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ARCHIVED - RPP 2007-2008
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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Section I: Departmental Overview

1.1 Minister's Portfolio Message

Maxime BernierCanada’s New Government is committed to fostering a strong, competitive economy that benefits Canada and all Canadians. To achieve this goal, I firmly believe that our government must create an environment that encourages and rewards people who work hard, that stimulates innovation, and that avoids unnecessary regulatory burden. By modernizing and improving Canada’s marketplace frameworks, we will ensure stability and fairness while creating new opportunities and choices for businesses, consumers and all Canadians.

Over the past year, our government has taken significant steps to improve Canada’s economy. Early in our mandate we presented Budget 2006, which contained measures aimed at improving our quality of life by building a strong economy that is equipped to lead in the 21st century. These measures focused on making Canada’s tax system more competitive internationally, and outlined our commitments to reduce paper burden on businesses and to continue to support science and technology in Canada.

Last fall, we presented a long-term economic plan in the Economic and Fiscal Update. Advantage Canada: Building a Strong Economy for Canadians focused on creating five Canadian advantages that will give incentives for people and businesses to excel and to make Canada a world leader.

The Industry Portfolio consists of:

  • Business Development Bank of Canada*
  •  Canadian Space Agency
  • Canadian Tourism Commission*
  • Copyright Board Canada
  •  Industry Canada
  •  National Research Council Canada 
  • Registry of the Competition Tribunal
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Standards Council of Canada*
  • Statistics Canada

*Federal Crown corporations do not prepare Reports on Plans and Priorities.

One of these proposed advantages, called the “Tax Advantage,” will create conditions more favourable to business in Canada by effectively establishing the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G7. As well, the “Entrepreneurial Advantage” will ease the regulatory and paperwork burden imposed on business by ensuring that regulations meet their intended goals at the least possible cost.

Through Advantage Canada, our government committed to supporting science and technology in Canada, and underscored some of the elements of a science and technology strategy that will sustain research excellence in Canada and increase the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.

Canada’s New Government has repeatedly demonstrated that we are committed to getting things done for all Canadians. As we move forward, we will work more closely than ever with our stakeholders and the provincial and territorial governments, and we will continue to foster an environment where the marketplace functions as efficiently as possible, and keep encouraging investment in Canadian innovation and in research and development.

It gives me great pleasure to present the annual Report on Plans and Priorities for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, outlining their main initiatives, priorities, and expected outcomes for the upcoming year. 

Maxime Bernier
Minister of Industry

1.2 Management Representation Statement

I submit, for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-2008 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide to the Preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) guidelines;
  • It is based on SSHRC’s Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture, which were approved by Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to SSHRC; and
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from TBS.

Chad Gaffield

1.3 Summary Information

1.3.1 SSHRC's Mandate and Planned Resources

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Act (1976-1977) mandates SSHRC to:

  • promote and assist research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities; and
  • advise the Minister of Industry regarding such matters related to research as the Minister may refer to the Council for consideration.

SSHRC’s raison d’être is to build knowledge, expertise and understanding by:

  • supporting excellence in research and research training; and
  • encouraging and assisting researchers, research partners, policy makers and other stakeholders to mobilize knowledge that will put the benefits of research to work.


SSHRC funds research in more than 30 disciplines:
Anthropology, archaeology, business and administrative studies, classics, commerce, communication and media studies, criminology, economics, education, environmental studies, ethics, fine arts, geography, history, industrial relations, inter- and multi-disciplinary studies, law, linguistics, literature, management, medieval studies, modern languages, native studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, social work, urban and regional studies, women’s and gender studies

SSHRC’s main clients are university-based researchers and graduate students: 19,000 full-time professors (53 per cent of all full-time faculty) and 49,000 full-time graduate students (55 per cent of all full-time graduate students)*. Researchers in community colleges and not-for-profit organizations with a research mandate are also eligible to receive funding from selected Council programs. With the recent evolution of research in these organizations, SSHRC’s client base is expanding significantly beyond its traditional target groups.

SSHRC also plays a leadership role in the development of research policy. The Council monitors emerging research trends in the social sciences and humanities and, through its strategies and programs, helps to chart directions for the national research effort. SSHRC also advises the Minister of Industry and the Government of Canada on future directions in the social sciences and humanities, and the effective integration of the social sciences and humanities into broader science, technology and innovation strategies.

SSHRC delivers on its mandate through a variety of programs that award grants, scholarships and fellowships in open, independently peer-reviewed, national competitions. Overall, the Council’s programs support:

  • research training for master’s and doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers — the research leaders of tomorrow;
  • investigator-framed research in all areas of the Council’s mandate, including social sciences, humanities, education, law, business and the fine arts;
  • targeted research examining widely recognized issues vital to Canadians — for example, the complex social, economic and cultural changes associated with the knowledge-based economy; and
  • partnerships with, and the transfer of cutting-edge knowledge to, policy makers, other researchers, practitioners and the general public.

In addition to its own programs, SSHRC administers, through the Canada Research Chairs Secretariat, and on behalf of the three granting agencies, the Canada Research Chairs and the Indirect Costs programs. Finally, while the Council is involved in many partnership programs and initiatives with other federal departments and agencies, it does not participate in formal horizontal initiatives (as defined by Treasury Board) with federal counterparts.

SSHRC’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA) is reproduced in Table 11 (in 3.1) and Table 19 (in the Appendix), broken down into strategic outcomes, program activities (PA), and program sub-activities. The PAA shows how the Council delivers on its mandate; it also lists the programs that SSHRC administers on behalf of all three granting agencies.

*Faculty and graduate students data, Statistics Canada, 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 figures, respectively.

Table 1: SSHRC’s Raison d’être, Planned Resources, and Priorities

Planned Resources




SSHRC Budget
Indirect Costs

$319.2 million

$300.1 million

$619.3 million

$314.3 million

$300.1 million

$614.4 million

$314.6 million

$300.1 million

$614.7 million


190 Full-Time Equivalents (FTE)

190 FTE

190 FTE

Raison d’être

To build knowledge, expertise and understanding by:

  • supporting excellence in research and research training; and
  • encouraging and assisting researchers, research partners, policy makers and other stakeholders to mobilize knowledge that will put the benefits of research to work.


  • To promote and assist research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities.
  • To advise the Minister of Industry regarding such matters related to research as the Minister may refer to the Council for consideration.

Priorities for 2007-2008
1. Invest in the renewal and continued excellence of Canadian research in the social sciences and humanities. Ongoing
2. Support advanced, high-quality research training and an effective research training environment. Ongoing
3. Ensure that knowledge generates benefits for Canadians. Ongoing
4. Sustain a strong and balanced research environment. Ongoing
5. Strengthen SSHRC’s governance and internal operations. Ongoing

Table 2: Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Planned Spending
($ millions)

Expected Results





butes to Priorities

Strategic Outcome: People – A First Class Research Capacity in the Social Sciences and Humanities

PA 1.1 Fellowships, Scholarships and Prizes Highly qualified personnel, expert in research, are available to pursue various knowledge-intensive careers within universities, industry,  government and other sectors. 102.3 102.3 102.3 2

PA 1.2 Canada Research Chairs

Canadian universities, affiliated research institutes and hospitals are recognized as centres of research excellence because of their attraction and retention of excellent researchers.




1, 2

Strategic Outcome: Research — New Knowledge Based on Excellent Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities

PA 2.1 Investigator-Framed Research

Canada offers a research environment that is conducive to graduate training, to advances in knowledge and to the communication of research results in all disciplines and research areas of the social sciences and humanities.




1, 2

PA 2.2 Targeted Research and Training Initiatives

New knowledge on pressing social, economic and cultural issues of particular importance to Canadians is made available for decision making in various sectors.




1, 2

PA 2.3 Strategic Research Development New perspectives, directions, modes and institutional capacity for research in the social sciences and humanities are explored and developed. 24.7 24.7 24.7 1, 2

Strategic Outcome: Knowledge Mobilization — The Transfer, Dissemination and Use of Social Sciences and Humanities Research

PA 3.1 Research Communi-
cation and Interaction

New social sciences and humanities knowledge is disseminated within and between disciplines, and between researchers and users of research in broader society.





Strategic Outcome: Institutional Environment — A Strong Canadian Research Environment
PA 4.1 Indirect Costs of Research Canadian universities, colleges, and affiliated research hospitals and health research institutes offer an enhanced institutional research environment. 300.1 300.1 300.1 4


1.4 Plans and Priorities: Details

SSHRC’s annual priorities are determined mainly through reference to SSHRC’s Knowledge Council: Social Sciences and Humanities Research CouncilStrategic Plan, 2006-2011. The Strategic Plan outlines a transformation for the Council — from a granting agency focused mainly on funding peer-reviewed research, to a “knowledge council” that extends its reach to maximize the benefits of research for Canadians.

This strategy establishes an expanded role for SSHRC: the Council’s core business includes a stronger focus on supporting active and sustained linkages among researchers and between researchers and research users, as well as on the mobilization, dissemination and application of research-based knowledge. Transformation is the logical extension of the Council’s increasing emphasis, in recent years, on the integration within society (among individuals and organizations, in public policies and through public discourse) of knowledge created through social sciences and humanities research. “Transfer” and “mobilization” of knowledge — which correspond to “commercialization” in other sciences — are aimed at increasing the integration of social sciences and humanities knowledge into society at various levels, from policy and decision making to organizational practices and public debate.

SSHRC’s key priorities for 2007-2008 are listed in Table 1 in 1.3 and are described below in greater detail. SSHRC’s planned activities under each of its PAs are described in section II. Table 20 in the Appendix provides a digest of all of the activities and initiatives to which the Council commits itself in this RPP.

1.4.1 Priority 1: Invest in the Renewal and Continued Excellence of Canadian Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities

SSHRC is Canada’s key instrument for supporting the best research and researchers in the social sciences and humanities. This capacity for creating knowledge and understanding is a critical factor for Canada’s quality of life and competitiveness in the knowledge economy. The research environment in Canada and internationally is evolving, however, and SSHRC must play a leadership role to sustain the excellence of Canadian research in the social sciences and humanities.

Faculty renewal and the challenges of new scholars

The future growth and international impact of Canadian research depend to a large extent on new scholars, whose role is all the more important in the context of major faculty renewal in Canadian universities. A number of studies document that Canadian research granting agencies are already experiencing the effects of faculty renewal — huge numbers of new hires and expectations that these faculty will be active in research create pressure on granting-agency budgets. Indeed, between 2000 and 2006, SSHRC applications by new scholars increased by 102 per cent. Between 1996 and 2006, applications by researchers at the assistant professor level increased markedly, while applications by full professors remained stable or declined (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Standard Research Grants Applications by Position Type

Figure 1: Standard Research Grants Applications by Position Type

In the context of the extensive consultations held in 2005 to develop SSHRC’s Strategic Plan, SSHRC commissioned an analysis of key challenges faced by researchers in the early stages of their careers. The analysis was based on the broad input received during the consultation process, on a targeted literature review and on interviews with new scholars and chairs of departments. It was validated through a roundtable with young researchers. The analysis concluded that the key challenges faced by new scholars include heavy teaching loads and administrative duties; the difficulties in building a research record while carrying out these responsibilities; and the tension between the imperatives of networking, being interdisciplinary and linking with communities, and a rewards and promotion system that does not fully recognize and reward these activities.

SSHRC intends to review this diagnosis of the challenges and identify possible steps within its mandate to address these challenges.

Reinforcing research excellence by internationalizing peer review

Peer review plays a key role in scientific and academic research, serving to ensure the reliability and credibility of new knowledge. SSHRC’s peer-review process is held in high regard internationally as a model to be emulated. In most of its research-funding programs, SSHRC uses a two-step peer-review process: the first step is the review of an individual research proposal by an expert in the field, and the second is the ranking of proposals by an expert committee. The first of these is already very internationalized: roughly 45 per cent of  the assessments received of applications to the Standard Research Grants program come from foreign expert reviewers. The second step — adjudication by committee — is primarily Canadian in constitution.

Internationalizing the composition of adjudication committees is a means to further the rigour of the peer-review process, and hence the excellence of its outcomes. The adjudication process can benefit from input from an outsider, whose perspective can enrich a national research culture. Additionally, from a corporate point of view, the international exchange of peer reviewers is an effective way to promote the broader internationalization of research activities, a recognized goal for many national research organizations, including SSHRC.

In 2007-2008, SSHRC will increase the internationalization of its peer-review system by inviting more foreign experts to serve on its adjudication committees across the range of its programs.

Increasing responsiveness within SSHRC’s investigator-framed programs

During SSHRC’s countrywide consultations in 2004, the research community impressed upon the Council the need for smaller grants that would provide a larger number of meritorious researchers, particularly new scholars, with funds for research. As a result, the Council committed to examine its major investigator-framed programs to determine how it can provide researchers with more responsive and flexible funding opportunities. In effect, this would respond to the varying needs for research support that researchers experience through the course of their careers. In 2007-2008, SSHRC will work further to determine how best to address these varying needs.

1.4.2 Priority 2: Support Advanced, High-Quality Research Training and an Effective Research Training Environment

Fifty-five per cent of full-time graduate students at Canadian universities work in social sciences and humanities disciplines. These graduate students represent a rich pool of developing expertise, and are the future creators, interpreters, critics and communicators of expert knowledge. They are the future leaders and innovators in workplaces in every sector.

The vast majority of jobs created in Canada for the past 15 years have been for people with postsecondary degrees. The fastest-growing occupations are those requiring the highest levels of education. Between 1990 and 2004, 400,000 new jobs were created for individuals with master’s or doctoral degrees, a growth of 70 per cent. These highly educated professionals allow us to develop the best products, to sustain businesses and institutions with the best services, to educate the next generation, and to maintain a high standard of living.

SSHRC helps build the research skills and know-how of students on several levels. It provides salary support to graduate students directly through scholarships and fellowships, and indirectly through stipends and research assistantships funded through grants awarded to more senior researchers. SSHRC also has a significant influence on the overall research environment within which both undergraduate and graduate studies are undertaken. SSHRC’s support of world-class research exposes students to a dynamic, competitive, productive and enriching research environment. This exposure nurtures the range of skills that labour markets demand, within and beyond academia — skills such as synthesis and analysis within a team setting, and knowledge networking and communication.

In 2007-2008 SSHRC will examine the factors that create a rich and effective training environment for students. This will include drawing lessons from the planned evaluation of the Doctoral Fellowships program.

1.4.3 Priority 3: Ensure that Knowledge Generates Benefits for Canadians

Moving new knowledge from the research realm into realms in which it can be applied to the benefit of Canadians is a dominant theme in SSHRC’s Strategic Plan. SSHRC understands this challenge in the broadest sense — that it is not merely about “transferring” knowledge after it is produced, but also about allowing opportunities for influencing the knowledge-production process from the beginning.

Broadening our understanding of what constitutes research activity to include knowledge-mobilization benefits not only new knowledge and knowledge users. As knowledge-mobilization activities are brought into the research enterprise, graduate students have the opportunity to develop skills that are in increasing demand in the knowledge economy, such as cross-sectoral collaboration, networking and knowledge-translation skills.

As knowledge mobilization is a dominant theme of SSHRC’s Strategic Plan, in 2007-2008 SSHRC will work to promote knowledge mobilization on several fronts: the programs front, the corporate operations front and the policy front. These plans and activities are guided by a knowledge mobilization framework that was presented to and discussed by SSHRC’s governing council in June 2006.

Knowledge mobilization in programs

In recent years, SSHRC has piloted the development of new tools and methods to support knowledge mobilization. SSHRC has promoted interactive relationships between scholars and government departments, and between academic researchers and local community organizations, and has provided direct support to researchers’ own knowledge-sharing activities such as workshops and conferences. The pilot Knowledge Impact in Society (KIS) program awarded grants to universities to develop their own capacities in extending social sciences and humanities research knowledge beyond academic circles. In 2007-2008, SSHRC will continue to monitor the established KIS projects. In 2007-2008, SSHRC will also run another competition of the Strategic Knowledge Clusters program. This ongoing program supports networks of researchers and partners focusing knowledge on themes of strategic and intellectual importance.

Knowledge mobilization — a focus of corporate operations

SSHRC recognizes that in order for the partnerships and knowledge-mobilization aspects of its work to be effectively promoted, these activities require a home and a champion within the organization.

An internal reorganization is already underway, with SSHRC having created and staffed a new vice-president position: Vice-President, Partnerships. This vice-president will provide leadership for strategic programs and joint initiatives, and will champion knowledge-mobilization programs, policies and other related corporate activities. In 2007-2008, a key management priority for SSHRC will be the development and implementation of a three-year plan for the activities of the new branch.

Knowledge mobilization — a focus of SSHRC policy development

An integral part of promoting knowledge mobilization is being able to capture, express and report on how knowledge has been mobilized. This challenge, of capturing the outcomes and impacts of research, is being experienced by research councils in all research realms, and in developed countries around the world.

The development of new approaches and methodologies to better capture the broad societal impact of its investments is of direct strategic importance to SSHRC. As a result, SSHRC launched a series of activities in September 2006 to enhance understanding of indicators as they apply to social sciences and humanities research and to promote the development of innovative approaches for measuring the outcomes and impacts of research. The activities, which will continue in 2007-2008, include stimulating new research on indicators, hosting a roundtable and forum on capturing the impacts of research, and developing a compendium of examples of how research in the social sciences and humanities enhances the lives of Canadians.

1.4.4 Priority 4: Sustain a Strong and Balanced Research Environment

Over the past decade or so, the environment for research in Canada has changed dramatically, with the federal government having made significant investments in a range of mechanisms to support research. The granting agencies saw budget increases, and new federal programs were established, such as the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Canada Graduate Scholarships, and the Indirect Costs Program. These different elements work together to create the environment for research in Canada. The activities of one often have an impact on the operations of another.

SSHRC will collaborate with the other granting agencies to explore the relationships between the various elements of the federal research-funding effort, and the effects of these on the research environment. It will explore ways to ensure balance and complementarity among the elements, and opportunities for enhanced cooperation among the players.

1.4.5 Priority 5: Strengthen SSHRC`s Governance and Internal Operations

In early 2006, SSHRC undertook a review of its corporate governance. The results of the review were delivered to the SSHRC Council in June 2006 and referred to an ad hoc Council committee on governance for detailed review and for development of an action plan. The new President has taken a leadership role in promoting a broader societal representation within the membership of SSHRC’s governing Council, and in the consideration of having a member of Council other than the President preside over Council meetings (see 3.1). SSHRC will continue in 2007-2008 to further develop and implement its governance-renewal action plan.

The 2006-2007 year was one of transition and renewal in SSHRC’s senior ranks, and of restructuring to deliver on new strategic directions. A new president, Chad Gaffield, arrived in September, and a new Vice-President, Partnerships, position was created and staffed. In 2007-2008, SSHRC will focus on consolidating its new structure and the new composition of its management team.

A key activity in this consolidation will be the development and implementation of a management action plan, a process launched in fall 2006. This action plan will structure internal management priorities over the next three years in areas such as human resources, governance structure, the management framework, mobilizing the research community, showing results to Canadians, and increasing the visibility of, and understanding about, SSHRC among Canadians. The action plan is discussed further in section IV: Key Management Priorities.

1.5 Operating Environment

SSHRC’s activities largely consist of funding external organizations and/or individuals through grants. SSHRC must adhere to the terms and conditions approved by Treasury Board for the management and administration of these funds. The SSHRC Terms and Conditions were revised and approved for an additional five years in 2006.

Beyond this basic defining feature of SSHRC’s operations, there are two major external factors that will influence SSHRC’s operational environment in 2007-2008.

The first is the Granting Council Review announced in Budget 2006. The review examined a number of issues, including governance, performance measurement and results, value for money (in particular, ensuring the excellence of research funded), relationships with government, and cross-agency coordination and alignment. SSHRC provided extensive input to the review and will work with Industry Canada and SSHRC’s governing Council to determine what further actions will be required.

The second factor is the anticipated federal science and technology strategy, which was also promised in Budget 2006. The strategy is expected to address research and development activities undertaken in the private sector and in universities, and, therefore, may make recommendations that relate to SSHRC’s activities.

1.6 SSHRC and Canada's Performance Report

Since 1997, the Government of Canada has made significant investments in academic research as part of an overall strategy to enhance Canada’s capacity to innovate and compete, both regionally and globally. Canada’s Performance 2006 describes how SSHRC’s activities and programs contribute to the Government of Canada’s outcome of “an innovative and knowledge-based economy.” Specifically, the report states that the Council’s promotion and assistance of research and scholarship contribute to:

  • training researchers and highly qualified personnel for Canada’s future;
  • creating new knowledge about, and understanding of, pressing economic, social, and cultural issues relevant to Canadians;
  • developing a first-class research environment conducive to graduate training and new perspectives and directions for research; and
  • transferring, disseminating and using knowledge based on social sciences and humanities research.