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Terms of reference and principles governing membership

Standing committees of Council

The Committee on Discovery Research, the Committee on Research Partnerships and the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (“the Committees”) are appointed as Standing Committees of Council, as described in section 12 of the NSERC Act and article 16 of By-Law 1.

The Committees’ activities are overseen by the NSERC Vice-Presidents responsible for their respective program areas.

Terms of reference

Role of the Committees

The Committees provide advice to the Council and the Vice-Presidents on funding opportunities that support discovery, innovation, and equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as other related policy issues, in accordance with specific decisions and any other guidelines provided by the Council. The Committees report back to the Council on their business as required. On occasion, the Committees may be asked to act as a review committee and make recommendations to its Vice-Presidents or to the Council on major grants and awards.

To provide advice on and monitor funding opportunities, the Committees:

  • make recommendations to the Council or their respective Vice-President, as appropriate, regarding changes to existing funding opportunities, including phasing out of funding opportunities and proposals for the creation of new ones;
  • make recommendations to the Council or their respective Vice-President, as appropriate, on allocations to / transfers between funding opportunity elements within their purview; monitor the review process by which funds are awarded:
    • ensuring that the policies and procedures for NSERC’s review processes are consistent with the principles and values enunciated by the Council;
    • making recommendations on the principles governing membership of review committees and establishing guidelines for the conduct of business by such committees;
    • discussing any policy issues brought forward by the review committees; and
  • review the statistics on and trends in awards made within the funding opportunities under their purview.

To advise the Council on policies and mechanisms in support of research in discovery and innovation as well as equity, diversity and inclusion, the Committees may make recommendations to Vice-Presidents that studies be initiated or that subcommittees or ad hoc committees be appointed.

Frequency of meetings

Committees shall meet in person at least twice a year. Additional ad hoc virtual meetings may be held as required.


A majority of all appointed members shall form a quorum for the transaction of business.

Principles governing membership


Non-Council members of the Committees are appointed by their respective Vice-Presidents, on the recommendation of their Directors. Council will be informed of appointments to the Committees as part of the regular updates. Non-Council members are appointed for up to four years, and may be extended as required. An appropriate rotation system is established to ensure a dynamic membership.

The appointment of Council members to the Committees will be monitored by Council. Council members are appointed to the Committees for the duration of their current term on the Council.


Each Committee is chaired by a Council member and composed of a minimum of 10 members comprising both Council and non-Council members. If no Council member is present, the Vice-President may designate an interim chair from members of the Committee.

The Committees should be representative of the community served by NSERC and of the natural sciences and engineering disciplines falling under their purview. Each Committee’s make-up should include knowledgeable individuals who do research, manage research or use research and who represent the academic, private and/or public sectors. Because of the diversity of the research community, membership should ensure a balanced representation taking into consideration aspects such as gender, official languages, the various fields of research covered by NSERC, the different regions of Canada. It should include members having prior review committee experience, as well as experienced researchers, new scientists and engineers from a variety of sectors and postsecondary institutions of different sizes. In addition, the Committee on Discovery Research should include at least one Dean of Graduate Studies, and the Committee on Research Partnerships, at least one college representative.

The members of the Committees should possess:

  • knowledge and understanding of Canadian research at postsecondary institutions;
  • knowledge and understanding of the Canadian innovation system as it relates to partnerships between postsecondary institutions and private and public sector organizations;
  • knowledge and understanding of the training and development of highly qualified personnel and of issues pertaining to the demand for and supply of such personnel;
  • demonstrated capacity to exercise good judgment;
  • breadth and depth of understanding and knowledge in their own field and beyond; and
  • willingness to voluntarily devote time and effort to the well-being of research and development in Canada.

The President and Vice-President of the Council are ex-officio members of all standing and advisory committees.