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Guidelines Governing Membership of NSERCís Peer Review Committees

The following criteria and guidelines govern the appointment of members to all NSERC peer review committees, and are approved by Council. The expertise and diversity of NSERC’s committee membership ensures excellence and trust in the delivery of our programs and policies. In accordance with the Tri-Agency Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, through these guidelines NSERC aims to achieve a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive committee recruitment and nomination process. NSERC also promotes the vitality of both official languages and the inclusiveness of English and French linguistic minority communities across Canada in its committee membership, in accordance with Part VII of the This link will take you to another Web site Official Languages Act.

Committee composition

Recruitment and nomination processes should comply with the guidelines below, considering the peer review committees’s mandate and purpose; dynamics and size; and the nature, demographics, and culture of the communities within its purview.

Knowledge and experience
  • Diversified knowledge and experience, demonstrating excellence and breadth, are required to complete the review of applications. Each selection committee must be able to assess applications against the selection criteria and objectives of the funding opportunity in the areas of research covered by the committee (including new and emerging areas that are often interdisciplinary).
  • For broad-based multidisciplinary committees, at least 25% of members must represent engineering disciplines, and at least 25% of members must represent natural sciences disciplines. The ratios must be appropriate for the program and mandate of the committee.
  • At least 20% of the committee consists of Francophone members, i.e., individuals whose first official language is French or who work in a French environment. 
  • Include members from English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada, whenever possible.
  • As many bilingual members as needed to ensure an appropriate review of French applications. Bilingualism refers to the capacity to assess grant applications in both official languages. As a whole, the committee must be able to review applications in Canada’s two official languages.
Equity and inclusivity
  • At least of 30% of the committee is composed of women with the objective of reaching 50% by 2025.
  • Committee membership is also to include experts that identify as members of other underrepresented groups including, but not limited to, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ2+ communities, and/or at the intersection of these, with the objective of reaching 30% collective representation in each committee by 2025.
  • Include members from Canadian universities and/or colleges at different stages of their careers, including early career researchers, where relevant.
Sector Include members from Canadian universities and/or colleges, as appropriate for the program. The following must be adequately represented:
  • Academic institutions of varying size.
  • Different institutions. As much as possible, avoid continuous representation by individuals from a given institution and the simultaneous membership of two persons from the same institution, particularly from the same department. However, this may be unavoidable for larger committees if, for example, the knowledge and experience required resides in only a few large departments and otherwise the requirements for knowledge and experience cannot be satisfied.


  • From organizations outside academia (industry and/or government laboratories; NGOs/not for profits), where relevant.
  • From institutions and organizations outside Canada, where relevant.
Region The different regions of Canada must be adequately represented. When possible, this includes the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Inuit Nunangat1.

*Inuit Nunangat encompasses the regions of Nunavut, Nunavik in Northern Quebec, Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories.

Committee nomination, selection and approval process

Nominations may be submitted to NSERC through Form 250 by  individuals, any postsecondary institution, other organizations, professional and learned societies, NSERC committees, and potential members themselves.  Members do not need to be NSERC grant recipients. Recently retired individuals who remain active in science and engineering could also be potential members. Individuals who have previously served on an NSERC committee may be re-appointed to that same committee, if necessary and appropriate; however, four years should elapse from the end of their first appointment before re-appointment. Postdoctoral fellows may also be considered for Scholarship and Fellowship committees.  Members are appointed and participate as individuals and are not considered representatives of their institution, company, government department, underrepresented group, academic or scientific discipline, etc.

In developing membership recommendations, NSERC staff consult members and the Chair of the committee on the diversity, knowledge, and experience needs of the committee in the short and medium term, noting particular pressures and new or priority areas, as one-for-one replacement is not always appropriate. NSERC staff review the nominations, and internal and external advisors may be asked to provide references on the suitability of those being considered for membership. The Chairs of the committees are generally drawn from the continuing members of the committee.

Senior management approves the committee membership recommendations made by program staff in accordance with these guidelines. They also make decisions concerning the size of a committee and about terminating membership, should the need arise.

Membership term

A three-year rotation pattern maintains the committee’s core stability while providing a mechanism for membership renewal. Three-year terms ensure an appropriate balance between incoming members who will need to become familiar with NSERC’s policies and procedures and existing members who can share their knowledge and experience with new members while at the same time preventing committee duty fatigue. Furthermore, the committee also benefits from the incoming members because of the new perspectives that they bring to the overall review process.

Other considerations

Reimbursement of expenses

As applicable, travel expenses, incidentals, and dependent care expenses will be reimbursed to members when travelling on NSERC business, based on the provisions of the This link will take you to another Web site NJC Travel Directive . Reimbursement of some expenses, such as dependent care expenses, may also be available for members participating in virtual peer review process.

Discovery Grant extension

In some cases, peer review committee members will be offered an extension of their Discovery Grant (at the same level) for the duration of their membership.


While membership participation is voluntary, NSERC recognizes that service on a peer review committee demands a considerable time commitment that can conflict with normal duties. In this context, NSERC provides a letter to advise the member’s immediate supervisor of this appointment so that appropriate provisions can be put in place to enable the member to function effectively on the committee.


Committee members may take leave for maternity, parental, medical, or family-related responsibilities during the time they serve as a member of a peer-review committee.


Members with accommodation needs are asked to advise NSERC program staff in a timely manner. Reasonable accommodation will be arranged on a case-by-case basis, and information received relating to accommodation measures will be treated confidentially.

For more information on the Membership Guidelines, please consult NSERC's Secretariat at

Updated: June 2021