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Discovery Frontiers Northern Earth System Research

Instructions for Completing an Application – Form 101

General Information

About the Program

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

Who Completes the Application?

The applicant must complete an Application for a Grant (Form 101) and include all required documentation using the On-line System. In addition, the Personal Data Form (Form 100) must be completed by applicants and co-applicants and linked to the application form.

Presentation Standards

You are responsible for submitting a complete application that conforms to the presentation standards established by NSERC. 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.

For more information, read the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

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.

For programs with deadlines, the application must be received at NSERC by 8:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on the deadline date. If it is not received by the deadline, it will be considered late and will be rejected.

Personal Information

The collection, use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC are outlined in the following policy statements:

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. NSERC is subject to the This link will take you to another Web site Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP). The information you provide is stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Info Source.

Help with Program Information

  • Contact the staff responsible for the program to which you are applying.

Help with the NSERC On-line System

  • Check the Frequently Asked Questions on how to use the On-line System;
  • Review the instructions available in the application;
  • Contact the On-line Services Helpdesk. Send an e-mail to: or call 613-995-4273. Include your e-mail address and telephone number.

Completing the Application

Application Profile

Title of proposal

The title will be used for publication purposes. It should describe the subject of the research to be supported. It should not contain a company or trade name. Spell out scientific symbols and acronyms.

Time devoted to proposed research/activity

Enter the time devoted by the applicant (in hours per month) to the proposed research/activity.

Area(s) of Research

Research subject codes

Consult the NSERC Code Tables. All applicants are required to select a primary research code.

Area of application codes

Consult the NSERC Code Tables. All applicants are required to select a primary area of application code from the list of Area of Application Codes.

Key words

Provide a maximum of 10 key words that describe the proposed research/activity.


Before completing this page, consult the Policies and Guidelines of the Program Guide for Professors concerning 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 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 the Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC) to ensure compliance with This link takes you to another Web site Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research: Guidelines for CIHR-Funded Research. 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.

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 hazardous substances: If you select Yes, you must provide your institution's administration with the certification from the biosafety committee at the institution that the laboratory procedures being used comply with the safety precautions necessary for the level of containment required by the research.

Environmental impact: The Environmental Information Form (Appendix A) may be required. For more information, consult NSERC’s Guidelines on Environmental Review and Assessment.


Identify co-applicants who will participate on your application. Co-applicants must provide their NSERC Personal Data Form (Form 100). 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 signature prior to submitting the application to NSERC, agreeing to their participation.

To invite co-applicants to link their Personal Data Form (F100) to the application, enter the e-mail address of the co-applicant as it appears in the co-applicant's Form 100, as well as the family name. When you select Save, an automated e-mail message will be sent to the person(s) to whom you have granted access to your application, informing them that they have been invited to participate in your application. The status will appear as Not Linked.

When a co-applicant links a Personal Data Form (F100) to the application, his/her personal information will appear in the Co-applicant page, and the status will change to Linked. At this point, enter the time (in hours per month) each co-applicant will devote to the proposed research/activity or the use of equipment or facility.

By submitting this form, the applicant certifies that the individuals listed as co-applicants have been informed of the precise uses and disclosures of their personal information by NSERC (see Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC) and have authorized the release of the information by the applicant.

Supporting Organizations

Enter information about each co-applicant organization's signing officer (other than the applicant’s organization). For supporting organizations such as an industrial partner or a government department, enter information about the authorized representative(s).

The applicant must ensure that the co-applicants from other institutions obtain the appropriate signature from the authorized officer of their organization prior to submitting the application to NSERC (see Signatures requirements within this document).


If applicable, list each collaborator’s name, NSERC personal identification number (PIN), if known, the time (in hours per month) each will devote to the proposed training program and their organization/department.

By submitting this form, the applicant certifies that the individuals listed as collaborators have been informed of the precise uses and disclosures of their personal information by NSERC (see Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC) and have authorized the release of the information by the applicant.

Summary of Proposal

The summary is intended to explain 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 how your field and Canada will benefit.

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

Proposed Expenditures

Before completing this page, read the instructions and 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. The grants cannot be used to pay for any indirect costs of research or expenses that are central, or departmental institutional costs. Examples of such indirect costs include, but are not limited to, those for the maintenance and renovation of research spaces and buildings, leasing costs of spaces and equipment, utilities, general technical support to laboratories, security and occupational safety, financial and administrative support, or insurance. Moreover, the grant cannot be used to pay for the establishment, construction, or infrastructure expansion of a research facility.

Use the Budget Justification section (free-form attachment) to explain and justify each budget item.

Provide a four-year budget.

Contributions from other sources (if applicable)

If appropriate, enter any contributions from other sources in the space provided. The “Total amount requested from NSERC” on page 1 of your application is calculated automatically and equals the “Total proposed expenditures for direct costs of research” minus the “Total cash contributions from other sources.”

Use the Budget Justification section to explain these contributions.

Budget Justification

Provide a detailed explanation and justification for each budget item identified in the Proposed Expenditures page. Provide sufficient information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate. This page should only contain information pertinent to the budget.

Salaries and benefits

Give the names (if known), categories of employment and proposed salaries (including non-discretionary benefits) of students, postdoctoral fellows, and research staff. Briefly describe the responsibilities for each position and indicate the percentage of time they will be spending on this project over its life span. Do not include salaries of faculty in project costs.

Refer to Form 100 instructions for information regarding 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.

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 and explain major items.


Explain briefly how each activity relates to the proposed research.


Provide details of publication costs, user workshops or other activities. Under the category "Outreach to user communities", provide the costs related to outreach activities whose objectives are to increase the awareness of the potential user communities of the activities and opportunities created by this research. Any other eligible dissemination cost, such as that of publications, should be listed under category (b) (to which an appropriate name of your choosing should be assigned). All costs must be fully explained in the Budget Justification section.

Knowledge transfer activities

List the expenditures for the transfer of knowledge to users or user communities through education, outreach, demonstration projects and other means.

Contributions from other sources (if applicable)

If appropriate, explain any contributions from other sources.

Relationship to Other Research Support

See This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency and Relationship Between NSERC Proposals and Other Sources of Funds.

Any relationship and/or overlap, conceptual or financial, between activities supported by NSERC and activities supported by other funding sources must be explained. There is no limit to the number of pages for the Relationship to Other Research Support section.

Use an additional page to provide the following information:

  • Information on the conceptual and budgetary relationship or difference between this application and all other support (currently held or applied for).
  • For each grant currently held or applied for, clearly describe the main objective and provide a brief outline of the methodology, budget details, and details on the support of highly qualified personnel.

The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the reviewers to evaluate the relationship between this application and other sources of support, the incremental value of additional support from the program, and to recommend the appropriate NSERC funding level.

The consequence of not providing adequate information to assess the relationship to other research support is that the reviewers may recommend a lower rating or no funding.

Activity Schedule

List the activities/steps required to achieve the objectives for each year of the grant.

Indicate the start and end dates for the activities leading to the milestones, as well as the major results expected.


Use the guidelines in the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards to provide the requested information in a document to be attached to the application.

Follow the instructions and address all the selection criteria for the Discovery Frontiers Call for Proposals – Northern Earth System Research. Using individual headings that relate to each criterion, explain how your proposed research meets these criteria:

  • Excellence of the applicants and complementarity of expertise
  • Merit of the proposal
    • significance of the research question
    • novelty of the proposed approach
    • degree of integration across disciplines
    • potential to be transformative and have high impact
    • potential to create new fields of research
  • Potential for value-added training of HQP.

The information must be contained within a maximum of 25 single-sided, free-form pages.


  • Use this section to provide a list of literature references. Your list of references must not exceed one page on the printed copy.
  • Do not refer readers to Web sites for additional information on your proposal.
  • Do not introduce hyperlinks in your list of references.

Letters of support

Additional documents such as letters of support must not be submitted and will be removed. The exception to this rule is letters from users attesting to the nature and the significance of confidential technical and internal reports described in your Personal Data Form (Form 100). For additional information, refer to the Guidelines for the Review and Preparation of Applications in Engineering and the Applied Sciences.

Environmental Information Form (Appendix A)

An Environmental Information Form (Appendix A) must be completed and uploaded to the Environmental impact page if required.


NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically through its On-line System. The electronic submission of applications through this system represents approval and replaces the traditional "physical" or "wet" signatures. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions in the Program Guide for Professors for more details.

What do the Electronic or Original Signatures on the Application Mean?

For applicants

Before you, as an applicant or co-applicant, submit your application to NSERC or link your Personal Data Form to an application, you must read and agree to the following terms and conditions.

By submitting your application or linking your Personal Data Form, you are certifying that:

  • You have provided true, complete, accurate information in your funding application and related documents, and you have represented yourself, your research and your accomplishments in a manner consistent with the norms of the relevant field.
  • If you are the applicant, you have ensured that others listed on the application have agreed to be included in the application.
  • If you are a co-applicant, you agree that the applicant will administer the grant/award on behalf of the group/team.
  • You are not currently ineligible to apply for and/or hold funds from NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), or any other research or research funding organization worldwide for reasons of breach of policies on responsible conduct of research, such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies. If at any time you become ineligible for any of these reasons, you will advise your institutional officials and NSERC immediately, in writing.
  • You have read, understood and agree to comply with the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research both in the submission of your application and in carrying out the research funded by NSERC.
  • If you are or have been (at any time during the past 12 months) a federal public servant, you have complied with and will continue to respect the This link will take you to another Web site Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.
  • Consent has been obtained from trainees to include limited personal information about them in the application.
  • You understand the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and the Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC as they pertain to your information.
  • You consent to the sharing among the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) and with any academic institution to which you are, or may become, affiliated, of any and all information, including personal information, in any way related to the application and to the grant/award.
  • In the event of any change in your eligibility status, you will inform NSERC and your institutional officials immediately, in writing.

By submitting your application or linking your Personal Data Form, you are also confirming that, during tenure of the grant/award, you will comply with the terms and conditions of the grant/award.

Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information: You understand that maintaining public trust in the integrity of researchers is fundamental to building a knowledge-based society. By submitting any application, by linking your Personal Data Form (Form 100 or 103CV) as a co-applicant to an application, or by accepting funding from CIHR, NSERC and/or SSHRC, you affirm that you have read and you agree to respect all the policies of these agencies that are relevant to your research, including the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research. In case of a serious breach of agency policy, the agency may publicly disclose your name, the nature of the breach, the institution where you were employed at the time of the breach and the institution where you are currently employed. You accept this as a condition of applying for, or receiving, agency funding, and you consent to such disclosure. If you do not agree to the disclosure of your personal information, you cannot participate in this application.

Note: If you have any concerns about your ability to comply with the terms and conditions listed above, contact your institutional official or NSERC staff responsible for the program immediately. Do not agree to the terms and conditions and do not submit your application or Personal Data Form until you are certain that you can and will comply with all of the requirements.

The signatures of the institutional authorities certify that:

  • the institution will abide by the roles and responsibilities as 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 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 applicant and co-applicant(s) have met, or will meet, the eligibility requirements;
  • prior to submission of this application, the institution has obtained written approval from any other institutions involved in the application process; and
  • if the applicant discloses any potential intellectual property (IP) arising from the research, he or she and the institution will endeavour to obtain the greatest possible economic benefit to Canada from the resulting commercial activity. Note: This requirement for disclosure is not intended to supersede any IP ownership policy that the institution already has in place.

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; and
  • 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.

List for a Complete Application

Use the following list to make sure your application is complete.

  • Application for a Grant (Form 101)
    • Application profile (including certification requirements, amounts requested)
    • Co-applicants
    • Collaborators
    • Summary of proposal
    • Proposed expenditures
    • Budget justification (attachment)
    • Relationship to other research support (attachment)
    • Activity schedule
    • Proposal (attachment - see instructions for page limits)
    • References (attachment)
    • Appendix A (Environmental Information Form) - if required
    • Appendix B (CEAA Pre-Screening Checklist) - if required
  • Personal Data Form (Form 100) – for the applicant and each co-applicant
    • Personal information (appointment, academic background, HQP)
    • Experience
    • Research support
    • List of HQP
    • Contributions
    • Appendix A (Personal Data)
    • Appendix B (Eligibility Questionnaire)
    • Appendix C (Description of Applicant's Activities) - if required
    • Appendix D (Consent to Provide Limited Personal Information About Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) to NSERC): forms must be retained by the applicant and made available to NSERC upon request.