Call for Applications: NDRIO-Portage COVID-19 Data Curation Funding
NDRIO and Portage are pleased to announce the availability of funding to support the curation of Canadian research data related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this funding is to bring COVID-19 related data into timely compliance with the FAIR Guiding Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) for the management of research data, algorithms, tools and workflows. Ultimately, increasing the FAIRness of datasets makes them discoverable and re-usable by both humans and machines, enabling downstream research. As a secondary objective, this initiative aims to build capacity for research data management (RDM) in Canada by supporting the training of highly-qualified personnel (HQP) in data stewardship and curation.
About the COVID-19 Data Curation Funding Call
This initiative will contribute up to CAD $336,000 toward the employment of highly-qualified personnel by eligible applicants for data stewardship and curation activities taking place between the date of the award and March 31, 2022. The maximum funding available per project is CAD $42,000. This funding may only be used for the contracting of HQP for the stewardship or curation of data from research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of funding awarded to each recipient will be based on the scope and defined needs of each project as demonstrated through the application process.
Additionally, funding recipients will receive support from Portage in the form of an initial consultation with the Data Curation Team and with the possibility of group or individual training activities during the course of the project, as determined by the needs of recipients and in consultation with Portage.
Context and RDM guidance
The COVID-19 pandemic has called attention to the need for accurate and rapidly available research data to respond to public health emergencies. As part of the global response to public health emergencies, many organizations and publishers have committed to making data free and openly accessible. Among these are the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Science Publishing, Fonds de recherche du Québec, Genome Canada, Génome Québec, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) / Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG).
The Research Data Alliance (RDA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with the publication of its Recommendations and Guidelines on Data Sharing. Portage’s COVID-19 Working Group (now concluded) produced Research Data Management (RDM) Guidance designed to support Canadian researchers in managing and sharing data related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Guide to COVID-19 Rapid Response Data Sharing and Deposit for Canadian Researchers
- Can I Share My Data?
- De-identification Guidance
- Documentation and Supporting Material Required for Deposit
- Recommended Repositories for COVID-19 Research Data
This suite of tools may be of use to prospective applicants to this funding call in scoping the work for which they request funding.
Eligibility and application process
Applications are welcomed from Canadian researchers and research programs eligible to administer funding received through NDRIO. Where applicable, research must be compliant with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans – TCPS 2 (2018).
This call is not open to federal government institutions, such as federal departments, agencies, Crown corporations, and their research facilities.
This funding may be used for the stewardship and curation of research data related to the COVID-19 pandemic from any discipline. Applications are welcomed from STEM and health disciplines as well as from the social sciences, humanities, and arts.
Any activities undertaken for the stewardship and curation of data throughout the data lifecycle, by highly-qualified personnel (HQP), may be included in the scope of activities for which funding is requested through this call. Generally, any activities covered in Portage’s COVID-19 RDM Guidance will be eligible. This includes activities such as data management planning, curation, de-identification, and deposit in a recommended repository.
Applicants will be asked to submit an overview of the research project, describe the proposed activities for which funding is being sought, and submit a preliminary budget in their completed application. Where applicable, applications must be submitted by the principal investigator or project director. For projects involving human participant data, including secondary use of human participant data, applications should indicate whether ethics approval or exemption is being sought or has been obtained.
Applications will be screened for eligibility by Portage. A selection committee of experts will then evaluate the applications using the scoring criteria outlined below to assign a score which will be used in making selection decisions.
The confidentiality of applicants will be maintained throughout the selection process. Members of the selection committee will be required to declare any conflicts of interest that may exist between themselves and applicants and will be recused from the selection process as necessary. Successful applicants will be notified and individual feedback will be available to all applicants on request.
Applications will be accepted until May 28, 2021.
Successful applicants will be notified by June 25, 2021.
Awards are subject to confirmation of federal government funding.
The selection committee will use the following criteria to assess applications and assign a score which will serve as the basis for selection decisions.
- Evidence of the significance of the research to its domain(s).
- Feasibility of the proposed activities, including clarity of scope, technical feasibility, and budget.
- Evidence that the work undertaken with this funding will support and grow research data management expertise among the highly qualified personnel engaged in the project.
- Demonstrated need for funding from this call to achieve the proposed activities and/or need for research data management support from Portage.
- Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the research team and research environment, including team composition and recruitment processes, training and development opportunities, and value and respect for all individuals.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Can this funding be used for administrative, overhead, indirect, or equipment costs?
A: No, these types of expenses are ineligible expenses. This funding may only be used for highly-qualified personnel (HQP).
Q: Is there a requirement that funds be matched by my institution, or that I have secured funding from any other source?
A: No, this is a standalone call. Funding is not contingent on any other funding source.
Q: My institution is eligible to receive funding from CIHR, NSERC, or SSHRC. Are we eligible to apply for this funding?
A: Yes. If your institution is eligible for federal funding and you meet the other eligibility criteria, you may apply for funding through this call.
Q: Is there any eligibility criterion applicable to the stage of funding – for example, pre-clinical studies?
A: No, there is no such eligibility restriction. The curation activities may be performed on data related to COVID-19 from any stage of research.
Q: Must the data be associated with a publication for the curation activities to be eligible for funding?
A: No, this will not be considered.
Q: Must the activities proposed for funding include the deposit of data in a recommended repository?
A: Not necessarily. All curation activities referenced in the call are eligible for funding, but it is not necessary to include all of the activities in the application. It is acceptable to submit an application which does not include, for example, deposit of data in a recommended repository.
Q: Must the applicant be a producer of data to be eligible for funding?
A: Not necessarily. Data curation activities may take place in other research contexts. For example, the research project may involve the synthesis of datasets from multiple sources, the de-identification of sensitive data, or the provision of data to third parties in accordance with data sharing agreements.
Q: Must the data be exclusively “Canadian” – that is, Canadian-only by source or subjects?
A: No, there is no eligibility requirement that limits the source or subject of the data by jurisdiction. It is, however, necessary that the research team be associated with a Canadian institution eligible for funding.
Q: On the day the call closes, what time of day are applications due?
A: We did not specify a time of day for this call. We will accept applications submitted by midnight, local time of the applicant.
Q: Where the application form specifies a word limit, must references be included in the word count?
A: No, you may exclude references from the word count for your answers.
Q: Will funding recipients be publicly announced?
A: Yes, we will disclose the recipients of funding publicly.
 See Wilkinson, M., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I. et al. The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Sci Data 3, 160018 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2016.18.
 Generally, this will include researchers affiliated with post-secondary institutions, their affiliated institutions (e.g. hospitals, research institutes), and not-for-profit organizations eligible for any stream of funding from the three federal granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). See Government of Canada, Interagency Research Funding, Policies and Guidelines, “Institutional Eligibility Requirements”, <http://www.science.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_3D5FA603.html> (accessed 5 Mar 2021).
 HQP are individuals with a degree at the Bachelor level or above. Typically, they will have expertise in the discipline in which research is conducted. Trained data curation students or professionals will also be considered HQP for the purposes of this call.
 Typically, the individual with overall responsibility for the intellectual direction of the research and accountability for the financial and administrative coordination of funding. See SSHRC, “Applicant”, <https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/programs-programmes/definitions-eng.aspx#a1> (accessed 5 Mar 2021).
 This is intended to reflect the Tri-Agencies’ commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. See for example Canada Research Coordinating Committee, “Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research” <https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/nfrf-fnfr/edi-eng.aspx> (accessed Mar 1 2021).