Frequently asked questions

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Application information

Ownership rights

Application-related policies

Funding decisions

Application information

Am I eligible?

See the Eligibility criteria for faculty.

Is my research eligible?

Two other federal granting agencies offer support to university researchers. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research supports the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada promotes and supports research and research training in the social sciences and humanities. If you do not know which granting agency you should apply to, refer to Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency.

Can I hold grants from more than one federal granting agency at a time?

You may hold grants from more than one of the three federal granting agencies simultaneously, but you may not submit identical applications to more than one of these agencies at the same time, nor submit an application to one agency for a project that has already been funded by another agency. See Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency.

How do my other sources of funding factor into the review of my application?

See Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency.

What if my appointment changes?

Grant recipients are responsible for ensuring that they continue to meet NSERC’s Eligibility criteria for faculty to hold their grant, as detailed in the grant’s terms and conditions.

The administering institutions are responsible for notifying NSERC as soon as possible of a change in a grant recipient’s eligibility by completing the tri-agency Grant amendment form section on Continuing eligibility, as per the Agreement on the administration of agency grants and awards by research institutions. Upon notification that a grant recipient’s status has changed, NSERC will conduct a review to determine the recipient’s continued eligibility.

How do I apply?

Before starting your application, read the application instructions for your chosen program carefully. Follow the specific application procedures set out in the description of that program.

What are the application deadlines?

Application deadlines are indicated in each of the program descriptions, as well as on the Application deadlines and notification of decision web page. Your application must be received at your institution’s research grants office by its internal deadline date; contact your research grants office for those deadlines. If the application is not received by the deadline, it may be rejected by the institution.

Your application must be received at NSERC by 8:00 p.m. (ET) on the deadline date. If the deadline falls on a weekend or a federal holiday, your application must reach NSERC by the next business day.

Are original signatures required?

NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically through the Research Portal or the online system. User ID/password-based electronic “signatures” allow applicants, supporting organizations and authorized institutional representatives (such as research grants officers, scholarships liaison officers and business officers) to “sign” and submit applications and other documents to NSERC online.

  • Co-applicants and collaborators: If you accept an applicant’s electronic invitation to participate in an application and you link your Canadian Common CV (CCV) or form 100 (personal data form) to that application, you have thereby provided your electronic approval to be included as a co-applicant or collaborator; the actions of accepting and linking replace your handwritten signature.
  • Co-applicants participating in applications from other institutions: NSERC expects that the authorized representatives from the principal applicant’s institution have obtained written approval from other institutions involved in the application process before submitting the application. To confirm this approval, NSERC will seek the institutional authorities’ signature through its secure site once the application is received.

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

For details on the meaning of signatures, see the Signatures section in the instructions for the program for which you are applying and the electronic approval page of the online system.

Before applicants or institutional representatives submit applications or other documents to NSERC, and before co-applicants accept invitations to participate in applications or link their CCVs or personal data forms to applications, these individuals must read and agree to the terms and conditions of the specific funding opportunity, including the requirements of the Tri-agency framework: Responsible conduct of research.

How is confidential or sensitive information handled?

NSERC safeguards the information that it receives from applicants. It requires reviewers to keep all application information confidential and to use it only for review purposes. If applicants have particular concerns about confidentiality, they should consult NSERC staff. For further information, consult the Conflict of interest and confidentiality policy of the federal research funding organizations and the Access to information Act and the Privacy Act, including the Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC section.

Do I need any certificates, licences or special forms?

Before beginning any research activities in a program or project funded by NSERC, you must obtain any required certifications.

For further details, consult Requirements for certain types of research and the Agreement on the administration of agency grants and awards by research institutions.

Ownership rights

Who owns the rights to intellectual property from research?

NSERC does not retain or claim any ownership of, or exploitation rights to, intellectual property resulting from your NSERC grant. Any right to this intellectual property is governed by your institution’s policy. However, as NSERC’s role includes promoting the use of knowledge to build a strong national economy and improving the quality of life of Canadians, every effort should be made to have the results of NSERC-funded research exploited in Canada for the benefit of Canadians. Within this framework, NSERC also expects access rights and allows ownership rights to be granted to an industrial partner in recognition of, and in proportion to, the company's contribution to an industrial collaboration (consult your institution’s research grants office or industry liaison office for guidance on this subject).

See the Policy on intellectual property for more information.

Who owns the equipment or material?

For responsibilities with respect to ownership and use of equipment, consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration, ownership of items.

Am I in a conflict of interest?

As an applicant or co-applicant, you must have no financial or personal interest in any transaction chargeable against an NSERC grant, and you must follow your institution’s policies on conflicts of interest. For information on these policies, contact your institution’s research grants office. Also see section 2.1.2: Promoting research integrity in the Tri-agency framework: Responsible conduct of research and section 3.6: Institutional Conflict of Interest in the Agreement on the administration of agency grants and awards by research institutions.

Conflicts of interest may arise when you or the post-secondary institution has an ownership position in a company that is sponsoring your research. It may be difficult to distinguish between institution and company activities, and between your contributions as an institution researcher and as a principal in the company. NSERC may, therefore, request evidence that the company has objectively assessed the commercial potential of the research being undertaken and that the academic interests of the students and postdoctoral fellows are protected. This request may come either at the beginning or during the course of the project or program. NSERC deals with each case individually. Refer to the Guidelines for organizations participating in research partnerships programs for more details. For Alliance grants, refer to Alliance Advantage: Partners or Alliance Society: Partners web pages.

Application-related policies

How are contributions to research and training assessed?

As part of an ongoing commitment to ensure that a wide range of contributions are considered and valued in the merit review, the new Guidelines on assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring will support the evaluation of NSERC applications.

How are applications in interdisciplinary research areas reviewed?

See the Guidelines for the preparation and review of applications in interdisciplinary research.

How are applications related to health sciences evaluated?

See the Guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health.

What is NSERC’s approach to 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 (EDI). We also recommend that you consult the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research.

What is NSERC’s policy on parental leave?

Consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration’s sections on Leave for maternity, parental, medical or family-related responsibilities (grant recipient)Paid maternity/parental leave for students and postdoctoral fellows and NSERC’s provisions for family and medical leave.

Funding decisions

When will I know if my application has been successful?

NSERC will notify you shortly after a final decision has been made. See the Application deadlines and notification of decision web page for more information. Competition results and a list of ongoing instalments will also be made available to the institution’s research grants officer and business officer. Results will also be posted on NSERC’s website, either after a formal announcement has been made or as part of the annual financial reporting.

What if I have a question about the decision?

For a number of programs, NSERC sends the selection committee’s comments with the results or shortly thereafter. You should note that comments may not be available for all applications. If you do not receive comments on your application within four weeks of receiving the decision, you may submit a written request to NSERC for information on file about the review, such as the selection committee’s comments or the external reviewer reports, if any.

You should not contact selection committee chairs or members directly. They are prohibited from discussing or disclosing any information gained during the peer review process. All inquiries must be directed to NSERC.

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