I want to provide some clarification about our recent call for proposals, and also offer an extension to the deadline. We have received a few notices of intent and it’s clear that our request for proposals was not clear enough to elicit the response we wanted. I take full responsibility for this and I’m very sorry for the confusion.
In clarifying what we’re looking for, let me offer a bit of context. The McMaster Institute for Health Equity is in its infancy and health equity is a very broad subject area. There are a number of other similar institutes around the world. Of course, this reflects the magnitude and scope of the problem of health inequities, but we need a way to distinguish McMaster’s expertise / interests in the area.
As we discussed in our workshop in the Fall of 2019, we are looking to establish theme areas, signature initiatives, research agendas, clusters, etc. that can help give some definition to the institute and provide some focus to our activities. These ideas may be developed by a small group with plans to expand it later. The plans for expansion could be something that is reported on at the end of the funding period. The focus might be on (a) population group(s), a class of causal pathways that need to be understood better, a set of methodological approaches that could advance health equity research, an intervention or group of inventions that have the potential to reduce health inequities, a health condition or group of health conditions / risk factors, etc.
Some ideas for theme areas were generated at the Fall 2019 workshop, and I urge you to read about those when thinking about your submission.
In other words, I’m hoping that submissions will address some of the following strategic questions:
- What are the big questions that can drive health equity research forward?
- What are the limitations of our current knowledge?
- What disciplines and methods are required to pursue these questions?
- What kinds of studies should we be preparing in anticipation of funding opportunities to pursue such questions? Who needs to be involved? What’s McMaster’s competitive advantage to conduct such studies?
- Who should be involved? What kind of expertise is still missing?
Here are a couple of other points of clarification on what MIHE is seeking to fund (or NOT fund):
- MIHE seeks to fund plans for long-term programs of research, NOT short-term, discrete empirical projects
- MIHE is NOT seeking to fund projects that describe patterns of health inequity related to COVID-19. While COVID-19 has certainly shone a light on many existing inequities and magnified some too, this request for proposals is unrelated to the pandemic. Obviously COVID-19 may be relevant to the area of health equity you address, but the goal of this funding program is to meet the strategic development needs of MIHE.
- Medium- to long-term visions / plans / agendas, etc. for research that will advance a specific aspect / theme / area of scholarly knowledge in health equity
We imagine that the activities that would be required between now and the end of 2020 would include:
- Development of conceptual frameworks for a program of research
- Initial team development and networking plans
- Identification of funding opportunities for necessary research to advance your proposed field of health equity
- Analysis of disciplinary, methodological and other specialty expertise requiring further development
- Potential ideas and preliminary plans for large-scale, interdisciplinary research projects in the future
- A plan that will put your theme group in a position of readiness to pursue ambitious research plans as funding and other opportunities arise
At the end of this process, I’m hopeful that we will have a number (4-6?) of high functioning thematic clusters of scholarly activity that promote collaboration towards advancing research on health equity within those cluster, which can be a successful platform for future research that has the effect of reducing health inequity from the local to the global.
As I noted above, we have extended the timelines for submission:
- Applications are due by Friday, August 28
- Decisions will be made by Friday, Sept 4
- Funds will be available by September 14, 2020
- Research Report Due Friday, January 29
Thank you for your understanding, I hope this clarifies the objectives of the call for proposals. I’m happy to answer questions to further clarify, and I’m excited by the prospects for some truly great ideas.
Thank you again