This program refers to the FRQ's Common General Rules (CGR), which govern all Fonds de recherche du Québec — Nature et technologies (FRQNT) programming. This document provides rules specifically applicable to the Team Research Project program, which take precedence over the CGR .
The link to the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio and the forms associated with this competition are available under the Portal Access tab of the website. More information is available in the About FRQnet section. It is the applicant's responsibility to choose the correct application form. Should an error occur, the Fonds will not transfer the application from one program to another and the application will be deemed ineligible.
The Fonds requires the Canadian Common CV and its PDF file of detailed contributions to be included in the appropriate section of the E-portfolio. Please refer to the Application Presentation Standards – FRQNT document, available in the program's Toolbox, for complete presentation instructions.
ANY APPLICATION THAT IS INCOMPLETE AT THE COMPETITION DEADLINE OF 4 P.M. ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 WILL BE DEEMED INADMISSIBLE BY THE FONDS.
The eligibility of the project and the research team must be maintained throughout the duration of funding. It is the responsibility of the project's principal investigator to verify, sufficiently in advance, the admissibility of the application. All members of the research team and their post-secondary institutions involved in the project must meet the eligibility requirements in effect at the time of application, the program rules, and the CGR for the entire period covered by the grant. The Fonds determines the administrative eligibility and admissibility of the application on the basis of the information and documents received by the competition deadline (see Section 3.).
Any project, research team or person that does not meet the eligibility requirements set out below is not eligible.
2.1 Identification of the principal investigator
The project lead is a researcher with one of the following statuses, as defined in the FRQ Common General Rules:
Status 1: University researcher who receives a salary under definition i) of the Common General Rules
Status 2: Clinical university researcher
Status 3: College researcher
For status 1, only university researchers who receive a salary under definition i) of the CGR may lead a project. University researchers who receive a salary under definition ii) of the CGR cannot lead a project under this program but can join the team as co-investigators.
Under this program, College researchers (status 3) can have a master's or PhD or an equivalent qualification recognized by a Québec university. He or she must possess the professional autonomy required to direct research projects and supervise students.
Retired researchers cannot lead a project under this program.
Contracted researchers with statuses 1 and 2 of the CGR who hold a non-tenure-track position at their university must provide a letter from their university. See Section 3 for more details.
Researchers may lead only one project under this program.
2.2 Composition of the team
A team is composed of at least two university researchers, clinical university researchers or college researchers. These researchers may be established researchers, contracted researchers, retired researchers, new researchers, or researchers from managing institutions recognized by the FRQ who have a university affiliation that allows them to supervise students on their own. The team composition must reflect the complementary nature of the skills required to carry out the research project.
Individuals who cannot claim Statuses 1 to 3 ("Definitions" section of the Common General Rules) can join the team as collaborators. These may be persons from a practice setting, individual participants or government, private sector or institutional researchers. Their CVs are not required.
Detailed research status definitions are provided in the "Definitions" section of the Common General Rules.
Citizenship of university, clinical university, and college researchers
To be eligible to apply for a grant, a researcher must be employed by a managing institution recognized by the FRQ to manage funding. The managing institution must be able to confirm at each grant year that the individual is continuously in its employ (including maintaining suitable visas if applicable).
2.3 Participation of researchers in other teams
University, clinical university and college researchers from Québec may have the role of project lead or co-investigator of a team in only TWO team research projects, either funded or in competition. They may, however, contribute to the work of other teams as collaborators. In such cases, they are identified in the "List of collaborators" section and their scientific production is not evaluated. Their role as collaborator must, however, be reported in the "Research project description" section of the application form.
2.4 Research project
Note that only applications for financial assistance in the research fields covered by the FRQNT are eligible. (Common General Rules, Section 3.1) More specifically, funding applications for research into living organisms must address the research themes that pertain to the sub-domains and topics listed on our Web site (in French only). Should there be any doubt as to the compliance of their research topic with the domains and sub-domains of the FRQNT, researchers can contact the program officer to ensure that their project falls within the domains covered by the Fonds. If necessary, the program officer may consult the FRQNT's scientific advisory board.
Research projects cannot be subsidized by another funding agency while funded by the Fonds.
Contents of the funding application and required documents
All attachments and sections of the electronic forms, including the Detailed Contributions attachment, must meet the requirements presented in the Application Presentation Standards — FRQNT document, which can be accessed in the program Toolbox. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in the letter of intent or application being deemed INADMISSIBLE.
The funding application consists of a 10-page document that explains, in detail: the scientific quality of the research project, the expected benefits, the scientific quality and complementarity of the team members, the quality of the training environment, and the integration of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. See the "Application evaluation" section for the applicable criteria and sub-criteria.
When necessary, the principal investigator must demonstrate, in the 10-page project description, how the team will take into consideration the question of gender in the realization of the research.
The funding application form must be accompanied by the following documents:
a) The Canadian Common CV of the principal investigator and his/her detailed contributions over the past 5 years (starting January 2015);
b) The Canadian Common CVs of all co-investigator members of the team and their detailed contributions over the past 5 years (starting January 2015);
The CVs of the persons listed in the Collaborators section are not required.
Proof of confirmation from the editor for each publication declared as submitted, accepted or in press must be inserted in the PDF file. Please read the documents entitled Preparing a CV for the Fonds and Formatting standards for Contributions - details in your portfolio.
The following documents must be added, if applicable, in the Other Documents section of the funding application:
A letter from the university or the college attesting that, for the duration of the grant, the retired researcher has access to the facilities and to the logistical support needed to carry out the proposed research activities, and will continue to train students and prepare them for a research career in the field in question. The university or the college must also attest that it will manage the appropriations in the same manner as it currently manages them for teams and strategic clusters funded by the FRQNT.
Contracted researchers with statuses 1 and 2 of the CGR (section "Status and Roles") who hold a non-tenure-track position at their university must provide a letter from their university indicating that they will maintain this status throughout the duration of the grant. An insufficiently documented letter could render the contracted researcher ineligible.
Two bids from suppliers when the cost of one piece of equipment exceeds $25,000 including all taxes. Exceptionally, a single bid can be submitted provided that it is fully justified in writing.
Applications for financial assistance must be completed using the appropriate form available in the researcher's FRQnet E-portfolio. Text file attachments including the 10-page project description and the detailed contributions list must be submitted with the application form.
The managing institution must first approve the funding application via FRQnet before it is submitted to the FRQNT. It is therefore likely that the applicant's institution has set an internal deadline earlier than the actual competition deadline. It is important to take this into account and to prepare and submit the documents to the institution within the required time frame, given the large number of applications and requests received by the Fonds at the end of the competition period.
The deadline for submitting the application is Thursday, September 10th, 2020, at 4 pm.
Applicants are not sent notice of any information or documents missing from the file. Any documents received after the deadline for applications are not considered and files cannot be updated. Any page in excess will be removed from the file. These rules are strictly enforced.
An incomplete application is deemed inadmissible. The project lead must make sure that the application is complete before transmission including all the required documents pertaining to the eligibility of the members of the team.
An application that does not contain the information necessary to establish eligibility or which cannot be evaluated will be deemed inadmissible by the FRQNT.
Only the project lead may ask for an application to be withdrawn.
The program officer, the members of the scientific advisory board and the members of the evaluation committees assess during the whole process the eligibility status of each application in accordance with the conditions specified in the program rules. The decision with respect to the eligibility of the applications is emailed to the project lead.
Eligible funding applications are sent to the Fonds' scientific advisory board (Conseil scientifique), which will assign them to a thematic category based on the disciplinary focus of the research projects. The scientific advisory board will then appoint as many thematic assessment committees (Comité d'évaluation thématique (TAC)) as necessary, attributing a limited number of applications to each one.
Evaluation by thematic assessment committees (TAC):
TACs are made up of at least three experts who possess the skills and expertise required to assess all of the applications they are assigned. TAC members confirm to the program officer that they have the expertise to review the different files in the committee. The TACs must evaluate the quality of the applications based on five program criteria. Members may call upon other experts to complete their assessments and determine the scientific merit of an application as accurately as possible. TAC members and the external experts with whom the TACs may consult are chosen from the lists of experts submitted by the principal investigators with their funding applications. A web research with keywords may also be done in various search engines.
TAC members must determine the applications for which 1) funding should definitely be granted; 2) funding should be granted if financially possible; and 3) funding should not be granted. The TAC assessments are then sent to multidisciplinary assessment committees (Comités d'évaluation multidisciplinaires (MAC)), which must establish the merit ranking of all applications recommended by the various TACs.
The appended evaluation grid is the list of criteria and indicators used by committee members. This grid describes the statements corresponding to the ratings given for the various evaluation criteria and indicators. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a numerical rating based on the statements that best apply according to the supporting documents provided.
These numerical values for each criterion are used to assign an overall percentage grade to each funding application and to rank the applications analysed by the thematic assessment committees by merit.
Evaluation by multidisciplinary assessment committees (MAC):
MAC members produce a final ranking of applications. Each of the four MACs oversees some ten specialized thematic assessment committees (TACs). The mandate of the MACs is to analyze and rate the recommended applications in the various TACs. To do this, MAC members assign each application one of the following grades: A (excellent), B (very good) or C (satisfactory) to obtain a consensus on the final ranking. The level of funding for successful applications is determined based on the rank assigned by their committee and according to available appropriations. If applicable, MAC members are also invited to rule on the amount to be granted for the equipment grant. The recommendations of the multidisciplinary assessment committees are submitted to the Board of Directors of the FRQNT, which makes the funding decisions.
The Fonds program officer is responsible for ensuring that the committees and the various players consulted comply with evaluation criteria and procedures and with the rules of ethics in effect. The program officer works with the members of the thematic committees to select the external experts.
5.2 Evaluation criteria
Criterion 1: Scientific quality of the research project (30 points)
Innovative, incubator or high-benefit aspects of the project;
Need to use complementary expertise for carrying out the project;
Methodological approach and feasibility of the timetable.
Criterion 2: Expected benefits of the project (25 points)
Impact on the advancement of knowledge and on the resolution of social, economic, cultural and technological issues;
Leverage for Québec;
Responds to the need for creating highly qualified personnel;
Possible partnerships with use;
Dissemination of research results to the public at large.
Criterion 3: Scientific quality and complementarity of team members (25 points)
Demonstration of creative potential;
Achievements in research and recognition by the research community;
Fit between the expertise of team members and the proposed research project;
Means of integrating the scientific skills of the team members;
Quality of collaborative links between team members and other key players or partners, where applicable.
Criterion 4: Quality of the training environment (15 points)
Members' experience in supervising students;
Integration of college or university students from all cycles and postdoctoral trainees within the research project;
Project's contribution to training;
Capacity for integration of highly qualified labour into the job market.
Criterion 5: Integration of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion*(5 points)
Efforts put in place to promote equity, diversity and inclusion.
*Equity: fair treatment, including the elimination of systemic barriers that disadvantage particular groups. Fair treatment is not necessarily the same for everyone, but takes into account different personal realities, both present and historical, to provide all individuals with access to the same opportunities for the promotion and support of research.
Diversity: the presence within the research ecosystem of people from different groups, which promotes the expression of diverse perspectives, approaches and experiences, including those of underrepresented groups. The FRQ value the contribution of this diversity to research.
Inclusion: the establishment of practices that allow all members of the research community to be and to feel valued, supported and respected, paying particular attention to underrepresented groups.
The funding application must receive an evaluation score of 80%.
The MAC makes recommendations to the Board of Directors of the FRQNT, which makes funding decisions based on available budgets. These decisions are final.
Financial assistance of up to $60,000 per year for a maximum of three years may be awarded and is not renewable. The grant is used to fund operating expenses directly related to carrying out the team research project. Only eligible expenses that are directly related to the proposed research activities of the project will be accepted. These must be rigorously justified in the application. Any unjustified expenses may be removed from the budget during the evaluation of the application.
Indirect research costs (FIR) of 27% are paid to the principal investigator's institution in addition to the research grant when this institution is a university (Section 8.2 of the CGR).
Except in the specific case of college researchers and in accordance with the conditions set out in 6.1, Fonds funding must not be used to pay salaries or salary supplements to co-investigators or individuals whose salaries are paid out of the regular budget of a government-funded institution such as a university, a government department or its institutions, or any other government agency. Refer to the CGR for further details.
6.1 Eligible expenses
Eligible expenses under this program are those listed in Section 8 of the CGR, with the exception of expenses covered by Section 8.7 of the CGR.
Salary support for eligible Status 3 college researchers with no teaching duties
Part of the grant awarded by the FRQNT may be used as salary support for college researchers on the team who have no teaching duties. This amount must be entered in the Budget section and can be transferred by the principal investigator's institution directly to the college, or to the college with which the CCTT is affiliated in the case of a CCTT researcher.
SUPPLEMENT for eligible Status 3 college researchers with teaching duties
For each college researcher on the team who has teaching duties, a maximum additional amount $16,000 will be paid directly to the college to cover the portion of the salary dedicated to the release from teaching duties. This amount is paid directly to the college.
6.2 Grant for equipment purchases
A grant may be added to the operating grant for the purchase of individual scientific equipment whose cost is between $7,001 and $50,000 (including taxes). This grant is awarded on the basis of the justification of the need for the equipment and according to the criteria mentioned below. Where applicable, the reuse of scientific equipment and the purchase of second-hand equipment are encouraged.
Applications for equipment must be made in the first year of the period for which an operating grant is requested. The appropriations are issued in full the first year but may be spent any time in the three years covered by the grant.
For equipment whose total cost exceeds $50,000, the Fonds's contribution comes into effect as soon as applicants submit supporting documents indicating they have obtained other sources of complementary funding for the purchase of the requested equipment. The supporting documents must be sent to the Fonds within one year following the grant announcement.
The following criteria are used to evaluate requests for equipment:
Relevance of the requested equipment for achievement of the research project;
Availability of similar equipment at the project lead's university or the region's universities;
Overall benefits (accessible to several users, contribution to researcher training, etc.);
Amount of time the equipment will be used.
Student maternity leave
A student who receives an award funded by a grant under this program can get paid maternity leave from the FRQNT for a period of up to eight months for the birth or adoption of a child. To be eligible, the student must have been paid from the FRQNT grant for at least 6 months. In addition, she may not hold an award from another granting agency and may not receive benefits from the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).
To obtain paid maternity leave, the student must send a request by email to the program officer and provide a copy of the medical certificate attesting to the pregnancy and, when the time comes, the child's birth or adoption certificate and proof of interruption of university enrolment. In addition, a copy of the student's award contract must be provided.
Maternity leave may begin before the birth or adoption of the child. If permitted by the institution, the student may extend the leave for an additional period of four months without pay. The FRQNT will transfer the maternity leave grant to the student upon receipt of the required documents.
Maternity leave is authorized by the Fonds provided that the institution allows maternity leave. The grant director undertakes to resume supervision of the student after her leave. The Fonds reserves the right to reject any request that is not adequately justified.
Grants are awarded for a period of three years. Grants are disbursed annually for the period from April 1 to March 31 of each year.
The unspent balance of the operating grant at the end of the three years may be carried forward, but only for an additional period of one year. The principal investigator and his/her home institution must justify the carryover and verify its feasibility with the program officer. At the end of this year, any unspent funds must be returned to the FRQNT. The rules governing residual balances, unexpended funds and overpayments are described in the CGR.
7.2 Management and follow-up
Accepting the grant
To initiate payment of the first instalment, the applicant must accept the grant within 30 days after receiving the competition results (April-May), in the "Manage my funding" section of the FRQnet E-portfolio.
Annual update statement
To initiate the 2nd and 3rd grant instalments, the grant holder must, after receiving a notice to do so (in March), submit an online update statement in the FRQnet E-portfolio. The statement must be completed whether or not there are any changes to declare. Further grant payments are contingent on this step.
Annual financial report
The managing institution must submit, no later than June each year, an annual financial report via the FRQnet E-portfolio.
End of the grant
The grant holder is required to submit a final report no later than 21 months after the end date of the grant (not including the additional year, where applicable). Any future funding is contingent on the submission of this final report within the prescribed time and to the satisfaction of the Fonds.
All other conditions related to awards set out in the CGR must also be respected. Any additional conditions, if applicable, will be indicated in the award letter or at the time of subsequent instalments.
Grant awards are announced at the end ofApril 2021. The decisions of the evaluation committees are approved by the Board of Directors and are sent to the managing institutions and applicants concerned. All decisions made by the Board of Directors of the FRQNT are final and cannot be appealed.
Awards are contingent on the allocation of funding by the Québec National Assembly and the decisions of the Board of Directors of the Fonds, and may be modified at any time without prior notice. It is therefore highly recommended that no funding be committed before it has been officially announced.
It is strictly forbidden to contact the members of the multidisciplinary assessment committees, members of the visiting committees, or scientific advisors for information on the competition results. All of the above have signed a confidentiality agreement in which they have agreed not to divulge any of the information gained during the course of their mandates. All discussions are also subject to confidentiality rules.
Any individual or FRQNT-recognized managing institution that receives an award must demonstrate the highest standards of research ethics and scientific integrity. Please refer to the Common General Rules CGR for further details.
This includes a declaration by the team leader and the managing institution that there are no real or apparent conflicts of interest that could influence the application assessment process. This applies to all individuals identified in the application form or the documents required when submitting the funding application.
Please refer to the CGR for any matter related to responsible conduct in research, privacy and confidentiality, intellectual property and the protection of academic freedom.
At no time may project leads or their institutional authorities make contact with evaluation committee members, unless such contact is specified as part of the evaluation process. Similarly, evaluation committee members must not make contact with applicants, unless such contact is specifically indicated in the evaluation process.
The Fonds reserve the right to withdraw an application from competition if there is any inappropriate intervention, lobby, undue influence or collusion during the evaluation process, as stipulated in the Policy for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
The Fonds de recherche du Québec wish to contribute to supporting a research ecosystem based on equity, diversity and inclusion. Measures have been put in place to strengthen the integration of these principles.
To mitigate the influence of unconscious bias in the scientific assessment process, individuals taking part in the Fonds de recherche du Québec's peer review process will henceforth be encouraged to take a short online training course. In the interest of avoiding duplication for the scientific community, we have chosen to use the Unconscious bias training module developed by the federal funding agencies and available on the Canada Research Chairs website.
While this training course is not mandatory, we hope that a critical mass of reviewers will choose to take it to help enhance the fairness of the assessment process. Please note that all Fonds staff responsible for assessment committees will be required to complete the online training module as well as additional training.
The Fonds make all reasonable efforts to ensure optimal service. However, they cannot be held liable for any direct or indirect damage resulting from their handling of applications for funding. Furthermore, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Fonds are not liable for any direct or indirect damage resulting from the disclosure of personal or confidential information that was not authorized by the Fonds.
The Fonds presume the good faith of the declaration provided in funding applications or in any other document submitted at any time during the funding cycle, from the initial funding application to the final report. Applicants and funding holder must be transparent and provide accurate and precise information. They must be conscientious about advising the Fonds of any changes in their situation, where applicable.
Under the Act Respecting the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie (CQLR, c. M-188.8.131.52), any individual who submits an application containing false or misleading information to obtain or procure financial support is committing an offence, is liable to a fine and could be barred from receiving financial support for a period of up to five years. Where a legal person commits such an offence, every director or representative of that legal person who was aware of the offence may be liable to a fine. Furthermore, such a declaration constitutes a breach of responsible research conduct, as set forth in the Fonds de recherche du Québec Policy for the Responsible Conduct of Research, and may be subject to sanctions in accordance with this policy.
The Fonds reserve the right to take immediate measures to stop the use of public funds obtained through false or misleading information, and to take legal action to recover fraudulently obtained funds and claim compensation for damages caused where appropriate.
In accordance with the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Open Access Policy For The Dissemination Of Research, all principal investigators who are awarded a grant, co-investigators who are part of a grant and recipients of training or career awards must agree to provide open access to their scientific publications no later than 12 months after publication. To learn more about the FRQ's requirements on this subject, please visit our page on Open science.
Researchers and institutions must meet the general eligibility requirements in effect at the time of submission of the letter of intent and the funding application. All specific program rules set out in the Common General Rules must be followed throughout the period covered by the grant.
I - Scientific quality of the research project (30 points)
A (30-27) The research project is of exceptional quality and satisfies all the indicators: it is highly innovative and high-benefit, complementary expertise is essential, the issue at stake and the methodology are very pertinent and very well presented, the timetable is realistic.
B (27-24) The research project is of good quality and satisfies most of the indicators: it is innovative and high-benefit, it requires certain complementary expertise, the issue at stake and the methodology are pertinent and well presented, and the timetable is relatively realistic.
C (24-21) The research project is average and only satisfies some of the indicators: it is not very innovative or high-benefit, the researchers' expertise do not the issue at stake and the methodology are briefly presented, the projected timetable is not very realistic.
D (21-18) The research project is weak and fails to satisfy a number of the indicators: it does not appear to be particularly innovative or high-benefit, a team with complementary expertise is not critical for carrying out the project, the issue at stake is only vaguely described, the methodology has certain weaknesses, and the timetable is absent.
II - Expected benefits of the project (25 points)
A (25-22.5) The research project will contribute to developing new research niches. It should result in groundbreaking progress in terms of the advancement of knowledge internationally recognized by all specialists in the field. There will likely be major short-, medium- or long-term social, economic and cultural benefits. It should be a springboard to national and international programs or enable important partnerships to be formed with other users.
B (22.5-20) The research project could lead to the emergence of new research niches. It could also result in significant progress in terms of the advancement of knowledge recognized by international specialists in the field, or have some short-, medium- or long-term social, economic or cultural benefits. It could be a springboard to national and international programs or enable partnerships to be formed with other users.
C (20-17.5) The research project present limited innovation in its approach. It could also lead to some progress in terms of the advancement of knowledge recognized by all Canadian specialists in the field, or have short-, medium- or long-term, social, economic or cultural benefits.
D (17.5-15) The research project does not present any innovation in its approach. It should not yield any progress in terms of the advancement of knowledge recognized by specialists in the field, or yield certain short-, medium-, or long-term social, economic or cultural benefits.
III - Scientific quality and complementarity of team members (25 points)
A (25-22.5) The main members are internationally known as being exceptional and have been credited with major achievements or are new researchers who have already gained recognition for their initiative and their aptitude for innovation. They have shown great capacity to work as a team with researchers who have different training and expertise. Complementarity between team members is essential and is likely to lead to important breakthroughs. Partnership with other university, government or industrial institutions is an integral part of the research project. The project could not be carried out without the personnel to be acquired. In cases where the researchers have received funding in the team research project program, collaborations have led to excellent results.
B (22.5-20) The main members of the team are in most cases innovative and are internationally known for their expertise or are very promising new researchers. They have shown their capacity to work as a team with researchers who have different training and expertise. Together, the team members have the capacity to carry out a research project that could not be undertaken without their mutual expertise. A partnership with other university, government or industrial institutions is proposed as part of the research project. The personnel to be acquired are useful. In cases where the researchers have received funding in the team research project program, collaborations have led to very good results.
C (20-17.5) The main members of the team are known nationally in their field or are promising new researchers. They have some teamwork experience. The team is made up of researchers who demonstrate certain complementary expertise. Additional expertise would be useful. A partnership with other university, government or industrial institutions is evoked in the research project. The team members have a well-integrated common project and will be in regular contact with the personnel acquired and make regular use of the research infrastructure established. In cases where the researchers have received funding in the team research project program, collaborations have led to some results.
D (10.5-09) The main members of the team are somewhat known by their colleagues or are new competent researchers. The team is made up of researchers with related expertise and who have common interests. A partnership with other university, government or industrial institutions is not considered in the research project. The team will be in regular contact with the personnel to be acquired and make regular use of the research infrastructure to be established. In cases where the researchers have received funding in the team research project program, collaborations have yielded few results.
IV - Quality of the training environment (15 points)
A (15-13) The team members, the nature of the project and the scientific animation activities create a unique training environment. Graduates from every level are in great demand.
B (13-11) The team members, the nature of the project, and the scientific animation activities create a very good training environment that has great potential for producing excellent graduates. The graduates find work easily.
C (11-09) The team members interact regularly with collegiate and undergraduate students and supervise an acceptable number of graduate students and postdoctoral trainees. Graduates receive a pertinent training and usually find work in a field closely related to their training.
D (07-07) The team members interact regularly with collegiate and undergraduate students and occasionally train graduate students. The students receive relevant training that will allow them to find work in a related field. The students involved in the project will be trained primarily in a specific discipline.
V – Integration of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion (5 points)
The scoring of this criterion is left to the discretion of the committee members during the evaluation.