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Contest rules

The contest

The contest exclusively seeks images that stem from scientific research in all fields of study. It is open to all individuals or groups who carry out research in the public or private sectors.

Contest goals

  • Showcase images of Canadian research
  • Foster scientific curiosity in all audiences
  • Build a database of scientific images from Canadian research
  • Contribute to knowledge acquisition and the development of new uses for scientific images

The contest
Submission deadline
Acceptable images
What to include in your submission
Image selection process
Evaluation criteria
Awards and recognition
Publication rights and copyright
Contestant agreement
Changes to or cancellation of the contest
For more information

The contest

In October 2015, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas) agreed to co-organize the French segment of the contest, La preuve par l’image.

NSERC also agreed to organize an English segment of the contest, Science Exposed. Both organizations will work together to share the winning images with all Canadians. The contest rules are described below.


Contestants can apply either individually or as a group.

Contestants must be involved in research in either the public or private sector.

Eligible contestants must fit into any of the following categories:

  • College or university undergraduate student researchers (in this case, students must apply as a group with their research professor)
  • Graduate (master’s or doctoral) student researchers or postdoctoral fellows
  • Research professors working at a postsecondary institution, or any other individual conducting research in a college, polytechnic or university setting
  • Researchers working in a public or private research centre

Contestants must be Canadian citizens, permanent residents or holders of a valid temporary resident permit. Foreign students must be living in Canada and studying at a Canadian institution to be eligible. For group submissions, the group leader and the majority of the team members must meet these criteria.

The contestants’ institutions must be based in Canada. For group submissions, the group leader and the majority of the team members must meet this criterion.

Contestants, whether individuals or members of groups, can submit only one image to the contest. That is, a contestant may not submit one image individually and another as a member of a group. Likewise, contestants may not submit images to both the French contest, La preuve par l’image, and the English contest, Science Exposed. It is possible, however, for multiple images to be submitted from the same institution.

Contestants whose image is not selected as one of the top 20 images in either the French contestor the English contest may re-submit that image to a future contest.

Contestants submitting images to the French contest must be able to communicate in French, both in writing and orally.

Contestants submitting images to the English contest must be able to communicate in English, both in writing and orally.

Submission deadline

All images for the 2021 contest must be submitted no later than Monday, January 18, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (ET).  

Acceptable images

  • All types of image technologies can be used (e.g., photography using either natural light or other spectra, optical or electronic instruments, computer-generated images, models, drawings, diagrams, graphs, etc.)
  • Images must be directly related to and created in the context of the contestant’s research
  • Images can relate to any field of study: natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, or health sciences, with the exception of the arts, including visual arts, media arts and research/creation
  • An image may be enhanced or modified, but any changes must not alter its meaning. Colorization and graphic processing of images using software such as Photoshop© are permitted to clarify or accentuate certain content, but these changes must not misrepresent or distort the content
  • File size must not exceed 99 megabytes; upload times may vary depending on the speed of your Internet connection, particularly for larger files
  • Images must be submitted in their original format, not in a compressed file
  • Images may be submitted in one of three file formats: .png, .tiff or .jpg

What to include in your submission

Images must be submitted with a three-part description: a catchy title, a plain-language explanation of the research presented in the image and a description of the techniques/ technologies used to create the image. This description must be written in the language of the contest to which the image is being submitted, either French for La prevue par l’image or English for Science Exposed. All items mentioned below must be submitted online along with the image.

1. Catchy title

  • Maximum of 60 characters, including spaces

2. Plain-language explanation of the research

  • 600 to 900 characters, including spaces
  • Describes what is seen in the image
  • Explains your research, and highlights the role of the image in the research carried out
  • Gives examples of concrete research applications
  • Uses plain language suitable for an adult and scientifically curious audience of non-experts in the field of study

3. Description of techniques/technologies used to create the image and of any changes made to the image, if applicable

  • Maximum of 300 characters, including spaces
  • Example: We used confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) to capture their fluorescent signals, and the image was then colourized.

Curriculum Vitae:

  • The contestant must upload their curriculum vitae (CV) (for group submissions, each group member must submit a CV)
  • College or university undergraduate student researchers must also provide their research professor’s CV.

For a complete submission:

  • Read the contest’s terms and conditions. You agree to these before continuing.
  • Fill out each of the fields on the form and upload your image and the CVs of all contestants.
    • Under “Contest information,” choose either La preuve par l’image or Science Exposed.
  • Click “Upload.” A confirmation email indicating the date and time of your submission will be sent to you. Keep this for your records.

Image selection process

Two juries—one for the French contest, La preuve par l’image, and one for the English contest, Science Exposed—will each select 20 finalists from the images received. These finalist images will be posted on the web and showcased through various means, including exhibitions. Some contestants among the finalists will also be awarded a cash prize.

The juries are made up of experts in research and culture.

If the number of submissions received is too large, NSERC and Acfas may conduct a pre-selection screening.

Evaluation criteria

  • Primary criterion: Visual quality of the image
    • Aesthetics, explanatory value and emotional effects
  • Secondary criterion: Illustration of the research
    • Effectiveness in illustrating the research
    • Clarity of the descriptive text

Awards and recognition

Prize-winners and finalists must agree to participate in various activities to discuss their images.

French contest, La preuve par l'image
The 20 finalists of the French contest will be revealed during the exhibit’s opening ceremony, organized as part of the Acfas annual congress in May. The three jury prizes, the people’s choice award and the human-nature relationship award will be awarded during the Acfas annual gala in October or November.

  • Jury prize of $2,000 – sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Jury prize of $2,000 – sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Jury prize of $2,000 – sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • People's choice award of $2,000 – sponsored by the TV show Découverte on ICI Radio Canada
  • Human-nature relationship award of $2,000 – sponsored by Space for Life

English contest, Science Exposed
The 20 finalists of the English contest will be revealed in May on NSERC’s website and social media pages. The three jury prizes and the people's choice award winners will be announced in October or November.

  • Jury prize of $2,000
  • Jury prize of $2,000
  • Jury prize of $2,000
  • People's choice award of $2,000

Publication rights and copyright

  • Contestants (or their institution) must be the creator of the image, must own all rights to the image and must obtain the consent of any people appearing in the image, if applicable
  • By submitting an image to either contest, contestants agree that NSERC and Acfas are not responsible for any copyright infringements that could arise in Canada or for any litigation that may ensue from these infringements
  • NSERC and Acfas reserve the right to publish finalist images in any media and in any format to promote the contest, finalists, winners or research
  • NSERC and Acfas agree to acknowledge the image’s creator in all publications and presentations of the image, unless circumstances do not allow
  • Finalists from the francophone segment of the contest, La prevue par l’image, will each (individual contestants and all members of group submissions) be asked to sign a copyright licence

Contestant agreement

  • By submitting an image to the contest, contestants agree to respect the contest’s official rules
  • Decisions made by contest organizers about any aspect of the contest, including the eligibility or disqualification of application forms, descriptions or images, are final and cannot be appealed
  • By completing an application form, and if they are selected as a finalist, contestants consent to the use, reproduction, publication, transmission and dissemination of their image, their name and information relating to the award in any media by the contest organizers and/or partners, without compensation, to promote the contest, finalists, winners or research
  • The organizers and their respective employees, agents, representatives, successors and delegates (collectively referred to as “delegated individuals”) are not responsible for damage of any kind resulting directly or indirectly from contestants’ participation or attempted participation in the contest

Changes to or cancellation of the competition

NSERC and Acfas reserve the right to make changes to the contest rules, to temporarily interrupt the contest or to cancel the contest at any time and without prior notice, without justifying or being in any way accountable for this decision. No damages or compensation may be claimed.

For more information

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