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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, 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. Your institution must certify its support for your nomination by completing the McDonald institution certification of nominee form. The institution confirms that you are eligible and explains how the institution will fully relieve you of teaching and administrative responsibilities while you hold the award.

Institutions may certify up to six nominations to NSERC.

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; explain how equity, diversity and inclusion considerations will be addressed in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and/or dissemination of findings (see below)—if these considerations do not apply to the proposed research, provide a rationale
    • 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

      For more information on incorporating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in this section, see NSERC’s Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application.

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

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. A list of proposed external reviewers: Provide the names, organizations, departments, and email addresses of five to seven researchers who could conduct an impartial review of your nomination

  • 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
  • Do not contact external reviewers in advance
  • NSERC reserves the right to select all or none of the suggested reviewers

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

7. Self-identification data: 

  • At the time of submission, you must complete a This link will take you to another Web site questionnaire that covers age, gender, Indigenous identity and/or identity as a member of a visible minority group and/or as a person with a disability
  • For the ID field, provide your NSERC PIN
  • The program collects self-identification data from all nominees to monitor levels of diversity, policies and processes for potential systemic barriers; although completion of the questionnaire is mandatory and required before peer review, each question includes the option “I prefer not to answer;” self-identification data are not seen or used by NSERC peer reviewers

For nominations in engineering or applied sciences, you should consult NSERC’s Guidelines for the preparation and review of applications in engineering and the applied sciences.

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 prepares the McDonald institution certification of nominee form. This form includes the following sections:

  • 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
  • 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

  • This form will not be made available to the selection committee
  • This form is mandatory

Compile your documents into a single document in portable document format (PDF). Submit your nomination electronically via the 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.

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:

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

Impact does not refer to quantitative indicators such as the impact factor of journals or h-index, but on the influence that results have had on other researchers, on the specific field, on the discipline as a whole or on other disciplines, or beyond the research ecosystem. Impact can be seen as, but is not limited to, advancing knowledge, developing technology, addressing socio-economic or environmental needs, or contributing to increased diversity and equity in research. The relevance of such considerations may differ depending on the discipline and the nature of the research being conducted.

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

Mentorship refers to formal or informal relationship between a mentor and mentee where the mentor provides advice, counsel and support in order to foster the growth and development of the mentee. Mentorship often extends beyond formally supervised HQP to other, non-supervised mentees. Further, while training of HQP often involves mentorship, explicit evidence of mentorship must be provided.

Examples of outreach, mentorship and leadership:

  • Organizing natural sciences and engineering promotional events
  • Conducting media interviews or giving public research talks
  • Participating in social media activities that are related to the research
  • Helping mentees build skills and reach crucial milestones
  • Helping members of under-represented or disadvantaged groups to build and maintain a sense of belonging in their research environment
  • Developing training or mentorship programs, including those related to equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Leadership roles in activities related to outreach and mentoring
  • Leadership roles at the institution or in large-scale research or engineering projects
  • Membership and/or leadership on committees, editorial boards or advisory boards, whether or not these are directly related to the applicant’s research activities

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
  • If applicable, whether the research proposal incorporates equity, diversity and inclusion considerations, including but not limited to sex (biological), gender (socio-cultural) and other identity factors (ethnicity, visible minority, age, disability, sexual orientation, geographic location, among additional possible relevant factors) in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and/or dissemination of findings; if not applicable, the appropriateness of the rationale provided