Research and Scholarly Activity Fund

Updated: November 2023

Program Purpose:

The Research and Scholarly Activity Fund (RSAF) provides seed support of up to $15,000 to catalyze well-defined early-stage research activities that can lead to external funding. Proposals that focus on incremental increases to existing research activities will not be supported. 

Eligibility Guidelines:

The opportunity is available to faculty members with a full-time continuing status appointment (tenure or teaching stream) at UTM. RSAF funds must be administered through a UTM academic unit. In the case of applications involving groups of faculty, the lead applicant must be a UTM faculty member. 

Proposals that are similar in nature cannot be submitted to both Research and Scholarly Activity Fund (RSAF) and Pedagogical Research Fund (PRF). Office of the Vice-Principal Research and Innovation (OVPRI) will notify PIs in cases where similar proposals are submitted to both funding streams.

Successful applicants will be eligible to reapply for funding 24 months following the competition deadline in which they were successful.

Adjudication Process & Evaluation Criteria:

The UTM Research Council—a multi-disciplinary group that includes one representative from each academic unit—is responsible for adjudicating the RSAF applications.

Each RSAF application will be reviewed and ranked by four faculty members: three reviewers from the UTM Research Council, and one reviewer the applicant discipline area (i.e. sciences, social sciences or humanities).

To be successful, applicants must write their applications for non-specialist reviewers. Proposals written in a highly specialized or technical prose will receive a lower ranking.

Proposal Elements and Adjudication Criteria: 

1.     Project Description (60%)

Describe your research project using non-specialist language, with a focus on four sections: a) the objectives of the research and their significance; b) the context for the research (with brief reference to literature review and theoretical approach); c) methodology; and d) expected outcomes. This section of the application should be 2 pages maximum, single spaced. You may add an additional, optional one page for references, bibliography, and/or works cited.

2.     Novelty and Leveragability (20%)

In this section (1-page maximum), indicate 1) the novelty of the work and 2) how the award can be leveraged to apply for external funding. 1) This grant is designed to seed new research, rather than existing funded research programs. Please describe how the proposed research differs from your current research projects. RSAF proposals that are difficult to distinguish from existing research projects will receive a lower ranking. 2) Highlight how the RSAF will improve your future competitiveness in external funding competitions, such as SSHRC, CIHR, or NSERC.

3.   Budget (20%)

On a separate page (1-page maximum) include an itemized budget and justification. Explain how the requested funds will help you achieve the project objectives. In cases where your overall project budget exceeds the RSAF maximum, explain where you will access these other funds. Be sure to provide specific figures for all costs, with reference to how you’ve calculated the expense. Standard Tri-Council expense eligibility requirements will apply. The UTM Research Council may recommend a lower amount of funding than requested.

Please note: the OVPRI maintains a shared folder of successful Tri-Council grants, which RSAF applicants are welcome to access if you are interested in seeing models of project descriptions using non-specialist language. To receive access, please contact

The RSAF Application:

A complete, maximum 5-page application (or 6 pages with bibliography) must be submitted by the competition deadline as a single PDF document. All text must be in 12pt Times New Roman font. Margins must be set at a minimum of 3/4 inch (1.87cm). The application package must include all the following materials in the order as listed below:

  • Cover Sheet (1 page)
  • Funding Proposal (must include Project Description, and Novelty and Leveragability; 3 pages maximum. (An optional References/Works Cited on an additional 1 page can be submitted.)
  • Budget & Justification (1-page maximum)

Applications for the next competition are due by 11pm on Monday, 12 February 2024 (firm deadline). Please submit proposals in one SINGLE pdf file to Rong Wu at by this date.
File name should be: 2024_RSAF_Your First Name_Your Last Name. Email subject should be: 2024_RSAF_Your First Name_Your Last Name.

Competition Results:

Results will be emailed to the RSAF applicants by the Office of the Vice-Principal Research and Innovation (OVPRI). Individual scores/rankings cannot be provided, but if reviewers provide comments in their adjudication documents, that feedback can be shared with applicants upon request.

Post-Award Details:

Successful RSAF awards will be transferred to the UTM faculty member’s commitment fund centre (CFC) following the receipt of any necessary certifications (see below).

Certifications: University certifications for research using human subjects, animal subjects, or biohazards are required (as necessary) before funds can be transferred. Certifications need not be appended at the time of application; however, funding cannot be released until confirmation of the necessary certification is received by the OVPRI.

Requirement: Upon acceptance of the RSAF funds, successful applicants will be required to participate in at least two proposal reviews for subsequent OVPRI-adjudicated funding competitions (e.g., RSAF, OCCF, Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, UTM Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, UTM/Jackman Humanities Institute Annual Seminar, UTM Working Group).

Final Report: RSAF recipients must submit a 1-2 paragraph final report describing the impact of the award on the recipient's research program. This statement could also briefly describe what was accomplished with the funding and how the funds were expended and should be sent to the OVPRI no later than one year following a successful application. Failure to submit a final report could result in funds being withheld in a subsequent RSAF competition for which you are applying.

Acknowledgment: The UTM affiliation of researchers and support from the OVPRI should be acknowledged in any research outputs arising from this award.


Click here to view past RSAF recipients and projects