NSERC Discovery Grants

The Discovery Grants (DG) Program supports ongoing programs of research with long-term goals, rather than a single project or collection of projects.

  • Funding supports a five year program of research within natural sciences and engineering.
  • Two-step application procedure; Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI, due August 1), Application (due November 1). 

This page has been created as a "one-stop-shop" for UBC's natural science and engineering (NSE) researchers applying to the Discovery Grant Program. It will connect you to available DG support and resources aimed to increase the competitiveness of your application.

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NSERC DG Program Quick Facts
Application process using Research Portal.
  • Two stage application process: mandatory NOI due August 1. View NOI instructions here.
  • Full application due to NSERC November 1.  Be aware of internal signature deadlines for the full application. No signatures required at the NOI stage. View full application instructions here.
  • UBC Internal Deadlines for full Application: see detailed info here
  • Evaluation is based on three equally-weighted Selection Criteria: 1) Scientific or Engineering Excellence of the Researcher, 2) Merit of the Proposal, and 3) Contribution to the Training of Highly Qualified Personnel.
    • For further information consult the DG Peer Review Manual. *2018-2019 Version will be available in August*
  • The application is scored by five committee members: first internal reviewer, second internal reviewer and three readers.
    • The majority of your reviewers will not be an expert in your field. View list of evaluation group members here.
  • Value of award is based on the assigned Quality Bin and Evaluation Group. Proposals are sorted into incremental funding bins based on the three selection criteria. Value and range of awards for each bin are found in the NSERC DG Competition Statistics reports. 
  • CWL-protected material is available, inlcuding workshop slides (NOI and full application, CCV completion), sample grants, and guidelines.

NSERC DG External Resources
Questions about the implementation of NSERC’s Research Portal or the CCV? Contact NSERC at connect@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

NSERC DG CWL-Protected SPARC Resources
  • Guidelines, tips, and templates: A variety of documents to help you map out your proposal, conduct a self-evaluation, avoid common mistakes, learn strategic approaches, internal reviewer guidelines, application requirements and more! Some documents were built around Form 100 and Form 101 yet the content is still applicable. 
  • Past Workshop Materials: Powerpoint slide-decks plus audio from past workshops.
  • Sample Grant Library: Some available online; all are available for viewing at controlled locations (i.e. SPARC, Okanagan ORS).  Always be aware of new competition updates as these grants reflect past competitions.

SPARC NSERC DG Support Services

SPARC offers a number of DG-related support services including informative workshops, peer-review opportunities as well as an in-depth reading and assessment of the full proposal and CCV.  These services are open to all DG applicants, and are particularly recommended for Assistant Professors and those new to the NSERC DG process.




Evaluation Group Roundtable
  • General information about DG competition timelines & processes presented by SPARC and NSERC staff

  • In-depth question and answer session between UBC faculty members that serve on the DG evaluation groups and applicants
Drop-In Hours
  • SPARC staff available for 3 hrs every 2 weeks to provide information, advice, and a dedicated time/space to work on the DG

Peer to Peer Review

  • Applicants read and assess 3-4 of their peers’ proposals and provide written feedback.
  • Verbal feedback is shared at an in-person meeting.
  • 'Collaborative Virtual Sessions' (CVS) between UBC-V & UBC-O also available
  • 9 am - 12 pm September 18, 19, 20 (3 in-person sessions): MCLD 418
  • CVS: to be scheduled
  • registration details are available here

Full Review

  • SPARC staff and faculty-based research support personnel thoroughly read and provide comments on applicants’ proposals and CCVs
  • The total number of reviews are limited: register by sending NOI via email to Alex Unterberger by September 7

  • Full application & CCV accepted for review starting September 24

SPARC Contacts

Alexander Unterberger, SPARC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Development Officer

Role with NSERC DG: Advice, EG roundtable, full review

Tim Salcudean, VPRI NSE Research Advisor

Role with NSERC DG: Advocacy and Advice

Grant Facilitation Network, **Faculty-based Research Support Personnel

Role with NSERC DG: May vary

Mika Johnson, SPARC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Development Officer

Role with NSERC DG: on leave in 2017