Interface Design: Not Canadian Grant Organizations’ Strong Suit

It’s fellowship season up here in Canada, and more and more of Canada’s granting agencies have moved to an all-online system for their grant applications. While I am in favor of using less paper and streamlining the application process, I do wonder why Canadian granting organizations have such categorically bad web design. Montreal is full of outstanding web designers, but the FQRSC’s site is a maze whether in English or French. SSHRC has gone to an all-online system for postdocs. It is their first year, but when I couldn’t figure out how to register as a department chair (every applicant who wants to work with someone in our department also needs a letter from me, but when I registered the system appeared to think I was an applicant), I sent their tech support an email. They get points for clarity and speed, but really, 18 steps just to submit a letter of recommendation? And pop-ups? How about Ajax instead? I routinely sing the praises of Canada’s grant system for the social sciences and humanities to anyone who will listen, but this is one area where they could definitely use some help.

EAMS Postdoctoral Fellowship Supervisor Instructions:

1) Sign up for an account on the EAMS website at: – you can use any email address to register.

2) Provide the applicant with the email address with which you registered on the website.

3) The applicant will then add your email address to their application and you will receive an email stating that you have been listed as a reviewer.

4) Log into the EAMS website.

5) Scroll down to the “Supervisor / Head of Department” section.

6) Click on the printer icon under “Print / Preview” to view the applicant’s form, a pop-up window will appear.

7) Click on the printer icon again under “Print / Preview”. This will launch Adobe and display the applicant’s form.

8 ) Return to the first page you see once logging into your EAMS account.

9) Click on the student’s name under the “Supervisor / Head of Department” section.

10) Click on “Research Appraisal” on the left-hand side. Found under “Research Appraisal”.

11) Fill in the form.

IMPORTANT — Use the “Search” button when choosing your discipline.

IMPORTANT – You are not able to upload documents into the form. The information must be typed or pasted into the form itself. The maximum number of characters is listed below the text box and includes spaces.

12) Click on “Save”.

13) Scroll to the top of the screen to view any error messages.

IMPORTANT — Information is NOT saved if there is an error message. If you change screens without fixing the errors on the page, your data will be lost.

14) Click on “Signature and Submission”.

15) Choose Yes if you declare and agree to the terms.

16) Click on “Save”.

17) Click on “Validate Submission”.

18) Click on “Submit”.

2 replies on “Interface Design: Not Canadian Grant Organizations’ Strong Suit”

  1. Great post! This is so true.
    What’s even more insane about this is that pretty much everyone who will use this EAMS form is ALREADY ON FILE with SSHRC ANYWAY.
    I wrote off a screaming rant to their support people too. I would post it here if I wasn’t slightly ashamed of just how ranting it was.
    Keep up the good work. Speak truth to SSHRC!

  2. PS: Oh yes, forgot to add: what also annoys me no end about this is that pretty much every American university I’ve ever done online reference letters for (for grad admissions) has a nice user-friendly interface that just works (at least from the professor/recommender’s point of view). You can even upload pdf files sometimes (woohoo). And you don’t need to give your mother’s maiden name or your geat-grandmother’s passport number or whatever. Why can’t SSHRC just buy the software that those American schools use? Etc etc etc (this was all in the ranting email I sent, you can imagine the rest).

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