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A planned outage affecting this website and several other NSERC and SSHRC (including TIPS) websites and granting portals will take place from Friday, June 28, 2024, at 4 p.m., until Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 8 a.m. (ET). For more details, visit NSERC or SSHRC/TIPS dedicated webpages.

Discovery Grants Northern Research Supplements program

NSERC recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting researchers’ and students’ capacity to conduct their regular research and training activities. NSERC has published guidelines on the consideration of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on research and training activities. These guidelines provide direction on how to describe these impacts in an application and information on how they will be considered in the review of contributions to research and training and research and training plans.

To lessen the impact of COVID-19 and to support all of our researchers and highly qualified personnel, all eligible active Discovery Grant (DG) holders will be given the opportunity to receive a one-time one-year extension with funds at their current funding level. For eligible researchers who also hold a Northern Research Supplement (NRS), if they accept the COVID-19 extension with funds it will be for both their DG and NRS. For more information, consult the frequently asked questions.

Value and duration Up to $25,000 per year, for up to five years
Application deadline November 1
Application procedure See below
For more information

Important information

On this page


The Northern Research Supplements (NRS) program has been established to augment and promote Canadian university-based northern research and training. The main purpose of the NRS program is to recognize the added costs unique to conducting research in the Canadian North.


The NRS program is aimed at NSERC-funded researchers who intend to conduct Discovery research in Canada’s North. Successful applicants will typically receive a supplement to their Discovery Grant (DG) in the range of $10,000 to $25,000 per year, for the duration of their DG. Awards at the upper end of this range will be made to those with higher logistical costs and to recognize outstanding contributions to outreach, engagement and collaboration with northerners (note: in the context of this program, “northerner” refers to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members).

Recipients of NRS awards are not restricted to the specific activities described in the application, but they must pursue research interests in the North. Only costs associated with working in the Canadian North are eligible expenses. In order to reduce field costs, researchers may also consider Natural Resources Canada’s This link will take you to another Web site Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP), which provides logistical support for field projects. Other federal funding opportunities for northern research can be found through Polar Knowledge Canada’s This link will take you to another Web site Funding for Researchers page.


NRS funding is only accessible to researchers who meet NSERC’s Eligibility requirements for faculty to apply for or hold grant funds, who are applying to the current DG competition, and whose research endeavours will take them to work in the Canadian North.

For the purposes of this program, Canada’s North is defined as the land- and ocean-based territory north of the southern limit of isolated patches of permafrost from northern British Columbia to Labrador, including the entirety of the three territories. Geographic eligibility does not include the stretch down the central Rocky Mountains along the BC/AB border and several other non-contiguous pockets further to the south. For outlining the location of permafrost (shown in bands of yellow, green, blue, purple and red), visit Natural Resources Canada’s This link will take you to another Web site Permafrost page.

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 northern, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented groups in the natural sciences and engineering as one way to enhance excellence in research and training. Where applicable, consideration of sex, gender and diversity in the research design should be addressed in the proposal (see the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research for more information). Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations should also be described in the rationale for the composition of the northern collaborators and trainees, when applicable.

Important: Demographic data is not requested or required to assess impacts resulting from consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Selection criteria (weighted scoring)

Applications are evaluated according to the following weighted selection criteria, and the onus is on the applicant to address these explicitly in the proposal. 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 the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring will support the evaluation of NSERC applications.

  • Scientific or engineering excellence (30%)
      • Summarize the objectives and plans for research in the North (note: the NRS committee does not have access to all the information contained in the DG proposal).
      • Detail plans for the inclusion of traditional and local knowledge in the research, if appropriate.
      • Demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed research, given the available facilities, services and infrastructure support.
      • Illustrate the potential to produce new knowledge and research results of benefit to Indigenous communities, to the North and to all Canadians.
      • Report on recent progress of research in the North.
      • Describe recent research collaborations and interactions with northerners.

  • Need for NRS funds (30%)
    • Detail unique logistical expenses, due to the high costs of undertaking research in the North (excluding university-based student stipends and salaries for university research personnel).
    • Highlight needs related to community outreach, engagement, collaboration and communications initiatives undertaken in the North (e.g., consultation expenses, extended accommodation costs, or honoraria, stipends and salaries directed at northerners and community members).
    • Demonstrate appropriateness of, and justification for, the NRS budget.
    • Clarify availability of other sources of funding and the relationship to the current proposal.
    • Indicate amount of time to be spent conducting research and research-related activities in the North.

  • Outreach, engagement, collaboration and communication initiatives (20%)
    • Highlight community outreach and consultation activities to engage northerners in planning and conducting the research. Outreach and consultation costs are only considered when clearly indicated in the expenditures table and well-described in the budget justification.
    • Describe the plans (including costs) to interact and collaborate with, and to incorporate northerners in the research program.
    • Include and demonstrate the impact of community engagement and training activities for northern researchers, northern students and any local participants.
    • Describe how equity, diversity and inclusion are considered in outreach (e.g., community engagement and training activities).
    • Explain planned strategies to communicate and disseminate research results, and to promote northern research and training.
    • Explain plans to ensure the proper This link will take you to another Web site management of data and information resulting from research activities.

  • Contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) (20%)
    • Outline the quality and extent of past contributions and demonstrate opportunities to train university-based HQP (e.g., postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, technicians) in the North.
    • Summarize considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion specific to past and planned training of HQP in the North.

Application procedure

As part of the DG application process within the Research Portal, applicants must indicate their interest in being considered for this supplement, complete the NRS proposed expenditures table and provide two additional PDF attachments to the application as follows:

  1. A budget justification (2 pages max)
  2. The NRS proposal with a list of references (proposal: max. 3 pages; references: max. 1 page)


NRS proposed expenditures table - Specific rules for the use of grant funds

  • Before completing this page, read the instructions below and consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration for information about the eligibility of expenditures for the direct costs of research and the use of grant funds.
  • Only costs associated with working in the Canadian North are eligible expenses. University-based student stipends and salaries for university research personnel are not eligible. Any costs incurred outside of Canada cannot be paid from an NRS award.
  • NRS awards are typically the same duration as the DG. However, the amount requested each year may vary, with higher expenditures in years involving more travel to the North. Regardless of potential variability in expenditures, the amount requested from NSERC for NRS should be equally dispersed across all DG funding years and not exceed $25,000 annually.
  • Provide a five-year NRS budget (distinct from the DG proposed expenditures). Verify all entries carefully. The Total Amount Requested from NSERC should be a maximum of $25,000 annually; this is calculated automatically by subtracting the Total Cash Contributions, if any, from the Total Proposed Expenditures.

NRS attachment: Budget justification

Budget justification (2 pages max)

Provide a detailed explanation and justification for each budget item identified in the NRS proposed expenditures table. Provide sufficient information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate. These pages should only contain information pertinent to the NRS proposed expenditures budget table.

Costs associated with work in the North
Provide an outline of the expenses that are expected to be incurred, due to the high costs of undertaking research in the North, including community consultations and outreach, as well as engagement and collaborations with northerners. The onus is on the applicant to justify how these costs are unique to conducting research in the Canadian North.

Stipends/honoraria/salaries for local students and northern participants, including Indigenous researchers
Give a breakdown of the required individuals to be supported and any applicable fees. Justify each position requested. Note that university-based student stipends and university research personnel salaries are not an eligible expense — formally supervised HQP cannot be paid with NRS funds.

Equipment or facility
Provide a breakdown of the items requested, models, manufacturers, prices and applicable taxes. Justify each item requested and explain how it is specific to use in the North.

Fees to be paid for the use of equipment or a facility in the North should be described (e.g., hours and rate).

Materials and supplies for use in the North
Provide details and explain major items and their use in the North.

Travel to and from northern Canada
Explain briefly how each activity relates to the proposed research.

Dissemination, outreach, engagement and collaboration with northerners and Indigenous communities
Provide details of dissemination costs, translation costs, workshops, consultations, or other community engagement activities undertaken in the North. Publication costs in peer-reviewed journals are not normally an eligible expense from an NRS award.

Other expenses
List any items not included in previous categories and provide a brief explanation for major items. All additional costs should be related to undertaking research or research-related activities in the North.

NRS attachment: Proposal and references

Proposal (3 pages max)

The proposal must address the NRS selection criteria described above. It must also define the northern Canadian location(s) where the research will be conducted. Give the names of surrounding towns or specific communities, or the latitudes and longitudes.

References (1 page max)

  • Provide a list of literature references
  • Do not include hyperlinks in the list
  • Do not refer reviewers to websites for additional information on the proposal

List for a complete application

The following information will be reviewed by the NRS selection committee:

  • Application profile (from full DG application)
  • Summary of proposal (from full DG application)
  • Relationship to other research support (from full DG application)
  • Most significant contributions (from full DG application)
  • Additional information on contributions (from full DG application)
  • NRS proposed expenditures table
  • NRS attachment: Budget justification
  • NRS attachment: Proposal and references
  • Canadian Common CV

Note: Pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed.

The following DG application information will NOT be seen by the NRS selection committee:

  • DG proposed expenditures table
  • DG budget justification
  • HQP training plan
  • Past contributions to HQP training
  • DG proposal (5 pages)
  • Four submitted samples of research contributions

NRS review procedure

Evaluation groups will evaluate and rate DG applications in accordance with established DG evaluation criteria, without seeing the NRS-specific attachments. Following this evaluation, NRS applications from those whose DG applications have been recommended for funding will be forwarded to the NRS selection committee. External reviews are not used in the NRS review process.

The NRS selection committee is a multidisciplinary panel comprised of experts in the natural sciences and engineering, as well as experts from public and/or private sector organizations, with experience in northern issues. The NRS selection committee reviews and scores applications and recommends funding levels to NSERC, which makes all final funding decisions.

NRS competition results are released along with the DG results in April each year.