UW/SSHRC Explore Grant: Seed

Formerly the UW/SSHRC Seed Grant


The UW/SSHRC Explore Grant program is funded by an annual block grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Proposals are reviewed and approved by the UW/SSHRC Grants Review Committee, a sub-committee of the University Senate Graduate and Research Council, and are administered through the Office of Research. 

Explore funds cover research expenses for projects with budgets up to $7,000 in the Social Sciences and Humanities and Fine- and Performing-Arts, and are considered to be seed funding for subsequent applications to SSHRC. UW/SSHRC Explore Grant funding is available for one year (Jan 1 to Dec 31 or July 1 to June 30 – depending on competition) plus one extension year. Further extension may be made on a case-by-case basis by submitting a written request with a revised budget to the Secretary of the UW/SSHRC Grants Review Committee.


The purpose of the UW/SSHRC Explore Grant Program is to support the early-stage development of high-quality research in the fine and performing arts, social sciences, and humanities. The UW/SSHRC Grants Review Committee will prioritize funding for preliminary work for a new project and bridge-funding for a project linked to a new SSHRC proposal.

Requests for support for networking activities (e.g. Partnership Grant or Partnership Development Grant) to develop a new research project will be considered. Applicants must make a compelling case that this activity is integral to the development of a new research project, and requests for such funding will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Applicants must be tenured or tenure-track SSHRC-eligible faculty who have applied to an external SSHRC competition or held an external SSHRC grant as a Principal Investigator within the previous three years*.  An exception to this is new faculty: those in their first three years of appointment are eligible to receive UW/SSHRC Explore Grant funding without having first sought external SSHRC funds. As well, consideration may be given to regular faculty who have not recently applied for or held a SSHRC grant, but who can demonstrate that they are undertaking a significant change in research direction that requires start-up funds and is SSHRC-related.

Faculty with a 3-year definite term appointment that includes research duties will be given consideration to apply so long as they have the support of their Department Chair/School Director and Faculty Dean, or Affiliated and Federated Institution of Waterloo (AFIW) equivalents. The same external SSHRC application criteria apply as outlined above for regular faculty. 

Further exceptions are possible in limited circumstances (e.g., special circumstances and career interruptions such as a leave of absence) and for those applying for Partnership Grant Seed Funds. Contact the UW/SSHRC secretary for details.

All UW/SSHRC Explore Grant recipients are required to apply to an external SSHRC competition through UW within two years of their UW/SSHRC Explore Grant start date.

Multiple applications and concurrent funding

  • If a researcher is in the final year of a SSHRC grant (either final year or extension year) and requires seed funding for a new project or new research direction, they may apply for a UW/SSHRC Explore Grant, however preference will be given to applicants who do not currently hold SSHRC funding.*
    • If sufficient funding is available, the committee will adjudicate these applications separately after considering applications from those who do not hold SSHRC funding.*
    • If a researcher in the final year of their SSHRC grant applies for the Explore Grant, they must justify their need for these funds based two things:
      • The new direction of the proposed research and how it builds upon or differs from their funded research program
      • How the proposed project will enhance the chances of success on a subsequent external SSHRC grant application
      • This justificationmust be included in the 4-page detailed description attachment
  • If a researcher successfully applies for a UW/SSHRC Explore Grant and is also awaiting the results of an external SSHRC application, funds will not be released until the SSHRC results are available.  If the researcher has been successful on the external SSHRC grant, they will not be eligible to also receive the internal UW/SSHRC funding*
  • If a researcher successfully applies for a UW/SSHRC Explore grant and then also applies for an external SSHRC grant thereafter (and is successful), they may keep both awards.  However, if a researcher holds a UW/SSHRC Explore grant, then applies unsuccessfully to an external SSHRC grant and their application is RIF-eligible, they will not be eligible for the RIF (Research Incentive Fund).
  • Applicants who currently hold a RIF Award are ineligible to apply for UW/SSHRC Explore and Exchange Grants
  • If a researcher currently holds a UW/SSHRC Explore or Seed Grant, they are ineligible to apply to the program until all funds are expended*
  • Applicants cannot apply to the UW/SSHRC Explore Grant and Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Fund for the same research project*
  • Applicants can apply for both the Explore and Exchange Grant with the stipulation that:
    • Each application shall be judged on its own merit
    • When there is a shortage of funding, both grants may not be awarded and priority will be given to awarding Explore grants over Exchange grants in such cases
    • Preference for funding both applications will be given to emerging scholars
  • While an applicant may not be a Principal Investigator on more than one UW/SSHRC Explore Grant at the same time, they may be a co-investigator on any number of concurrent applications.

*Exceptions will be made for those applying for the Office of Research Partnership Grant Seed Funds special pilot competition, though the applicant must be eligible to apply to the Partnership Grant Stage 1 competition in February 2025. Contact uwsshrc@uwaterloo.ca with any questions.

Eligible expenses

The UW/SSHRC Explore Grant Program will cover the following expenses: salaries of research assistants, minor equipment, databases, supplies, and travel essential for the conduct of the research. Funds cannot be transferred to another institution. Costs of short distance travel within Southwestern Ontario must be justified. Requests for equipment or software must be justified and identified as essential to the success of the project, and must explain why available on-campus facilities are not adequate.  Please be aware of the recommended salary and benefits rates for students and non-student assistants paid from research grants. Requests for conference travel funding and open access fees must be made through the UW/SSHRC Exchange Grant program.

Please note that these funds CANNOT be used as matching on any SSHRC Grant because they are awarded through the SSHRC Institutional Grant (and SSHRC funds cannot be used as required contributions on an SSHRC program).

Applications must include the following:

  1. Office of Research Electronic Cover Sheet for Sponsored Research Activities
  2. One electronic copy (PDF) of the application form and all supporting documents. The single PDF file containing all documents (except the cover sheet) should be submitted via e-mail to the Secretary, UW/SSHRC Grants Committee. All files must be combined into one PDF; applications not presented in this format will be rejected.  Please include the following in the PDF:
  • UW/SSHRC Explore application form
  • Detailed description of proposal (4 pages maximum)
  • List of references (1 page maximum)
  • Budget justification (1 page maximum)
  • SSHRC CV (with research contribution document) or Canadian Common CV

All questions should be directed to the Secretary, UW/SSHRC Grants Committee at uwsshrc@uwaterloo.ca.

Deadlines: June 1 and December 1 at 11:59pm

  • If the deadline falls on a weekend, the deadline is extended to the next business day.
  • off-cycle Explore Grants will not be accepted

Notification: decisions will be e-mailed to applicants by the end of August and the end of February, respectively


Ethics: Successful applicants whose research involves human participants/data and/or live, non-human vertebrate animals must submit a research ethics application via the Office of Research Ethics for review and clearance before a research account can be activated.  More information on the ethics application process can be found on the Office of Research Ethics webpage.


Please acknowledge the support provided through the University of Waterloo SSHRC Institutional Grant (SIG) in any publication resulting from the grant.

Evaluation of applications

Funding decisions for this program will be made by the UW/SSHRC Grant Review Committee based on the applicant’s need for support; the quality of the proposal; the link established between the Explore Grant project and a forthcoming external SSHRC grant application; and the research record, or potential, of the applicant. When the Committee requires further input to arrive at a decision, the applicant’s Department Chair/School Director and Faculty Dean (or AFIW equivalents) will be asked for a confidential evaluation of the proposal.

Terms of Reference

Revised: April 2024