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Request for Proposals International Polar Year Projects in the Natural Sciences and Engineering

The NSERC Request for Proposals to Support Participation of Canadian Researchers in the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-08 is now closed. This was the only SRO request for proposals related to the IPY.

The deadline for the submission of proposals in support of IPY projects had been extended to November 28, 2005. This was a result of the federal announcement of further funding to support Canada’s participation in IPY (This link will take you to another Web site

The new federal funding initiative is focused on “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation” and “Health and Well-Being of Northern Communities,” and NSERC is not directly involved in this program. NSERC expects that applications related to these areas will be submitted to the federal departments managing this funding process. Applications received at NSERC that we determine are more appropriate for this, or other funding initiatives, will be redirected to the appropriate program.

To be considered for NSERC funding, the proposed IPY project must be endorsed by either the national or international IPY committee. A proposal may be submitted to NSERC for a project that has not yet received official IPY endorsement, but NSERC will require confirmation of this endorsement before it makes its funding decision.

For more information, contact Brigit Viens at .


The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have declared 2007-08 as the next International Polar Year (IPY). The "year" will cover 24 months, starting March 1, 2007 and ending March 1, 2009.

The IPY will focus the efforts of researchers around the world on the north and south polar regions. The 2007-08 IPY will be the 125th anniversary of the first IPY, the 75th anniversary of the second IPY, and the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The earlier IPYs and the IGY brought significant new insights into global processes and laid the foundation for decades of invaluable polar research. It is expected that the upcoming IPY designed to be a truly international campaign of coordinated, multidisciplinary polar observations and analysis – will have the same, or even greater, impact.

General Information

To support the participation of Canadian researchers in International Polar Year (IPY) projects, NSERC is launching a one-time funding opportunity for natural sciences or engineering research projects. The competition, part of NSERC's commitment to northern research, will be held through the NSERC Special Research Opportunity (SRO) program.

NSERC will provide a maximum of $2 million per year for three years and expects to support 10 to 15 high-quality research projects, each for up to three years' duration. Projects can start before March 1, 2007, and end after March 1, 2009, but should cover the two IPY years. Although researchers can request a maximum of $500,000 per year for three years, it is expected that the majority of funded projects will receive support in the range of $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

Researchers may propose projects with collaborators from government, industry, non-government organizations (NGOs), or other countries. Individuals or teams based within NSERC-eligible institutions must submit their proposals directly to NSERC. Collaborators from other sectors or countries must bring their own financing to the project. Applicants will be required to confirm their other sources of funding and the level of funding from these sources before NSERC makes its own funding decision.

To qualify for NSERC funding, proposed projects must target one of the following IPY themes:

  • To determine the present environmental status of the polar regions by quantifying their spatial and temporal variability
  • To quantify and understand past and present environmental and human change in the polar regions in order to improve predictions
  • To advance our understanding of polar-global interactions by studying tele-connections on all scales
  • To investigate the unknowns at the frontiers of science in the polar regions
  • To use the unique vantage point of the polar regions to develop and enhance observatories studying the Earth's inner core, the Earth's magnetic field, geospace, the Sun and beyond

Multidisciplinary projects are encouraged; however, NSERC will contribute only to the natural sciences or engineering research portion.

Application Deadline and Procedures

Applications must be received by NSERC by November 7, 2005.

Although this IPY Request for Proposals is being conducted through the competition mechanism of the SRO program, the Letter of Intent stage of the SRO program does not apply. Two of the SRO selection criteria – “Special Opportunity” and “Program Fit” – also do not apply.

Applicants must follow the application procedures in the NSERC Program Guide for Professors under the Special Research Opportunity (SRO) Program. Applicants must follow the instructions related to Special Research Opportunity – Project, not Special Research Opportunity – Pre-Research, and address the IPY selection criteria defined below. NSERC will consider proposals for Antarctic research but expects to direct most of its funding to northern research.

The words "International Polar Year" must appear in the title of the proposal.

To be considered for NSERC funding, the proposed research must focus on some field of the natural sciences or engineering and must relate to an IPY project that has been endorsed either nationally (see This link will take you to another Web site or internationally (see This link will take you to another Web site The applicant must submit a letter of support or national/international reference number.

NSERC will reject applications that are not linked to an IPY project and that do not focus on a field of the natural sciences and engineering. NSERC may redirect an application to another IPY funding initiative if it appears to fit the criteria of that initiative.

Selection Process

A multidisciplinary selection panel will review, rate, and rank the proposals, and make the final funding recommendations to NSERC. Experts in the natural sciences and engineering and experts with experience in northern and polar issues from public and/or private-sector organizations will serve on the selection panel. NSERC will also seek external reviewers to supplement the expertise of the panel. It is expected that the selection panel will meet in the spring of 2006 and that NSERC will award payments to the successful researchers in the summer.

Given that NSERC does not intend to conduct on-site reviews, the selection panel will base its evaluation only on the application and the comments of external reviewers. If, however, a site visit is deemed essential, arrangements will be made for an ad hoc review committee to review the proposal on-site.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be assessed according to the following criteria. Some aspects of the criteria may not apply to Antarctic research.

  1. Excellence of the researcher(s)
    • International stature, research competence and track record, and experience of the candidate(s) and collaborator(s)
    • Expertise to conduct the proposed research program, and likelihood of achieving the project objectives
    • Experience in training, or potential to train, highly qualified people
    • Ability to collaborate with other researchers, non-university organizations, and northern and Aboriginal community organizations
  2. Merit of the research
    • Originality and potential impact of the proposed research
    • Relevance of the research objectives to the IPY themes
    • Quality, clarity, scope, and focus of the research proposal and methodology
    • Potential to generate new knowledge and research results that will benefit Canada and especially Canada’s North
    • Nature and extent of the research collaborations, nationally and especially internationally
  3. Training of highly qualified people
    • Plans and opportunities to train highly qualified people
    • Impact of the planned training on non-university researchers and participants, especially on northerners and northern communities
  4. Involvement of northerners
    • Plans to engage northerners in the planning, conduct, and dissemination of the research
    • Relevance of the proposed research and training to the needs and objectives of northerners
    • Plans for inclusion of traditional knowledge in the research
  5. Data management, communication and promotion
    • Data management plan in accordance with the This link will take you to another Web site IPY Data Policy
    • Plans to communicate IPY research results, especially to northern communities
    • Plans for promoting IPY activities and results
  6. Project and financial management
    • Project management plan including a detailed description of the activities, time frame and associated financial requirements
    • Feasibility and practicability of the research, given the available facilities, services, and infrastructure support
    • Funding required to conduct the activities and to cover the costs of personnel, travel, logistics, consultation, and communication requirements
    • Nature and extent of support from partners or collaborators


At the end of each project year, grantees will be required to submit a Grants in Aid of Research Statement of Account (Form 300). The use of funds and the amount remaining in the grant account at the end of each year, as reported in Form 300, will determine whether NSERC releases the remainder of funds allocated for the project.

Grantees will also be required to submit a final report. NSERC may require interim reports, depending on the scope and complexity of the project.

For additional information, please contact Brigit Viens at 613-995-5821 or .