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Discovery Grants Applicant Categories

Applicant categorization is the responsibility of NSERC staff and is based on the information provided by the applicant in the This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV (CCV) and application.

What is an Early Career Researcher?

Early Career Researchers (ECR) are applicants who have held an independent academic position for 3 years or less and who meet the NSERC - Eligibility Criteria for Faculty at the time of submitting the Notification of Intent to Apply for a Discovery Grant (NOI). For example, to be classified as an ECR, a researcher submitting an NOI in August 2017 would have been hired on or after July 2014.

The three-year window for being considered an ECR can be adjusted to take into account instances where a researcher has had an acceptable delay in research or period of inactivity (illness, parental leave, etc.). For example, a researcher submitting an NOI in August 2017 and who took a seven-month parental leave within the past three years must have been hired on or after December 2013 in order to be considered an ECR.

What is an Established Researcher?

Established researchers are applicants who have held an independent academic position for more than 3 years and who meet the NSERC - Eligibility Criteria for Faculty at the time of submitting the Notification of Intent to Apply for a Discovery Grant (NOI).

What does NSERC mean by independent academic position?

An independent academic position is a position that:

  • is a university faculty appointment (tenured or non-tenured);
  • requires that the researcher engages in research that is not under the direction of another individual;
  • authorizes the researcher to supervise or co-supervise the research of students registered in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, or postdoctoral fellows.

How does NSERC support Early Career Researchers?

While applications from ECRs are evaluated against the same three selection criteria as established researchers, NSERC recognizes that early career applicants may not have had the opportunity to make the same level contributions to research or training as established researchers. For this reason, NSERC implements a different quality cut-off for funding of ECRs.

As this group is also identified as benefitting most from additional resources, NSERC devotes additional funds to supplement the Discovery Grants of funded ECRs. Finally, NSERC is also providing ECRs who are re-applying for the first time with the option to extend their Discovery Grant by one year with funds. This optional one-year extension is meant to provide them with additional time to better establish themselves and their research program before re-applying to the Discovery Grants Program as established researchers.

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