Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Information

Ownership Rights

Application-Related Policies

Funding Decisions

Application Information

Am I eligible?

See the Eligibility Criteria - For faculty.

Is my research eligible?

Two other federal granting agencies offer support to university researchers. The This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) supports the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. The This link will take you to another Web site Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) promotes and supports research and research training in the social sciences and humanities. If you do not know which granting agency you should apply to, refer to Selecting the This link will take you to another Web site Appropriate Federal Granting Agency.

Can I hold grants from more than one federal granting agency at a time?

You may hold grants from more than one of the three federal granting agencies simultaneously, but you may not submit identical applications to more than one of these agencies at the same time, or submit an application to one of them for a project that has already funded been by another. See This link will take you to another Web site Appropriate Federal Granting Agency.

How do my other sources of funding factor into the review of my application?

See This link will take you to another Web site Appropriate Federal Granting Agency.

What if my appointment changes?

If your eligibility for grants changes, you or your institution must notify NSERC immediately. It is imperative that NSERC be given accurate, timely information about the nature and duration of the academic appointments held by grantees. If these requirements are not met, your grant account(s) may be frozen or closed. See the following sections in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide: Continuing Eligibility, Termination of a Grant, Relocation of a Grantee to an Eligible Canadian Institution,  Sabbatical/Research Leave and Non-Compliance. The institution’s role regarding the eligibility of individuals is outlined in This link will take you to another Web site Section 3.1 of the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.

How do I apply?

NSERC is moving the application process for its funding programs to the Research Portal and the This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV (CCV) . This transition has started and is being phased in gradually, one program at a time. To assist with the transition to the new systems, the Research Portal page features a new tool to guide you through the process according to your needs. It includes links to detailed instructions and Frequently Asked Questions on the Research Portal and CCV.

Before you start your application, read the application instructions for your chosen program carefully. Follow the specific application procedures set out in the description of that program.

What are the application deadlines?

Application deadlines are indicated in each of the program descriptions, as well as on the Application Deadlines and Notification of Decision Table.

Your application must be received at your institution’s research grants office by their internal deadline date; contact your research grants office for those deadlines. If not received by the deadline, it may be rejected by the institution.   

Your application must be received at NSERC by 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the deadline date. If not received at NSERC by that time and date, your application will be considered late and will be rejected. If the deadline falls on a weekend or a federal holiday, then your application must reach NSERC by the next business day.

Are original signatures required?

NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically through the Research Portal or the On-line System. User ID/password-based electronic “signatures” allow applicants, supporting organizations and authorized institutional representatives (such as Research Grants Officers, Scholarships Liaison Officers and Business Officers) to “sign” and submit applications and other documents to NSERC on line.

Co-applicants and collaborators: If you accept an applicant’s electronic invitation to participate in an application and you link your Canadian Common CV or Form 100 (Personal Data Form) to that application, you have thereby provided your electronic approval to be included as a co-applicant or collaborator; the actions of accepting and linking replace your handwritten signature.

Co-applicants participating in applications from other institutions: NSERC expects that the authorized representatives from the principal applicant’s institution will have obtained written approval from other institutions involved in the application process prior to submission of the application. To confirm this approval, NSERC will seek the institutional authorities’ signature through its Secure Site once the application is received.

Applications submitted on paper: For certain programs (as specified in the program literature), NSERC may accept paper applications. One copy of the grant application must bear the original signatures of the applicant and co-applicant(s), and the department head and president of the institution (or their representatives). An institution may also require a signature from the faculty. If the applicant is normally the signing authority for the department, faculty or institution, another senior official must sign instead.

What do the electronic or original signatures on the application mean?

For details on the meaning of signatures, see the Signatures section in the instructions for the program for which you are applying and the Electronic Approval page of the On-line System.  

Before applicants or institutional representatives submit applications or other documents to NSERC, and before co-applicants accept invitations to participate in applications or link their Canadian Common CVs or Personal Data Forms to applications, these individuals must read and agree to the terms and conditions of the specific funding opportunity, including the requirements of the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research.

How is confidential or sensitive information handled?

NSERC safeguards the information that it receives from applicants. It requires reviewers to keep all application information confidential and to use it only for review purposes. If applicants have particular concerns about confidentiality, they should consult NSERC staff. For further information, consult the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations and the document the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, including the section Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC.

Do I need any certificates, licences or special forms?

Before beginning any research activities in a program or project funded by NSERC, you must obtain any required certifications.  

For further details, consult Requirements for Certain Types of Research and the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.

Ownership Rights

Who owns the rights to intellectual property from research?

NSERC does not retain or claim any ownership of, or exploitation rights to, intellectual property resulting from your NSERC grant. Any right to this intellectual property is governed by your institution’s policy. However, as NSERC's role includes promoting the use of knowledge to build a strong national economy and improving the quality of life of Canadians, every effort should be made to have the results of NSERC-funded research exploited in Canada, for the benefit of Canadians. Within this framework, NSERC also expects access rights and allows ownership rights to be granted to an industrial partner in recognition of, and in proportion to, the company's contribution to an industrial collaboration. (Consult your institution’s research grants office or industry liaison office for guidance on this subject.)

See the Policy on Intellectual Property.

Who owns the equipment or material?

See Administrative Matters in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

When am I in conflict of interest?

As an applicant or co-applicant, you must have no financial or personal interest in any transaction chargeable against an NSERC grant, and you must follow your institution's policies on conflict of interest. For information on these policies, contact your institution’s research grants office. Also see Section 2.1.2 – Promoting Research Integrity – in the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research and Section 3.6 – Institutional Conflict of Interest – in the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.

Conflict of interest may arise when you or the post-secondary institution has an ownership position in a company that is sponsoring your research. It may be difficult to distinguish between institution activities and company activities, and between your contributions as a institution researcher and as a principal in the company. NSERC may therefore request evidence that the company has objectively assessed the commercial potential of the research being undertaken and that the academic interests of the students and postdoctoral fellows are protected. This request may come at the beginning or during the course of the project. NSERC deals with each case individually. (Refer to Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs for more details.)

Application-Related Policies

How are contributions to research and training assessed?

See Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training.

Are delays in the research and in dissemination of research results taken into account?

See Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training.

How is the training of highly qualified personnel assessed?

See Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training.

How are applications in engineering and the applied sciences reviewed?

See Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Engineering and the Applied Sciences.

How are applications in interdisciplinary research areas reviewed?

See the Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Interdisciplinary Research.

How are applications related to health sciences evaluated?

See the This link will take you to another Web site Guidelines for Eligibility of Applications Related to Health.

What is NSERC's policy on women in science and engineering?

For NSERC’s Policy Statement on Gender Equality in Science and Engineering, see our Women in Science and Engineering Web page. For NSERC's policies applicable to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows supported by NSERC funds, see Maternity, Parental, Medical or Family Medical Leave for Grantees, and Paid Maternity and Parental Leave for Students and Postdoctoral Fellows, in the Administrative Matters section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

What is NSERC's policy on parental leave?

See the Administrative Matters section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

Funding Decisions

When will I know if my application has been successful?

NSERC will notify you shortly after a final decision has been made. See Application Deadlines and Notification of Decision. Competition results and a list of ongoing instalments will also be made available to the institution's Research Grants Officer and Business Officer. Results will also be posted on NSERC's Web site either after a formal announcement has been made or as part of the annual financial reporting. The results of competitions with deadlines are made available to your institution’s research grants office first, so you can also inquire there.

What if I have a question about the decision?

For a number of programs, NSERC sends the selection committee's comments with the results or shortly thereafter. You should note that comments may not be available for all applications. If you do not receive comments on your application within four weeks of receiving the decision, you may submit a written request to NSERC for information on file about the review, such as the selection committee's comments or the external referees' reports, if any.

You should not enter into direct contact with selection committee chairs or members who are prohibited from discussing or disclosing any information gained during the peer review process. Direct all your inquiries to NSERC.

What if I disagree with the decision?

See Appeals of Decision on NSERC Grants Applications.

People Discovery Innovation