College and Community Innovation program

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

The three federal granting agencies (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada [NSERC], the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR], and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [SSHRC]) are committed to achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise. This commitment is an essential measure to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. Excellent research considers equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in both the context of the environment in which the research takes place (e.g., forming a research team, student training) and within the research process itself.

Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research teams and training

When applying to funding opportunities within the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, you must include EDI considerations for the research environment in two major components of your research proposal: composition of the research team and student/trainee training. You must explain and demonstrate how you will:

  • intentionally and proactively consider EDI in recruiting, selecting and/or integrating personnel into the research team
  • promote the participation of a diverse group of students and other trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, as well as provide an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment

You must give examples of specific initiatives and measures that you have or will put in place to support EDI in the composition of your research team and in your training plan. It is not enough to simply state that you will follow your institution’s EDI policy or that your team is complete and/or diverse.

Your actions to support EDI should be guided by the following overarching objectives:

  • Remove 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, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities
  • Increase diversity in the composition of teams through equitable recruitment and inclusive practices
  • Integrate diversity and equity in mentoring, training and access to development opportunities
  • Foster the equitable, inclusive and accessible research environment needed to enhance excellence in research and training

Questions for reflection to understand challenges and opportunities

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

  • 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?
  • If your institution has an EDI action plan or EDI commitments and initiatives in its strategic plan, how could the team build on this to 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 supported and not disadvantaged within the team?
  • What steps will you take to ensure that team members feel comfortable speaking on diverse ways of knowing, methods and/or experiences (such as Indigenous ways of knowing and being)?
  • How do you plan to ensure that mentorship responsibilities, as well as training, mentorship and development opportunities associated with the grant, are distributed equitably and communicated clearly to team members?

Please consult Appendix A in the Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research guide for definitions of some of the terms used in this document. For additional information on unconscious bias in particular, you are encouraged to complete a Bias in Peer Review training module, which takes approximately 20 minutes.

Privacy and confidentiality

Team members’ self-identification or demographic information are not necessarily evidence of an equitable, inclusive and accessible environment. You are not required to provide such information, and, in fact, you must protect the privacy and confidentiality of all team members, including students and trainees. How an individual self-identifies (in terms of belonging to one or more underrepresented groups) 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. Do not provide personal information on team members, or information about the composition of your research team in a way that could identify any of your team members, in your application.

Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in the research process

Integrating EDI in the research process (e.g., research design, questions, methodology, analysis and interpretation, dissemination, and knowledge mobilization), where relevant, promotes research excellence by making it more relevant to society as a whole, more ethically sound, rigorous, reproducible and useful. You are invited to consider your work through a critical EDI lens by systematically examining how diversity factors such as sex (biological), gender (sociocultural), age, culture, disability, education, ethnicity, geographic location, immigration and newcomer status, Indigenous identity, language, neurodiversity, parental status/responsibility, place of origin, religion, race, sexual orientation, and/or socio-economic status, among others, and their intersections may affect the research process.

When applying to funding opportunities within the CCI program, you are encouraged to describe how you are integrating EDI into the applicable aspects of the research process, such as the research design, research questions asked, methodology, analyses and interpretation, how the research will be disseminated, and how the knowledge will be mobilized. For example, consider the topic of your research and the people who could potentially be most impacted (positively or negatively, as end-users or as research subjects) or excluded by your activities; proactively seek to include individuals and partner organizations from such groups or communities in the co-development of the research design to ensure a diversity of perspectives and approaches are considered. Integrating EDI considerations in your proposal, where relevant, can strengthen your proposal.

With the wide range of topics and approaches in college applied research, it might not be clear at first that EDI in the research process is applicable to your research. In other cases, such considerations might be viewed as essential. To help you integrate EDI in the research process, where relevant, consider the guiding questions below:

  • Who are the end users or research subjects of this study? Has the diversity of these populations been considered? If animals are research subjects, has sex been considered?
  • Are sex (biological), gender (sociocultural), race and ethnicity, and/or other identity considerations taken into account in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and/or dissemination 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 significant unintended impacts (positive or negative) as a result of the planned research?
  • Have you considered accessibility needs of participants involved in the research?
  • How could key findings from your research be mobilized so they could be used or applied by specific 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?

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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