster an equitable, diverse and inclusive research environment?
  • What steps will you take to ensure that individuals with family, care, cultural or community responsibilities are not disadvantaged within the team (e.g., adjusted or flexible schedules, not meeting over meals, etc.)?
  • How do you plan to ensure that mentorship (both for mentors and mentees), training and development opportunities associated with the grant are distributed equitably and communicated clearly to team members?
  • In what ways have you considered accessibility for your team (e.g., flexibility considerations, physical accommodations, accessible software/hardware, etc.)?

EDI in the research process:

  • Who are the end users of this study? Has the diversity of these populations been considered?
  • Are sex (biological), gender (sociocultural), race and ethnicity, accessibility, and/or any other identity considerations taken into account in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and/or knowledge mobilization of research findings?
  • What are the EDI challenges in your field(s) or area(s) of work (e.g., systemic barriers, underrepresented or disadvantaged groups)?
  • Who benefits from the research findings? Have you considered which populations might experience unintended impacts (positive or negative) as a result of the planned research?
  • Have you considered the access needs of your research team and participants involved in the research? Have you considered how you might address emergent access needs?
  • How could key findings from your research be mobilized so they could be used or applied by specific equity deserving groups in support of their goals? What forms of knowledge mobilization will be most effective in reaching those who will use and/or could benefit from the findings?
  • What steps will you take to ensure that team members are able to discuss and incorporate diverse experiences, ways of knowing, research methods, etc. into the research?

Additional resources

For additional guidance on how to consider EDI in the composition of the research team, in your training plan and in the research process, consult the following resources:

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