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Canada Graduate Scholarships-Masterís Program

Instructions for Completing the Reference Assessment Form

General Information

This form is to be completed if you have agreed to provide a reference assessment for a Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s (CGS M) applicant. This form must be completed by a person capable of making an informed assessment, and cannot be completed by a proposed supervisor unless that person is, or has been, the applicant's supervisor.

This form must be completed well in advance of the deadline date, allowing enough time for the applicant to complete and submit their application. The application cannot be submitted by the applicant without your assessment. Requests to accept late assessments after the deadline date will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Note: The Research Portal has a time-out period after 20 minutes of inactivity within each section. After 60 minutes of inactivity, you will be logged out of the Research Portal. Typing does not count as an activity; you must remember to Save and Validate frequently, otherwise the information you have entered will be lost.

As the deadline date approaches, delays may occur due to a high volume of users on the Research Portal; this may prevent the timely submission of your assessment, and you should plan accordingly.

Whom Should I Contact for Help?

For matters related to the Research Portal, contact the This link will take you to another Web site Helpdesk or complete an On-line Services Support Request.

For program-related information, contact the staff responsible for the program.

It is the intent of the agencies to respond to inquiries within 48 hours. During peak periods (November to January), the response time may be delayed.

Collection and Use of Personal Information

All personal information collected as part of this program is used by the granting agencies and by the relevant officials in the eligible research institutions to review applications and to administer and monitor awards. It may also be used to determine the most appropriate funding jurisdiction, or to monitor overlap in federal support. Details on the use and disclosure of this information by the granting agencies are described by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in This link will take you to another Web site Info Source – Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information, by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in the Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC, by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in the This link will take you to another Web site Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information, and in the relevant program literature.

The granting agencies routinely give applicants access to information about themselves that is kept in the agenciesí files, but do not provide the applicant with the name of the reference who submitted the assessment 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 assessment. As a result, you cannot expect privacy or anonymity.

Note: The electronic submission of your assessment to the granting agencies using the Research Portal means that you have read these instructions, including the Signatures section, and that you consent to the uses and disclosures described within.

Completing the Reference Assessment Form

Applicants will indicate in their application the family name and email address of the two references who will complete the Reference Assessment Form. Once the information is saved in their application, in the Research Portal, you will receive a system-generated email inviting you to complete the Reference Assessment Form. To accept the invitation, you must create a Research Portal account following the steps in the system-generated email.

Once you have logged in to your Research Portal account and have accepted the invitation, you will have access to the Reference Assessment Form, as well as the application and the applicant’s Canadian Common CV.

For more information on the Reference Assessment Form, refer to the video tutorial Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master's – Instructions for Completing the Reference Assessment Form.

While completing the Reference Assessment Form, you will be able to modify, save and validate the information provided at any time as long as you have not yet submitted the form. Once you have completed your assessment, you must select the Submit button in order to attach your assessment to the application. The Submit button will only become available once all sections of your assessment have been completed, saved and validated. Once the assessment is submitted, you will only be able to view a printer-friendly or PDF version of the Reference Assessment Form. A status change in the applicant’s portal will advise the applicant that the assessment has been submitted. No changes or updates can be made to the assessment after it has been submitted. However, the applicant will not be able to view the assessment’s content (refer to Collection and Use of Personal Information).

Before your reference assessment can be considered complete, you must:

  • provide a percentage rating for each selection criterion listed in the Selection Criteria section;
  • provide comments in each section of the form and a justification of your assessment (maximum of 2,000 characters for each section).

Rather than providing general comments, assess the applicant’s strengths and limitations for each criterion, including examples of the applicant’s accomplishments and contributions to support your assessment.

Selection Criteria

The merit review of CGS M applications will be carried out by institutions with an allocation, and will be based on the following evaluation criteria:

Criteria Description Weight

Academic Excellence

As demonstrated by past academic results, transcripts, awards and distinctions.

Indicators of Academic Excellence:

  • Academic record (first class average)
  • Scholarships and awards held
  • Duration of previous studies
  • Type of program and courses pursued
  • Course load
  • Relative standing (if available)


Research Potential

As demonstrated by the applicant's research history, their interest in discovery, the proposed research, its potential contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the field, and any anticipated outcomes.

Indicators of Research Potential:

  • Quality and originality of contributions to research and development
  • Relevance of work experience and academic training to field of proposed research
  • Significance, feasibility and merit of proposed research
  • Judgment and ability to think critically
  • Ability to apply skills and knowledge
  • Initiative, autonomy and independence
  • Research experience and achievements relative to expectations of someone with the candidate's academic experience


Personal Characteristics and Interpersonal Skills

As demonstrated by the applicant's past professional and relevant extracurricular interactions and collaborations.

Indicators of Personal Characteristics and Interpersonal Skills:

  • Work experience
  • Leadership experience
  • Project management including organizing conferences and meetings
  • The ability or potential to communicate theoretical, technical and/or scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats
  • Involvement in academic life
  • Volunteerism/community outreach


Accessing Historical References

You can access past reference assessments by:

  • entering the Research Portal;
  • looking under the column “Role” for entries listed as “Reference”;
  • opening the entry.

If you have forgotten your password, click on the “Forgot password” link on the login page.


There is no need for original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically using the Research Portal.

Before you accept the invitation to participate as a reference, you must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions for References that appear in a pop-up window during the submission process. If you accept the terms and conditions, the system will create the Reference Assessment Form for you to complete. It is your responsibility to retain a copy of the agreed Terms and Conditions for your records.