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Frequently Asked Questions

Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19

The first cohort of grantees eligible to receive the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 (in April 2021) have been contacted with information on how to accept the funded extension.

Note: Grant recipients who are eligible to begin their Early Career Researcher extension with funds in April 2021 will be asked to accept that funded extension before accepting the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19.

See NSERC program information in relation to COVID-19 for updates.

  1. What does NSERC mean by “all active Discovery Grants”?
  2. My Discovery Grant ended March 31, 2020 and I was unsuccessful in the 2020 competition. I am now in my automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds. Am I eligible for the one-year extension with funds?
  3. My Discovery Grant ended March 31, 2020 or before. I am now in my automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds or the additional one-year extension without funds due to COVID-19 announced recently. Am I eligible for the one-year extension with funds?
  4. How do I accept/decline the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19? (updated)
  5. Is the Discovery Launch Supplement eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  6. What is the status of the 2021 Discovery competition?
  7. I am to be a peer reviewer for the 2021 Discovery Grants competition. What happens now?
  8. My Discovery Grant is ending March 31, 2021. Do I have to take the one-year extension with funds?
  9. My Discovery Grant is ending March 31, 2021. How do I accept the one-year extension with funds?
  10. My Discovery Grant, Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grant (Individual and Project), SAP Major Resources Support Grant, Discovery Development Grant or Northern Research Supplement is ending after March 31, 2021. Am I eligible for the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  11. My Discovery Grant has already been extended with funds; will I be eligible for the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  12. Will I be eligible for additional extensions to my Discovery Grant in the future if I accept the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  13. My Northern Research Supplement is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  14. My Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project or Major Resources Support) is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  15. My Discovery Development Grant is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  16. My Discovery Accelerator Supplement is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  17. I currently hold an NSERC Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grant, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  18. I currently hold an NSERC Ship Time grant, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?
  19. What is the Discovery Grant Program doing to support applicants to the 2021 competition that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? (updated)
  20. Will an additional year be added to the existing six-year window in the CCV and full application for applicants who take the extension with funds due to COVID-19? (new)
  21. Will accepting the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 affect my eligibility for the three-month supplement for the support of trainees and research support personnel? (new)
  22. Where can I go for more information?

1. What does NSERC mean by “all active Discovery Grants”?

In the context of theDiscovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19, active grants are those with a payment planned in the 2020-2021 fiscal year (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021) or later, up to and including the Discovery Grants awarded in the recent 2020 competition.

As such, unsuccessful applicants from the 2020 competition, or past grantees who are in their automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds, or in the additional one-year extension without funds due to COVID-19 announced recently, are not eligible for the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-191.

2. My Discovery Grant ended March 31, 2020 and I was unsuccessful in the 2020 competition. I am now in my automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds. Am I eligible for the one-year extension with funds?

Discovery Grants that ended March 31, 2020 or before are not eligible for the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19, including grantees in their automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds or in their additional one-year extension without funds due to COVID-19.

3. My Discovery Grant ended March 31, 2020 or before. I am now in my automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds or the additional one-year extension without funds due to COVID-19 announced recently. Am I eligible for the one-year extension with funds?

Discovery Grants that ended March 31, 2020 or before are not eligible for the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19, including grantees in their automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds or in their additional one-year extension without funds due to COVID-19.

4. How do I accept/decline the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19? (updated)

At this time, no action is necessary from grantees. NSERC will contact eligible grantees in the last year of their grant.

5. Is the Discovery Launch Supplement eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

No, the Discovery Launch Supplement is not eligible for the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19; it is a one-time payment for Early Career Researchers separate from the Discovery Grant. However, the Discovery Launch Supplement funds can be spent throughout the active Discovery Grants period, including any extension.

6. What is the status of the 2021 Discovery competition?

The 2021 Discovery competition will continue as planned. To support our researchers and the people they support with their grants throughout the COVID-19 crisis, returning grantees due to apply this year for competition 2021 will be offered the optional Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 at their present funding level. This one year extension will be granted for the following programs: Discovery Grants, Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project and Major Resources Support), Discovery Grants – Northern Research Supplements and Discovery Development Grants.

The 2021 Discovery Grants competition will be for new applicants (those not currently holding a Discovery Grant or a Discovery Grant – Subatomic Physics) and those who choose not to accept the extension. Researchers will also be able to apply for Northern Research Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments and Ship Time, as usual. The Research Portal is expected to be open for applicants to submit their Notice of Intent (NOI) at the beginning of May 2020. Should delays be experienced, they will be communicated as soon as possible.

7. I am to be a peer reviewer for the 2021 Discovery Grants competition. What happens now?

NSERC values the significant contributions our peer reviewers make, and we will continue to need your expertise in the 2021 Discovery Grants competition. NSERC will follow up with peer reviewers for the 2021 competition through targeted communications.

8. My Discovery Grant is ending March 31, 2021. Do I have to take the one-year extension with funds?

No, you do not have to accept the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 one-year extension if you do not want it. Additional details are forthcoming.

9. My Discovery Grant is ending March 31, 2021. How do I accept the one-year extension with funds?

NSERC will follow up with eligible grantees holding a Discovery Grant ending March 31, 2021 through targeted communications to help you navigate next steps and walk you through your options.

10. My Discovery Grant, Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grant (Individual and Project), SAP Major Resources Support Grant, Discovery Development Grant or Northern Research Supplement is ending after March 31, 2021. Am I eligible for the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

Yes, the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 applies to all existing holders of Discovery Grants, Discovery Development Grants, Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grants (Individual and Project), SAP Major Resources Support Grants, and Northern Research Supplements. This includes grants from the recent 2020 competition. NSERC is currently prioritizing grants that end March 31, 2021 and will follow up with you as we develop the necessary mechanisms to support this initiative.

11. My Discovery Grant has already been extended with funds; will I be eligible for the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

Yes, you will be eligible to receive the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 regardless of whether you have received a previous extension with funds.

12. Will I be eligible for additional extensions to my Discovery Grant in the future if I accept the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

Yes, accepting the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 will not affect your eligibility to receive additional extensions in the future such as those provided for family and medical leave, deferral of an instalment, automatic one-year extension to use unspent funds and one-year extensions offered to ECRs.

13. My Northern Research Supplement is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

Yes, NSERC will follow up with grantees holding a North Research Supplement ending March 31, 2021 through targeted communications to help you navigate next steps and walk you through your options.

14. My Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project or Major Resources Support) is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

Yes, NSERC will follow up with grantees holding a Discovery Grants – Subatomic Physics (Individual, Project or Major Resources Support) ending March 31, 2021 through targeted communications to help you navigate next steps and walk you through your options.

15. My Discovery Development Grant is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

Yes, NSERC will follow up with grantees holding a Discovery Development Grant ending March 31, 2021 through targeted communications to help you navigate next steps and walk you through your options.

16. My Discovery Accelerator Supplement is ending March 31, 2021, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

No, Discovery Accelerator Supplements are not eligible for the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19. However, the Discovery Accelerator Supplement funds can be spent throughout the active Discovery Grants period, including any extension.

17. I currently hold an NSERC Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grant, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

No, RTI grants are not eligible for the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19.
Holders of RTI and SAP RTI (including SAP RTI 1 and 2/3) can immediately request an extension in time of up to 12 months for Agency grants with an end date between February 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 inclusively through their academic institution. This provision applies to all grants, regardless of whether they have received a previous time extension of any length for any reason (including, where applicable, automatic extensions). The intent of this provision is to allow grantees to continue spending grant funds, and institutions to delay the processing of residual grant funds (per the NSERC/SSHRC Guidelines for the General Research Fund).

18. I currently hold an NSERC Ship Time grant, am I eligible for a one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19?

No, Ship Time grants are not eligible for the one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19.

Holders of Ship Time can immediately request an extension in time of up to 12 months for Agency grants with an end date between February 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 inclusively through their academic institution. This provision applies to all grants, regardless of whether they have received a previous time extension of any length for any reason (including, where applicable, automatic extensions). The intent of this provision is to allow grantees to continue spending grant funds, and institutions to delay the processing of residual grant funds (per the NSERC/SSHRC Guidelines for the General Research Fund).

19. What is the Discovery Grant Program doing to support applicants to the 2021 competition that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? (updated)

Applications will [continue to] be peer reviewed based on policies and guidelines that are in line with previous years. Outcomes will [continue to] be based on the quality of the applications received. NSERC recognizes that all researchers will experience delays and impacts to their research due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will be accounted for in peer review (see Q20 for additional details).

20. Will an additional year be added to the existing six-year window in the CCV and full application for applicants who take the extension with funds due to COVID-19? (new)

No, the existing six-year window for inclusion of contributions to research and training of HQP in the CCV will not be extended. However, for Discovery Grants, new guidelines for consideration of leaves are being implemented this year. Applicants with an eligible leave of absence will be entitled to an attachment used to list supplemental contributions to research and training beyond the six year window, for a period equivalent to the duration of the leave. To recognize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and training, the new attachment may be used to list supplemental contributions to research and training for a period equivalent to the duration of delays related to COVID-19. Guidance is also being developed for considerations of COVID-19 impacts in peer review. Details on the new attachment will be available in the full application instructions, which will be posted online in August. Note that for Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grants, the guidance for considerations of COVID-19 impacts is being implemented this year, but the new attachment for supplemental contributions to research and training will be implemented for competition 2022.

21. Will accepting the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 affect my eligibility for the three-month supplement for the support of trainees and research support personnel? (new)

No, the Discovery Grants one-year extension with funds due to COVID-19 and the three-month supplement for the support of trainees and research support personnel are independent initiatives aiming to lessen the impact due to COVID-19. Accepting one will not impact your eligibility for the other.

22. Where can I go for more information?

NSERC will follow up with all applicants to and peer reviewers for the 2021 Discovery competitions through targeted communications to help you navigate next steps and walk you through your options. As usual, we will plan to hold webinars in the lead up to the competitions to answer your questions. In the meantime, please visit NSERC’s website, which will be updated regularly. You may also continue to contact NSERC Research Grants at resgrant@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.


Note: The authority to use funds end date is the last day of the period during which the primary investigator is authorized to use grant funds; typically, the last day of an automatic 1-year extension to use unspent funds. A grant end date is the last day of the funded period of a grant; typically, the last day of the fifth year of a Discovery Grant.