NSERC Discovery Grants - 2018 Competition (Full Application)

Updated Information

Webinars on how to apply added under special notes




Discovery Grants - 2018 Competition

For More Information


The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing programs of research (with long-term goals) rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects. These grants recognize the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of all research advances. Discovery Grants are considered ‘grants in aid’ of research as they provide long term operating funds to support the costs of a research program. As a grant in aid of research, Discovery Grants are not meant to support the full costs of a research program and they can facilitate access to funding from other programs. NSERC recognizes that, while being of a grant in aid nature, Discovery Grants must be sufficient to support a program of quality research that can have a meaningful impact on the field of study.

Recipients of Discovery Grants are not restricted to the specific activities described in their applications, but may pursue new research interests, provided they are within NSERC’s mandate. This provides researchers with the flexibility to pursue promising research avenues as they emerge and the opportunity to address higher-risk (higher reward) topics. Researchers can use their grants to participate in collaborative efforts. 

The Discovery Grants Program assists in:

  • promoting and maintaining a diversified base of high-quality research capability in the natural sciences and engineering in Canadian universities;
  • fostering research excellence; and
  • providing a stimulating environment for research training.


  • Only applicants and co-applicants are eligible to apply for and hold NSERC funds.
  • Eligibility for applying for/holding an NSERC grant:
    • Hold (or have a firm offer) for an academic appointment at an eligible Canadian university at the time of application. This can be a tenured, tenure-track or lifetime professor emeritus position; or a paid or unpaid term or contract position of no less than three years. The position must be finalized no later than six (6) weeks following the competition deadline of November 1, 2017.
    • The position must require the individual to engage in research that is not under the direction of another individual; and
    • The position must authorize the individual to supervise or co-supervise the research of students registered in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, or postdoctoral fellows (e.g. thesis supervision and not supervision of regular course or laboratory assignments).
  • While there are no specific sections dedicated to naming or describing specific collaborations, it is at the applicant’s discretion if they would like to disclose such information.
  • Applicants are categorized as either Early Career Researchers or Established Researchers. Refer to the Discovery Grants - Applicant Categories for more information.
  • Researchers can apply for and hold only one Discovery Grant at a time. Researchers who hold a Discovery Grant cannot reapply for another Discovery Grant until the last year of their current award. If you currently hold a team grant and wish to apply individually, consult NSERC.
  • NSERC does not consider requests for supplements to existing Discovery Grants, except for E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fellows and Discovery Grant Northern Research Supplements holders. Recipients may, however, apply for all other types of NSERC grants.

Please note these specific updates for the 2018 competition:

  • Contribution to the Training of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP): Instructions have been modified to provide clearer guidance to applicants and peer reviewers on what to include in the application and how this is assessed. 
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of women and other under-represented groups in the natural sciences and engineering, as one means to enhance excellence in research and training. Additional instructions have been added within the Contributions to the training of HQP.
  • Relationship to Other Research Support: Instructions have been modified to clarify the type of information required for this section of the application and how it will be assessed. In addition, new directives were added for applicants who hold, or have applied for a CIHR Foundation Grant.
  • Collection of identification data in the CCV: NSERC is actively engaged in ensuring gender equity in its review processes. Researchers are encouraged to indicate their sex in the Identification section of the CCV. This information is used for statistical purposes only and is not shared with reviewers. Although the CCV currently requests that applicants indicate their sex, NSERC is committed to using more inclusive gender language in the future.
  • DND/NSERC Discovery Grant SupplementsIn 2016 NSERC launched a new initiative in partnership with the Department of National Defence (DND).  To apply for the DND/NSERC Discovery Grant Supplement follow the Discovery Grants application instructions.  The Defence and Security Target Areas were revised for the 2018 competition.
  • Eligibility of Subject Matter: To better identify the appropriate agency when applying for funding, consult the guidelines for Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency. For additional information and specific examples relating to subject matter eligibility, refer to the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health document. Applications that are outside of NSERC’s mandate will be rejected. Decisions on eligibility of subject matter may come at any time during the review cycle.
  • Eligibility of Researchers to Apply for Funding: It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the NSERC - Eligibility Criteria for Faculty at the time of application and to provide accurate information about your position at the university in the eligibility profile. If your eligibility to apply is questioned, NSERC will contact you and your university research administrator. Questions regarding the interpretation of eligibility criteria should be sent to eligibility@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.
  • Applicant Categories: Applicants are now asked to select an applicant category in the application, either Early Career Researchers (ECR) or Established Researchers (ER). The ECR definition has changed.  For more information consult Discovery Grants – Applicant Categories
  • Discovery Accelerator Supplements (DAS): Evaluation Groups will review applications in accordance with the Discovery Grant criteria and will recommend a small number of applicants for an award according to the objective and description of the DAS Program. For more information, see the Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program – Frequently Asked Questions.

Project Duration

Grants are normally awarded for five years.  Although a shorter duration can be requested, NSERC may award a grant for the normal duration. 

Researchers can apply for and hold only one Discovery Grant at a time. Researchers who hold a Discovery Grant cannot reapply for another Discovery Grant until the last year of their current award. 

Special Notes

Webinars for How to Apply:

  • Thursday, September 21, 2017
  • Wednesday, September 27, 2017


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

Applicant submits a signed OR-5 to: research.services@uoguelph.ca. Research also clicks “submit” in the Research Portal so the final Full Application appears on the Office of Research server.  Grants Officer will print the application from the Research Portal. 

External Deadline

Final application will be submitted to NSERC online.

How to Apply

Applicants must have successfully submitted a Notice of Intent (NOI) by August 1, 2017 in order to be eligible to submit a Full Application. This is a mandatory step in the application process.

Complete Application including List of References, Budget Justification and Samples of Research Contributions (maximum of 4 reprints or preprints and/or manuscripts, excerpts from your thesis, technical reports, etc.) along with a Canadian Common CV, are to be submitted electronically to Office of Research Services via the NSERC Research Portal.  Upon approval, Office of Research Services submits the final version on behalf of the University using the Research Portal.

For Questions, please contact

Discovery Grants (DG) General Inquiries: 613-995-5829; resgrant@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Technical Support: If you require technical assistance for the Research Portal, contact NSERC technical support by email at webapp@nserc-crsng.gc.ca or by telephone at 613-995-4273.

Office of Research

Carolyn Osborn, Director, Grants & Contracts
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x52935

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