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NSERC prizes – Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships

Nomination process

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion.

To promote equity, diversity and inclusion, institutions should ensure that all eligible candidates are considered and given the opportunity to self-nominate. The Canada Research Chairs web page This link will take you to another Web site Creating an Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive Research Environment: A Best Practices Guide for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention describes how an institution can identify and select nominees to achieve these aims. On the McDonald institution certification of nominee form (see additional details), institutions must summarize the process they used to identify and select nominees, as well as how they applied best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion.

How to prepare a nomination for a McDonald Fellowship

As an eligible candidate, you may self-nominate by preparing the nomination materials listed below and submitting these documents to your university for consideration and inclusion in its contingent of applicants. Since nominations are reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee, you should write the nomination material for non-specialists.

As the nominee, you must prepare the following materials:

1. A nomination letter with two major sections:

  1. Description of nomination (maximum 3 pages)
    • Address why you deserve consideration for the McDonald Fellowship, taking into account these selection criteria: a) research achievements and impacts, and b) outreach, mentorship and leadership.
  2. Future directions (maximum 3 pages)
    • Research vision: Describe how your research represents an original or innovative concept or line of inquiry and how it will advance the research area and/or have a policy- and/or technology-related impact.
    • Proposed research: Describe the research proposed for the duration of the award. Considering equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research process promotes research excellence by making research outcomes more ethically sound, rigorous, reproducible, and useful. It is important to consider EDI through each stage of the research process including, but not limited to, the research questions, design, methodology, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of results and integrate these considerations where relevant. Consult Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations at each stage of the research process for more information.
    • Training of highly qualified personnel (HQP): Describe your approach to training and mentoring HQP, and ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion in the research and training environment.

2. An NSERC Personal data form (form 100) (no page limit)

  • The Most significant contributions to research and/or to practical applications section must be completed. A wide range of contributions to research, training, and mentoring are considered and valued as part of the merit review process, focusing on the quality and impact of these contributions. See NSERC’s Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring.
  • You do not need to limit contributions to those in the last six years (Note: If your contributions exceed five pages, you may append additional pages to the final nomination document).
  • In the research activity section, identify any eligible leaves of absence (e.g., maternity and parental leave, personal illness, chronic illness, mental illness, or disability associated with reduced research activity, leave taken for family-related illness, bereavement, extraordinary administrative duties, delays related to COVID-19) within the last ten years in consultation with NSERC’s Interruptions in research, training and mentoring webpage. In the case of medical leave, it is not necessary to explain the illness or the treatment but rather its impact on your research activity. Please:
    • provide the duration of the circumstances,
    • calculate the percentage of reduction in time devoted to regular research, training and mentoring activities during the specified time period,
    • and include the impact of the interruption(s).
  • Include Appendix A of form 100 in your nomination package.

3. Page one of the Application for a grant (form 101)—note that signatures on form 101 are not required

4. An Impact assessment form (appendix A), if required

5. An External reviewer suggestions form

  • External reviewers should not be members of your institution, former professors or supervisors, or present or former collaborators or colleagues (see This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of interest and confidentiality agreement for review committee members, external reviewers and observers).
  • NSERC strongly recommends that you suggest a cross-section of reviewers (i.e., international and Canadian reviewers, from early career to established researchers, including women and other underrepresented groups, researchers at a variety of academic and non-academic institutions) with expertise in your area of research.

6. A Terms and conditions form for nominees signed by you—it is your responsibility to retain a copy of the agreed terms and conditions for your records (do not use the encrypted digital signature function)

Your documents must follow NSERC’s General presentation guidelines. Documents that do not meet the presentation standards may be rejected or be at a disadvantage compared with those that meet the standards. Only the documents requested by NSERC will be given to the selection committee.

Your institution must certify its support for your nomination by completing the McDonald institution certification of nominee form; this form is mandatory. Your institution must confirm your eligibility and explain how they will fully relieve you of teaching and administrative responsibilities while you hold the award. This form will not be shown to the selection committee. Institutions may certify up to six nominations to NSERC.

  • Eligibility: Provides the date, position and institution of your first independent academic position, as well as the total length of eligible delays in research or period(s) of inactivity since starting the position (Note: NSERC will credit eligible delays double their total duration).
  • Teaching and administrative relief: Describes how the institution will fully relieve you of these responsibilities while you hold the award.
  • Nominee selection: Describes the overall process used to identify and select nominees at the institution, not just the process used for you.
  • Certification by the executive head of the institution confirming that you are eligible and that the institution supports your nomination.

Compile your documents into a single document in portable document format (PDF). Ensure that your PDF documents remain interactive and are not encrypted. Submit your nomination electronically via the This link will take you to another Web site Innovative Collaborations and Science Promotion programs (ICSP) secure submission site.

You must submit your nomination before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on the deadline date. Late nominations will not be accepted. Once you have submitted your nomination, you will not be able to update it.

In January, nominees will receive a system-generated email from NSERC with instructions to complete a This link will take you to another Web site self-identification questionnaire. The program collects and uses disaggregated self-identification data from all nominees to monitor levels of diversity and its policies and processes for potential systemic barriers. Although completing the questionnaire is required before peer review, each question is optional by selecting "I prefer not to answer", and no self-identification data are seen or used by NSERC peer reviewers.

Review of your nomination

Your nomination will be reviewed by a selection committee of distinguished academic, government and industry research representatives from a variety of disciplines. Committee members are selected according to NSERC’s Guidelines governing membership of selection committees. The committee will recommend the successful candidates to NSERC.

The committee will review your nomination according to the following selection criteria and in consultation with the Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring:

Research achievements and impacts (40%)

  • Originality and quality of the candidate’s contributions to date
  • Impact of candidate’s contributions: whether they have led to ground-breaking advances in the research area(s) and/or a technology or policy that addresses socio-economic or environmental needs

Outreach, mentorship and leadership (30%)

The following aspects should include both past achievements and potential for the future:

  • Communication of research to non-specialist audiences and/or involvement in public outreach activities
  • Mentorship of the next generation
  • Leadership in activities related to the above and/or to their research area and/or the broader natural sciences and engineering context

Future directions (30%)

  • Whether the nominee’s research vision, proposed research and description of HQP training
    • represent an original or innovative concept or line of inquiry
    • will significantly advance the research area and/or have a policy- and/or technology-related impact
    • are likely to succeed given the proposed work and the research environment (including resources and HQP)
    • define a highly appropriate approach to training and mentoring HQP
    • consider equity, diversity and inclusion in the research and training environment
  • Whether the research proposal incorporates equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in the research questions, design, methodology, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of results; if not applicable, the appropriateness of the rationale provided

Notification of results

NSERC will electronically inform all nominees of the results of the annual competition by the end of June and publicly announce the names of the award recipients in the fall.