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Guidelines for the Internal Selection and Nomination of Canada Research Chairs

PDF version

Contents

Introduction

Background

Internal Allocation of CRCs

Preparing Internal CRC Job Postings

Posting Internal CRC Vacancies

Selection Committee

Candidate Assessment

Review of CVs, Proposals and Other Materials

Review, Including Interview

Collection of Equity Data

Committee Recommendation

Supporting Materials and Equity Training Resources

Introduction

This document was prepared by the Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) strategic research programs office with the aim of providing a brief overview of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) requirements for the internal selection and nomination of Canada Research Chairs (CRCs). The use of ‘internal’ is intended to mean selection from among SRI scientists with full-time appointments at the time the opportunity is advertised.

This brief guide is designed to assist search committees in selecting internal CRC candidates, according to the CRCP’s best practices for recruitment, hiring and retention of Chairs.

A separate guide is available for the external recruitment and nomination of CRCs.

Full information and details of the CRCP can be found at www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca.

Background

The CRCP in 2017 released its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan (EDIAP), which requires institutions to meet certain milestones to ensure continued eligibility and funding.

All CRC recruitment and nomination processes must be transparent, open, equitable and fair, thereby ensuring that all individuals have access to and benefit from the program. Notably, the CRCP aims to eliminate barriers and to increase access to the program for the federally designated groups (FDGs): women; Aboriginal peoples; persons with disabilities; and members of visible minorities.

Sunnybrook Research Institute is working with the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals to meet the CRCP Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Public Accountability and Transparency Requirements, and is adapting its institutional practices to align with the new guidelines for recruitment and nomination of CRCs.

Some of the new requirements demand specific actions by the institution and by individuals involved in staff recruitment, and these are highlighted below.

Internal Allocation of CRCs

The formal CRC allocation is made to the University of Toronto rather than to hospitals, and the university makes a sub-allocation to each affiliated hospital using an established formula, based largely on tri-council funding received. The recruitment and allocation of CRCs by affiliated hospitals is determined by each hospital’s strategic research priorities and requirements. Hospital nominations are reviewed by a university committee to ensure eligibility and broad scientific merit and alignment with EDIAP requirements.

At SRI, the Research Executive Committee (REC) conducts an annual review of CRC allocations among Research Platforms to ensure alignment with strategic research priorities. That review includes specific consideration of CRC awards expected to end within the next two years. An unanticipated CRC vacancy or “retention” opportunity would be addressed at the next REC meeting.

The internal selection of a nominee for an approved vacancy is undertaken by the recipient Research Platform. The selection process must proceed in compliance with CRCP’s EDIAP requirements, and Research Platforms are expected to encourage candidates actively from the FDGs who meet the requirements for a CRC.

Preparing Internal CRC Job Postings

There must be an open posting to all eligible faculty members and Research Platforms for proposals to fill a vacant chair. The CRCP now requires that a copy of the posting be included with the CRC nomination package.

The posting should be unambiguous about any specific requirements of the vacancy in terms of essential skills, training, experience and achievements the candidate is expected to have, and any expectations the platform or SRI has about future activities of the nominee. The posting should be explicit about the expected standing and seniority of the candidate.

The posting must use inclusive, unbiased, ungendered language and must be reviewed by an equity officer (or equivalent) prior being advertised. It must contain the following elements:

  • information on the CRC opportunity, and on the process and any special criteria or requirements that will be used to select the prospective CRC nominee
  • in the case of Tier 2 opportunities, the posting must describe the CRC eligibility requirements
  • reference to career interruptions and encouragement to applicants to explain any personal circumstances, to allow for a fair assessment of their application
  • an equity statement encouraging applications from people in the FDGs
  • a statement that applicants must fill in a voluntary self-declaration form (available here), and a link to the form must be included in the posting.

Sample postings for internal Tier 1 or Tier 2 CRC recruitment are available in Appendix A of the PDF file.

Posting Internal CRC Vacancies

Invitations for CVs and proposals to fill a CRC vacancy must be circulated internally (e.g., by email) among all faculty. Announcements must also be publicly posted on SRI’s website for a minimum of 30 days.

The CRCP expects that efforts will be made to encourage a diverse pool of potential applicants and that institutions will actively identify and encourage applications from individuals in the FDGs. As such, Research Platforms must identify potential applicants in the FDGs from among the faculty who meet the CRC requirements for the specific vacancy, provide mentoring and support to them, and strongly encourage them to apply.

Selection Committee

The term “selection committee” includes all of the people involved in any part of the selection process. The process includes:

  • establishing the selection process to be used, and defining the materials to be requested from applicants and other sources (as appropriate)
  • establishing candidate selection criteria
  • reviewing CVs, proposals and any other material provided for the review
  • interviewing and reviewing formal candidates, as appropriate
  • selecting and recommending the prospective CRC nominee.

The CRCP recognizes the power and consequences of unconscious bias, and that review processes can result in the selection of people who resemble the people who do the selecting, that is, people who “fit.” As a counterbalance and to ensure an equitable process, a diverse selection committee membership is required. Unconscious bias may also influence the CV review and shortlisting processes, and the CRCP is particularly concerned about addressing unintended or unconscious bias that may have an effect during the CRC selection and decision-making processes at the institution. For example, research has shown that the evaluation of academic CVs and even the wording of letters of recommendation differ by gender.

The CRCP has thus implemented requirements to improve the transparency of the process and to improve participants’ awareness of their contributions.

Institutions must ensure that a selection committee:

  • includes representation from at least one of the FDGs: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with a disability and members of visible minorities
  • includes an equity officer, equity advisor (or equivalent) who is involved and consulted at all stages of the recruitment process
  • takes, at minimum, the mandatory CRCP unconscious bias training module and ensures that members are sensitized to issues of equity and unconscious biases
  • is aware of any representation gap(s) among the institution’s current Chairholders
  • has established the application requirements, the selection criteria and shortlisting process prior to the initial screening of applications and CVs
  • is sensitive to an applicant’s legitimate career interruptions.

Proposals, CVs and any other material requested by the selection committee should be sent to the chair of the selection committee. Applicant data forms should be sent to an individual independent of the selection committee, to ensure privacy. Aggregate data only would be provided to the chair.

Selection committee members must identify if they have a conflict of interest regarding their participation, or if any information has been shared with them about a candidate that may influence their decision.

Candidate Assessment

The CRCP expects institutions to be committed to a fair and equitable selection process that objectively and consistently follows clear selection criteria established prior to the initial screening of CVs. The criteria adopted to assess CVs must be unambiguous, and account for both traditional and nontraditional research outputs such as professional services, outreach, mentoring and training of highly qualified personnel and other contributions appropriate to the specific CRC vacancy.

A summary table of metrics will be compiled by the Strategic Research Programs office and provided to the selection committee, along with the proposals and CVs. The table will include summaries of funding, publications and other data extracted from the CVs and proposals, as well as from established scientific database sources (e.g., Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, etc.). A sample research metrics table and CV evaluation matrix is included in Appendix B of the PDF file and may be adapted to suit the particular vacancy. The selection committee will agree the information to be collected prior to the review of CVs.

Review of CVs, Proposals and Other Materials

Selection committee members will review materials against the predetermined criteria, and the use of an evaluation matrix is recommended to ensure consistency. The reviewers should ensure a fair and equitable treatment of all candidates and must do the following:

  • be as objective as possible
  • apply the criteria in the same way for all candidates
  • make allowance for differences in communication and presentation styles
  • be explicit that career breaks for family or medical needs or community responsibility will not negatively impact the hiring decision.

Review, Including Interview

For an internal selection process, it may be determined that that an interview component will not materially enhance the information available for review and that the selection process will proceed through the assessment of CVs and proposals only. However, if the selection committee opts to interview applicants, then interviews must do the following:

  • Be as objective as possible. The use of an evaluation matrix is recommended. A sample candidate evaluation matrix is included in Appendix B of the PDF file and may be adapted to suit the circumstances of the particular post.
  • Ask the same questions of each candidate.
  • Make allowance for differences in communication and presentation styles.
  • Be explicit that career breaks for family or medical needs or community responsibility will not negatively impact the hiring decision.

Collection of Equity Data

The CRCP expects institutions to encourage individuals to self-identify and to collect equity data to monitor progress toward meeting the university’s established targets for the FDGs.

Sunnybrook Research Institute has developed a self-identification form.

  • The self-identification form must be included as part of all internal selection and external recruitment processes.
  • External and internal candidates and existing Chairholders must be encouraged to self-identify.
  • Self-identification forms must be collected and safeguarded by a designated officer who is otherwise not part of the recruitment process.
  • Collected data must be kept confidential and cannot be accessed by selection committees.
  • Aggregated data relating to a specific recruitment would be provided to the selection committee chair.
  • Aggregated data will be used for the purpose of institutional planning as part of the CRCP EDIAP, and for reporting to the university and the CRCP.

Committee Recommendation

The CRCP is committed to excellence and equity in research. Selection committees should be mindful that the best-qualified candidates might not have the most years of experience, the highest number of publications or the most academic accomplishments. Nontraditional research outputs, professional services, outreach mentoring, training of highly qualified personnel and other nontraditional contributions should receive proper consideration when evaluating CVs. Committees should avoid using a candidate’s apparent “fit” as a hiring criterion. In the context of the institution’s equity targets, strategic selection should be considered when there are two equally qualified candidates and where one is from one (or more) of the FDGs.

If the review process has included interviews with candidates, then the committee shall agree which candidate should be recommended to the vice-president, research to be nominated for the CRC.

If the review process was based on submitted materials only and there was no interview, then the committee should normally meet to agree which candidate should be recommended to the vice-president, research to be nominated for the CRC. If there is unanimity among the committee members about the recommended candidate, then the meeting may be dispensed with.

At the end of the process, the chair of the selection committee should provide a written, signed report to the vice-president, research on the hiring process. The report/recommendation must include:

  • certification by the committee chair that the selection and nomination process was transparent, open and equitable; and the report/recommendation should be signed by the vice-president, research
  • rationale for selection of the chosen candidate
  • explanation if the selected candidate is not a member of one of the FDGs; and the rationale for not selecting a candidate from a target group should be approved by the equity officer or equivalent with equity expertise
  • brief description of the process for review of materials and selection for interview (as appropriate)
  • rationale for selection of committee members, including declaration and resolution of any conflicts of interest
  • copy of research metrics table / evaluation matrix utilized for assessing applicants
  • copy of guidance provided to the selection committee.

Within 24 months following a CRC recruitment and nomination, institutions may be asked to provide proof that the process was open and fair. The following documentation that may be requested by the CRCP is as follows:

  • membership of committees, with indication that it includes representation from at least one of the FDGs
  • description of equity training provided
  • description of the role of the equity officer or equivalent
  • archived copy of advertisement or announcement of the CRC opportunity
  • description of strategy to identify and actively recruit members of the FDGs
  • criteria and assessment grids
  • internal policies and guidelines
  • copy of the blank self-identification form.

A checklist for the internal recruitment process is available in Appendix C of the PDF file.

Supporting Materials and Equity Training Resources

CRC unconscious bias training module

U of T’s Enhancing Diversity

Searching for Excellence and Diversity Workshop

CRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Practices

CRC Guidelines for Ensuring a Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process

CRC Best Practices for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention

Hiring Practices for Equity in Employment: Interviewing Guide

U of T’s Better Practices in Recruitment

Canada Research Chairs at the University of Toronto

Self-identification form

The University of Toronto Strategic Research Plan

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Strategic Plan

Sunnybrook Research Institute Research Strategic Plan (intranet access only)


For more information about the CRCP at SRI, contact Kevin Hamilton, director, strategic research programs, SRI: kevin.hamilton@sri.utoronto.ca.