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Report on the Applicant

Instructions for Completing a Report on the Applicant – Form 201

General Information

Who Should Complete the Report on the Applicant?

Complete the Report if you have agreed to evaluate an applicant for an NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship-Doctoral (PGS D) or Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF). The Report cannot be completed by a proposed supervisor unless that person is, or has been, the applicant's supervisor.

Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for References Completing a Report on the Applicant – Form 201 for more information.

Before Proceeding

By submitting your Report to NSERC, you confirm that you have read and understood these instructions. This is in addition to the acceptance of the Terms and Conditions for References. Refer to the Signatures section.

Have You Taken Steps to Mitigate Implicit or Unconscious Biases?

It is important that the reference process be free of any bias, whether these biases are based on a school of thought, fundamental versus applied research, certain sub-disciplines, areas of research or approaches (including emerging ones), size or reputation of an institution, age, gender and/or other personal factors of the applicant. NSERC cautions references against any judgment of an application based on such factors and asks them to constantly guard against the possibility of unconscious bias influencing the decision-making process.

NSERC is actively engaged in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in its review process to contribute to improved diversity and gender equality in science and engineering fields. For reference, see NSERC’s Policy Statement on Gender Equality in Science and Engineering and available resources such as This link will take you to another Web site Strengthening Canada’s Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension.

References are encouraged to complete the following training modules:


Applicants have been advised to provide their references with a deadline that is well before the application deadline, to allow applicants to submit their completed application on time. NSERC will not consider the application as complete without your Report.

Personal Information

The collection, use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC is outlined in the following policy statements:

The information you provide in your Report is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. NSERC is subject to the This link will take you to another Web site Access to Information Act and the This link will take you to another Web site Privacy Act. The information you provide is stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings.

NSERC routinely gives applicants access to information about themselves that is kept in Council files, but does not provide the applicant with the name of the person who submitted the evaluation or the names of any other applicants mentioned in a comparative context. However, due to the nature of the application process, applicants are usually aware of who has completed their evaluation. As a result, you cannot expect privacy or anonymity.

Help with the NSERC On-line System

  • Consult the Frequently Asked Questions on how to use the On-line System.
  • Review the instructions available in the application.
  • Contact the On-line Services Helpdesk. Send an email to or call 613-995-4273. Include your email address and telephone number.

Completing the Report

Applicants will indicate in their application for a PGS D or PDF the name and email address of the two references who will complete the Report. An email will be generated by the On-line System inviting you, as a reference, to complete the Report. Follow the instructions in the email to provide your contact information and your assessment of the applicant. Complete and submit this information by the date specified by the applicant. You will also have access to the application submitted by the applicant.

Length of report

  • PGS D: Limit is approximately one half of a page.
  • PDF: The first box represents approximately one half of a page. You may use the second box to provide additional comments (approximately three quarters of a page).

It is imperative that you preview your Report before it is submitted to ensure that the text fits within the available space. Text that is not visible on the previewed Report will not be seen by NSERC staff or the selection committee members.

Once the Report is completed and submitted, the status of the Report on the applicant’s Portfolio will change to Completed. Once the Report is submitted, you will no longer have access to it. If you wish to make changes, you must communicate with the applicant and request that the Report be “unlocked” for revisions. Once the Report is unlocked, you will be able to make the changes and resubmit the Report electronically. Once the applicant has submitted the full application to NSERC, this functionality will no longer be available.

If you are completing an evaluation

In your evaluation, comment on the selection criteria listed below. Rather than providing general comments, assess the applicant's strengths and limitations for each criterion. Include examples of the applicant's accomplishments and contributions to support your assessment.

In preparing their evaluation, references should consult the Selection Criteria and Indicators section and Appendix A of the Selection Committee Guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships Programs, which provides useful information on what committee members should look for in assessing applications.

Selection Criteria and Indicators

Research ability or potential

  • Significance, feasibility and merit of research proposal
  • Contributions to research and development (publications, conference presentations and/or proceedings, poster presentations, technical reports, or patents)
  • Academic training and relevant work experience
  • Scholarships and awards
  • Researcher attributes (critical thinking, application of knowledge, judgment, originality, initiative, autonomy, and enthusiasm for research)
  • Justification for location of tenure (PDF only)
  • Ability to complete projects within an appropriate time period (if applicable, the applicant’s explanation of any special circumstances must be taken into consideration)

Communication, interpersonal, and leadership abilities

  • Professional, academic, and extracurricular interactions and collaborations with supervisors, colleagues, peers, students, and members of the community:
    • teaching, mentoring, supervising, and/or coaching
    • managing projects
    • participating in science promotion, science/community outreach, volunteer work, and/or civic engagement
    • chairing committees and/or organizing conferences and meetings
    • participating in departmental or institutional organizations, associations, societies, and/or clubs
    • industrial work experience
  • Awards for papers, reports, posters, oral presentations, teaching, and/or volunteer/outreach work
  • Participation in publication writing
Relative weighting of criteria
Academic excellence 30 NA
Research ability or potential 50 70
Communication, interpersonal, and leadership abilities 20 30


NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically through its On-line System. The electronic submission of applications through this system represents approval and replaces the traditional "physical" or "wet" signatures.

What do the Electronic or Original Signatures on the Application Mean?

Before you, as a reference, can submit the Report to NSERC, you must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions for References that are found at the end of the submission process. It is your responsibility to retain a copy of the agreed Terms and Conditions for your records.