Frequently asked questions about the IDRC International Doctoral Research Awards, the award conditions and the application process.

General FAQs

I am interested in the IDRA. Can you send me more information?

All details concerning the IDRA are included in the guidelines available during the application period, including eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and required documentation.

What are my chances of being selected for an IDRA?

The process is highly competitive. A high number of applications is received during each call.

Are the application deadlines the same every year?

No, the application deadlines change annually.

How can this award be used?

This award covers field research expenses for advanced doctoral students who intend to conduct their field research in one or more developing countries. Funds may be used to collect data and samples in the field, conduct interviews or surveys with local populations and organize focus groups or workshops. Applicants must use findings from their field research to write their doctoral dissertation or thesis. You are not eligible for this award if you intend to use it only to analyze or disseminate final results, finalize videos or spend time in a lab.

Can this award be used to cover doctoral tuition fees?

No, this award cannot be used to pay university tuition fees. It is not a scholarship; it is a field research award.

Can I use the IDRA for different field research trips?

If you outlined more than one trip in your application and the selection committee agreed with your reasons for additional trip(s), you may use the award to cover the related field research expenses (housing, local transportation, interpretation, etc.).

However, please be aware that only one roundtrip airfare from Canada to a country or region of research will be covered. You must cover any airfare related to other trips to and from Canada to another country or region of research. If you fly from one region directly to another (e.g. West Africa to Central America), IDRC will cover the flight out and the return home, but you must cover the flight between regions. (Note: In-country or in-region flights during field research are considered eligible research expenses.).

Note that if you use the IDRA for different field research trips, you must plan to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks in the field when your research involves one or more countries in one region. The regions are: Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, southern Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Far East Asia, Caribbean, Central America, South America and Oceania.

When your research involves more than one region, you must plan to spend a minimum of five consecutive weeks in the field in each region.

My total research costs will most likely exceed the C$20,000 that IDRC offers. Can I look for additional funding outside IDRC?

Yes, however, the budget section of your application must indicate which field research expenses you intend to cover with the IDRA and which you intend to cover from other funding sources. It is your responsibility to ensure that your other sources of funding allow you to accept the IDRA.

Can I use funds to cover my child’s airfare, that of a caregiver or childcare expenses?

A nursing mother or a single custodial parent can include childcare or babysitting expenses in the budget, but no airfare or related travel expenses (for a child or an accompanying caregiver). The allowable cost is limited to overnight childcare costs, as reasonable and applicable in Canada or in the country of research (i.e. where the child is residing for the duration of the parent’s travel).

How much time must I spend in the field?

If you are selected for an award, you must start your field research by August 1, 2025, and complete your field research by March 1, 2026. You must plan to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks in the field.  When your research involves more than one developing country or region, you must plan to spend a minimum of five consecutive weeks in the field in each region. 

I would like to start my field research before the awards are announced. Is this possible?

Yes, but the award is not retroactive. Field research expenses will only be covered from the date indicated in the Award Agreement. If you have finished your field research by the time the results are announced, you will no longer be eligible to receive the award. If you are in the field when the results are announced, this award will not cover the used portion of your airfare or other research expenses incurred before this date. 

Application FAQs

Where do I find the online application form?

Eligible applicants can apply online here:

Can my recommendation forms be submitted directly to Universities Canada to maintain confidentiality?

Yes. If preferred, recommendation forms may be sent by the professor or research supervisor to [email protected]. These will be uploaded to the student’s application.

If I provide the title of my research proposal, could you tell me in advance if my project is aligned with IDRC’s interests?

No. It is not possible to determine whether the research complies with IDRC’s interests by reading a title or short summary alone. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine whether their research is relevant to IDRC’s development outcome areas of interest. These areas are listed in the Eligibility section of the guidelines.

Before applying, can I contact IDRC or Universities Canada to discuss my research proposal and gain their input?

No. This would represent an unfair advantage and would place IDRC or Universities Canada in a position of conflict of interest.

The application requires a list of volunteer, community and/or extracurricular activities. What is the distinction between these activities?

Volunteer/community/extracurricular activities may fall outside of participation in research, depending on the activity. Though the activity may overlap into two or more areas, the distinctions are as follows:

  • Volunteer activity: unpaid activity
  • Community activity: paid activity directly benefitting a community
  • Extracurricular activity: unpaid activity purely for interest

What is meant by “mandatory service requirement”?

“Mandatory service requirement” relates to an activity that was required as part of an academic program.

What does it mean that the student’s proposal should be approved by their research supervisor?

It is expected that the applicant’s research supervisor has read and approved the final version of the research proposal being submitted. This is to ensure that the research supervisor agrees with the proposal submitted, that they have made comments to the applicant and has ensured that the applicant has integrated these comments. We also want to ensure that the research supervisor is giving proper guidance to the applicant. The proposal does not have to be approved by a formal university supervisory committee to be eligible.

Do I have to complete the entire IDRA application at once, or can I complete some sections, upload some documents, save them and continue later?

The online application may be completed gradually. You may upload one document at a time, save and continue later. Please make sure click the to “Save Draft” before navigating away from the application. To submit your application, click on the “Submit” button. Applications should be submitted at least one or two days before the deadline. Volume of submissions on the day of the deadline may cause delays or technical difficulties and the application deadline will not be extended.

Problems & technical issues FAQs

Whom should I contact if I have a technical problem with my online application?

Contact [email protected] to alert us to the problem. Support is available during ET working hours from Monday to Friday, but not on weekends or Canadian statutory holidays. Please note that we cannot guarantee a response to technical issues that arise during the last two days before the deadline.

One of my recommendation forms will not be ready on time. Can the recommendation form still be uploaded to my application and submitted after the deadline?

Applicants are responsible for starting their online application several weeks before the deadline to ensure adequate time to fulfill all requirements. This includes allowing professors sufficient time to complete recommendation forms. If the recommendation form has not been completed, the applicant will not be able to submit their application.

I was not able to submit my final document(s) to apply for an IDRA; can I submit them by email? Will you accept my late application?

No, we are unable to accept documentation by email.  All documents must be submitted through the online application portal. Incomplete applications will not be considered, and late applications will NOT be accepted.

I was working on my application close to the deadline when the portal suddenly shut down. What can I do?

The portal shuts down at the exact deadline time indicated in the guidelines. There is no grace period. The portal will not allow you to save what you wrote past the deadline. If this occurs, we invite you to apply for the next call.

Recipient FAQs

What if I am selected for an award but my visa is delayed?

There are some exceptional circumstances in which applicants cannot leave for the field when planned because of visa difficulties, health problems, or other reasons. If such a situation arises, send Universities Canada a written explanation and additional documentation (photocopy of your visa request, medical certificate, etc.). To avoid delays, please ensure that you request any necessary visa(s) as early as possible. 

Will I be required to provide receipts for the costs accrued during my research?

If you are selected for an award, you will be required to provide all receipts except for housing and food/household supplies. You will be required to provide the invoice confirming payment for the airfare, with a copy of the tickets and boarding passes. 

Important: Please include headings and subheadings as needed in your invoices document to clearly identify associated budget lines, facilitating a more straightforward financial review.

What does it mean when an applicant receives a conditional award?

Receiving a conditional award means that you have been recommended for an award but on condition that you make changes to your proposal. You will have to respond to the selection committee’s comments and the award will only be granted if your reply is satisfactory. Any delay in responding could delay the selection committee’s final decision as well as your travel dates. 

Can I adjust my budget lines and allocate them to different categories from those mentioned in the predefined budget lines?

Variances in expenses from the original budget are acceptable, as long as they are not overly significant. However, in cases of substantial deviation among budget lines, justification will be necessary. Similarly, it is feasible to allocate budget lines to items not initially budgeted, provided these expenses are reasonable, justifiable, and directly linked to the field research.

What happens if my total spending is either below or above the budget specified in my award agreement?

Reimbursement is based strictly on actual expenses. If your total spending is below the budget outlined in your award agreement, you will only be reimbursed for the amount spent. No additional reimbursement will be provided if you exceed the budget specified in your award agreement.

How should I report expenses incurred in local currencies?

Convert local currency to CAD using the Oanda currency converter and attach in your invoices document the conversion evidence for each charge on the day of the transaction.

Universities Canada