Instructions for completing the notification of intent to apply for a Discovery Grant

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General information

About the program

Read the program description before completing the application.

Am I eligible to apply?

Consult the Eligibility requirements for faculty to apply for or hold grant funds to ensure that you can participate in this grant program as an applicant. NSERC verifies the eligibility of researchers only at the full application stage; however, it is important that you consult the eligibility criteria now and discuss any concerns with your institution’s research office.

Individuals cannot hold both a Discovery Grant and a Discovery Horizons grant (as applicant or co-applicant). Individuals who have submitted a Discovery Horizons letter of intent (LOI) (as applicant or co-applicant) for the current competition may also submit a Discovery Grants notification of intent to apply (NOI). However, they will need to choose which program they wish to pursue before proceeding to the full application stage, as a full application may be only submitted to one program.

Application deadlines

Your notification of intent to apply (NOI) must be received at NSERC by 8:00 p.m. (ET) on the deadline date. The NOI and application deadlines are indicated on the program description page.

In instances of systems interruptions, refer to the Service standards for NSERC and SSHRC’s online application systems policy on sustained interruptions.

Updates to a submitted NOI before or after the deadline date will not be accepted.

Personal information

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. The collection, use, disclosure, retention, and disposal of your information are outlined in the following policy statements:

For more information, refer to the Personal Information Banks described in NSERC’s Info Source.

Self-identification information

You must complete the self-identification questionnaire found in the person profile of the Research Portal when applying for funding. This data provides information on the diversity of the population applying for and receiving agency funds. This information increases NSERC’s capacity to monitor its progress on increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in its programs, to recognize and remove barriers, and to design new measures to achieve greater EDI in the research enterprise. If you do not want to self-identify, you have the option to choose “I prefer not to answer” for each question, but you are required to select a response for the questionnaire to be marked as complete. Self-identification information is not part of your application and will be neither accessible to, nor shared with, external reviewers and/or selection committee members. The self-identification questionnaire should be reviewed and updated, if required, every time you apply to the program.

For more information, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions about the Self-identification Questionnaire.

Whom should I contact for help?

Completing the NOI

You must complete the NOI using the Research Portal. You must also complete a Canadian Common CV (CCV) to link to the NOI. Refer to the resource video for a demonstration.

Create an application

  1. Sign in to the Research Portal.
  2. Select Create application.
  3. Select the funding opportunity under Stage: NOI and select Create.
  4. Under Applications, open the NOI.
  5. Select Edit to complete the different sections.


Administering organization

Organization Select the organization that will administer the grant.

Department – If your department is not in the list, select Head office.

Application title – The title must be short and descriptive. It may be used for publication purposes. Restrict use of abbreviated forms (for example, DNA, NATO, etc.), and avoid company or trade names. Note: you may edit the application title at the full application stage.

Language of the application – Indicate the language in which the application will be submitted. The main body of the application should be written in either English, or French, rather than a mix of both official languages. The NSERC CCV should be in the same language as the application.

Suggested evaluation group – You must select the evaluation group you consider most appropriate to review your application. Refer to the list of research topics covered by each evaluation group. NSERC reserves the right to make the final evaluation group assignment.

If you intend to apply to the Subatomic Physics (SAP) Discovery Grants program (individual) rather than the Discovery Grants program (evaluation group 1505 – Physics), you will need to first select the appropriate funding opportunity in the Research Portal and then refer to the relevant instructions on how to complete the SAP NOI.

Indigenous research – You must indicate if your proposed research involves Indigenous communities, societies or individuals and meets the specifications below to qualify as Indigenous research according to NSERC.

NSERC specifies Indigenous research as being research in any field or discipline related to the natural sciences or engineering that is conducted by, grounded in, or meaningfully engaged with First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous Peoples and Nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present.

Meaningful engagement means engagement at all stages of the process, “ensuring that various world views are represented in planning and decision making from the earlier stages of conception and design of projects through to the analysis and dissemination of results” (Tri-council policy statement 2). Indigenous research requires that research activities respond to community needs and priorities. This may involve:

  • contributing to the enhancement of community members’ skills and/or community capacity;
  • exploring opportunities for reciprocal learning and transfer of skills and knowledge between the community and the research team;
  • supporting a community in maintaining its culture, language and/or identity, as well as supporting its self-determination.

For additional guidance on NSERC’s expectations, read the CCI guide for research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities.

For more information, please consult the following resources:

Activity details

Proposed research topic(s)

The first research topic must be within the evaluation group you have suggested. You may select, in order of relevance, up to four additional research topics as required. Refer to the examples in the List of evaluation groups and research topics.


Provide up to 10 keywords that best describe this proposal.

Summary of proposal

The summary of proposal must not exceed 6,000 characters. It should

  • state the objectives of the proposed research program
  • summarize the scientific approach
  • highlight the novelty and expected significance of the work to a field(s) in the natural sciences and engineering.

Should your proposed research program change substantially from the time you submit your NOI to the time you submit your application, please contact the program officer responsible for the evaluation group you have selected.

External reviewer suggestions

Provide five external reviewers who

  • are not in a conflict of interest
  • are not from your own institution
  • are from different institutions from one another
  • can provide an independent assessment of your application
  • are capable of reviewing your application in the language in which it is written

Applicants are encouraged to suggest a diverse cross-section of potential reviewers with appropriate expertise (Canadian, international, established and early–career, women and other underrepresented groups, from academic and non-academic institutions).

Applicants must not contact suggested external reviewers in advance.

Applicants should note that NSERC will not select members currently serving on an NSERC evaluation group.

Conflict of interest guidelines

A conflict of interest may be deemed to exist, or perceived as such, when external reviewers

  • are a relative or close friend, or have a personal relationship with the applicant
  • are in a position to gain or lose financially/materially from the funding of the application
  • have had long-standing scientific or personal differences with the applicant
  • are currently affiliated with the applicant’s institutions, organizations or companies—including research hospitals and research institutes
  • are closely professionally affiliated with the applicant, as a result of having in the last six years
    • frequent and regular interactions with the applicant in the course of their duties at their department, institution, organization or company
    • been a supervisor or a trainee of the applicant
    • collaborated, published or shared funding with the applicant, or have plans to do so in the immediate future
    • been employed by the institution
  • feel for any reason unable to provide an impartial review of the application

NSERC reserves the right to resolve areas of uncertainty and to determine if a conflict exists. For more information, refer to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality.

How to enter your external reviewer suggestions in the Research Portal

  1. Family name (required)
  2. First name (required)
  3. Initials (optional)
  4. Email (required)
  5. Expertise (required)
  6. Organization (required)

To enter the organization, click on the Edit button. Using the drop-down menu, select the country where the organization is located. Then, select the state or province (for organizations in the United States or Canada). Then, search for the organization. If the organization cannot be found, enter the organization name in free-form text. The system will accept it.

Certain Canadian universities are listed under “The”, such as The University of British Columbia.

  1. Department (optional)

Reviewer exclusion

You may request that some researchers, organizations or large collaborations not be involved in the review of your application. Note that this request may be accessible under the Privacy Act.

Note that the exclusion type Collaboration refers to large research groups that work on specific projects.

Uploading your NSERC CCV

To successfully upload your CCV, the first name and family name used to create your CCV site account must be identical to those used to create your Research Portal account. The email address used to create your Research Portal account must be identical to at least one of the emails you listed on the CCV site.

  • In the Application Overview page, click Attach.
  • Enter your CCV confirmation number (refer to the NSERC CCV instructions for professors for details on how to obtain your confirmation number).
  • Click Upload.
  • Click Back to Application Overview.
  • Preview your CCV in the Research Portal and verify that it was uploaded correctly and that it contains all of the records that you wish to submit for peer review. Your CCV should be in the same language as your application. You may update your CCV at the full application stage.

While the Canadian Common CV website is bilingual, you can only save your NSERC CCV in one official language at a time. For example, to save a French version of your NSERC CCV, you must sign into your account using the French platform.

Submitting the NOI

Click on the Submit button at the bottom of the Application Overview page. A pop-up message will appear. You will be required to extract and view your NOI to ensure that it is complete. Note that the CCV will not appear in the extracted application. Once the confirmation box has been checked, click on the Submit button displayed in the pop-up message.

To complete the submission process, you will need to read and accept the terms and conditions by clicking on the I Accept button. You will receive a confirmation message on the web page, as well as a confirmation email that your NOI was received and that the status of your submission is Received by Agency.

To verify the status of your submission, return to the home page. The status will be Received by Agency.

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