International Policy Ideas Challenge – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Q1. Can a recent graduate, freelance researcher submit an application?

If we understand “freelancer” to mean that the researcher does not have a particular institutional affiliation, that is not a barrier to application to the IPIC. However, the competition is academic in nature and not a search for a contractor or a consultant.

Q2. Do collaborators have to be MA or PhD students or can they be undergraduates?

Collaborators can be anyone.


Q1. Is it possible to apply and submit more than once if you have more than one topic idea?

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.

Q2. Should the lead researcher provide a bio?


Q3. Are unofficial transcripts acceptable?

If timeliness is an issue, we will accept unofficial transcripts provided that official transcripts follow as soon as possible.

Proposal Requirements

Q1. If my topic is not listed in the priority themes does it mean that my submission will NOT be considered as equal priority when reviewing applications? (Q1a. Would research topics that study both provincial trade and federal trade, for example, be considered?)

We are open to proposals on other topics as long as their importance to Global Affairs Canada policymakers is justified. It may be useful to consult the Department’s priorities.

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

Q2. What about ideas that are global in nature and not limited to Canadian interests?

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

Q3. Research: There is a mention of carrying projects to a "research phase" - what constitutes appropriate evidence? Can there be both primary and secondary data collection? Are there any limitations on which methodology is used? Is there the expectation that projects involve more than a literature/document review/synthesis? Should there be systematic analysis of content gathered?

We don’t expect applicants to conduct primary research; however, you may choose to do so if you wish. Evidence gathered from solid secondary research is acceptable.

We are looking for applicants to identify concrete, innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges faced by Canada. We have asked for these ideas to be presented in the form of a policy document, which is written in plain language and has to be understandable to a non-expert audience. As such, we discourage scientific or strictly academic/peer-review type articles.

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.

Q4. How deep do proposals need to go?

Reviewers need enough information to understand why the issue should matter to policy makers and to understand the idea and the preliminary policy implications of your proposal. You will also need to demonstrate your ability to gather relevant evidence and conduct unbiased analysis that would allow you to develop solutions in the subsequent policy brief if you are selected as one of the ten winners of the Challenge.

The proposal needs to be:

  • Feasible, and
  • Connect at least two of the three policy areas under Global Affairs Canada’s mandate – foreign policy, trade, and international development.
Q5. Evaluation: Please expand. Will the evaluation components be weighted equally? “Proposals will be evaluated by a Global Affairs Canada-led selection committee on a combination of quality, relevance, feasibility, and originality of the idea, as well as the capability and qualifications of the individual(s) to carry the idea to a research phase.”

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

Each proposal should be feasible and offer solutions bridging at least two of the three policy areas under Global Affairs Canada’s mandate—foreign 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.

Q6. Originality: Can the proposal be on a candidate's current thesis topic or research program? Related to ongoing thesis work? Does the proposal need to build on the candidate's current/prior work in novel ways?

Yes, the proposal can be on a candidate’s current thesis topic or research program. Proposals are not restricted to this, however.

Q7. Is there a specific format for the 750 words proposal? e.g. abstract style or executive summary style or short policy brief or academic research essay format etc.?

There is no strict outline for the proposal. 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.

Q8. 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.

Q9. Is it possible to consult policy briefs from last year’s IPIC?

The full briefs are not available to the public at this time. However, summaries of previous winners’ submissions can be found on the International Policy Ideas Challenge 2018 - Challenge winners page.

Q10. Budget: Can the $3000 go towards research expenses? What about expenses related to publishing or preparing the brief in audio/visual formats?

The $3,000 is the award for being one of the 10 winners of the International Policy Ideas Challenge. The award will be distributed in two tranches – the first after the final policy brief is submitted in September, and the second after your presentation in the late fall – date TBC. Winners may choose to use the monetary award for the development of their final research; however, they are not required to do so.

Q11. Can we use technical professionals available at our university to produce videos or other non-written products?

Production of all products for the International Policy Ideas Challenge must conform to academic integrity.

Lead researchers may engage collaborators to support the project. Collaborators can be anyone, but they must be identified as part of the team. Only the lead researcher is eligible for the monetary award and potential travel supplement.

Q12. 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 International 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.

Q13. Are winners required to submit additional reports beyond the final brief?

No. Winners are required to submit their final brief in September and present it to Government of Canada officials in the late fall (date TBD) at the Ideas Symposium.

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