Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Peer Review Process

The Council’s programs are delivered within clear and formally documented frameworks that are well known and understood by clients and staff. To make sure that only excellent research is funded, and that all applicants are treated fairly, funding decisions are based on international peer review. Peer review involves the assessment of the merit of applications by impartial experts in the specific field. The diagram below illustrates NSERC’s peer review process.

Peer Review Process

Supporting global excellence is the ultimate goal of all NSERC grants and scholarships. International representation within the peer review process is crucial to fostering world-class excellence and ensuring that supported research is gauged against the highest international standards.

Both committee members and external referees devote considerable time and effort, on a volunteer basis, to reviewing applications and making award recommendations. In 2007-08, approximately 13,000 experts acted as referees and provided detailed, written evaluations of the merit of applications. Thirty-nine percent of external referees were from outside Canada. In addition, more than 800 experts from universities, government and industry, from Canada and around the world, participated as members of NSERC’s peer review committees and approximately seven percent of these experts were from outside Canada. Over the next three years, NSERC will double the number of international experts on these committees, so that they represent at least 15 percent of the committees’ membership

The practice of basing all decisions regarding the awarding of grants or scholarships on the results of a thorough assessment of detailed proposals by experts in the field is fundamental to NSERC’s values, risk management, stewardship and accountability. In early 2007, this system was recognized by the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grant and Contribution Programs, established by the President of the Treasury Board Secretariat, as “ a well-developed system of peer review-based research grants that has been generally praised by the recipients of this funding” (From Red Tape to Clear Results, December 2006, page 7).

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