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Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants Program (Individual and Project)

Overview
Duration Individual: Up to five years
Project: Up to three years
Application deadline August 1 (Notification of Intent to Apply) 
October 1 (Subatomic Physics Project Applications requesting $500,000 or more per year)
November 1 (Application) 
Application procedure See below
How to apply
  • Canadian Common CV
  • Notification of Intent to Apply
  • Application
To create a Canadian Common CV, select This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV.
To create or access a Notification of Intent to Apply or an application, select Research Portal.
To view instructions, select Instructions.
Contact Consult the Contact list.

Important information

Objective

The Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grants program assists in:

  • promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research capability in the natural sciences and engineering in Canadian universities;
  • fostering research excellence;
  • providing a stimulating environment for research training.

Description

The SAP Discovery Grants program supports ongoing programs of research (with long-term goals) rather than a single short-term project or a collection of unrelated projects that do not contribute to a cohesive program of research. These grants recognize the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of all research advances, whether made individually or in teams. Researchers are free to work in the mode most appropriate for the research area.

NSERC recognizes that while being of a grant-in-aid nature, SAP Discovery Grants must be sufficient to support a program of quality research that can have a meaningful impact on the field of study.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen the scientific and engineering community and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Increasing diversity and gender equity in the research enterprise are key priorities in our current strategic plan, NSERC 2020, and are highlighted in the strategic goal, “Build a Diversified and Competitive Research Base.”

Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of under-represented and disadvantaged groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one means to enhance excellence in research and training. Where applicable, consideration of sex, gender and diversity in the research design should be addressed in the proposal. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should be developed into the rationale for the composition of research teams, including trainees. For more information, applicants should refer to the application instructions and the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.

General application eligibility principles

Individual grants

  • Researchers can apply for only one Individual Discovery Grant (in Subatomic Physics or not) at a time.
  • Recipients of SAP Individual Discovery Grants are not restricted to the specific activities described in the application, but may pursue new research interests, provided they are within NSERC’s mandate.
  • Researchers who hold an Individual Discovery Grant cannot reapply for another Individual Discovery Grant until the last year of their current award.
  • SAP Individual Discovery Grants are awarded for one to five years, the normal duration being five years. Applicants requesting a shorter duration for other reasons must provide a strong justification. NSERC may award a grant of the normal duration, even if a shorter period is requested.

Project grants

  • Researchers can hold or apply for a SAP Project Discovery Grant, as an applicant or co-applicant, at the same time as they hold or apply for an Individual Discovery Grant.
  • Also, researchers can concurrently hold or apply for more than one SAP Project Discovery Grant, as an applicant or co-applicant.
  • SAP Collaborations that hold a Project Discovery Grant cannot reapply for another Project Discovery Grant that relates to the same research program until the last year of their current award.
  • Members of a SAP Collaboration, which is applying for a SAP Project Grant, cannot normally apply for another SAP Discovery Grant to support research activities that are part of the Collaboration’s program of research. If you wish to submit such a concurrent application, please consult NSERC.
  • When joining a SAP Collaboration that is supported by an ongoing SAP Project Grant, researchers can apply for bridging funds through a SAP Project Grant for a duration that would allow their participation in the Collaboration’s subsequent application.
  • It is mandatory to have at least one co-applicant on a SAP Project Grant application.
  • SAP Project Grants are awarded for one to three years, the normal duration being three years. Applicants requesting a shorter duration must provide a strong justification.

Subject matter eligibility and funding from other sources

Applicants to the Physics Discovery Grants Program must present a program of research that is eligible under NSERC’s mandate, which is to promote and assist research in the natural sciences and engineering, other than health. The objectives of the research program must be to advance knowledge in the natural sciences or in engineering. The application will be rejected if NSERC determines, at any time during the review cycle, that the subject matter is outside of its mandate. Refer to This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency , the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health, the Peer Review Manual, and NSERC Discovery Grants Process for Decisions on Mandate Eligibility for further information on the eligibility of subject matter.

Applicants to the Discovery Grants program must present a program of research that is conceptually distinct from research supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

NSERC encourages researchers to obtain funds from other sources to support the full costs of the research program presented in their Discovery Grant application, as long as the funding source is not CIHR or SSHRC and the funds cover different expenses than the ones proposed in the Discovery Grant application.

Refer to the Peer Review Manual and Instructions for Completing an Application for further information.

Applicant categories

Applicants to the Discovery Grant program are categorized as either early career researchers or established researchers. Refer to the Discovery Grants - Applicant Categories for more information. Applicant categorization is the responsibility of NSERC staff and is based on the information provided by the applicant in the CCV and application.

Application procedure

To apply for a SAP Discovery Grant, applicants must first submit a SAP Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI) by the deadline date. The NOI is a mandatory step in the application process. It allows NSERC to start the review process (e.g., confirmation of assignment to the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section, selection of appropriate external reviewers, and determination of the most appropriate review mechanism for Project applications requesting major financial support). Applicants must then submit the Application by the deadline date.

Applicants and co-applicants are required to complete and submit the NSERC version of the This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV (CCV) at the NOI and application stages for this program. The CCV can be updated following submission with the NOI, prior to submission with the full application.

Review procedures and selection criteria

Applications are reviewed by the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section. For each application, expert input is sought from external reviewers. Furthermore, for any application requesting an average of $1,000,000 per year or more, the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section may also receive input from an ad hoc committee that would perform an on-site expert review of the application. NSERC reserves the right to perform an on-site expert review of any application that applies to the SAP Discovery Grants program, even for requests that are less than an average of $1,000,000 per year. Moreover, according to the internal procedures of the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section, applicants may be invited to make oral presentations during the Large Project Day held every year by the committee.

NSERC assigns applications to the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section and other Evaluation Groups on the basis of the research topics, the objectives of the proposed research program, and advice from the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section and other Evaluation Groups. NSERC will make the final decision regarding the assignment.

Applications are assessed according to the following criteria. The onus is on applicants to address these explicitly in their proposal.

  • Scientific or engineering excellence of the researcher (see Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training)
    • Knowledge, expertise and experience.
    • Quality of contributions to, and impact on, the proposed and other areas of research in the natural sciences and engineering.
    • Importance of contributions to, and use by, other researchers and end-users.
    • Complementarity of expertise of the members of the team and synergy (where applicable).
    • Where applicable, teams should strive for a diverse group of co-applicants, including balanced gender representation. Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should be reflected in the rationale for the team composition and, where applicable, in the designated roles within the team. Moreover, where applicable, the applicants should describe how they have implemented and/or will implement policies and practices to support equity, diversity and inclusion within the team (e.g., recruitment of team members, management of the team, mentorship). For more information, refer to the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application (questions 1 to 4).
  • Merit of the proposal
    • Originality and innovation; extent to which the proposal suggests and explores novel or potentially transformative concepts and lines of inquiry.
    • Significance and expected contributions to research; potential for technological impact.
    • Clarity and scope of objectives (presentation of an ongoing program of research with long-term goals rather than a single short-term project or collection of unrelated projects that do not contribute to a cohesive program of research).
    • Clarity and appropriateness of methodology.
    • Feasibility.
    • Extent to which the scope of the proposal addresses all relevant issues, including the need for varied expertise within or across disciplines.
  • Contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel (see Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training)
    • Quality and impact of past contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) (e.g., postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, technicians), including:
      • training environment provided for HQP;
      • HQP awards and research contributions;
      • outcomes and skills gained by HQP.
    • Quality, suitability and clarity of the planned training of highly qualified personnel, including:
      • overall training philosophy;
      • research training plan for individual HQP.
    • Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in past and planned training of HQP.
  • Need for funds
    • Appropriateness of, and justification for, the budget.
    • Explanation of the relationship between other sources of funding, held or applied for, and the current application.
    • Special needs related to the nature of collaborative activities or infrastructure costs, such as user fees.