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Collaborative Research and Development Grants

Instructions to Referees – Form 140

Before Proceeding

Please read the  Instructions to Referees on the Privacy Act, Confidentiality and the Use and Disclosure of Information.

Note: Your signature on the paper version of the review form, or transmission of your final evaluation to NSERC either by mail or by using the electronic evaluation process, means that you have read these instructions and that you consent to these uses and disclosures.

In addition, you may refer to:

Information on the following topics is provided below:

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Conflict of Interest

If you are in a conflict of interest or for any other reason unable to act as a referee, please contact us directly or send us an email at as soon as possible. In order to identify yourself and the application(s) you are unable to review, please indicate your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and the committee and application number in the SUBJECT line of your e-mail message.

Suggested referees should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations for more information. In addition, referees (external reviewers) must sign the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they access the application material.

Allegations of Misconduct

Allegations of misconduct must be treated separately from the peer review process. Should your review reveal concerns of possible misconduct, please report any allegation separately to the Research Ethics Coordinator. Your report should only address the application and selection criteria and make no mention of the misconduct concerns.

How to Evaluate the Proposal

Please assess the proposal using the evaluation criteria described below. For each criterion, please provide your comments in the text box located on the Referee Report/Application for a grant (Form 140).

Note on student identification: Applicants should not be penalized for not having the specific names of students if generic information is provided. NSERC requires applicants to obtain consent forms from students before including their names on a Personal Data Form (Form 100). As this is not always feasible, applicants also have the option of providing information on students without providing their names (this information might be more generic).


A fundable proposal must satisfy five general conditions:

  1. The project must be scientifically sound, technically feasible, and promise either to generate new knowledge or to apply existing knowledge in an innovative manner that has industrial relevance. The objectives and conduct of the project must be consistent with, and beneficial to, the educational and research missions of the university.

    Projects that focus on the application of existing technology, provide routine analytical services, collect data without interpretating underlying mechanisms, or provide professional practice or consulting services (contract research) are not eligible.

  2. The applicant and the research team must have all the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully. Academic expertise may be complemented with the know-how from the industrial partner(s).

  3. The proposal must demonstrate industrial relevance and/or reasonable probability of economic payback to the Canadian economy within a reasonable time frame. High-risk projects and those with indirect or long-term payback are supportable where the potential for scientific and/or socio-economic benefits is commensurate with the cost.

  4. The collaborating company or group of companies must demonstrate both the capability and the willingness to exploit successful research results to the benefit of the Canadian economy. It must also contribute its own resources to the proposed activity in a measure appropriate to the risk and/or reward involved.

  5. The proposal must indicate how the knowledge and experience gained by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants or others, including company personnel, is relevant to the advancement of the field, to developing practical applications of knowledge, or to strengthening the industrial research base.

Evaluation Criteria

1. Scientific merit and technical feasibility

  • The position of the proposed work in the current state-of-the-art research in this domain;
  • The scientific originality, technical complexity, and degree of innovation in the approach or end product;
  • The scientific or technical feasibility; and
  • The appropriateness of the experimental design, proposed methods, equipment, and schedule.

2. Competence of the research team

  • The relationship of the proposed work to the proponent's research experience and background, and current research activity; and
  • The scientific leadership of the applicant and the competence of the research team (including collaborators such as company personnel) to conduct all aspects of the proposed research.

3. Training opportunities

  • The potential opportunities and value of the training for undergraduate or graduate student education and the appropriateness of the work;
  • The enhanced skills expected to be developed by students and postdocs through interactions with the industrial partner(s) (e.g., participation in planning meeting, active exposure to industrial processes such as R&D, manufacturing, regulatory, IP, commercialization, etc.); and
  • The potential opportunities and value of the training for other skilled personnel (technicians, post docs, company personnel, etc.).

4. Industrial sponsorship and relevance

  • The nature of the commercial opportunity and the probable impact on the industrial sector that would result from the successful completion of the work described; and
  • The appropriateness of the level of the collaborating company's participation in the proposed research in light of the potential benefits it will derive.

5. Budget

  • The justification for the proposed budget, over or under estimation of particular items.

6. Benefit to Canada

  • The potential for economic or socio-economic benefits for Canadians to arise from this project.

Other considerations

  • Any likely adverse environmental effects that might result from the proposed research, if applicable.
  • The necessity and appropriateness of animal-based methodologies and of the participation of human subjects, if applicable.
  • If an application is made with the intention of continuing a prior research project, an assessment of the value and impact of the results reached at the time of the new application and the appropriateness of funding a continuation of the research project.


On the balance of its strengths and weaknesses, would you recommend funding this proposal?