Application review and grant allocation process
The Canadian Cancer Society grant allocation process plays a crucial role in promoting high-quality cancer research in Canada. Donors to the Canadian Cancer Society and members of the Canadian public must be confident that funds donated for cancer research will be allocated to the most worthy scientific research activities in Canada. The Canadian Cancer Society informs the public of its activities via the website and by including community representatives on peer review panels. In addition, the Canadian Cancer Society responds to all requests from the public regarding its cancer research programs.
There are four basic steps in the adjudication and funding process: application, scientific review, advisory council review and funding decision. The following sections will highlight the process with respect to each of these areas.
The application itself, all materials accompanying the submission and the reviews of the application are treated as confidential materials. All reviewers are required to sign an Agreement of Confidentiality to signify that they agree to the terms respecting such confidentiality.
The Canadian Cancer Society composes peer review grant panels for its competitions. The Chairs and members of the panels are highly respected Canadian and international scientists who are the scientific peers of the applicants and are chosen on the basis of their knowledge of cancer research and their capacity for scientific judgment.
The arithmetic mean is determined for each application’s ratings, then the applications are rank-ordered within a panel. On behalf of the grants panels, Chair(s) meet with the Advisory Council on Research to present their panel’s recommendations regarding “cut-off” points for funding. Since all applications which are scored > 3.0 will in principle be considered for funding, the role of Advisory Council on Research is to determine where a cut-off should be made, if there are not sufficient resources to fund all grants that score above 3.5.
The collective scientific opinions of the grants panels are respected by Advisory Council on Research and the only modifications usually made to the recommendations of the grants panels involve the setting of the specific funding cut-off levels based on budgetary predictions.
(a) Grants panels @(Model.HeadingTag)>
If a Chair feels that additional expertise is needed to provide an adequate appraisal of any application, an external reviewer with expert knowledge in the area may be secured. In addition, the members of the grant panel are encouraged to consult knowledgeable colleagues or known experts in the field if needed, while maintaining the confidentiality of the application.
All members of the Panel are requested to read the application, but only the ‘assigned’ reviewers, are required to provide written reports.
As an ongoing part of our research program, junior investigators in cancer research can apply to observe panel meetings. Based on selections through a nomination process, junior investigators are offered an award to travel to Toronto and observe a grant panel. It provides an “inside look” at the peer-review process in order to help structure their own grant proposals in the future. Eligible participants are within the first year of their academic appointment who have not yet been awarded a research grant by a major Canadian granting agency.
(b) Reviewer reports @(Model.HeadingTag)>
A Scientific Officer is responsible for recording salient points raised in the discussion of each application. These comments, as well as the reviewer reports (minus the identity of the reviewers), are provided to applicants as the basis of a constructive critique of the proposal. Applicants are encouraged to use these comments to their best advantage.
(c) Rating and ranking of applications @(Model.HeadingTag)>
• Leading edge nationally and internationally
• Addresses extremely important questions, challenges existing paradigms and will substantially improve our understanding of cancer
• Extremely likely that all objectives will be met
• No weaknesses
• Nationally and internationally competitive
• Addresses essential questions and will have a major impact on our understanding of cancer
• Very likely that all objectives will be met
• Virtually no weaknesses
• Nationally competitive and potentially internationally relevant
• Will have a significant impact on our current knowledge of cancer
• Somewhat likely that all objectives will be met
• At least one minor weakness
• Potentially nationally competitive
• Potential to contribute considerably to our knowledge of cancer
• Very good likelihood that most objectives will be met
• Some minor weaknesses that can be addressed during the term of the grant
• Potentially nationally relevant
• Potential to improve our knowledge of cancer
• Good likelihood that most objectives will be met
• At least one moderate weakness
• Numerous moderate weakness
• At least one major weakness
• Numerous major weaknesses
Additional scoring criteria may be used to evaluate areas of importance for a specific grant program. Please see the program description page for information on any additional scoring criteria.
(d) Criteria for relevance and impact @(Model.HeadingTag)>
(e) Criteria for scientific merit @(Model.HeadingTag)>
In addition to evaluating the scientific merit of a proposal, reviewers consider the possible relevance of a scientific project to the cancer problem, the track record of the applicant and the research environment. All of these factors contribute to the assignment of a numerical score by a reviewer.
Some factors that may affect the ratings given by the reviewers are as follows:
• Are the proposed methods suited to the stated objective
• Is the project likely to produce novel or useful information
• Do the investigators clearly outline the significance of the results that might be obtained
• Is the description of the approach clear enough to permit adequate evaluation
• Do the investigators appear to be familiar with recent pertinent literature
• Has the overall design of the study been carefully enough thought out
• Are the stated objectives realistic
• Do the hypotheses rest on sufficient evidence and are they clearly stated and are they testable
• Have the statistical aspects of the approach been given sufficient consideration
• Program-specific criteria may be included, see relevant program description page