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Plastics science for a cleaner future

Instructions for completing an application – Form 101

General information

About the program

Learn more about Plastics science for a cleaner future.

Who can complete the application?

See Who can apply? to determine whether you are eligible to apply.

Submit your application through NSERC’s Online System. The application includes three components:

  • Proposal: Complete an Application for a Grant (Form 101) 
  • Applicant: Complete a Personal Data Form with CCV Attachment (Form 100A), and ask any co-applicants to complete one as well
  • Partner organizations, if applicable: When you complete the Application for a Grant, your partner organizations will automatically be invited to complete a Partner Organization Form. The invitation will be sent to the authorized contact

Application deadlines

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.

Your application must be received at NSERC by 8:00pm (Eastern Time) on the deadline date. If it is not received by the deadline, it will be considered late and will be rejected. The application deadline is indicated in the program description, as well as under the Overview section of the Call for proposals and on the Notice of decision.

Material or updates received under separate cover (before or after the deadline date) will not be accepted.

Help

If you have questions about the program:

If you have questions about the NSERC Online System:

Completing the Application for a Grant — Form 101

Titles below will guide you through the modules listed in NSERC’s On-line System.

Application profile

Title of proposal

Provide a title that describes the subject of the research in language that the public can understand. Spell out scientific symbols and acronyms. Do not include a company or trade name. The title will be made available to the public if your proposal is funded.

Areas of research

Research subject codes

Select a primary research subject code. You may add a secondary research code (optional).

Area of application codes

Select a primary area of application code. You may add a secondary area of application code (optional).

Key words

Provide a maximum of 10 key words that describe the proposal (e.g., nuclear physics, geochemistry, etc.).

Certifications/requirements

Before completing this section, consult the Requirements for Certain Types of Research.

Research involving humans: If you select Yes, you must provide your institution's administration with the appropriate certification indicating that research involving humans has been reviewed and has received the required approval.

Research involving human pluripotent stem cells: If you select Yes, or if through peer review the application is found to fall into this category and is recommended for funding, it will be forwarded, with your consent, to CIHR’s Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC) to ensure compliance with This link will take you to another Web site Chapter 12, Section F of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). The SCOC review is in addition to the normal review by local research ethics boards (REBs). Funding will not be released until approval has been obtained from the SCOC.

Research involving the use of animals: If you select Yes, you must provide your institution's administration with the certification from the animal care committee at the institution that the experimental procedures proposed have been approved and that the care and treatment of animals is in accordance with the principles outlined in the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) guide.

Research involving hazardous substances: If you select Yes, you must provide your institution's administration with the certification from the biosafety committee at the institution that the laboratory procedures being used comply with the safety precautions necessary for the level of containment required by the research.

Environmental impact: The Impact Assessment Form (Appendix A) may be required. For more information, consult NSERC’s Guidelines on Impact Assessment.

Cover letter (optional)

Attach a cover letter if you wish to provide NSERC with information that will not be shared with external reviewers. Include in your cover letter your name, the NSERC program to which you are applying, and the title of your application.

Co-applicants

Indicate co-applicants who will participate in your application. Co-applicants will automatically be invited to provide their Personal Data Form with CCV attachment (Form 100A).

Enter the email address and family name of the co-applicant, as these should appear in the co-applicant’s Form 100A. This allows the co-applicants access to your application. When you select Save, an automated email message will be sent to the co-applicants, informing them that they have been invited to participate in your application. The status of their participation will appear as Not Linked.

When co-applicants link a Personal Data Form with CCV Attachment (F100A) to the application, their personal information will appear on the Co-applicant page, and the status will change to Linked.

Advise co-applicants outside your institution that the authorized officer of their institution must agree to their participation. NSERC will confirm this agreement directly with the authorized officer.

Collaborators and collaborator biographical sketches

Indicate any collaborators — Examples of collaborators are: government scientists, academic researchers or company staff members. Collaborators contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project and bring their own resources to the collaboration. The collaborator will not have access to the grant funds and must be qualified to undertake research independently.

On behalf of your collaborators, you may attach a biographical sketch or CV for collaborators and key staff of partner organizations (if applicable) whose role in the project is similar to that of a co-applicant. In a maximum of two pages for each person, provide the individual’s name/affiliation, education/training, employment/affiliations, research funding, and up to five significant contributions related to the project.

Note: For upload purposes, all collaborator biographical sketches or CVs must be saved as a single PDF file.

Summary of proposal

Write a summary of the proposed research, intended to explain the proposal in language that the public can understand.

Using simple terms, briefly describe the nature of the work. Indicate why and to whom the research is important, and describe the anticipated outcomes and advancements that will result, and how the field and Canada will benefit.

This plain-language summary will be made available to the public if your proposal is funded. The summary can be submitted in one official language or both official languages, at the applicant’s discretion.

The summary must fit in the field provided in Application for a Grant - Form 101.

Proposal

Complete the proposal template. The maximum number of pages is 12 (this limit does not include references).  If you choose not to use the template, you must include the section headings and the text of the bullets from the proposal template. You must also respect the page limits and the guidelines outlined in the NSERC Online Presentation and Attachment Standards.

Pages exceeding the maximum or documents not requested by NSERC (e.g., letters of support) will be removed and will not be taken into account in the assessment of the application. NSERC reserves the right to reject applications exceeding the maximum number of pages. 

In preparing your proposal, address the evaluation criteria that will be considered when evaluating the application.

If relevant to your research, consult NSERC’s Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Interdisciplinary Research and/or Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Engineering and the Applied Sciences.

Proposed expenditures and Budget justification

To complete these sections:

  • Consult the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration for information about the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of grant funds. The funds from NSERC and from partner organization must be paid to eligible universities and cannot be used to buy equipment, products or services from any partner organization.

In the Proposed expenditures section, enter the planned spending in each budget category for each year of the project.

For the Budget justification, prepare a separate document that provides a breakdown of each category and a detailed justification for spending in each category. Provide sufficient information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate. Attach the document in the Budget justification section. This section should only contain information that is pertinent to the budget. You should provid e a summary of all expenditures related to aspects incorporated into the proposal that are outside the natural sciences and engineering. These expenditures must not exceed 30 percent of the total project costs.

The categories are as follows.

Salaries and benefits

Give the names (if known), categories of employment, proposed salaries, and non-discretionary benefits) of students, postdoctoral fellows, research staff such as technical/professional assistants and the project manager. Briefly describe the responsibilities of each position and indicate the percentage of time they will be spending on this project over its life span. Do not include salaries of faculty in project costs.

Consult Form 100A instructions for information on obtaining consent to name individuals in your proposal.

Equipment or facility

Give a breakdown of the items requested. Provide details on models, manufacturers, prices and applicable taxes. Justify the need for each item requested. Describe any fees for the use of equipment or a facility (e.g., hours and rate).

Materials and supplies

Provide details of materials and explain major items. Equipment and materials obtained from the partner organizations must be provided as in-kind contributions.

Travel

Explain briefly how each planned travel activity relates to the proposed research.

Dissemination and knowledge mobilization

Provide details of publication costs, user workshops or other activities that support collaboration and knowledge mobilization related to the project.

Technology transfer activities

List the expenditure for field trials, prototypes, scale-up costs, demonstration projects, workshops and other activities to develop and grow the research collaborations.

Partner organizations invitations and contributions (if applicable)

Use this page to provide the contributions committed by partner organizations to the research project and to invite the partner organizations to complete a Partner Organization Form. The invitation will be sent to the authorized contact.

Provide information required for each partner organization. List the resources the partner organization will provide for proposed research, including:

  • cash contributions from your partner organizations paid to your institution for the direct costs of your research project (not including overhead); this amount will be transferred to the appropriate line on the Proposed expenditures page
  • in-kind contributions (staff time and donations of services, materials and equipment)
  • amounts paid to your institution for overhead

When completed, this section will also generate an invitation to the contact person at the partner organization. When you send the invitation, the contact person will receive an email with a link to NSERC’s Online System, where they will be asked to complete a Partner Organization Form providing information about their organization.

Justification for in-kind contributions (if applicable)

Provide a detailed explanation of all in-kind contributions.

  • Salaries for scientific and technical staff: list the name of each staff member, their role at the company and their specific expertise, details as to what they will be providing to the project (link to milestones if possible), the number of hours they will devote to the project, and their hourly rate.
  • Salaries of managerial and administrative staff: list the name of each staff member, their role at the company, details as to what they will be providing to the project, the number of hours they will devote to the project, and their hourly rate.
  • Donation of equipment, software: list each item of equipment and/or software being donated to the project, explaining how it will be used and its importance to the success of the project; provide details on how the cost of the equipment/software was calculated.
  • Other contributions: describe the contribution to be provided, its importance to the project, and how the cost was calculated.
  • Contribution to postsecondary institution overhead: indicate the amount of the partner organization’s cash contribution to be paid to the institution for its overhead or indirect costs.

Other documents (optional)

Use this section if you need to provide other documents requested by NSERC.

Note: For upload purposes, all other documents must be saved as a single PDF file.

Impact Assessment Form (Appendix A)

An Impact Assessment Form (Appendix A) must be completed and uploaded to the Environmental impact page, as required.

Reviewer suggestions

To complete this section, suggest the names of five independent experts competent to assess the technical aspects of the proposal. This list should include experts from the academic community and non-academic community such as the government sector and the industrial sector. Also include reviewers competent to assess any research aspects outside the natural sciences and engineering. This list should also take into consideration equity, diversity and inclusion; for example, the list should include women.  

Give the name, address, telephone number, email address and the area(s) of expertise of potential external reviewers.

External reviewers should be able to review the proposal in the language in which it is written.

Suggested external reviewers should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations for more information. In addition, reviewers must sign the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they access the application material.

Reviewer exclusions (optional)

You can request that an individual, a group of individuals, or a specific non-academic organization not be involved in the review of your application (optional). Specify a general reason for this request (e.g., perceived conflict of interest, prior disputes, school of thought bias, professional or personal association not specified in the Conflict of Interest Policy). You may include in this list any exclusions requested by the partner organizations.

While NSERC cannot be bound by this information, it will take it into consideration in the selection of reviewers. NSERC may also exclude reviewers because of conflict of interest, as described in the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations.

Note: Information concerning exclusions may be accessible to those individuals named in this section, under the Privacy Act.

Personal information

The collection, use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC are outlined in the following policy statements:

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Health Canada (HC) and NSERC are subject to the This link will take you to another Web site Access to Information Act and the This link will take you to another Web site Privacy Act. The information you provide is stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings. You must ensure that others listed in the application have agreed to be included.

Personnel from ECCC and HC will have access to relevant data and records for the purposes consistent with program objectives.

Evaluation

All applications will be evaluated against the established evaluation criteria (see below). The Selection Panel will use the same criteria and statement sets to evaluate the proposals. Each criterion is of equal value.

Criterion 1: Merit of the proposed activities

Applicant(s) should discuss the importance of the specific problem being addressed and the extent to which the proposed activities will contribute to the initiative’s research objectives and the extent to which new knowledge generated will impact the field of research. The quality, originality and feasibility of the proposed activities will be assessed here as well as the extent to which new knowledge generated will impact the field of research. Open access and open data commitments will be highly regarded.

When reviewing this criterion, the following points should be considered:

  • The extent to which the proposed activities will contribute to the objectives of Plastics science for a cleaner future
  • The quality and originality of the overall proposed project including the appropriateness of the research methodology
  • The potential for developing new knowledge in the field or improving techniques and the extent to which new knowledge is expected to impact the field of proposed research
  • The potential of new promising direction for addressing an existing challenge
  • The focus and clarity of the objectives of the project
  • The scope and the feasibility of proposed activities, including the coherence of  activities, milestones, timelines and deliverables
  • The commitments to open access and open data

The proposed project:

  1. is outstanding in all elements listed above.
  2. is excellent in most elements listed above and very strong in all.
  3. is very strong in most elements listed above and strong in all.
  4. is strong in some elements listed above and acceptable in all.
  5. is acceptable with only minor weaknesses in any of the elements listed above.
  6. is inadequate in one or more of the elements listed above.

Criterion 2: Competence of the research team

The research team must have all the expertise to address the defined objectives and complete the project successfully. The contributions of individuals to the research effort must be clear, their expertise appropriate to the proposed project. Their track record in transferring research results to a user sector should also be described (will be considered in the assessment of the “knowledge mobilization plan”). Team composition must take into account equity, diversity and inclusion. Interdisciplinarity is strongly encouraged and will be highly regarded.

When reviewing this criterion, the following points should be considered:

  • The overall composition and quality of the team proposed for the project;
    Applicant(s) must demonstrate that their expertise meets the needs of the project and that this expertise is appropriate for the proposed research
  • The breadth, interdisciplinarity and complementarity of expertise available for the project; and the appropriateness of the roles of the applicants and, if applicable, collaborators and other personnel
  • The research record of the applicant(s) or, in the case of new researchers, their potential to make contributions to the field

The research team is:

  1. is outstanding in all elements listed above.
  2. is excellent in most elements listed above and very strong in all.
  3. is very strong in most elements listed above and strong in all.
  4. is strong in some elements listed above and acceptable in all.
  5. is acceptable with only minor weaknesses in any of the elements listed above.
  6. is inadequate in one or more of the elements listed above.

Criterion 3: Relevance to Canada

The research activities should generate results that will further knowledge, contribute exploitable research results, provide benefits to Canada and stakeholders, as well as support the program objectives described above. Demonstrated policy-relevancy will be highly regarded.

When reviewing this criterion, the following points should be considered:

  • The potential to increase the scientific information available to support government decision-making on plastic pollution
  • The potential impact on science and/or technology development
  • The potential to provide benefits to Canada and stakeholders involved
  • The demonstrated social, environmental or health benefits; an enhanced knowledge base for public policy development; increased highly qualified personnel in an area of importance for Canada

The proposed outcomes are:

  1. exceptionally important to Canada and stakeholders.
  2. very important  to Canada and stakeholders.
  3. important to Canada and stakeholders.
  4. somewhat important to Canada and stakeholders.
  5. of limited importance to Canada and stakeholders.
  6. of no importance to Canada and stakeholders.

Criterion 4: Knowledge mobilization plan

The proposal must include a knowledge mobilization plan that includes mechanisms to share new knowledge generated with knowledge users. Direct collaboration with knowledge users will be highly regarded. Consideration will be given to the researchers’ track record in transferring research results to a user sector. 

When reviewing this criterion, the following points should be considered:

  • The plans for collaboration and communication among the researchers and knowledge users
  • The track record of the applicant(s) in transferring results to the user sector or, in the case of new researchers, their potential to do so
  • The plans to reducing barriers to research activities and fostering knowledge mobilization, as well as identifying knowledge gaps
  • The potential to establish or strengthen collaborative efforts among researchers and the academic community to advance and/or develop policies in support of the objectives of Canada-wide strategy on zero plastic waste

The knowledge mobilization plan will be assessed on the following points using the scale 1 to 6 given below:

  1. is outstanding in all elements listed above.
  2. is excellent in most elements listed above and very strong in all.
  3. is very strong in most elements listed above and strong in all.
  4. is strong in some elements listed above and acceptable in all.
  5. is acceptable with only minor weaknesses in any of the elements listed above.
  6. is inadequate in one or more of the elements listed above.

Criterion 5: Contribution to training

The project must contribute to the training of students and/or postdoctoral fellows with skills that will serve to increase research capacity on plastics pollution and its impacts. The project must have appropriate measures to advance equity, diversity and inclusion within the project’s training activities.

When reviewing this criterion, the following points should be considered:

  • The potential to provide trainees with skills relevant to the needs of this field of research
  • The quality and track record of the researchers in training highly qualified personnel
  • The roles of the students, postdoctoral fellows, and if applicable, research staff, research associates, and technicians within the scopes of the proposal
  • The extent to which all participants are involved in the training
  • The consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan

The proposed project:

  1. is outstanding in all elements listed above.
  2. is excellent in most elements listed above and very strong in all.
  3. is very strong in most elements listed above and strong in all.
  4. is strong in some elements listed above and acceptable in all.
  5. is acceptable with only minor weaknesses in any of the elements listed above.
  6. is inadequate for the training of highly qualified personnel.

Criterion 6: Project work plan

The project work plan must be clear, coherent, and achievable and the budget must be justified to support the proposed research activities.  The proposal must include a detailed explanation and justification for each budget item. The budget must reflect the importance of the Contribution to training criterion.

When reviewing this criterion, the following points should be considered:

  • The availability of the equipment and infrastructure required
  • Demonstration of the need for the funds requested in the budget and clear justification of all budget items
  • How the budget fits the scope of the proposed research activities
  • The details of how the team and project will be managed (appropriate to the complexity of the project)
  • The details on how the budget will support the contribution to training of HQP
  • The resources requested and, if applicable, the appropriateness of the level of cash and/or in kind commitments from the partnering organizations

The project work plan:

  1. is outstanding in all elements listed above and maximizes the use of resources.
  2. is excellent in most elements listed above and very strong in all.
  3. is very strong in most elements listed above and strong in all.
  4. is strong in some elements listed above and acceptable in all.
  5. is acceptable with only minor weaknesses in any of the elements listed above.
  6. is inadequate in one or more of the elements listed above.

Signatures

NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically through its On-line System. The electronic submission of applications through this system represents approval and replaces the traditional "physical" or "wet" signatures. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions in the Program Guide for Professors for more details.

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

For applicants and co-applicants

Before you, as an applicant or co-applicant, can submit your application to NSERC or link your Personal Data Form with CCV attachment to an application, you must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions of Applying that appear in a pop-up window during the submission process.

The signature of the institutional authority certifies that:

For partner organizations

Before you, as the authorized representative of the partner organization, submit information as part of an application to NSERC, you must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions of Applying that appear in a pop-up window during the submission process.

List for a complete application

  • Application for a Grant (Form 101)
  • Application profile (including areas of research, certification requirements, amounts requested)
  • Cover letter, optional
  • Co-applicants
  • Collaborators, if required
  • Summary of proposal
  • Proposal (maximum 12 pages)
  • Proposed expenditures and Budget justification
  • Partner organizations contributions, if applicable
  • Justification for in-kind contributions, if applicable
  • Other documents (attachment), optional
  • Appendix A (Environmental Information Form), if required
  • Reviewer suggestions
  • Reviewer exclusions, optional
  • Personal Data Form with CCV Attachment (Form 100A) – for the applicant and co-applicants
    • Personal information (current employment, expertise)
    • Contributions
      • Research and training explanation
      • Most significant contributions to research
    • Attestation on confidential research contributions (optional)
    • Appendix B (Eligibility) – if required
    • Appendix C (Description of Applicant’s Activities) - if required
    • CCV attachment