International Policy Ideas Challenge 2017 - February 22 teleconference

Question and answer summary

  1. Are previously tested ideas or models permitted as entries? I.e. submitting a policy idea that has been executed before, but since its original conception, the model has been further developed and changes made such that its implementation would differ if re-launched today.

    Previously tested ideas may be considered as long as:
    • There is sufficient new content added (in this case a brief one-paragraph explanation of how it’s different from the original idea is required; this paragraph doesn’t have to be counted in the 750 word limit), and
    • The idea hasn’t received formal recognition in the form of monetary or non-monetary awards, publications, or other formal recognition.

  2. Can you explain a bit more about the follow –through that is conducted after the Challenge has ended? What is the role and purpose of the government in this initiative?

    The International Policy Ideas Challenge is designed to identify concrete, innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges faced by Canada.

    The Government of Canada or Global Affairs Canada cannot commit to implementing proposals submitted through this competition. The objective is rather to inject innovative thinking into policy making and connect researchers with the policy community. This competition provides a forum for researchers to make their ideas known.

    Ten selected finalists will be given an opportunity to present their ideas to Government of Canada officials. They will be expected to present their research in a special day-long symposium, hosted by GAC in Ottawa in November 2017 on the margins of the Knowledge Summit, to be organized as part of SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative. The proceedings of the symposium will be disseminated by GAC with a disclaimer indicating that the presentations represent the views of the individual presenters. Participants may also be offered the opportunity to participate in a special session with emerging youth leaders at the SSHRC Knowledge Summit.

  3. Is it better if the proposal fits on theme in particular, or if it has a broader approach? 

    The themes are very broad and indicative. They only cover a number of key priorities. As stated in the Call for Proposals, we are open to proposals on other topics as long as their importance to Global Affairs Canada policymakers is justified.

    Proposals have to be practical and concrete enough to be feasible, be it a policy recommendation or a programmatic approach.

  4. What is meant by “make connections between policy areas”? (Please clarify)

    Each proposal should offer solutions bridging at least two of the three policy areas under Global Affairs Canada’s mandateforeign policy, trade, and international development.

    There are many different ways to achieve this:
    • Proposed policies or approaches can have an impact on more than one area under the GAC mandate (e.g., trade and development or foreign policy and trade, etc.)
    • Alternatively, they can offer innovative ways of using tools and mechanisms commonly associated with one policy domain (e.g. foreign policy) to achieve results in other policy domains (e.g., international development).

    The onus is on the applicants to convincingly demonstrate these connections.

  5. Can a lead researcher submit more than one application (submitting a different idea with each application)?

    The Call for Proposals doesn’t limit applicants in the number of applications they can submit. However, applicants cannot receive several awards for multiple proposals. Only one award per successful candidate will be offered.

  6. Do the collaborators have to be MA or PhD students or can they be undergraduates?

    Collaborators can be anyone.

  7. Does the idea have to be implemented solely outside of Canada or can it have elements that are implemented in Canada? Does the proposed policy have to be focused on an area that has existing funding in Canada?

    It doesn’t matter as long as the idea impacts one of the areas under the Global Affairs Canada mandate (foreign policy, trade, development). No, the proposed policy does not have to be focused on an area that has existing funding in Canada.

  8. I would like to know if proposals can be written in the format of scientific articles.

    We discourage scientific articles. Policy documents:
    • Are written in plain language and
    • Have to be understandable to a non-expert audience

  9. What scope of evidence are you looking for in the proposal?

    We don’t expect applicants to conduct primary research.

    Evidence gathered from solid secondary research is acceptable.

  10. Does the proposal need to identify implementing actors for the projects, i.e. governmental agencies vs. international NGOs?

    One of the evaluation criteria is feasibility. A clear explanation of how the idea can be implemented can definitely strengthen proposals. However, given the space limitation of only 750 words, the proposal cannot go into too much length.

  11. A) Is there a specific outline we should follow? No.

    B) Are references included in the word count? No. However, all relevant information must be included in the main text of the proposal.

    C) What reference style should we use? Any style is acceptable as long as one style is used consistently.

    D) Endnotes or footnotes?
    Both are accepted as long as one style is used consistently.

    E) Are there any publicly available past guides? If not, is there another source of examples to which GAC could point to orient those with a science background who are not familiar with the specifics of writing policy?
    As noted earlier, key requirements for policy documents are:
    • Needs to be concise and feasible,
    • Have to be written in plain language and
    • Have to be understandable to a non-expert audience.

    Organizations such as the International Development Research Centre in Canada and the UK-based Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as other organizations have useful guides on how to frame research for policy use.

  12. What is the preferred scope for the policy proposal?

    The proposal needs to be:
    • Feasible
    • Connect at least two of the three policy areas under Global Affairs Canada’s mandate – foreign policy, trade, and international development

  13. Are policies submitted meant to be aspirational goals guiding a thematic shift in multiple areas of government or should they be limited to concrete, immediately actionable suggestions?

Proposals can address either broad policy issues or offer concrete actionable solutions, but the key requirement is that they are feasible to implement.

It’s very important that proposals relate to Global Affairs Canada’s mandate. However, whole-of-government elements can be incorporated.

  1. Can applicants publish their submitted proposals or policy papers after the Challenge has ended?

    Yes. Applicants will not be restricted in publishing their own work after the Challenge, but must acknowledge the support of the Policy Ideas Challenge program funded by the Government of Canada (the exact wording of the acknowledgment statement will be provided). While the copyright will remain with the authors, Global Affairs Canada will retain a non-exclusive license for the use and distribution of their work supported by the award.

  2. A) Can the proposal be done in French? If selected to do the policy brief, can it also be written and presented in French? Yes, the proposal and policy brief can be written and presented in French or English.

    B) In the proposal, should we include a methodology, budget, timetable, or logic model? There is no strict outline for the proposal. As such, a methodology, budget, timetable, or logic model are not required; however, elements that point to the feasibility and possible implementation of your proposal will be valuable. It is up to the researcher to use his or her judgment and be mindful of the word count.
  3. Does the lead researcher have to be affiliated with a university or civil society organization, or can it simply be someone who graduated from a Canadian institution within five years?

    As is stated in the Call for Proposals, applicants must be either:
    • Graduate students (MA and PhD) or post-doctoral fellows;
    • Civil society researches affiliated with a non-profit organization who are also within five years of graduation from a graduate program at a recognized Canadian post-secondary institution.

  4. Are Canadian citizens studying at international universities at the graduate level eligible to apply?

    Yes, Canadian citizens enrolled in graduate programs abroad are eligible. The restriction related to graduation from a Canadian university applies only to civil society researchers.
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