CIHR – Eligibility for Early Career Researcher Status

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At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CIHR extended the time window during which one would be considered an Early Career Researcher (ECR) to account for the pandemic-related disruptions these individuals were experiencing just as they were beginning their careers as independent researchers.

Any individual who held ECR status between March 1, 2020, and September 15, 2022, had their ECR eligibility window extended to 84 months from the standard 60 months. This means that these individuals have an extended eligibility period for CIHR supports, such as the ECR equalization process in the Project Grant competition and the Reviewer-in-Training program.

As research activities start to return to normal, at least to some extent, CIHR decided not to further extend this time window. This means that CIHR has returned to the tri-agency’s standard definition of an ECR: “A researcher within five years of the date of their first independent research-related appointment.”

Therefore, those who secured their first academic appointment on or after March 1, 2022, will be considered ECRs for a period of 60 months, as per the tri-agency’s standard definition.

The following table shows the different ECR cohorts as considered by CIHR:

ECR cohortStatus
Progressed out of ECR status before Mar. 1, 2020Standard 60-month window applies
Held ECR status between Mar. 1, 2020, and Sep. 15, 2022ECR status extended to 84 months (no further extensions to ECR window)
New ECRs entering systemStandard 60-month window applies

As of the Fall 2022 Project Grant application deadline of September 15, 2022, CIHR will no longer extend the time window for new ECRs entering the system.

There are ECRs who fall just outside of the March 1, 2020, to September 15, 2022, time window and who, although they are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic, are not benefitting from the extension. While these individuals are mostly still a few years away from progressing to mid-career researchers, CIHR doesn’t want anyone to slip through the cracks. That is why CIHR is using this time to assess its supports and policies regarding ECRs as these individuals progress over the coming years to the mid-career researcher stage—including looking at the possibility of revising the ECR time window up to six or seven years. CIHR encourages all researchers wishing to discuss accommodations and supports based on their individual circumstances to reach out to them directly.

If you have any questions about this change in policy, please contact CIHR at

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