Research Grant Proposal (CIHR style)

Details (Updated January, 2012)

All Ph.D candidates registered in the Department of Physiology are required to complete the PSL1066H "Research Grant Proposal" course.  This consists of a mandatory information session which is scheduled approximately 3 months prior to the submission deadline, production of a written Research Grant Proposal, a 2-page response to the Readers' comments, and an oral defense of the proposal.  Students must take this course within 13 months of beginning their first full term (session) as a registered Ph.D student.  For example, most students start their programs in January or September and will thus need to enrol in the course for the session starting in January or September of the following year, respectively.  Students are advised to start working on their proposal well ahead of the deadline (e.g. 6 months) and must register for the course on ROSI prior to the deadline for submission of the Grant Proposal (October 1 or February 15). Students must be in good standing with the Department of Physiology to be accepted into the course.

Should the student fail to register for and take the course within the required time period, the student will have only one additional opportunity to take the course and must register to take the course the next time it is offered.  With this deferral, the student forfeits the option to resubmit a revised proposal at the next scheduled session of the course in the event of obtaining a failing grade for the written grant proposal; the student also forfeits the right to repeat the oral defense in the event of obtaining a failing grade in the oral examination (Note: Official University of Toronto leave-of-absences are not considered "deferrals").

Objectives of the Course

Students will learn how and gain experience in:

  • preparing a formal grant application for submission to a major granting agency (CIHR format)
  • preparing and delivering an oral summary of a grant proposal and answering questions pertaining to it
  • preparing a written and oral rebuttal/response to the grant reviews

Format of the CIHR Style Operating Grant Proposal

The Proposal must be submitted on the modified CIHR Operating Grant Application forms and follow CIHR submission rules. The Proposal must include the Research Module and the Operating Budget Module. The student is also required to complete the "Common CV Module" which can then be updated in the future for use in award and grant applications. The student and supervisor will also submit the names of at least four suggested Readers on a separate sheet. They should preferably be members of the Department of Physiology. The Reading Committee is usually composed of two members of the Supervisory Committee, and one member of the research grouping or department (but not a member of the Supervisory Committee) - these individuals may be selected from the list of suggested Readers. The student must supply two (2) copies of the Proposal to the Graduate Office, Medical Sciences Building, Room #3209, email:, as well as an electronic version (in PDF or Microsoft Word format) by the required deadline (October 1st or February 15th). Incomplete or late proposals will not be accepted.

The student's supervisor must assure the Committee, in a letter appended to the Grant Proposal, that the Proposal has been read by the supervisor and is of sufficient merit to proceed to review by the Readers. The letter must also affirm that the proposal is substantially the student's own work, and must briefly describe the supervisor's role in preparing the proposal.

Recommended guidelines on preparing grant applications are contained in the article entitled "The Art of Grantsmanship"PDF icon PSL10266 grantsmanship.pdf (42.61 KB) PDF icon grantf.pdf (72.27 KB))and a powerpoint presentation by Dr. Stephen Matthews. These are available on the Department of Physiology website under Research & Faculty, Internal Review of Grants at:

The Proposal will be reviewed and rated by 3 reviewers (Readers) using the CIHR rating scale. In cases where not all rankings are above or below the passing ranking of 3.0 (out of a maximum possible of 4.9), the committee will evaluate and discuss the reviews and decide whether the student can proceed to the oral defense (e.g. the student has passed the written component), or is required to re-take the course at the next scheduled session (e.g. the student has not passed the written component). If the student has passed the written component (the Proposal) but fails the subsequent oral exam, he/she will be required to retake the oral examination within 6-weeks (please note that this is not an option in the event of a deferred submission). If the student fails to pass the second oral component of the course, she/he will be required to withdraw from the PhD program.

Role of the PhD Research Proposal Committee

The Graduate Office will check each Proposal as it is received for completeness and prepare for the Committee a summary sheet containing the registration date of the student in the Ph.D program, the composition of the supervisory committee and the names of the 4 readers suggested by the student and supervisor.  The committee has its first meeting of each cycle (shortly after the submission deadlines of October 1st or February 15th of each year) to assign readers for each Proposal.  The committee considers and makes any required changes to the list of readers supplied by the student and supervisor.  The committee reserves the right to send the Proposal to readers not on the list provided by the student and supervisor. The committee at this time will also discuss any other course related matters that may have arisen since its previous meeting (e.g. suggestions re changes in course format, deadlines, outcomes of previous cycle, etc). Following this meeting the Graduate Office will distribute the Proposals and related documents to each of the readers assigned by the committee. As soon as all the assessments and rankings from the Readers have been received the course director reviews them and if necessary calls a meeting of the Committee to discuss the reviews and rankings. All students are then informed whether they have passed or failed the written component of the course and are sent the reviews.

The Oral Defense of the PhD. Research Grant Proposal

Instructions for Readers