On the basis of numerous successful examples, the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) are convinced that citizen participation in research offers multiple benefits, both for the research community and society at large. It allows to produce new scientific knowledge that is deeply rooted in Québec society. It also allows individuals unfamiliar with the scientific community to experience the scientific method and develop their critical thinking skills. That is why the FRQ are launching this program as a pilot project, with the intent of:
- Allowing the generation of scientific knowledge through active citizen participation;
- Promoting innovative research in Québec through the emergence of new research practices;
- Contributing to scientific literacy in Québec and stimulating Quebecers’ interest in science.
This program is in line with the broad open science movement and is based on a series of seven principles set out in a reference framework.
This initiative is funded through additional appropriations allocated to the FRQ as part of the Québec Research and Innovation Strategy – SQRI 2017-2022.
Table of contents
This pilot program will allow individuals who are not engaged in professional scientific activity, but who are recognized for their experiential knowledge, to actively and meaningfully take part in a research project. It can integrate many existing forms of participative science, which are sometimes referred to as citizen science, action research, collaborative research or knowledge co-construction. Citizens can be involved in the implementation of research projects, but also in their design, starting with the presentation of the letter of intent.
2. Timeline and overview
- Official launch and opening of the pplication form of letter of intent – September 13, 2019
- Stage 1: submission of letters of intent – October 15, 2019 at 4 p.m.
- Results of Stage 1 announced to applicants – early December 2019
- Research project building workshop – January 16 and 17, 2020 (presence required)
- Stage 2: submission of grant application – February 13, 2020 at 4 p.m.
- Results of Stage 2 announced to teams – April-May 2020
- Funding announcement event, Sherbrooke – one day, between May 4 and 8, 2020 (presence required)
There are two stages to the FRQ Engage program evaluation:
Stage 1 – Present your research ideas
In the fall, citizens and researchers can put forward their research ideas by sending a letter of intent describing their idea along with their CV before October 15, 2019. From among the applications received, a preselection committee will select about fifteen ideas with strong potential for Stage 2.
For help and guidance, you can contact the program manager, Philippine Campagne, and attend the official program launch in Montréal on September 13, 2019, during which you will have the chance to ask questions.
Stage 2 – Develop your research project
If your research idea is among those selected, at this stage you will develop several aspects of your project, including:
- A mixed team of researchers and citizens combining all the skills and abilities needed to cover the various responsibilities related to the project (see Section 4);
- A research question and methodology;
- The way in which citizens will be engaged in the research process, as well as the benefits they will derive from it;
- An adequate response to all FRQ requirements for the responsible conduct of research.
On January 16, 2020, the FRQ will be holding a mandatory project building workshop, to guide and assist you with these different points. You and your team will then have one month to put together your research project and submit a grant application before February 13, 2020 at 4p.m. An evaluation committee created by the FRQ will select at least five research projects, based on the evaluation criteria described below (see Section 5). The results will be announced in April 2019.
Citizen: For the FRQ, a citizen under this program (i) is not engaged in professional scientific research or research training activities and (ii) is recognized for his/her experiential knowledge.
With this definition, the FRQ exclude researchers, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, public research professionals, and university administrators.
In the FRQ Common General Rules, citizens are included in status (4 c) – practitioner and (4 d) – individual participant.
Researcher: a person who meets the criteria of statuses (1), (2), (3), (4 a) or (4 b) of the Common General Rules.
Principal research project leader: The principal leader has ethical responsibility for the research project, while his/her home organization has administrative and financial responsibility. The FRQ assess the principal leader’s ability to assume these responsibilities on the basis of his/her experiential and scientific knowledge, and of the capacity of his/her home organization to support him/her in these responsibilities
Research project co-leader: A co-leader brings essential experiential or scientific knowledge to the research project. The co-leader’s name is included in the funding application and the FRQ assess his/her ability to assume the responsibilities entrusted to him/her under the project on the basis of his/her experiential and scientific knowledge. In the FRQ Common General Rules, the role of co-leader is equivalent to the role of co-investigator.
Collaborator: A collaborator brings scientific and/or experiential knowledge to the project. The collaborator’s name is included in the funding application, but the FRQ do not evaluate his/her contribution. A collaborator has no link with the FRQ, and may not be delegated to manage part of the funds through an inter-institutional transfer, as stipulated in the FRQ Common General Rules.
Non research-oriented community action organization: to qualify, an organization must imperatively meet the following conditions:
- Be a non-profit organization;
- Be rooted in the community;
- Be associative and democratic;
- Have the freedom to determine its mission, approaches, practices and orientations;
- Not include the word “research” in its mission or mandate;
- Less than 50% of the organization’s usual activities involve collaboration with the research community.
The following are expressly excluded: professional orders, political organizations, unions, religious organizations, foundations whose mission is essentially to collect distribute funding. Instructions will follow regarding application for eligibility of community action organizations.
Experiential knowledge: the FRQ define experiential knowledge as knowledge acquired through experience and legitimized within a specific community, through tradition or the accumulation of experiences, or in professional circles, but which has not been scientifically validated.
Scientific knowledge: the FRQ define scientific knowledge as knowledge produced through the application of the scientific method and validated by peer review.
4. Eligibility requirements
The program manager and the members of the multidisciplinary evaluation committees ensure, throughout the process, that the applications are eligible in accordance with the conditions set out in the program rules. Eligibility decisions are sent to the applicant by email.
The project is carried out in Québec and involves the active participation of individuals residing in Québec.
The project team must have a minimum of 2 members and a maximum of 4 members, namely: 1 principal project leader and 1 to 3 co-leaders. Furthermore, the team must include at least 1 citizen AND 1 researcher.
The principal project leader can only be replaced by a project co-leader with the capacity to assume the responsibilities of the principal leader (see Section 5, Stage 2). Any changes to the team composition must be approved by the program manager and comply with the program eligibility requirements.
An individual may only submit one funding application under this program, either as principal leader or co-leader. However, an individual can have the role of collaborator in more than one project.
Each member of the project must meet the eligibility requirements listed below at the time of application and throughout the duration of the grant:
The principal project leader must:
- Meet the definition of citizen OR researcher (see Section 3);
- Be employed on a permanent or temporary basis throughout the duration of the grant, for a minimum of 28 h/week, by a Québec research institution recognized by the FRQ to manage funding OR a non research-oriented community action organization (see «Formulaire d’admissibilité comme OAC» in Toolbox). The project’s home organization must be able to confirm, for each year of funding, that the principal leader is employed by the institution/organization on an ongoing basis;
- For citizens, be Canadian citizens and reside in Québec throughout the duration of the project;
- For citizens, be over 18.
The project co-leader must:
- Meet the definition of citizen OR researcher;
- For citizens, be Canadian citizens and reside in Québec throughout the duration of the project;
- For citizens, be over 18.
5. The application process
Documents must be legible (no password, no damaged files, etc.). The following presentation standards should be used: Times New Roman font, 12 point, written in French or English.
An application that does not respect the program rules or the presentation rules, or does not contain the information necessary to establish eligibility or evaluate it, will be deemed ineligible by the FRQ.
The FRQ reserve the right to verify the authenticity of all documents provided and all information deemed relevant in the context of the research with the authorities concerned.
Stage 1: Present your research ideas in a letter of intent
(Attention) The FRQ will accept the 300 first letters of intent (based on the date the complete files were received).
4 documents to send
- The letter of intent form (maximum 3 pages), completed with consideration for the program evaluation criteria ;
- A CV in PDF format of up to 2 pages, presenting:
- Your last name(s) and first name(s);
- Your academic and/or professional training, including current training, if applicable;
- Your scientific and/or professional and/or community experience over the last 10 years;
- Your most significant expertise and contributions, either professional and/or personal, that justify your involvement in the project;
- For citizens, 1 proof of Canadian citizenship in PDF format (copy of passport or other proof of citizenship);
- For citizens, 1 proof of residence in Québec in PDF format (copy of driver’s license, valid RAMQ card).
4 selection criteria
1 – Potential for knowledge creation (25 points)
Explain how your research idea could generate new scientific knowledge and/or explore a new research question. The evaluation committee will be particularly vigilant with the requirement that the project present a potential for the creation of knowledge, and not just the need for transfer of or access to existing knowledge. You can include a literature review to demonstrate a gap in scientific knowledge to be filled (optional).
2 – Potential for citizen mobilization (25 points)
Emphasize how your research idea could mobilize and/or involve citizens, at one or several levels. Explain what their interests would be in committing time and resources to this project (e.g. new knowledge, impacts and benefits). If possible, evaluate the number of citizens potentially engaged and the quality of their participation.
3 – Potential for collaboration between citizens & researchers (25 points)
Present the profile of the people you would like to partner with, and identify them if you have already obtained their agreement. Your aim is to present how the envisaged team would fit with your expertise and scientific and/or experiential knowledge, and how it would contribute to your research idea.
4 – Applicant’s expertise (25 points)
In the CV attached to the letter of intent, you must show that you have the experiential knowledge OR the scientific knowledge that will allow you to engage meaningfully in the project.
Stage 2: Present your research project in a grant application
5 to 8 documents to send
- The grant application form (available in toolbox), completed and signed, includes:
- The project title and summary, imperatively written in French. (These may be used by the FRQ for promotional and dissemination purposes);
- A description of the research project (maximum 5 pages), with consideration for the program evaluation criteria;
- A description of the budget (maximum 3 pages), within the maximum annual budget and program budget, based on eligible expenses (see Section 7);
- Signature of the Commitment section by all members of the project team (the principal leader and co-leader(s));
- A description of the project team, identifying the team members (principal leader, co-leader(s) and collaborators);
The six project responsibilities are distributed among the members of the team leading the project:
- Administrative responsibility: The person who assumes administrative responsibility acts as a resource person for the project team members and as the main point of contact for the FRQ. Essentially, he/she approves and submits the letter of intent and the funding application while ensuring that filing deadlines are met. This responsibility is assumed by the principal leader’s home organization;
- Financial responsibility: The person who assumes financial responsibility oversees the management of the grant, compliance with advertised budgets and accountability through financial reports. This responsibility is assumed by the principal leader’s home organization;
- Ethical responsibility: The person who assumes ethical responsibility ensures compliance with applicable policies, standards, rules and laws relating to research ethics and the responsible conduct of research. This responsibility is assumed by the principal leader;
- Scientific responsibility: The person who assumes scientific responsibility ensures the mobilization of the scientific knowledge essential to the project and the application of the scientific method;
- Responsibility for citizen participation: The person who assumes responsibility for citizen participation ensures the mobilization of experiential knowledge in the project and is guarantor of the legitimacy of this knowledge;
- Responsibility for project coordination: Establishes contact and ensures relation between the different stakeholders, the institution and the respect of the project charter.
The team composition and member responsibilities cannot be changed during the grant period.
- If applicable, figures or tables in PDF format related to the research project (maximum 2 pages), without text except for the item identification (title);
- For each principal leader and co-leader, a CV of up to 2 pages, in accordance with the instructions provided in Stage 1. CVs are combined and sent in a single PDF document;
- For the researchers on the project team, 1 letter of affiliation signed by the employer institution. (See letter template according to the research statuts – toolbox)
- For the citizens on the project team, 1 proof of Canadian citizenship in PDF format (copy of passport or other valid proof of citizenship) for all citizens with the role of principal leader or co-leader. These documents are combined and sent in a single PDF document;
- For the citizens on the project team, 1 proof of residence in Québec in PDF format (copy of driver’s license, valid RAMQ card). These documents are combined and sent in a single PDF document;
- If applicable, for a citizen principal leader, the document «Formulaire d’engagement administratif et financier de l’OAC» completed (see the form in toolbox);
- If applicable, for a citizen principal leader, 1 duly completed application of eligibility for his/her home organization, as a non research-oriented community action organization (see the form in toolbox).
Evaluation criteria for research projects
CRITERION 1: Scientific quality of the research project (35 points)
- Originality: creativity, potential for disruption & advancement in the field (relevance of the theme and issues addressed, new approach, risk-taking, etc.);
- Scientific scope: scope of the objectives & contributions within the field of research (applied or fundamental);
- Scientific methodology: scientific relevance & feasibility. Ethical & environmental considerations. Appropriateness of budget & time frame. Project presentation (description of objectives, clarity, quality of writing and presentation);
CRITERION 2: Quality of citizen participation in the research project (35 points)
- Citizen mobilization: ability to reach and mobilize the Québec populations or communities targeted by the research project. An estimate of the pool of citizens targeted by the project is expected, as well as a strategy for reaching them. The mobilization of communities with little scientific knowledge or few connections to research is considered an asset. Consideration and efforts made to promote equity, diversity & inclusion in the citizen mobilization strategy (dissemination among underrepresented groups, recruitment, etc.) will be considered in the evaluation;
- Citizen involvement: nature of the citizen involvement (time, resources, knowledge, roles attributed, etc.) and their expected level of participation.
- Scientific literacy: benefits expected in terms of learning & scientific literacy for participating citizens.
CRITERION 3: Relevance of the research project team (30 points)
- Co-construction: resources and time spent on the joint construction of the project by researchers and citizens. A paragraph must specify the expected recognition and benefits for all members of the team. Each member must demonstrate his/her ability to assume his/her project responsibilities and those of his/her home organization.
- Scientific knowledge: Relevance and coherence of the scientific expertise of project team members. Experience and/or potential of the research project members (influence, drive, originality of background, risk taking, commitment, etc.). Complementarity with experiential knowledge.
- Experiential knowledge: Relevance and coherence of the experiential knowledge mobilized within the project team. Experience and/or potential of the citizen project members (influence, drive, originality of background, risk taking, commitment, etc.). Complementarity with scientific knowledge.
6. Submitting your application
It is your responsibility to check that your application is complete before sending it by email to email@example.com before:
- Tuesday October 15, 2019 at 4 p.m. for Stage 1 – letter of intent,
- Thursday February 13, 2020 at 4 p.m. for Stage 2 – grant application.
You will receive a confirmation of reception by email.
No documents received after the application deadline will be considered and applications cannot be updated.
You can request the withdrawal of your application at any time.
7. Description and nature of funding
Under the Engage program, the grant must be used for funding operating expenses directly related to carrying out the research project. All budget items listed in the Common General Rules are eligible, in addition to the following:
- College researcher as principal leader – release from duties equivalent to the time spent on the project, up to 33% of annual salary, or $25,000/year.
- Citizen as principal leader – compensation paid to his/her home organization equivalent to the time spent on the project, up to 33% of annual salary, or $25,000/year.
- Services or expertise for establishing and facilitating relations between the research community and the citizen community (e.g. intermediation organizations).
- Cost of communications used to mobilize/involve citizens throughout the research project.
For universities, indirect costs equivalent to 27% of the grant amount will be paid in addition to the amount of the research grant, to a maximum of $13,500.
An additional support could be granted to the home organisations of principal leaders who are not employed by a university, in order to facilitate the administration of the research project.
8. Application evaluation and announcement of results
As indicated in Section 4 of the Common General Rules, the FRQ receive funding applications, check their eligibility and submit them for scientific evaluation by a committee whose members are recognized for their skills, expertise and achievements relating to the program objectives and the submitted applications.
Evaluation is carried out by mixed multidisciplinary evaluation committees that include members of the scientific community and citizens.
- At Stage 1, the selection committees evaluate and rank the letters of intent in order of merit, according to the program rules and criteria. At least fifteen projects will be selected for Stage 2. The results will be announced to applicants in December 2019.
- At Stage 2, an evaluation committee evaluates and ranks the grant applications in order of merit according to the program rules and criteria and selects the successful projects, within the limit of the available budget. Grants will be announced to the applicants and institutions/organizations in April 2020.
9. Management and follow-up
Utilisation des subventions
Les subventions sont accordées annuellement, du 1er avril au 31 mars, pour une période maximale de 2 ans. Le solde non dépensé à la fin de la subvention peut être reporté, uniquement pour une année additionnelle. Le porteur principal/la porteuse principale, ainsi que son organisme d’attache, doivent justifier le report et s’assurer de sa faisabilité auprès de la personne responsable du programme. Toute somme non dépensée après cette année additionnelle doit être retournée aux FRQ.
Gestion et suivi
Annonce des résultats
- Au moins 1 personne de l’équipe de projet doit être présente lors de l’annonce des octrois du programme par les FRQ, au 88e Congrès de l’Acfas du 4 au 8 mai 2020.
Démarrage de la subvention
- Le candidat ou la candidate doit accepter sa subvention dans les 30 jours suivant la réception des résultats du concours (avril-mai).
- Pour initier le versement de son premier octroi, l’équipe de projet organise une rencontre de lancement du projet, au plus tard 6 mois après l’annonce de l’octroi, en présence de tous les membres de l’équipe de projet et d’une personne employée des FRQ. Lors de cette rencontre, l’équipe de projet doit établir et signer une charte de projet, définissant les rôles et les responsabilités de chacun, ainsi que le partage des bénéfices issus du projet (modèle de charte à venir).
- Pour initier les versements de la 2e année de l’octroi, l’équipe de projet est invitée à la fin de la 1re année de subvention à remettre un court rapport d’étape (incluant une déclaration de mise à jour du projet) et à participer à une réunion de mi-parcours avec les FRQ.
Rapport financier annuel
- 1 fois par an, entre avril et juin, l’organisme d’attache est invité à soumettre un rapport financier pour chaque année d’activité.
Fin de subvention
- L’équipe de projet est invitée à remettre un rapport final et à participer à une réunion de fin de parcours avec les FRQ, au plus tard 21 mois après la date de fin de la subvention (hors année additionnelle s’il y a lieu).
10. Effective date
These rules apply to the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
12. Form, FAQ and additional resources
• The form of the grant application to fill is available in the Toolbox.
• The form «formulaire de demande d’admissibilité de l’OAC».
• The form «formulaire d’Engagement administratif et financier de l’OAC».
• The letter template «affiliation du chercheur / de la chercheuse».