Research and Scholarly Activity Fund

Program Purpose:

The RSAF aims to provide leveraging support, up to $10,000 per proposal, to improve the competitiveness of external grant applications submitted by UTM faculty members. Preference will be given to those proposals that demonstrate strong potential to generate future external support.

Examples of eligible research and scholarly activities fundable through the RSAF include the following:

  • Seed Funding: Short-term support for early-stage research leading to the future submission of a specific external sponsor application; and
  • Institutional Contribution: Cash commitment or match for a partnership or other funding program (such as SSHRC Partnership Development Grant or NSERC Research Tools & Instruments Grant), in which an institutional contribution will provide a competitive advantage to the application.

Eligibility Guidelines:

To be eligible for these funds, applicants must be full-time tenure-stream UTM faculty members. Teaching-stream applicants must have a demonstrable history of applying for external research opportunities (e.g. CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC). RSAF funds must be administered through a UTM unit; in the case of applications involving groups of faculty, the lead applicant must be a UTM faculty member. 

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 individual RSAF application will be reviewed and ranked by five members of the UTM Research Council: three reviewers from the applicant’s broad discipline (humanities, social sciences, or sciences, as specified on the application cover sheet), and one reviewer from each of the other disciplines.

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

Evaluation Criteria: 

1.     Leveragability (50%):

In the ‘Funding Proposal’ section of the application, applicants must indicate to the multi-disciplinary reviewers that the RSAF award will improve the applicant’s future competitiveness in a specific external funding competition. In evaluating the applicant’s case for how the RSAF funds will lead to future funding success, the reviewers will consider the general quality of the proposed scholarly activity. Given the multi-disciplinary review process, applicants are reminded to consider the use of non-specialist language. As a model, consider the non-specialist program descriptions typically drafted for SSHRC, CIHR, or NSERC project summaries.

2.     Budget Appropriateness (50%):

Proposed expenditures must be itemized and fully justified in the ‘Budget & Justification’ section of the application. Proposals that do not make a clear, demonstrated case for the use of the RSAF funds will receive a lower ranking. Standard Tri-Council expense eligibility requirements will apply. The UTM Research Council may recommend a lower amount of funding than requested.

The RSAF Application:

A complete, maximum 4-page application must be submitted by the competition deadline as a single PDF document, using standard typeface and spacing. The RSAF application package must include:

  • Cover Sheet (1 page)
  • Funding Proposal (must include two sections: Project Description, and Leveraging Opportunity; 2-page maximum) (Bibliography/References on an additional page, 1-page limit)
    Contingency plans related to the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your research project should be described in the proposal, if appropriate. 
  • Budget & Justification (1-page maximum)

Applications for the next competition are due by 11pm on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 (firm deadline). Please submit proposals in one SINGLE pdf file to Rong Wu ( by this date. 

Please note that the RSAF application requirements perfectly align with two evaluation criteria— leveragability (Funding Proposal) and budget appropriateness (Budget & Justification). The Funding Proposal must include the following clearly labeled headings: ‘Leveraging Opportunity,’ and ‘Project Description.’

Project Description

The applicant summarizes the proposed research or scholarly activity using language suitable for a multi-disciplinary audience. The applicant must clearly explain the significance (e.g., scholarly and/or community-based impacts, knowledge transfer and exchange impacts) of their project.

Leveraging Opportunity

The applicant clearly identifies the targeted external funding opportunity, and fully illustrates how an RSAF award (seed funding or an institutional contribution) could increase the applicant’s competitiveness.

Budget & Justification

The applicant itemizes, describes and justifies how the proposed RSAF funds will be spent. Standard Tri-Council expense eligibility requirements must be followed.

Competition Results:

Results will be emailed to the RSAF applicants by the Office of the Vice-Principal, Research (OVPR). 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 ‘seed-funding’ awards will be transferred to the UTM faculty member’s commitment fund centre (CFC) following the receipt of any necessary certifications (see below).

‘Institutional contribution’ awards will be released upon the subsequent success of the relevant external proposal. RSAF funds will be transferred to the successful applicant through whatever means will be most appropriate for the external sponsor’s reporting requirements.

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 OVPR.

Requirement: Upon acceptance of the RSAF funds, successful applicants will be required to participate in at least two proposal reviews for subsequent OVPR-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 OVPR 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 OVPR should be acknowledged in any research outputs arising from this award.


Click here to view past RSAF recipients and projects