Mitacs supports university-based research projects and university-industry research collaborations through the Globalink, Accelerate, and Elevate programs. These Mitacs programs are open to researchers in all disciplines and provide support to projects in many sectors.  The following list articulates the key characteristics of research and provides guidelines on the types of projects eligible for support through the Globalink, Accelerate, and Elevate programs:

Research makes a new contribution to the body of knowledge in a field 
Research answers a question that has not been answered previously or otherwise makes a new contribution by developing new techniques to solve an existing problem, applying and/or combining existing techniques to solve a new problem, or analyzing new or existing data to generate new knowledge. Mitacs research proposals should be clear about the objectives and novel aspects of the proposed work.

Research is broadly applicable
Research builds on existing knowledge in a field and makes a contribution to future research when it is shared with the wider community. For research collaborations between universities and non-academic partner organizations, projects are expected to produce results of broader interest, in addition to any results that may be of interest only to the partner organization.  This idea of general applicability of results that could be publishable in a peer-reviewed venue distinguishes a research project from a consulting project.

Mitacs appreciates that intellectual property (IP) is an important concern for applied research projects with industrial partners. IP concerns should be settled according to any applicable IP policies at the intern’s university. From the research perspective, interns need to be allowed to publish the results of their research, but may be asked to delay publication briefly while the company files patents.

Academic research in business disciplines (e.g., accounting, marketing, operations, labour economics) that is publishable in peer-reviewed journals is eligible for Mitacs funding. Business projects that use well established, standardized methodologies for data collection are ineligible. Projects that generate knowledge of interest only to a particular company or interest group rather than knowledge that is of general interest in the discipline are also ineligible. Examples include market research, development of business plans, consulting projects, and white papers.

Research is defined by the research community
The research landscape is constantly changing, so the most reliable judge of whether a project is considered research is the research community. As such, peer review is a standard method of evaluating proposals employed by many research organizations, including Mitacs.  Discipline-specific experts offer advice to Mitacs about Accelerate and Elevate research proposals. Mitacs is also supported in this role by the Mitacs Research Council (MRC).

In the context of peer review, the proposal must be clear about the methodology that will be used for data collection, identification of sources, analysis, and any other research activities in the project. This methodology must be recognized as an appropriate one in the discipline and suitable for the type of problem being addressed.

Research is publishable in a peer-reviewed venue
The results of a research project are normally reviewed and disseminated within the research community. In most fields, this means the results are publishable in a peer-reviewed journal or conference.

Mitacs does not require that the results of funded projects be published, though it is strongly encouraged.  Regardless, a good test of the project’s eligibility is whether it is expected that the results will be publishable in principle.  Master’s theses and PhD dissertations are also considered peer-reviewed academic publications, so research projects that form part of an intern’s thesis or dissertation are acceptable.

In creative fields such as fine arts, architecture, and interior design, review and dissemination can include the presentation of work in a juried, refereed, or curated venue.

New research builds on previous research
A literature review is used to situate the proposed work within the discipline’s existing body of research. A preliminary literature review is a required part of writing a research proposal to ensure that the proposed work is novel, that it builds appropriately on the latest work in the field, uses the most up-to-date methods, etc.

For an Accelerate internship that is part of a student’s thesis work or another larger project, the intern may have already conducted a thorough literature review and does not need to spend internship time on this task. In other cases, an in-depth literature review of the specific subfield pertaining to the project can be included as a small part of an Accelerate internship.  Most of the internship should be devoted to conducting new research.

Development is an intrinsic part of research in many disciplines
Development of a new artifact is often a key part of research in engineering or computer science; the “unknown” being addressed by the research project is whether the artifact in question can be successfully built. Thus, research projects consisting largely of development are considered eligible if the applicants expect to be able to publish a paper(s) based on the work.

Projects in which the intern develops novel software to answer a research question or test a hypothesis are also eligible. It is important to be clear how the results will be evaluated.

Research should be appropriate to the level of the intern or fellow
The level of research expected for an eligible project varies based on the type of intern or fellow. Frequently, undergraduate research projects are an introduction to research or a contribution to a project led by a more advanced student. A Master’s degree is also considered an initiation or familiarization to research and typically involves developing a new approach to solving a known problem or applying existing tools to solve a new problem. PhD students are expected to exhibit originality and make an important personal contribution to their field. A PhD or postdoctoral project is generally novel in at least some aspect of both the tools and the problem.

Adjudication criteria

 

Mitacs Accelerate

External referees for internship proposals receive the following questions to guide their assessment of the proposal:

  1. Mitacs Accelerate supports research-based internships. Does the proposed project qualify as research in its discipline?
  2. Is the project appropriate for the academic degree level of the intern?
  3. Are the objectives clear?
  4. Is the methodology appropriate to achieve the objectives?
  5. Is the timeline realistic?
  6. Other comments and suggestions for the applicants. For example, is there prior work that should be considered by the researchers?
  7. Confidential comments for Mitacs:
  8. Will the research work potentially have adverse effects on the environment? Do you recommend that an additional environmental impact review be conducted
  9. Does this project have a demonstrable economic or productivity orientation?[for projects with not-for-profit partners only]

When a proposal involves over $0.75M requested from Mitacs (approximately 100 internship units), a collaborative review meeting will typically be held virtually or on-site after the external peer review is completed.  The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the results of the peer review, the project management strategy, the mentoring and training strategy, and to tour project facilities and interns’ work environment when relevant. 

Mitacs Elevate

All Mitacs Elevate fellowship proposals undergo a two-stage review process:

  • Stage 1: an administrative review to confirm program eligibility, followed by
  • Stage 2: an external review based on peer assessment of the research project proposals.

Peer assessment criteria are grouped into two (2) broad categories: the technical merit of the proposed research project; and the excellence of the proposed fellow.  For these categories, Mitacs seeks arm’s length expert reviewers to answer the following questions:

A. Technical merit of the proposed project

  • Does the project significantly contribute to the advancement of knowledge or the development of new applications, and is there an appreciable element of novelty?
  • Are the objectives achievable, given the current state of the art and the expertise of the project team?
  • Are the methods and techniques appropriate for the objectives?
  • Is the proposed project at an appropriate level for a postdoctoral fellow?

B. Excellence of the proposed fellow

  • Relative to other researchers at the same career stage, how would you characterize the achievements of the proposed fellow (e.g. publication record, patents, awards and scholarships, mentoring, accomplishments in teaching, related industry or entrepreneurial activities, etc.)?
  • The Elevate program offers training opportunities to develop leadership, communication and business skills. Does the candidate demonstrate commitment to this professional development?

 

Mitacs Globalink Research Award

Mitacs Globalink Research Award proposals will be reviewed with the following instructions provided to reviewers:

Please remember that Mitacs Globalink Research Awards are open to proposals from all academic disciplines. Please also note that this is a short project geared towards a senior undergraduate or graduate student as opposed to a faculty member, and should be judged as such. If the proposal is not satisfactory, please provide constructive comments to help the student improve the proposal whenever possible. 

Proposals will be adjudicated based on the following criteria:

1.      Expected benefit to the student’s academic studies and research career
2.      Quality of the research proposal
3.      Level of supervision and mentorship committed by the host supervisor
4.      Strength of recommendation by the home supervisor

 

Mitacs Accelerate International

Accelerate International proposals will be reviewed with the following instructions provided to reviewers: 

Please remember that Accelerate International is open to proposals from all academic disciplines. Please also note that this is a short project geared towards a graduate student as opposed to a faculty member, and should be judged as such. If you do not find the proposal satisfactory, we would appreciate, to the extent possible, constructive comments that would help improve the proposal.

  1. Accelerate International supports research-based internships. Does the proposed project qualify as research in its discipline?
  2. Is the project appropriate for the academic degree level of the intern?
  3. Are the objectives clear?
  4. Is the methodology appropriate to achieve the objectives?
  5. Is the timeline realistic?
  6. Other comments and suggestions for the applicants. For example, is there prior work that should be considered by the researchers?
  7. Confidential comments for Mitacs:
  8. Will the research work potentially have adverse effects on the environment? Do you recommend that an additional environmental impact review be conducted

Mitacs Appeals Process

Applicants wishing to appeal the decision of the Mitacs Research Council (MRC) on their internship application may send a letter of appeal to the MRC Chair (Mitacs Associate Scientific Director) by email to mrc-chair(at)mitacs.ca. Appeals must be received within 90 days of the notice of decision and must include the original signed proposal. Appeals are typically responded to within five business days. In extenuating circumstances, a further appeal may be made to the Mitacs Scientific Director.