Collaborative Research and Training Experience program

Instructions to external reviewers – Form 140

Before proceeding

Transmitting your final evaluation to NSERC means you have read these instructions and consent to these uses and disclosures.

In addition, you may refer to:

Bias in peer review

External reviewers must make every effort to review every application without bias, whether this bias is based on a school of thought, fundamental versus applied research, certain sub-disciplines, areas of research or approaches, size or reputation of an institution, age, personal factors or the gender of the (co)applicants. NSERC cautions external reviewers against any judgment of an application based on such factors, and it asks them to constantly guard against the possibility of hidden bias influencing the review process. External reviewers are encouraged to complete the following training module:

NSERC strongly encourages the use of inclusive language (e.g., “the applicant” or “they” instead of “he/she”). The review should be free from words or sentences that are prejudiced, stereotyped or discriminatory against a particular people, groups or their institutions. The use of inclusive language has been shown to decrease unconscious bias during the evaluation process. For more information, refer to the Canada Research Chairs guidelines on limiting unconscious bias.

NSERC is committed to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure equitable access across its programs. For more information, please refer to the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Conflict of interest

If you are in a conflict of interest or, for any other reason, unable to act as an external reviewer, please contact us directly at as soon as possible.

Refer to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations for more information. In addition, external reviewers must sign the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they access the application material.

Allegations of policy breaches

Allegations of policy breaches, as described in the Tri-agency framework: Responsible conduct of research, must be treated separately from the peer review process. Should your review reveal concerns of possible policy breaches, report any allegation separately to the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research. Your evaluation should only address the application you evaluated according to the selection criteria and make no mention of the breach concerns.

Collection and use of personal information

The information you provide in the application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. The collection, use, disclosure, retention, and disposal of your personal information are outlined in the following policy statements:

For more information, refer to the Personal Information Banks described in NSERC's Info Source.

How to evaluate the proposal

Please assess the proposal using the evaluation criteria described below. For each criterion, please provide your comments in the text box located on the Referee report/Application for a grant (Form 140). As subject matter experts, your comments should provide the multi-disciplinary selection committee context on the application’s proposal with reference to current practice in your field. You are not required to respond to every bullet point under each evaluation criterion and may select those you feel are most pertinent for the committee.

Evaluation criteria

1. Merit of the proposed training program (50%)
Please limit your response for this criterion to 800 words.

  • Are the following elements of the proposed program well described? Are the proposed program elements inadequate, adequate, or exceed expectations? How so?
    • Extent to which the program will provide high value-added opportunities for the trainees to develop professional and technical skills.
    • Extent to which the program will provide high value-added opportunities for the trainees to receive mentorship, participate in academic exchanges, either within Canada or abroad, and conduct internships.
    • Description of the potential employers and a qualitative assessment of the job prospects for trainees; extent to which the research training program will facilitate the transition of the trainees to the Canadian workforce and promote interaction with non-academic sectors, such as private companies, industry associations, nonprofit organizations, government departments, etc.
    • Extent to which the program uses novel and interesting approaches to provide trainees with training and mentorship that go above and beyond the traditional graduate school experience.
    • Focus and clarity of the research training program objectives and how they relate to current developments, referencing the literature.
    • As appropriate to the proposal's subject matter, the degree to which the training program, while focused mainly in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), also fosters research studies at the interface between the NSE and health or the social sciences and humanities.

A financial contribution from industry is not a requirement but would be viewed as an asset.

2. Excellence of the team of researchers (25%)
Please limit your response for this criterion to 400 words.

  • Are the following elements of the team well described? Are the team members and their roles inadequate, adequate, or exceed expectations? How so?
    • Quality and impact of the team members’ past contributions to their respective research areas.
    • Complementarity of the expertise of the members of the group to deliver on the collaborative research and training goals proposed—applicants should explain their respective roles and responsibilities within the training program and should differentiate between key mentors and other team members (e.g., those committing five or more hours per week to the program).
    • Consideration of EDI in the rationale of the team composition and in the designated roles within the team.
    • Quality and extent of past contributions to the training and mentoring of highly qualified personnel (HQP), as well as considerations of equity and inclusion in trainee recruitment and the research and training environment.
    • If applicable, an explanation of the role of current holders of, or participants in, an ongoing CREATE grant relative to their role in the proposed CREATE initiative.

3. Program management and long-term sustainability (25%)
Please limit your response for this criterion to 400 words.

  • Are the program management and long-term sustainability plans well described? Are the following elements of the plan inadequate, adequate, or exceed expectations? How so?
    • Plan for ensuring that the program elements will be self-sustaining beyond the term of the grant.
    • Appropriateness of the proposed management structure, including the composition, the role and the responsibilities of the program committee, and considerations of EDI in the rationale of the proposed management structure.
    • Reliability of project management plans to implement the training program and evaluate the program’s performance against stated objectives.
    • Planned approach to promoting participation from a diverse group of trainees, considering EDI in recruitment practices, mentorship approaches and initiatives to ensure an inclusive research and training environment.
    • Recruitment and training activities focused on graduate-level trainees.
    • Evidence of the university’s commitment to facilitate and further the plans and goals of the CREATE program during and beyond the term of the grant.
    • Provision of adequate facilities for carrying out the research.


On the balance of its strengths and weaknesses, would you recommend funding this proposal?

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