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2011 Discovery Grants Competition Summary

NSERC recently released the results of the 2011 Discovery Grants (DG) competition to individual applicants and their universities. A package of competition statistics (updated May 30, 2011) and a series of questions and answers are now available on NSERC’s Web site.

NSERC remains committed to supporting a broad and strong base of research in the natural sciences and engineering. We fund more than 12,000 researchers and train some 30,000 students based at institutions across the country. We have a suite of programs that are the envy of the world.  

One of the strengths of the DG Program is the strong emphasis on providing early career researchers the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities. For over 10 years, more than half of the new applicants to the program have received grants enabling them to launch their research careers successfully.

Another strength of the DG Program is the ability to support researchers throughout their careers, provided they maintain a strong record of accomplishments.

I want to emphasize that even in times of federal budget restraint, the DG Program budget has remained stable. However, both the number and quality of applications have increased since the early 2000s, making the system more competitive and “raising the bar” for all applicants.

Following the two extensive reviews of the DG Program, NSERC made changes resulting in a process that is responsive to merit and is objective, transparent and fair.

Finding the optimal balance between the number of applications funded and the average grant size, while remaining within the constraints of a fixed budget, is a difficult task for every Evaluation Group (EG). While the funding decision ultimately rests with NSERC, we fully engage each EG’s Executive Committee before arriving at a decision.  

The peer review system depends on the confidence and support of the research community. I wish to acknowledge the countless volunteer hours that EG members spend evaluating applications and ensuring fair assessments. Behind their work is the valuable input from thousands of external reviewers.

We welcome your views and/or concerns about the DG Program.


Suzanne Fortier
President, NSERC