To help strengthen equity, diversity and inclusion in research, the Fonds de recherche du Québec have introduced new measures that will also promote excellence in the research they support. It is important to dispel the myth that equity runs counter to excellence. On the contrary, the prejudices and systemic barriers faced by certain individuals because of their gender, ethno-cultural origins or disability may deprive the research community of access to top talent. Furthermore, the adequate consideration of diversity in research projects, for example through gender- or sex-based analysis, can increase their impact, allowing a greater proportion of the population to benefit from research.
Unconscious bias in scientific assessment
Whether we like it or not, we all have biases. These can influence our judgement, often without our knowledge. When the scientific evaluation of an application is influenced by unconscious biases based, for example, on the applicant’s gender, ethno-cultural origins or disability, the evaluation is no longer based on excellence.
To mitigate the influence of unconscious bias in the scientific assessment process, individuals taking part in the Fonds de recherche du Québec’s peer review process will henceforth be encouraged to take a short online training course. In the interest of avoiding duplication for the scientific community, we have chosen to use the Unconscious bias training module developed by the federal funding agencies and available on the Canada Research Chairs website.
While this training course is not mandatory, we hope that a critical mass of reviewers will choose to take it to help enhance the fairness of the assessment process. Please note that all Fonds staff responsible for evaluation committees will be required to complete the online training module as well as additional training.
Considering sex and gender in research
Given that public research should benefit the greatest possible number of people, the Fonds de recherche du Québec believe that the research projects they support should take human diversity into account, for example by including, where relevant, comparative analysis based on gender or sex. As a result, funding applicants will now be required to state, directly in their application form, whether their research project includes a gender- or sex-based comparative analysis. The inclusion or absence of such analyses must be justified by applicants.
This information will not be transmitted to the reviewers and will not affect the scientific assessment of the projects. This addition to the application forms is intended to allow the Fonds to document the consideration of sex and gender in proposed and funded research projects. Please refer to Section 5.5 of the Fonds’ Common General Rules for further details.
Criteria on equity, diversity and inclusion in the evaluation of FRQNT grant applications
The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) believes that efforts toward equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) contribute to the strengthening of research and must therefore be recognized when evaluating researchers, as well as research teams and clusters. Since the fall 2020 competitions, the integration of EDI principles is included as an evaluation criterion for all of the FRQNT’s regular grant programs. The EDI criterion has been revised for the Fall 2021 competitions to clarify the type of information that should be included.
For more information, please see the document on considering equity, diversity and inclusion in the evaluation of FRQNT grant applications.
Candidates and reviewers using the FRQnet platform must now complete a short self-identification questionnaire linked to the My Profile section of their FRQnet portfolio.
In accordance with the Politique sur la collecte de données sociodémographiques visant à planifier des mesures en matière d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion, adopted by the boards of directors of the three Fonds in April 2021, the data collected will allow the FRQ to detect potentially inequitable situations and to plan and monitor the impact of any improvement measures. The information provided will remain confidential and will have no impact on funding decisions, eligibility or evaluation of applications.
For more information on the self-identification questionnaire, please refer to the FAQ sheet.