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Contest rules

Contest description

This contest seeks images that stem from research in all fields of study except the arts. It is open to all individuals or groups who carry out research in the public or private sectors in Canada.

Contest goals

  • Showcase images of research conducted in Canada
  • Foster curiosity about science and research in the general public
  • Build a database of scientific images from Canadian research
  • Contribute to knowledge acquisition and the dissemination of the contest images

The contest
Who can enter
Submission deadline
Eligibility criteria for 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

The contest’s French segment, La preuve par l’image, was created by Acfas in 2010. Since October 2015, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Acfas have partnered to jointly present the contest, and NSERC agreed to organize the English segment, Science Exposed. Both organizations work closely together to showcase the research images to all Canadians. The contest rules are presented below.

Who can enter

Any individual or group of individuals performing research in the public or private sector in Canada may enter this contest.

Contestants must fall into one of the following categories:

  • College or university undergraduate students who are doing research (such students must apply as a member of a group, together 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 foreign students living in Canada enrolled at a Canadian institution. For group submissions, the group leader and the majority of the group members must meet these criteria.

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

Contestants, whether individuals or members of groups, can submit only one image. Thus, a person may not submit one image as an individual and another as a member of a group. Likewise, a contestant may not submit one image to the French contest, La preuve par l’image, and another to the English contest, Science Exposed. It is possible, however, for more than one image from the same institution to be entered in either of these contests.

Contestants whose image is not selected as one of the 20 finalist images in neither the French contest nor 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 2024 contest must be submitted no later than Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at 11:59 pm (ET).  

Eligibility criteria for images

  • All types of image technologies may be used (for example, photography using either natural light or other spectra, images produced by optical or electronic instruments, computer-generated images, images from models, drawings, diagrams, graphs, etc.).
  • Images must be directly related to and created in the context of the contestant’s research.
  • Images may come from any field of research in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities or health sciences, but not from research in the arts (defined to include visual arts, media arts and research on artistic creation).
  • An image may be enhanced or modified, but any changes must not alter its meaning. Colourization 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.
  • 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 text description: a catchy title, a plain-language explanation of the research presented in the image, and a description of the technique or technology used to create the image. All three parts must be written in the language of the contest to which the image is being submitted—either in French for La preuve par l’image or in English for Science Exposed. All three parts must be submitted online along with the image.

1. Catchy title

  • Maximum of 60 characters, including spaces

2. Plain-language description of the research

  • 600 to 900 characters, including spaces
  • Briefly introduce the research topic or problem in question
  • Describe what is seen in the image—include cues for the reader (e.g., in the top right corner of the image; the cells in red…), spell out any acronyms and define specialized terms
  • Explain your research, and make the connection between the image and the research being carried out
  • Give examples of concrete research applications or describe the expected benefits of the research
  • The plain-language text is intended for a non-expert audience of scientifically curious adults

3. Information about the technique or technology used to create the image and of any changes made to the image

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

Curriculum vitae

  • Each contestant must upload their curriculum vitae (CV). For group submissions, each group member must upload a CV.
  • Contestants who are college or university students must also upload their research professor’s CV.

How to make your submission:

  1. Read the contest’s terms and conditions. You must agree to these before continuing.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 will select the finalist images: one will select 20 images out of all those submitted for the French contest, La preuve par l’image, and the other will select 20 out of all those submitted for the English contest, Science Exposed. These 40 finalist images will be posted on the web and showcased by various means, including exhibitions.

The juries will be 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, evocative power, and ability to spark curiosity or a sense of wonder
  • Secondary criterion: Illustration of the research
    • Effectiveness in illustrating the research
    • Clarity of the descriptive text

Awards and recognition

Finalists and award winners must agree to participate in various activities to discuss their images.

French contest, La preuve par l'image
The 20 finalists in the French contest will be revealed at the opening ceremony for the exhibit, held as part of the Acfas annual congress in May. The five jury prizes will be presented at the Acfas annual gala in October or November.

  • Three Jury Prizes of $2,000 each – sponsored by NSERC
  • Jury Prize Humans-Nature of $2,000 – sponsored by Space for Life
  • Découverte People’s Choice Award of $2,000 – sponsored by Radio-Canada

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 recipients of the three jury prizes and the People’s Choice Award will be announced in October or November.

  • Three Jury Prizes of $2,000 each
  • People's Choice Award of $2,000

Publication rights and copyright

  • Contestants (or their institutions) must have created the image, own all rights to the image and obtain the consent of any people appearing in the image.
  • By submitting an image to either contest, contestants agree that NSERC and Acfas are not responsible for any copyright infringements that might arise in Canada or for any litigation that might ensue from such infringements.
  • NSERC and Acfas reserve the right to publish finalist images in any media and in any format to promote the contest, finalists, award-winners or research.
  • NSERC and Acfas agree to acknowledge the images’ creators in all publications and presentations of the image, unless circumstances prevent it.
  • Every person who is entered in the French contest, La preuve par l’image, as an individual or a member of a group and whose image is selected as a finalist must sign a copyright licensing agreement with Acfas.

Contestant agreement

  • By submitting an image to the contest, contestants agree to respect the contest’s official rules.
  • Decisions made by NSERC and Acfas about any aspect of the contest, including the eligibility or disqualification of application forms, descriptions or images, are final and cannot be appealed.
  • Contestants who complete a submission and whose image is selected as a finalist must consent, without compensation, to let NSERC and Acfas and/or their partners use, reproduce, publish, transmit and disseminate their names, photos and information about their awards in any publication or promotion activity, to promote the contest, the finalists, the award recipients or the research.
  • All contestants release NSERC and Acfas, their respective personnel, and any party acting on their behalf from any liability for damage of any kind resulting directly or indirectly from the contestants’ participation or attempted participation in the contest.

Changes to or cancellation of the contest

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 having to justify their decision and without being held accountable for it to anyone in any way. No damages or compensation may be claimed.

For more information

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