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Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants Program

(Individual or Project)

Instructions for Completing an Application

General Information

About the Program

Read the program description in the Program Guide for Professors before you complete the application.

Am I Eligible to Apply?

Consult the Eligibility Criteria for Faculty to ensure that you can participate in this grant program as an applicant or a co-applicant.

Who Completes the Application?

The applicant and co-applicant(s) must complete their respective sections of the application as per the instructions, using the Research Portal. In addition, the Le lien suivant vous amène à un autre site Web Canadian Common CV (CCV) must be completed by the applicant and co-applicant(s) and linked to the application.

Presentation Standards

In the application, applicants and co-applicants must submit all requested information in agreement with NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards. Incomplete applications and applications that do not meet the presentation standards may be rejected, or be at a disadvantage, in comparison with those that are complete and respect the presentation standards. Where page limits are stated, pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed.

Application Deadlines

Your application must be received at your institution's research grants office by their internal deadline date; contact your research grants office for those deadlines.

The application must be received at NSERC by 8:00 p.m. (ET) on the deadline date. If it is not received by the deadline, it will be considered late and will be rejected. The application deadline is indicated in the program description, as well as on the Application Deadlines and Notification of Decision page.

Once an application has been submitted, before or after the deadline, it may not be updated or modified.

Collection and Use of Personal Information

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act and 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. Details on the use and disclosure of this information are described in Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC, in the NSERC program literature and below. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Whom should I contact for help?

Completing the Application

Create an Application

  • Sign in to the Research Portal.
  • Select the Funding Opportunity and click Create.
  • Select your Subatomic Physics Notification of Intent (SAP NOI); it will form the basis for your application.
  • Complete your Eligibility Profile and click on Validate
  • Click on Continue and Create Application
  • Under Applications, Open the application.
  • Click on Edit to complete the different sections.

Some fields are pre-populated based on the information provided in your NOI. You may edit these fields as needed.

Note: If you have not submitted an NOI for this program, you cannot create or submit an application. Consult the program description for more information.


Administering Organization

Organization – Select the organization that will administer the grant.

Department – If your department is not in the list, select Head Office.


Suggested Applicant Category – Select the applicant category that fits your profile as a researcher based on the Discovery Grants - Applicant Categories defined by NSERC. NSERC will make the final decision on the applicant category.

Application Title - The title must be short and descriptive. It may be used for publication purposes. Restrict the use of acronyms (e.g., DNA, NATO, etc.), and avoid company or trade names.

Language of the Application - Indicate the language in which the application will be submitted. The main body of the application should be written in either English or French and not in a mix of both official languages.

Note: The applicant and co-applicants can each write their NSERC CCV in either official language.

Suggested Evaluation Group (not editable) - For a Subatomic Physics (SAP) Individual Discovery Grant, if your proposed research program has changed substantially from the time when you submitted your NOI and you consider that a different evaluation group should review your application, contact the Program Officer responsible for the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section.

Hours per month to be devoted to the research/activity, or use of equipment or facility—Enter the number of hours per month you plan to devote to the proposed research/activity.

Supplements/Joint Initiatives (Subatomic Physics – Individual only)

If you wish to be considered for the DND/NSERC Discovery Grant Supplement, complete this section of the application. The information you provide in this section will not be shared with evaluation group members or external reviewers. It will be used solely for the review of the DND supplement, by the Department of National Defence.

Supplement(s) or Joint Initiative(s) – Select the DND/NSERC Discovery Grant Supplement.

DND Defence and Security Target Area(s) – Select up to 6 target areas and associated topics.

Statement of Relevance – In a maximum of 2,500 characters, describe how your research fits within the Target Area(s) you have selected.

Summary of Proposal

A limit of 2,500 characters is allowed in the text box.

Provide a summary of the proposal in language that the public can understand.

Using simple terms, briefly describe the nature of the work to be done. Indicate why and to whom the research is important, the anticipated outcomes, and the benefits to the research field and to Canada.

This plain language summary will be available to the public if your proposal is funded.

If you wish, you may also provide a summary in the other official language in the text box identified for that purpose.

Expenditures for Previous and Current Years

For SAP Project Discovery Grants, provide the expenditures for the previous and current fiscal years towards the support of the project's activities, reporting the support provided by previous NSERC SAP Discovery Grants related to the proposed research activities (if applicable) and any contributions from other sources.

Use the Budget Justification section (free-form attachment) to explain and justify each budget item and any contributions from other sources, as well as the reasons for a positive or a negative balance in each of the years.

Proposed Expenditures

Consult the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide for information about the eligibility of expenditures for the direct costs of research and the regulations governing the use of grant funds.

For SAP Individual Discovery Grants, provide a five-year budget. If your request is for a shorter duration, you must provide an explanation in the Budget Justification section.

For SAP Project Discovery Grants, provide a three-year budget. If your request is for a shorter duration, explain why in the Budget Justification section.

If you do not request support for some years, you must enter 0 for each of those years.

For all SAP Discovery Grants, the amounts requested in the application should not differ by more than 15% from those that were included in the NOI. Should there be a deviation larger than 15% the applicant needs to justify the latter and obtain NSERC's approval before submitting the grant application.

Use the Budget Justification section (free-form attachment) to explain and justify each budget item and any contributions from other sources towards the support of the proposed research activities.

Past Contributions to Highly Qualified Personnel Training

For SAP Project Discovery Grants, the applicant and each of the co-applicants must complete this section.

A limit of 2,500 characters is allowed in the text box.

Discuss your most significant contributions to the training of HQP over the last six years.

Training supported by NSERC ranges from undergraduate theses and summer projects to postdoctoral levels, and includes technical and other research personnel.

You must clearly explain your role in any co-supervision of HQP.

The assessment of past contributions to HQP training focuses on the quality and impact of training, as demonstrated through three components. Each component should be supported through your CCV and/or application text:

  • Training environment

    Describe the research training and development opportunities provided for HQP (e.g., HQP science outreach and engagement, interdisciplinary research, collaborations, interaction with the private and public sectors).
  • HQP awards and research contributions

    Describe research contributions produced by HQP (e.g., publications, patents, key presentations) and highlight awards, scholarships and fellowships won by HQP.
  • Outcomes and skills gained by HQP

    Describe your most significant examples of HQP and explain how your training contributed to their success (e.g., skills and experiences gained, outcomes such as further studies or career). A successful outcome can be broadly defined as an HQP doing something that has impact. This impact can be either in the NSE or not in the NSE, but it needs to be clear how the skills gained in the applicant’s research training environment are being used by the HQP.

    Cases of HQP delays (e.g., HQP parental leaves, medical leaves) that are beyond your control can be considered. A pattern of prolonged periods of study or frequent student withdrawal from programs should be explained.

Most Significant Contributions to Research

For SAP Project Discovery Grants, the applicant and each of the co-applicants must complete this section.

A limit of 7,500 characters is allowed in the text box.

List up to five of your most significant contributions to research and/or to practical applications over the last six years. Contributions made more than six years ago but for which the impact is being felt now (e.g., exploitation of patent, inclusion in a code, etc.) may be included.

For each contribution, describe its significance in terms of influence on the direction of thought and activity in the target community; and significance to, and use by, other researchers and end users. For collaborative contributions, describe your role.

A contribution does not have to be a single publication or report. For example, a group of publications on a specific subject could be discussed as one contribution.


  • You may include the full reference to your contributions in this text box or provide the appropriate reference to your NSERC CCV.
  • Applicants are asked to explain and give dates for any significant delays in the research activity or in the dissemination of research results (e.g., parental leave, bereavement, illness, extraordinary administrative duties) in the NSERC CCV under the section Employment (Leaves of Absence and Impact on Research).

Additional Information on Contributions

For SAP Project Discovery Grants, the applicant and each of the co-applicants must complete this section.

A limit of 2,500 characters is allowed in the text box.

Provide details, as appropriate, on the contributions listed in your NSERC CCV. Such details may include:

  • the nature of collaborations with other researchers;
  • the rationale or practice used for:
    • the order of authors in the publications listed, and
    • the inclusion of students in the list of authors;
  • your role in joint publications;
  • the reason for selecting certain venues (journals, conferences) for publications and particular features of the venues (e.g., target audiences, review procedures);
  • the impact or potential impact of patents and technology transfer;
  • the nature of industrially relevant R&D activities;
  • the significance of technical reports;
  • attestation to the nature and the significance of confidential technical and internal reports;
  • original research reported in books or technical reports.

You may include other activities or information to help committees to evaluate your contributions to and impact on science and engineering, including interdisciplinary research.

Activity Details

Certification Requirements

Before completing this section, consult the Requirements for Certain Types of Research.

Research Involving Humans: If you select Yes, you must provide your institution's administration with the appropriate certification indicating that research involving humans has been reviewed and has received the required approval.

Research Involving the Use of Animals: If you select Yes, you must provide your institution's administration with the certification from the animal care committee at the institution that the experimental procedures proposed have been approved and that the care and treatment of animals is in accordance with the principles outlined in the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) guide.

Research Involving Human Pluripotent Stem Cells: If you select Yes, or if through peer review the application is found to fall into this category and is recommended for funding, it will be forwarded with your consent to CIHR’s Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC) to ensure compliance with This link will take you to another Web site Chapter 12, Section F of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). The SCOC review is in addition to the normal review by local Research Ethics Boards (REBs). Funding will not be released until approval has been obtained from the SCOC.

Environmental Impact

If you select Yes to any of the questions, you will be asked to answer additional questions as appropriate to address the requirements of the This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).

NSERC is subject to CEAA 2012. The Guidelines on Environmental Review and Assessment describe the circumstances under which environmental reviews or assessments must be conducted, and the administrative processes that will be followed by NSERC to ensure that legal obligations are met with respect to CEAA 2012.

Research Subject Codes

Consult the Research Subject Codes. A primary research subject code is required.

Area of Application Codes

Consult the Area of Application Codes. A primary area of application code is required.

Key words

Modify, as required, the key words to best describe your proposal.

Eligibility Profile

You must re-validate your eligibility profile.  Click on Save and validate


In the Application Overview page, click Attach to include each required document. Attachments are free-form and must respect NSERC's presentation standards and page limits, where appropriate.

Important Note: You must preview all of your attachments in the Research Portal to ensure that the documents have been uploaded correctly and that the content is viewable. NSERC will not accept corrupted or protected files that cannot be opened or viewed.


This is a free-form PDF attachment.

Page limit for SAP Individual Discovery Grants: five pages.

Page limit for SAP Project Discovery Grants: five pages with two additional pages per co-applicant.

Addressing the points below, describe the proposed research to be supported. Images and graphics are included in the page limit.

Recent Progress

Describe your recent progress in research activities related to the proposal and, in addition for renewals, the progress attributable to your previous Discovery Grant.


Define the short- and long-term objectives of your research program.

For SAP Individual Discovery grants only, a research program should have a long-term vision that expands beyond the five years of the Discovery Grant. A single, short-term project or collection of projects does not constitute a research program.

Literature Review

Discuss the literature pertinent to the proposal, placing the proposed research in the context of the state of the art.


Describe the methods and proposed approach, providing sufficient details to allow the reviewers to assess the feasibility of the research activities.


Explain the anticipated significance of the work.


  • Should it be determined that the information provided is insufficient, NSERC reserves the right to take appropriate action, such as not soliciting reports from external reviewers or withdrawing the application from the competition.
  • If your research is interdisciplinary, consult the NSERC Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Interdisciplinary Research.
  • If NSERC determines that the subject matter is outside of its mandate at any time during the review cycle, the application will be rejected.

Budget Justification

This is a free-form PDF attachment.

For all types of SAP Discovery Grants, there is no page limit. The file size limit is 10 Mb.

Provide a detailed explanation and justification for each budget item. Provide sufficient information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate.

Applicants must only use this section for the purpose of justifying the proposed budget. They should not make use of any part of it to provide additional information on the proposal and further address the selection criteria. Applications that do not comply with this requirement would be at a disadvantage in comparison with those that do. NSERC reserves the right to remove pages from this section if they do not relate to the justification of the budget.

Salaries and benefits

Give the names (if known), categories of employment and proposed salaries (with explicit indication of the non-discretionary benefits) of students, postdoctoral fellows, and research staff. Briefly describe the responsibilities for each position and indicate the percentage of their time they will be spending on the proposed research activities through the duration of the requested grant. Do not include salaries of faculty in project costs.

Refer to the NSERC CCV instructions for information on obtaining consent to name individuals in your proposal.

Equipment or facility

Give a breakdown of the items requested, models, manufacturers, prices, and applicable taxes. Justify each item requested.

Note: The SAP Research Tools and Instruments (SAP-RTI) Grants Program provides the primary avenue through which to obtain support for tools and instruments costing more than $7,000. Minor equipment/upgrades that are essential to the operation and maintenance of an ongoing research project/program can be purchased using a SAP Discovery Grant even if the cost is higher than $7,000. NSERC reserves the right to request that equipment submitted as part of a SAP Discovery Grant be re-submitted as a SAP-RTI Grant application.

Fees to be paid for the use of equipment or a facility should be described (e.g., hours and rate).

Also report the need for beam time or other special facilities, and if time has been allocated for these.

Materials and supplies

Provide details of the budget requested for materials and supplies and explain major items.


Provide details and explain how each activity relates to the proposed research.


Provide details of publication costs, user workshops or other activities.

Other expenses

List all items not relevant to previous categories, and provide a detailed explanation for major items.

Contributions from other sources (if applicable)

If appropriate, explain any financial contributions from other sources.

Relationship to Other Research Support

This is a free-form PDF attachment.

For all types of SAP Discovery Grants, there is no page limit. The file size limit is 10 Mb.

This section refers only to other research support that will be, or may become, active within the funding period of the proposed Discovery Grant. Do not provide additional information related to the proposal or further address the selection criteria. Applications that do not comply with this requirement would be at a disadvantage in comparison with those that do. NSERC reserves the right to remove pages from this section if they do not relate to explaining relationships with other research support.

Refer to This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency for additional information.

Support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and/or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Discovery Grants support research programs that are distinct from research that is supported or applied for through CIHR and/or SSHRC.

When research funding is held or applied for from CIHR and/or SSHRC, you must clearly explain:

  • how the proposed ideas, objectives and expenditures of the Discovery Grant application are entirely distinct from those supported or applied for through CIHR and/or SSHRC.
  • how the anticipated contributions to research resulting from the proposed Discovery Grant will be distinct from the ones resulting from CIHR and/or SSHRC support.

In addition, if you hold or have applied for a CIHR Foundation Grant you must clearly explain why the Discovery Grant funds are essential to carry out the research proposed in the Discovery Grant application.

The explanation of other research support (held and/or applied for) is considered in the evaluation of the Need for Funds. You must therefore provide sufficient information for the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section to determine whether the application meets the requirements listed above. Failure to clearly demonstrate that the Discovery Grant application meets all these requirements will result in a rating of Insufficient for the Need for Funds criterion.

Sources of research support other than CIHR or SSHRC

Applicants may hold funds from other sources for the same research ideas/objectives, as long as they are used to cover different expenses and the funding sources are not CIHR and/or SSHRC. Other sources of research support include grants and contributions (held and applied for) from federal and provincial funding agencies, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, universities (e.g. institution start-up funds), the primary place of employment (for adjunct professors employed outside of academia), and/or others.

Explain any relationship and/or overlap (conceptual or financial) between work supported by other funding sources and work supported by NSERC (including the current application). For funding applied for, you must demonstrate that there will be no duplication of funding for the same expense(s) by explaining how funds will be used if all applications are successful. The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the reviewers to assess the relationship between this application and other sources of support, and the incremental value of additional support from the program. Failure to meet these requirements will result in a rating of Insufficient for the Need for Funds or the application may be rejected.

Highly Qualified Personnel Training Plan

This is a free-form PDF attachment.

Page limit for SAP Individual Discovery Grants: one page.

Page limit for SAP Project Discovery Grants: one page with one additional page per additional institution represented in the application.

Refer to NSERC's Policy and Guidelines on the Assessment of Contributions to Research and Training.

Training Plan

The assessment of the Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Training Plan includes two components, the Training Philosophy and the Research Training Plan.

The Training Philosophy should describe your approach to training HQP, detailing your mentoring approach and the type of research training and development opportunities you will provide.

The Research Training Plan should outline how the research program and its anticipated projects are appropriate for HQP training within the natural sciences and engineering. Discuss the involvement trainees in individual projects. Provide details on the planned contributions to training in a co-supervisory or collaborative context, if appropriate. Explain the planned future contributions to knowledge and the expected training value of the proposed projects (i.e., what knowledge, skills and abilities will the trainees gain). Provide justification if limited training plans are provided.

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. Applicants should describe their planned approach to promoting participation from a diverse group of HQP, taking into account equity in recruitment practices, mentorship and initiatives aimed at ensuring an inclusive research and work environment.

List of References

This is a free-form PDF attachment.

Page limit for all types of SAP Discovery Grants: two pages.

  • Provide a list of literature references in support of your proposal.
  • Do not refer readers to Web sites for additional information on your proposal.
  • Do not introduce hyperlinks in your list of references.

Samples of Research Contributions

For all types of SAP Discovery Grants, these are four PDF attachments. The size limit is 10 Mb for each file.

A maximum of four samples of research contributions—such as reprints, preprints and/or manuscripts, excerpts from your thesis, technical reports, etc.—are to be submitted electronically with your application. The samples of contributions will be used by reviewers to assess the quality of your work. These documents should be chosen to represent your most significant and recent contributions or those most relevant to the proposed work in the last six years.

Co-Applicants (for project grant applications)

Inviting Co-Applicants

From the Application Overview page in the Invitations section, click on Manage Invitations.

Provide the name and email address of each co-applicant. An email will be sent to each participant with instructions on how to accept the invitation. Co-applicants who were already invited at the NOI stage must accept it again at the application stage. The list of co-applicants may be modified from the time when the NOI was submitted.

Information Required from Co-applicants

As a co-applicant you must accept the invitation as specified in the invitation email (even if you have previously accepted it at the NOI stage). In the Research Portal, complete or update your Eligibility Profile, upload your NSERC CCV and provide the following information using the instructions specified above:

  • Time to be devoted to research/activity;
  • Past contributions to the training of HQP;
  • Additional information on contributions;
  • Most significant contributions to research.

Note: Co-applicants (except those from the applicant's institution) must advise the authorized officer of their organization that the applicant, or the applicant's institution, will be seeking their authorized officer's signature and agreement to the co-applicant's participation before the application is submitted to NSERC.

Uploading your NSERC CCV

  • In the Application Overview page, click Attach.
  • Enter your CCV confirmation number. (Refer to the NSERC CCV instructions for professors for details on how to obtain your confirmation number.)
  • Click Upload.

The applicant and each co-applicant (team and project grants) must link their NSERC CCV to the application. Note that the applicant's or co-applicants' NSERC CCV can be updated after the NOI is submitted, up to the submission of the application.

Important Note: Preview your CCV in the Research Portal before submitting your application and ensure that the file has been uploaded correctly.

Submitting the Application to NSERC

Once you have validated all the sections of your application and uploaded your NSERC CCV, a Submit button will be displayed.

  • Click Submit.
  • On the Application Overview page, click Export Application and Attachments to PDF and save a copy of your submission for your records.

When you submit your application it is sent to your Research Administrator for approval and submission to NSERC. The status of your application will be changed to Received by Administrator. Once your Research Administrator has approved and forwarded your application to NSERC, the application status will be changed to Received by Agency.

Note: The retention period of applications in the Research Portal is three months after the deadline date. Applicants wishing to keep a record of their submitted NSERC application should use the “Export application and attachments to PDF” function and save a copy.


NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically using the Research Portal. User ID/password-based "signatures" allow applicants, supporting organizations and authorized institutional representatives-such as Research Grants Officers, Scholarships Liaison Officers and Business Officers-to "sign" and submit on-line applications and other documents to NSERC. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions in the Program Guide for Professors for more details.

What do “signatures” mean?

For applicants and co-applicants

Before you, as an applicant or co-applicant, can submit your application to NSERC or upload your NSERC CCV to an application, you must read and agree to the following Terms and Conditions of Applying that appear in a pop-up window during the submission process. It is your responsibility to retain a copy of the agreed Terms and Conditions for your records.

The “signatures” of the institutional authorities certify that:

  • the institution will abide by the roles and responsibilities set out in the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions ("the Agreement") with the three federal granting agencies, including the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide, and the relevant program literature;
  • as required by the Agreement, the applicant and co-applicant(s) meet the eligibility requirements for the relevant funding opportunity;
  • prior to submission of the application, the institution has obtained written approval from any other institutions involved in the application process;
  • you will not use or disclose any information that you obtain or view on the Research Portal for any purposes other than your participation in the agency's process;
  • you understand that the agency reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to terminate or restrict your access to the Research Portal at any time, without notice.

The “signatures” of authorized officers of other supporting organizations certify that the organization:

  • agrees with the content of the application and will provide the committed resources;
  • agrees to the release of the public summary of the award and to the publication of the organization's name as a supporter of the initiative.

If you are both the applicant or co-applicant and a principal of a collaborating organization, another senior official must “sign” on behalf of the organization.