Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Discovery Grants Program (Individual and Team)

Duration Up to five years
Application Deadline August 1 (Notification of Intent to Apply)
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.
For More Information Consult the Contact List

Important Information


The 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; and
  • providing a stimulating environment for research training.


The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing programs of research (with long-term goals) rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects. 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.

Recipients of 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 can apply for only one Discovery Grant at a time, either individually or as part of a team, but not both. Researchers can hold only one Discovery Grant at any given time. Researchers who hold an individual Discovery Grant cannot reapply for another individual Discovery Grant until the last year of their current award. If you are currently the sole holder of a Discovery Grant, you may participate in an application for a Discovery Grant with other researchers on the understanding that the duration of the Discovery Grant you currently hold will be changed immediately. If you currently hold a team grant and wish to apply individually, consult NSERC.  

Researchers who apply individually can use their grants to participate in collaborative efforts and should describe these in their proposal. Researchers who see advantages in working together in a long-range collaborative program are encouraged to combine their efforts and apply as a team.

NSERC does not consider requests for supplements to existing Discovery Grants, except for Steacie Fellows and Northern Research Supplements holders. Recipients may, however, apply for all other types of NSERC grants.

Discovery Grants are normally awarded for five years. Although a shorter duration can be requested, NSERC may award a grant of the normal duration.

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

Application Procedure

To apply for a Discovery Grant, you must first submit a 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., preliminary assignment to an Evaluation Group (EG), selection of appropriate external reviewers and verification of the eligibility of the subject matter).

You must then complete and 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 between the time it is submitted with the NOI and the application deadline.

Note: If NSERC determines that the subject matter is outside of its mandate at any time during the review cycle, the application will be rejected.

Review Procedures and Selection Criteria

Applications are reviewed by Evaluation Groups (EGs). There may also be input from external reviewers.

NSERC assigns applications to EGs on the basis of the research topics, the objectives of the proposed research program and input from applicants and EGs. At the NOI stage, you are asked to suggest which EG you believe to be the most appropriate to review your application, but NSERC will make the final decision.

If your research is interdisciplinary, appropriate review of your application will be ensured by identifying appropriate EG members to review the application, as well as by selecting appropriate external reviewers. Please see Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Interdisciplinary Research.

Applicants cannot submit the same proposal to both NSERC and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (see This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency and Relationship Between NSERC Proposals and Other Sources of Funds.)

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

The overall merit assessment of each application is based on the combination of ratings by the EG for each selection criterion. The final rating assigned and the outcome of the assessment of the relative costs of research will determine the grant level.

  • Scientific or Engineering Excellence of the Researcher(s) (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).
  • 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 (research program with long-term goals rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects).
    • 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.
    • Appropriateness of, and justification for, the budget.
    • Explanation of the relationship between other sources of funding and the current proposal; extent to which it is clear, comprehensive and convincing.
  • 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 (e.g., postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, technicians).
    • Appropriateness of the proposal for the training of highly qualified personnel.
    • Enhancement of training arising from a collaborative or interdisciplinary environment (where applicable).
  • Relative Cost of Research
    In addition to the selection criteria discussed above, applications are also assessed with regard to the cost of the proposed research relative to the normal costs in the discipline. These can include special needs related to the nature of collaborative activities or infrastructure costs such as user fees.
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