Tuesday, 16 September 2014

How to prepare a Canada Graduate Scholarship Masters application

Image created by Craig Parylo and retrieved from freeimages

I write this blog with hopes to provide admissions applicants and first-year masters students some confidence in how to complete an excellent CGSM application. This isn't the only right way to complete this application; just how I would do it!

This info is meant to supplement the instructions provided by the Research Councils, not repeat or replace it. Please read it all the way through so you are aware of all the application requirements for time-planning purposes.

Unless you write proposals for a living, this application might take you longer than you think. The competition launches early September and has an annual deadline of December 1st.

Step 1: Check your GPA

Eligible candidates have achieved a first-class average, that’s a minimum “A-“, 3.67/4.33, 76.7%, 8/10, 7/9, or 10/12, depending on the grade scale at that school, in each of the last two years of post-secondary study, including any grades earned at RRU and recorded on your official transcript. 
Students with slightly below first-class averages are still encouraged to apply if you have a strong argument for potential as a researcher.

Step 2: Review the funding program information on the CGSM website 

Check out the other eligibility requirements and selection criteria here - prove you are the most eligible candidate by addressing the evaluation criteria whenever possible.

Two eligibility items I'd like to add are:
  • If you are applying the year before studies begin, you can participate in RRU's competition if you have submitted an admissions application before December 1st.
  • You should have 12 months remaining in your program by the first award take-up date (May 1st following the application deadline).
I add this last criterion because it's a 12-month award and designed around the typical semester system. Students enrolled in condensed programs or programs that start between January and April should apply the December before the academic program starts.

Call me if you have any eligibility questions.

Step 3: Create an account on the Research Portal

The Research Portal is where you will complete the electronic application form and attach all the supporting documents.

IMPORTANT! The name you use on the application must match the name in our University registration system (from your admissions application).

Application Title is a short version of your research question.
Start date or proposed start date of program of study refers to the start of your masters program.
Proposed Host Organization will be Royal Roads University.
Faculty is Faculty of Social & Applied Science, or Faculty of Management, or Office of Interdisciplinary Studies.
Department/Division is your School (e.g. School of Humanitarian Studies).
Summary of Proposal is like an abstract or executive summary of your Outline of Proposed Research.
Field of Study and Areas of Research are a best fit find from the drop-down menu for your proposed research.

There is a known issue with formatting when previewing the Summary of Proposal. This is a preview error only and will not affect the font size or spacing within the submitted application. 
IMPORTANT! Enter your referee names and email addresses in the Research Portal at least one month before the deadline. Make sure they agree to write the reference first.

Step 4: Order official transcripts

You must upload one legible pdf document of your scanned official post-secondary transcripts. Note that screenshots or unofficial Statement of Grades are not acceptable.

While you might want to wait for a couple of courses to get recorded on your RRU transcript, it's a good idea to order your other ones now. Order your RRU transcript at least 3 weeks before the deadline to ensure you get it in time.

Sort your transcripts in order of newest education (that’s RRU first) to oldest. Scan, in black and white, the grades page of each transcript first then the legend page into one file - I only want one legend per institutional set of transcripts. If you anticipate needing help with this part, contact me early.

IMPORTANT! RRU cannot provide copies, even scanned copies, of the transcripts you submitted to the institution as part of the admissions process.

REALLY IMPORTANT! You must include transcripts for all institutions mentioned in your application, including RRU's, otherwise your application will be considered incomplete.

Step 5: Write the Outline of Proposed Research

This piece of the application deserves the most time and attention. I have created a guide on how to write a scholarship research proposal specifically for this competition. 

Write your proposal in a Word document minding these mandatory formatting requirements:
  • single spaced,
  • 12 pt font Times New Roman,
  • all margins set at a minimum 3/4",
  • pdf file format,
  • 8.5 x 11” page,
  • name in the top right border,
  • number pages in bottom right border.
You are permitted one page for the proposal and one page for references. Examples are available upon request.

Citations should be in a format used by the primary discipline of the proposed research. 

I strongly suggest you consult your Program Head while developing your Outline of Proposed Research. It's ok to ask if your research plan will be acceptable for your program, and to ask for advice about your method. They truly want you to have the best chance of success, if you give them time to support you.

You may send me (Gwen Campden) the draft to review. While I’m not a subject matter expert, I can act as your second set of eyes, ensuring that you are on track with application requirements, have addressed the critical elements of a research proposal, and I can be pretty ruthless at cutting out nonessential words if your proposal is too long. This optional service has a deadline – check the web for deadlines. 

Step 6: Find two faculty or experts in your field of research to complete references

Good referees have a PhD or a Doctoral degree, or are well known in your field of research. These people should be able to confidently comment on your academic excellence, research potential, and personal characteristics and interpersonal skills. One of your references should be RRU faculty to tie your research to your program of enrollment.

Enter the contact information for your two references in the CGSM application and an email request will be sent to them. This email will provide a link where your reference must be submitted.

To ensure your referees are equipped to provide an appropriate reference, please send them the link to the scholarship program information (from step 2) and your Outline of Proposed Research. Ideally they will comment on your suitability for the proposed research.

While you're at it, ask your references to review your proposal. They should focus on content, like verifying the appropriateness of the chosen theoretical framework, methodology, method, and data analysis.

Please give them at least a months' notice! Faculty juggle heavy schedules.

Be sure to thank them now and report back with the outcome of your application in the Spring.

Step 7: Complete the Canadian Common CV

Complete the Canadian Common CV on this website and link it to your CGSM application. Make sure your name in the CV EXACTLY matches the name you used for the Research Portal. You won't be able to change it later, or attach it to your application if the names don't match.

After you login, please select CV in the horizontal menu bar
In the Funding Sources drop-down menu, select CGS-Masters
In the CV Type drop-down menu, select CGS-Masters

For Research Disciplines, Areas of Research, Fields of Application, choose the best fit for your research interests in general. The CV is about you as a researcher, whereas the Research Portal application is about your current proposed research.

Impressions and Advice from Previous Applicants and Reviewers

"A proposal with grammatical errors, spelling errors, and a lack of rigour is easily dismissed by the review committee. Take your time to prepare a good proposal and have as many people review it as possible."
"Planning for my first major academic project and applying for the CGSM is a bit like running a marathon. You train in advance focusing all your energy and hopes into researching the finish line knowing that even if you don't win 1st place, you've still achieved a personal best."
"...I would begin a month prior to the deadline. The amount of research required to submit a thorough application was greater than I anticipated."
"Consult with as many people as you can!"
"Apply! Go for it! Even if you don't receive the award, the process will help you with the next step in your academic journey. It's also nice to read the encouragement from your professors - that alone was worth it!"

1 comment:

  1. Check out this University Affairs article on the 10 Do's and Don'ts of Applying For Grants http://academica.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=adff35e3091cad1452f767ad5&id=30dfe491bc&e=8970b2baad