Ottawa, ON — Starting this fall, 19 researchers are undertaking one-year placements in participating government offices across Canada as part of the 2020–21 Canadian Science Policy Fellowship (CSPF). With diverse expertise ranging from anthropology to computer science, fellows will work on the development of policy-based solutions to key issues faced by Canadians.
Alejandro Adem, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and former CEO and scientific director at Mitacs, writes about his concern with the growing trend for questionable online sources to inform public opinion that in turn may affect important policy decisions.
Mental health changes over time, even more so than physical health. It is deeply influenced by our relationships with our friends, family, colleagues, and our general environment — making each person’s concerns unique. According to the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, suicide has become the ninth leading cause of death in Canada, with British Columbia holding the highest rate of hospitalization due to mental illness and substance use. Research suggests that the social stigma that surrounds mental health prevents 40 percent of people from seeking proper care.
Do I need to have a secured postdoc position to apply?
No, the program is open to all PhD holders from any discipline, including faculty affiliated with a Canadian university.
Can I apply to the fellowship if I am finishing my degree after the application deadline but before the fellowship starts?
Yes, you are eligible to apply if all the requirements of your PhD are complete before September of the fellowship year. In certain cases, a successful fellow may negotiate a later start date with the host office if a thesis defense is scheduled in early September.
How do I prepare a competitive fellow application?
Mitacs encourages applicants to read all sections of the CSPF webpages and application form to ensure an understanding of the program, the eligibility requirements, and the application process. Applicants should allow enough time to develop comprehensive, well-presented statements of interest, and other documents that are free of errors and typos. We suggest contacting references as early as possible so that they have time to prepare thoughtful letters of reference. Any submitted documents or filled in text fields should not exceed the mandated page or word limit. Fellows can refer to the Fellow Guidelines for a Successful Application for more detailed information.
When will I get to see the available host position descriptions?
Due to the concurrent double-blind call cycle process, hosts submit their applications at the same time as fellows, and therefore Mitacs is unable to provide information about open CSPF positions. Fellows will be given a copy of the position descriptions in advance of any interviews that they have been selected for by the host office.
Fellows and hosts can also review the Look Book for examples of the kind of work fellows may participate in. Fellows are also encouraged to read through our news releases from past years to see which hosts have participated, as we often have repeat hosts.
The number of fellowships available varies based on the number of host applications received. Mitacs has offered an average of 20-25 fellowships per year since opening the program to both the federal and provincial governments. Please see our Matching tab in Program Administration for a detailed breakdown of the number of fellowships each year.
Why are there fewer fellowships than host applications in previous years of the program?
Hosts may apply to the program and learn about budgetary or priority changes later in the process affecting their ability to continue with the fellowship. Hosts also occasionally do not find a candidate who meets their needs and do not continue with the fellowship, or their chosen candidate may decline the fellowship offer for various reasons.
How are host office locations selected?
One of the key aspects of the program is the cohort model in which the fellows move through the fellowship experience together. We work with our federal government partners on an annual basis to offer fellowships as a cohort that allows fellows to build a network of peers. We also occasionally have host offices who pilot the program in cities new to the CSPF program. While some locations may change from year to year, in general the host cities are determined based on the current participating partners in order to facilitate the cohort model.
Why is Mitacs collecting information about my gender or other diversity-related categories?
Mitacs collects self-identification information to be able to report to funders, for program planning and development, and for an accurate understanding of equitable representation of underrepresented groups. Answering these questions is optional, and applicants can choose all items that apply. The information is reported in aggregate and not linked to individuals. It will not be used as part of the adjudication process.
Our definitions are drawn from federal and provincial government offices, such as Statistics Canada, government legislation such as the Employment Equity Act, as well as associations representing underrepresented groups, such as the National Education Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). If you have questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com.
Gender refers to the gender that a person internally feels (‘gender identity’ along the gender spectrum) and/or the gender a person publicly expresses (‘gender expression’) in their daily life, including at work, while shopping or accessing other services, in their housing environment or in the broader community. A person’s current gender may differ from the sex a person was assigned at birth (male or female) and may differ from what is indicated on their current legal documents. A person’s gender may change over time.
An Indigenous person in Canada is a person who identifies with First Nations (Status/Non-Status), Métis or Inuit, cultural, and/or ancestral background.
A person in a visible minority group is someone (other than an Indigenous person) who is non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.
A person with a disability refers to impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which one lives. Overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities may require interventions to remove environmental and social barriers.
How will I know that Mitacs has received my application?
Applicants will receive an automated email that their applications have been received. The applications will undergo a comprehensive adjudication process and those who have submitted an incomplete application will be notified.
What happens if one or both of my letters of reference arrive late or do not arrive at all?
All required documents must be submitted by the competition deadline. Applications with one or no letters of reference are incomplete and will not be considered for this round of fellowships. A Mitacs representative will contact you if your letters of reference have not arrived by the competition close.
When will I receive notification of my application status? When will I know if I’ve made it to the semi-finalist list?
Fellow adjudication completes in April. Fellows will be notified of their application status during that month. Please note that not every applicant on the semi-finalist list will be contacted for an interview.
How does Mitacs evaluate my application?
Fellow applications are adjudicated through a competitive call cycle through winter and spring in advance of the fellowship cohort start date in September. Please see our Adjudication tab for more information on how fellow applications are adjudicated.
Will Mitacs provide feedback on my application once submitted?
No. Due to the individualized nature of the adjudication and matching processes, Mitacs cannot provide specific timelines about application status or feedback on the application itself. All fellow applicants will be informed whether they have been shortlisted as semi-finalists to the program as soon as practicable.
Can I reapply for a fellowship if I am not matched?
Yes. Mitacs does not impose a limit on the number of times an eligible candidate may apply to the program. If you have not been selected as a fellow you may apply again in a subsequent application call.
Is it possible to start the fellowship in any other month besides September?
No. Mitacs requires that the fellowship cycle is conducted in a single cohort per year.
Does Mitacs or the government host office cover the cost of my relocation?
No. Successful fellows must assume the cost of relocation.
Can I work remotely? Do I need to move to the physical location of my host office?
All successful fellows are required to work from the location of their host office during their fellowship. The cohort model of the program is a crucial part of the fellowship. If COVID-19 restrictions remain in place as of September 2021, we will work with hosts and fellows to see if virtual fellowships are possible.
Are the professional training and networking events mandatory?
Yes. These opportunities provided by Mitacs are an integral element to the program and build on the hands-on learning of the host office position.
October – March: Open call for host applications
Prospective host offices submit their position descriptions to Mitacs
All applicants will receive an automated email confirming receipt of their application
November – February: Open call for fellow applications
Prospective fellows submit their applications and letters of reference to Mitacs
All applicants will receive an automated email confirming receipt of their application
March – April: Adjudication
All submitted applications are reviewed to ensure that prospective fellows and host positions meet the program eligibility criteria
Applicants will be notified of their application status in April, once adjudication is complete
Host offices review shortlist of semi-finalist applications and select fellows for interviews
Mitacs will contact the selected fellows and share the host office position description in advance of the interview
Hosts and fellows will set up a remote interview based on mutual availability. Travel costs for in-person interviews are not covered as they can be conducted remotely.
Hosts and fellows complete ranking survey to submit preferences
June – July: Matching
Mitacs confirms matches
Fellows prepare to relocate, where applicable
Hosts prepare an employment agreement with their HR department in accordance with the CSPF eligible position requirements
Fellows negotiate and sign an employment agreement with their host office
August – September: Fellowships begin
Fellowships begin; hosts and fellows attend CSPF Orientation and training program commences
All submitted applications are reviewed to ensure that prospective fellows and host positions meet the program eligibility criteria.
Once fellow applications and host positions are adjudicated, all shortlisted semi-finalist applications will be presented to eligible host offices to select fellow candidates for interviewing. Following the interview period, selected fellows and host offices will rank their choices for Mitacs to facilitate fellowship matching. Please see the Matching tab for more information on the matching process.
Fellow adjudication (March-April)
Fellow applications are adjudicated as part of a competitive call cycle through winter and spring in advance of the fellowship cohort start date in September.
All fellow applications are reviewed through a two-stage process:
1. Applications are reviewed for minimum eligibility requirements
Please refer to the Eligibility tab for more information on fellow eligibility requirements
2. Fellow applications are then sent to a Fellow Adjudication Committee to shortlist candidates as semi-finalists
The Fellow Adjudication Committee is made up of past Canadian Science Policy Fellows
All applications are vetted for any potential conflict of interest with adjudication committee members
Each application is reviewed by at least two separate members of the adjudication committee
Adjudication committee members are asked to evaluate fellow applications based on research distinctions, leadership attributes, communication skills, and a commitment to the fellowship’s professional development opportunities and objectives
Prospective fellows are evaluated using points-based criteria and review scores are calibrated to ensure consistent scoring is applied across members of the adjudication committee
Based on the review scores of the adjudication committee, a shortlist of fellow applicants is presented to participating host offices to select candidates for interviewing
Host adjudication (March)
All host applications are reviewed by an internal Mitacs committee to ensure that prospective fellowship positions meet the program requirements. Applications are reviewed in accordance with the following adjudication criteria:
1. Is the focus of the policy position clear?
Are the policy issues, questions or challenges that the fellow will be working on clearly defined?
Does the position involve policy processes? (e.g., problem framing, policy formulation, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation)
Does the position include policy activities? (e.g., preparing briefing and speaking notes, senior decision-maker briefings, supporting the work of committees, stakeholder meetings, and/or consultations)
2. Is there a clear value-add for the position?
Are the fellow’s key responsibilities clearly defined?
Is the work appropriate for someone at a PhD level?
Is there a value-add for the fellow in terms of skills development or exposure to government work?
3. Is there adequate support for the fellow to be successful in the position?
Does the application reference mentoring or guidance throughout the fellowship, with a specific person in mind?
Is there a clear accountability/reporting structure for the fellow in the application?
Does the application reference any opportunities to engage in a wide range of internal and external activities, professional development, government training, etc.?
The matching process begins with host-fellow interviews. Following adjudication, all shortlisted fellow applications will be presented to eligible host offices to select candidates for interviewing.
1. Selecting interview candidates
Eligible host offices will select candidates that they wish to interview by filtering through a list of shortlisted fellow applications.
Host offices may choose to narrow their selection of suitable candidates by filtering for (e.g.):
Working ability of language(s) spoken
Policy skills and competencies
Host offices will have access to the complete fellow application forms, and may wish to review the academic awards, past research experience, leadership experience, communication skills and statements of interest, among other fields, for potential candidates. Mitacs encourages hosts to be flexible on required expertise, as the success of fellowships is less dependent on academic discipline and more on broader skills that can be applied in the public service environment.
2. Interviewing (May-June)
Host offices are invited to request an interview with the shortlisted fellows they have selected. There are no restrictions on how many interviews a host office can request, however, we recommend selecting a minimum of three (3) candidates, where possible, to maximize potential matches.
Mitacs will contact the shortlisted fellows and share the host office position description in advance of the interview.
Hosts and fellows will set up an interview at mutual availability. Hosts must be prepared to accommodate virtual interviews for fellows that may be outside of the host office city. Hosts and potential fellows should note that there are no funds available from Mitacs to accommodate travel for in-person interviews.
The interview is an opportunity for each party to learn more about the other. Host offices are encouraged to use their established HR processes for the interviews. It is important for hosts to accommodate questions from fellow applicants, as this is the fellow’s opportunity to evaluate the host office and fit from their perspective.
Fellow applicants should treat the interview process as they would any professional interview. We suggest that fellows discuss how their expertise relates to the policy area of the host and to science policy in general and prepare any questions they may have about the role. As each host department has their own HR processes, the interview process will vary from host to host.
Following the interview period, selected fellows and host offices will confidentially rank their choices for Mitacs to facilitate fellowship matches. We encourage all participants to provide as many rankings as possible to maximize potential matches.
Once all fellow and host rankings are submitted, Mitacs will facilitate matches to maximize the number of fellowship opportunities and to generate top ranking matches, where possible. Please note that fellows and hosts may not be matched with their first choice.
We will attempt to match all semi-finalists to host offices. Should any host offices not find a match in the first round, the process allows for a second round of matching. Unmatched semi-finalists will be given the remaining host office position descriptions and will have the opportunity to write a 500-word “pitch” describing why they would be a good match for the host office. After reviewing the pitches, hosts can decide if they’d like to interview additional candidates.
In order to maintain the confidentiality of the ranking process, fellows and host offices should not discuss their ranking decisions.
During the fellowship cycle (September – August), fellows are considered full-time personnel of their host offices. Fellows must be physically located within host offices full time, and are expected to relocate at their own expense, as needed.
Adhere to rules and guidelines of the host office, particularly regarding privacy and confidentiality in their work
Fulfill all responsibilities of their fellowship position in accordance with their signed employment contract
Participate in all program training and events facilitated by Mitacs
Complete surveys for training and events facilitated by Mitacs
Complete three program surveys during the fellowship
Submit a Final Report summarizing the impact of their fellowship
Fellows should receive remuneration that reflects their qualifications as a PhD holder and is commensurate with comparable employment within the public service, typically in the range of $70,000–$80,000 per year. Fellows who are faculty members may receive this remuneration as a stipend to cover their housing and living expenses while at the host location.
Host offices must provide full-time 12-month fellowship at a host office location within the fellowship annual cohort cycle (September – August), in accordance with the approved Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship position.
Hosts offices must:
Provide remuneration that reflects the qualifications of a PhD holder and is commensurate with comparable employment within the public service, typically in the range of $70,000–$80,000 per year
Provide any additional benefits that are afforded to employees
Provide the necessary management, support, and resources to ensure success and appoint a designated host supervisor to guide the fellow
Accommodate the fellow’s participation in program activities, such as professional development and networking sessions which will require time off from their daily duties*
*If the fellow is working in a location other than Ottawa, the host must make arrangements to facilitate the fellow’s participation in the cohort model where virtual options are not available.
Hosts may also be invited to participate in some of the fellowship activities including Orientation in September and the final capstone event, Presenting with Impact, in July of the following year.
Additionally, hosts are expected to respond to the program surveys sent by Mitacs and provide any required documentation as laid out in the Terms and Conditions of the program.
Mitacs is responsible for the design and delivery of the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, including managing the call cycle, supporting the annual fellowship cohort, and reporting.
In delivering the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program, Mitacs will:
Administer the calls for host and fellow applications
Manage the adjudication for all applications
Facilitate the matching process
Communicate program information and requirements to participants during the fellowship cycle
Working with our partners, Mitacs also designs and deliver the Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program’s professional development training and networking events.
Throughout the fellowship cycle, Mitacs expects all program participants to participate in program evaluation, by completing surveys and submitting a Final Report, where applicable. The findings from these tools are used to monitor the program’s success and identify areas for improvement.
Fellows must participate in routine reporting throughout the fellowship cycle to support CSPF program improvements, and for marketing purposes where permission has been granted. Specifically, fellows must:
Attend all mandatory training sessions and submit post-training surveys through the CSPF online learning management system, EDGE
Complete three programmatic surveys for feedback collection: a pre-fellowship survey, mid-fellowship survey and end-of-fellowship survey
Submit a Final Report summarizing the policy activities carried out during the fellowship
Government host offices must submit routine reporting throughout the fellowship cycle, including:
Completing three surveys for feedback collection: a pre-fellowship survey, mid-fellowship survey and end-of-fellowship survey
Providing Mitacs with fellow salary information three times per year: once prior to fellowship start, once within 30 days of fiscal year-end (March 31), and once within 30 days of the end of the fellowship confirming the total amount paid to the fellow
Collection of Personal Information and Consent Policy
Information supplied as part of a fellow application to the CSPF program will be made available to Mitacs staff responsible for managing the application, identifying appropriate reviewers, administering and monitoring fellowships, compiling statistics, and evaluating the program. Information will also be made available to internal and/or external reviewers and to government host offices participating in the fellowship. All reviewers are required to commit to keep the application information confidential.
To be considered for a CSPF fellowship, eligible applicants must:
Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
Please note that Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status is required to obtain a security clearance with a host office to begin a fellowship. All applicants must have Canadian citizenship or permanent residency prior to the start of the interview process. The interview process starts in May of the year of the fellowship.
Hold a PhD in any academic discipline at the start of the fellowship
Be able to participate full-time in a 12-month fellowship at the host office
Secure accommodation in the host city and relocate to their host office as needed
Negotiate a leave of absence from their current employer, as applicable
Meet any additional requirements of their hosts, including (but not limited to) security clearance requirements
Fellowships cannot be held concurrently with other Mitacs awards. If you are currently participating in a Mitacs program, whether as an intern, postdoctoral fellow, academic supervisor, or representative of an industrial partner, the award term end date must be no later than August 31 of the year in which the fellowship is due to start.
Please note: Mitacs does not currently offer renewals or second-year fellowships. Current and past fellows are not eligible to apply for a subsequent year of the program.
See our How to Apply tab for more information on how to apply for a fellowship.
In addition to the requirements listed above, faculty applicants must also:
The Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship places PhD holders in government host offices for a 12-month immersion into the policy-making process. Fellows apply their academic training, critical thinking, and analytical skills to support evidence-informed decision-making that addresses policy challenges within participating federal host offices. Hosts gain valuable science-based knowledge and build the professional skills of participating fellows.
We welcome application submissions from prospective fellows and hosts on an annual call cycle running from fall throughout winter.
The fellowship aims to:
Create mutually beneficial relationships between government decision-makers and academic researchers in support of policy challenges in Canada
Enhance science communication, collaboration, and capacity in support of evidence-informed policy-making
Equip academic researchers with skills to address policy challenges while learning about government
Contribute to a national network of science policy expertise across academia, government, not-for-profit organizations, and industry
By participating in the fellowship, fellows get the training and first-hand experience needed to address challenges of national public importance. Through the fellowship, fellows:
Work full-time in a participating host office for 12-months (September-August) at an annual salary of $70,000-$80,000
Attend professional development training and networking opportunities with their peers throughout the year
Learn about policy-making in the public service through professional hands-on experience
Apply their academic expertise and skills to public issues of concern
Host offices provide positions to fellows that support key policy challenges in their departments. By participating, hosts:
Provide a range of policy tasks to their fellows, such as policy development, stakeholder engagement, and creating and maintaining key policy documents
Grow their access to specialized expertise and the most up-to-date knowledge available in academia
Increase the policy capacity within their department
Support a growing body of researchers uniquely trained to address key policy challenges
Want to learn more about science policy? Download our Science Policy Briefing here.
Curious about our past CSPF fellowships? Review our Look Book for examples of how participants have contributed to the Canadian science policy landscape.
You can also read about our past cohorts in our yearly news releases.
As part of the CSPF program, Mitacs provides professional development training for fellows throughout the year, as well as opportunities to network with stakeholders from the science policy community through invitations to conferences, events, and volunteering.
Fellowship training starts with Orientation at the outset of the cohort year, where fellows learn about a variety of topics, including:
Throughout the year, fellows participate in mandatory instructor-led courses focusing on developing key science policy themes through their fellowships:
Strengthening science communication
Growing relationship-building skills with diverse stakeholders
Mitacs welcomes host offices to offer their fellows additional professional development training available to employees of their departments.
This Fall 2019, 17 researchers begin year-long placements in the federal government and two provincial governments, harnessing their research expertise for the development of policy-based decisions on key issues across Canada.
With robust expertise ranging from environmental protection to mental health, the 2019-2020 cohort of the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship will be instrumental in the continued implementation of innovative policies and evidence-based government decision making.
As Executive Director of SmartICE Carolann Harding says, “We are a social enterprise first and foremost, and we take that very seriously. To us, maximizing a positive social impact with our community partners is our top priority.”