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In 2018, the Government of Canada announced that “they will be doing further work to determine how to better support students, the next generation of researchers, through scholarships and fellowships.” To bolster the underrepresented voice of current trainees on this issue, we sought to hear directly from current and recent graduate students and postdoctoral fellows:  

SPE launched a nation-wide survey in both French and English that took into account federal awards exclusively from the Tri-Council Agencies: CIHR (Canadian Institute of Health Research), NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), and SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council). We formulated questions that encompassed a range of issues.


Some of our considerations include:

  1. Early career researchers’ (ECRs) opinion on the current state of funding,

  2. The challenges faced by international students,

  3. Issues faced by trainees with respect to equity, diversity and inclusion and,

  4. Perspectives on potential adaptations to the federal funding system to centre sustainable ECR support and success


Over 1100 responses were collected between October 9th and January 15th, 2019. The SPE team gathered and analyzed the data as critically and objectively as possible, to best represent the needs of certain subpopulations of respondents and equity-seeking groups. 


These analyses are summarized here in our 4 micro-reports, complete with infographics, and a large-scale comprehensive report. The recommendations highlighted within would serve as strong pillars in building resilient funding support for the next generation of researchers, both in the face of current challenges brought by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and for the future of Canadian research to come.

English Micro-Reports
EDI Sub-Analyses
Micro-Rapports Français
Comprehensive Report
Cleaned & Anonymized Data
Press Release  / Communiqué de presse

Media Contact

Pablo Martinez, VP Communications

Contributors, listed in alphabetical order:

Saishree Badri1,2,3,4, Samantha Bovaird1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,*, Mary-Rose Bradley-Gill1,3,4,5,6,8,9,*, Nicolas Brodeur4, Laura Cabral1, Arnaud Cheuk4, Marie Franquin1,4,5,6, Sarah Gagnon1, Sam Garnett1,2,4,5,6,8, Tina Gruosso1,3,4,5,6,9, Jacqueline Ha1,2,3,4,6, Patrick Julien1,2,8, Irene Kaloyannis1, Laura Lyon1, Shawn McGuirk4, Stephanie Mouchbahani-Constance1, Connie Shen1, Leora Simon1, Vivienne Tam1,7, Anh-Khoi Trinh1,4, Suzanne van der Veldt1


Detailed contributions

  1. Formal Analysis

  2. Data Curation

  3. Writing - Original Draft

  4. Writing - Editing and Review

  5. Conceptualization

  6. Investigation

  7. Visualization

  8. Software

  9. Methodology

* Supervision

Corresponding contributor



Our survey collected demographic data pertaining to age, gender, equity, and caregiver status. The survey allowed participants to self-identify as a member of a visible minority, a person with disabilities, or an Indigenous person. We did not directly collect additional data regarding which racialized groups survey participants were a part, nor whether participants identified as part of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. Participants were likewise permitted to add additional identifications in a box denoted “Other” where desired.


Nonetheless, additional demographic information is pertinent to current political and media discussions surrounding anti-Black racism, as well as racism against Indigenous peoples, and other people of colour, as well as other forms of marginalization including homophobia, transphobia, and ableism. 


SPE recognizes that we did not account for comprehensive data collection detailing each of these axes above during development of the survey. We commit to doing so in the future. 


We recommend that continuing data collection surrounding the topics of federal research trainee funding, access to education, graduate school and post-doctoral training, and trainee mental health collect these demographic data to better measure and record impacts on specific communities, and to bolster evidence-based policy that will reduce marginalization in our education system.

How to Cite:

Rethinking Federal Research Funding: Towards More Equitable Funding for Canada's Next Generation, Science & Policy Exchange, October 21 2020,

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