Self-Identification Data Collection in Support of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion


As of summer 2018, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) ask all applicants for funding competitions (grants, scholarships, and fellowships) to self-identify with information on age, gender, Indigenous identity, and status as a member of a visible minority group or person with a disability. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has also implemented this requirement.

The granting agencies previously collected information on some identity factors but it was incomplete, collected in different ways, and lacked comparability. To address these concerns, the granting agencies are now using the same questions and categories of responses, which are closely aligned with the way similar data is collected by Statistics Canada.

Why self-identification data collection is important

The collection of self-identification data is driven by the Government of Canada’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in the federal research enterprise.

The changes to the collection of self-identification data is also being guided by

  • The Canada Research Coordinating Committee's work plan which includes “removing barriers faced by under-represented and disadvantaged groups to ensure equitable access across the granting agencies and establish Canada as a world leader in equity, diversity and inclusion in research”;
  • Budget 2018 which requires the granting agencies “to publish an annual report for Canadians on progress in addressing challenges in the research system, including equity and diversity, and support for researchers at various career stages”; and
  • Canada's Fundamental Science Review's recommendation 5. 2 which states that federal funding agencies “should collaborate to improve data collection and analysis”.

A harmonized self-identification data collection process allows the granting agencies to monitor the equity performance of its programs and design new measures that achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion in the research enterprise.

What questions are included in the mandatory self-identification form?

The granting agencies will ask for the following information:

  1. Age - What is your date of birth?
  2. Gender - Select the option that you identify with, i.e. Woman; Man; or Gender-fluid, non-binary; and/or Two-Spirit
  3. Indigenous Identity - Do you identify as Indigenous - that is First Nations (North American Indian), Métis, or Inuit?
  4. Person with a disability - are you person with a disability?
  5. Visible Minority - Do you identify as a member of a visible minority in Canada?

Completing the self-identification form will be mandatory, but for each category there is an option for "I prefer not to answer."

Privacy and Collection of Information

The self-identification information is collected, used, disclosed, retained and disposed of in accordance with the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. The information will be managed in accordance with Treasury Board Secretariat policies, directives and guidelines on information management and protection of personal information, and with the Agency's retention and disposition schedules.

Choosing to self-identify or not will have no consequences for an application. In funding opportunities where the Agency may offer special consideration for members of a designated equity group, applicants will be asked to provide their consent separately to use their self-identification information for that purpose.

Appropriate privacy notices will be provided and consent obtained when the voluntary self-identification information is collected.

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