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Key Management Priorities

Corporate Performance, Evaluation and Audit

In 2007-08, in compliance with the new TBS policy on evaluation, SSHRC implemented a Corporate Performance and Evaluation Committee (PEC) composed of SSHRC’s senior executives and chaired by the president of SSHRC.

Audit, performance and evaluation staffing challenges were largely resolved in 2007-08. As a result, all planned program evaluations identified in SSHRC’s evaluation plan for 2007-08 were completed and, where appropriate, are cited throughout this report. Final evaluation reports and management responses are made available on SSHRC’s website at:

As noted in the 2007-08 RPP, SSHRC is exploring alternative arrangements to ensure a competent and continuing internal audit function. To that end, SSHRC entered into an interim shared service arrangement with NSERC for Internal Audit Services in July 2007.

Two major internal audits were completed in 2007-08, in accordance with Internal Audit’s long-term plan. These were:

1. Audit of the Adequacy, Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Non-Financial Administration of the Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes programs:

  • The audit found a number of good systems and practices related to governance emerging within SSHRC and the Fellowships and Institutional Grants (FIG) Division. Specifically, both SSHRC and the FIG Division have made progress in using more formal management tools and practices to measure and report performance results. There is a recognition that SSHRC’s funding delivery model needs to be grounded with strong controls, risk management and performance measures. The review of a sample of award holder files noted that there are sound application and peer review process in place.
  • Recommendations include a formal mechanism to measure, monitor and report fellowship award holder outcomes and performance information; the implementation of a formal business planning mechanism that considers financial and HR requirements on an annual basis; and a review of the current process to help ensure that sufficient supporting documentation is kept in order to substantiate all applicant evaluations.
Management has suggested that follow-up audit be undertaken in June 2009 and April 2011.

2. Audit of Controls over the Integrity of Information in the Report on Plans and Priorities.

  • Financial and Non-Financial Information: Financial information is fully effective, no recommendations were offered. Non-financial information is somewhat effective, action on recommendations is either completed or underway.
  • Strategic Planning and Priority-Setting/Operational Planning: Considered to be not effective. The recommendations given to address the deficiencies have been agreed to and have been completed.
  • Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities: Considered somewhat effective; recommendations have been completed.
  • Oversight and Quality Assurance: Considered somewhat effective; recommendations have been completed.

    Throughout this exercise, management has demonstrated a commitment to addressing all issues in a timely fashion. Management has suggested that a follow-up review be undertaken at the end of 2008-09.

A continuing dialogue has occurred with the Office of the Comptroller General to keep that office informed of SSHRC’s plans and progress to implement the Policy on Internal Audit by April 1, 2009.

Strengthening Corporate Governance

The Standing Committee on Governance and Nominations continued its work on developing terms of reference and a committee structure that reflect SSHRC’s governing council’s commitment to strengthened governance. In March 2008, the Standing Committee submitted a final report and recommendations on strengthened governance to council, including revised Terms of Reference, and a revised committee structure (Executive, Governance and Nominations Committee, Audit and Risk Committee, Programs and Quality Committee, and Ad Hoc Committees and Task Forces).

Communications Strategy

In 2007-08, based on a thorough and broadly consultative planning process, SSHRC developed and began implementing a comprehensive communications strategy. A series of overarching communications goals were developed—goals which are closely aligned with SSHRC’s corporate goals of quality, connections, and impact. Key goals include the aim to promote the use of knowledge generated by SSHRC-funded research and to demonstrate the value of SSHRC-funded research and talent. Significant progress was made towards implementing the communications strategy. SSHRC’s visual identity was refreshed, a series of outreach activities with key stakeholders was undertaken and Dialogue, SSHRC’s new online newsletter, began publication.

Interagency Coordination and Collaboration

The three federal granting agencies have for many years collaborated and coordinated their plans and activities in key areas such as joint oversight mechanisms, policies, and funding programs. Such collaboration aims to increase their effectiveness and to reduce community duplication of effort. Collaboration between the agencies also enables the support of cross-cutting, multi-disciplinary research initiatives designed to address important scientific opportunities and problems that matter to Canadians.

In the changing research environment, coordination and collaboration between the federal granting agencies is more important than ever, and is in fact a key tenet of the federal S&T strategy. In that context, SSHRC and its sister agencies are working together, and with the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) where appropriate, on four key areas of priority: coordination of programs and processes, improving the ability to measure and report on the impact of S&T expenditures, international collaboration and advising on the balance in funding. Accomplishments in 2007-08 included:

  • tri-agency progress report on the S&T strategy;
  • collaboration with respect to large-scale program evaluations, including the Network of Centres of Excellence (lead: NSERC), Canada Graduate Scholarships (lead: CIHR), Indirect Costs Program (lead: SSHRC) and Panel on Research Ethics/Secretariat on Research Ethics (lead: NSERC);
  • MOU on Internal Audit function (NSERC and SSHRC);
  • development of a single business process documentation system (Enterprise Awards Management System) for NSERC and SSHRC;
  • near finalization of Phase 2 of the granting agencies’ MOU with research institutions;
  • tri-agency single window for Canada Graduate Scholarships applications (underway); and
  • tri-agency knowledge synthesis call on the environment (underway).

Following a comprehensive harmonization analysis, SSHRC and NSERC identified a single CV that could meet the requirements of both agencies. The exercise was followed by a formal assessment of the Canadian Common CV (CCV), including an analysis of the CCV data elements for alignment with the current version of the CV standard developed by the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information, to identify the degree to which the consolidated NSERC and SSHRC CV could be further harmonized with the CCV. In light of CV harmonization successes realized throughout the year, SSHRC publicly announced its intention to use the CCV for its Postdoctoral Fellowships program applications in the fall of 2008.

SSHRC on the International Research Front

SSHRC’s International Policy and Strategy acknowledges the importance of international collaboration to help sustain excellence in research and position Canadian research in the world. At the research level, SSHRC promotes international collaboration through several programs that allow for such collaboration: MCRI, INE, Strategic Knowledge Clusters, International CURA, and Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences in Canada. In addition, SSHRC offers two programs that explicitly target international research collaboration: its own International Opportunities Fund (see Section II above), and the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) BOREAS program: Histories from the North – environments, movements, narratives.

In 2007-08, SSHRC continued to expand its efforts to develop international collaboration opportunities for Canadian researchers, and to strengthen existing international partnerships and forge new ones. For example:

  • In September 2007, SSHRC hosted the International Forum of Funding Agencies, a gathering of senior officials from social sciences and humanities funding agencies in nine countries. A first in the history of the humanities and social sciences, this meeting led to a consensus among the national funding agencies that they must work together to develop the social sciences as a global enterprise and to reduce the structural and administrative barriers researchers face when working across national borders; and
  • SSHRC contributed, with the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to the organization of the June 2007 International Data Forum in Beijing to develop and promote comparable international data.

In addition to program initiatives, in 2007-08, SSHRC continued to build partnerships with international funding organizations to develop opportunities for Canadian researchers to collaborate with international colleagues and to showcase Canadian research internationally. More specifically, SSHRC was a member of three consortia of granting agencies funded by the European Union.

Since 2005, SSHRC has partnered with the European Science Foundation (ESF) BOREAS program. This program’s objective is to develop and run an interdisciplinary humanities research program focused on the circumpolar north. Of the seven BOREAS projects funded by the ESF, six involve Canadian researchers—a fact that reflects Canada’s research strengths in this area.

Finally, much of SSHRC’s international research support also links to key strategic priorities, both of the Canadian government and of the international community. For example, research in and about the North is one of SSHRC’s strategic priorities. It is also a federal government priority stated in consecutive Speeches from the Throne and in key policy documents, including Canada’s Performance, where protecting the integrity of Canada’s sovereignty and borders is a strategic outcome. SSHRC has been an active partner in Canada’s International Polar Year (IPY) activities, providing support to research and to the IPY coordinating Secretariat based at the University of Alberta.

Special 2007-08 Funding Opportunities for Management, Business and Finance Research

In March 2007, the Government of Canada announced it would provide $11 million annually to SSHRC to support additional research in management, business and finance (MBF). This new funding provides a significant opportunity for the research community, its partners and other stakeholders to contribute towards innovative management, entrepreneurship and sustainable economic development practices in Canada through internationally recognized research and training.

As a result, SSHRC developed special funding opportunities for 2007-08 in support of research excellence in the areas of MBF. Overall, response was tremendous from the social sciences and humanities research community to the special call for grants funding. Specific sub-activities receiving funding under this initiative included: MBF Research Grants, an MBF component of Research Development Initiatives, MBF Outreach Grants, an MBF component of the Knowledge Impact in Society pilot program, an MBF component of the International Opportunities Fund, an MBF component of Strategic Knowledge Clusters, and an MBF component of the Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences in Canada program.

In 2007-08, SSHRC was engaged in discussions with the social sciences and humanities community, and others, to develop a longer-term strategy for investments in these areas. This strategy is available at:

In November 2007, the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) was requested by SSHRC to conduct an assessment of university-based research in management, business and finance. The findings will assist SSHRC in developing a long-term strategy for investing this new MBF funding. The report of the CCA’s expert panel is expected to be completed and made public between late 2008 and early 2009.