Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Discovery Grants Information Centre

The Discovery Grants Program

The Discovery Grants (DG) Program is NSERC's largest and longest-standing program. These grants, based on recommendations from peer review, typically last for five years. They provide the core funding and freedom so Canada’s best researchers can pursue their most promising ideas and breakthrough discoveries—world‑firsts in knowledge.

The DG Program is highly valued within the Canadian research community. By supporting ongoing research programs with long-term goals, rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects, Discovery Grants give researchers the flexibility to explore the most promising avenues of research as they emerge.

Applicants must meet a high standard of quality on the following three equally weighted selection criteria, as judged by their peers:

  • Scientific or engineering excellence of the researcher;
  • Merit of the proposal;
  • Contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP).

Peer Review Process

Every year, NSERC engages thousands of experts from universities, government, and industry to participate in the peer review process as external reviewers or members of our peer review committees. These national and international experts in scientific and engineering disciplines devote considerable time and effort, on a volunteer basis, to reviewing applications.

With thorough peer review policies, NSERC supports a fair, equitable, and transparent process of evaluating all applications submitted to our grant programs. NSERC staff ensures that each application receives an objective and fair review, and that confidentiality, conflict of interest, and other Council guidelines and policies are managed appropriately. The application assessment by experts in the field is fundamental to NSERC’s values, risk management, stewardship and accountability.

The diagram below illustrates NSERC’s general peer review process: