The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is an arm of the Canadian federal funding agency. SSHRC supports a wide range of research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities and the current president of the Council is Chad Gaffield.
SSHRC was formally created by an act of Parliament in 1977. In the years since its creation it has expanded programs and funding considerably, from primarily recipient-driven grants and primary research to directed research that seeks to answer specific questions of importance to SSHRC or Canada as a country. In its 2006-2007 budget, the program offered CAN$306 million for grants and scholarships out of a total CAN$538 million budget. SSHRC recently underwent a transition from a granting council (dedicated towards providing funding for research) to a knowledge council (dedicated towards funding and disseminating research so it is useful to Canadians).
SSHRC now supports a variety of programs with a variety of goals. The application process generally involves peer review of the merit of the applications. The large number of applicants means that not all projects can be funded. SSHRC also works in partnership with NSERC and the CIHR (two other Canadian arms-length funding agencies responsible for the natural sciences and engineering, and medical research respectively) to fund the indirect costs of research (such as facilities and equipment).
Standard research grants and major collaborative research initiatives (MCRI) are investigator-framed research projects that are designed to fund high-quality research that is of interest to the faculty member performing the research. MCRI grants are designed to support collaborative and interdisciplinary cutting-edge research while standard research grants focus on single discipline-based research projects.
The strategic research grants program is designed to fund projects focussing on issues of pressing social, economic and cultural importance. The types of projects funded (i.e. the topic they are focussed on) change throughout years. Some, particularly the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program are designed to foster collaboration between academic researchers and community partners, with the goal of increasing applicability of research results to real-world programs.
The joint initiatives are designed to foster co-operation between government agencies, community or professional partners, and/or the SSHRC itself. Similar to issue-framed grants, these grants fund issues of pressing importance.
There are a variety of grants designed to assist researchers to publish and otherwise spread information about the results of their research. This is mostly in the form of different types of journals as well as academic conferences and workshops.
The SSHRC also funds fellowships that assist researchers who are starting their careers. The fellowships are monies dedicated towards faculty, doctoral students or postdoctoral researchers. These fellowships may be for research dedicated towards specific topics, or general funding based solely on the assumed merit of the student. More general funding is also available for master's and doctoral students.
SSHRC, in partnership with NSERC and CIHR provides funding for researchers who excel in specific fields (known as Canada Research Chairs) in the natural sciences, health and social sciences/humanities, as well as providing funding for the indirect costs of research.
The SSHRC will also provide funding for a limited number of non-university based agencies.
SSHRC also provides awards for excellence in research at a variety of levels, for a variety of disciplines and on a variety of topics. Awards are granted for the previous year (i.e. the awards for 2005 are delivered in 2006). Among them are:
The SSHRC Gold Medal for Achievement in Research, worth CAN$100 000, is the council's highest research honour, and is awarded to a researcher who is noted for leadership, dedication and originality of thought as well as added significantly to Canada's culture. The 2005 winner was Richard Lipsey.
The SSHRC Aurora Prize is awarded to a new researcher who "is building a reputation for exciting and original research in the social sciences or humanities." The 2005 winner of the Aurora prize was Jill Scott (not the singer-songwriter).
The SSHRC Postdoctoral Prize is awarded each year to the most outstanding SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship recipient. The 2005 recipient of the Postdoctoral Prize is Valerie Henitiuk.
The William E. Taylor Fellowship is awarded each year to the most outstanding SSHRC doctoral award recipient. The 2005 recipient of the William E. Taylor Fellowship was Michael Levi. The 2006 and 2007 recipients were Mingjun Lu and Abninder Litt, respectively.
The Molson Prize is awarded in conjunction with Canada Council for the Arts for Canadians who have made significant contributions to Canada's cultural and intellectual heritage. The 2005 recipient of the Molson Prize was George Ramsay Cook. The Molson prize is awarded on a different schedule than most of the other SSHRC awards and therefore currently has a 2006 recipient as well. The 2006 recipient of the Molson Prize was Henry Mintzberg. The 2007 recipient in the social sciences was the philosopher Paul Thagard.