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Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks

Instructions to External Reviewers – Form 140

Before Proceeding

Your signature on the paper version of the review form, or transmission of your final evaluation to NSERC either by mail or by using the electronic evaluation process, means that you have read these instructions and that you consent to these uses and disclosures.

In addition, you may refer to:

Information on the following topics is provided below:

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Conflict of Interest

If you are in a conflict of interest or for any other reason unable to act as an external reviewer, please contact us directly or send us an email at as soon as possible. In order to identify yourself and the application(s) you are unable to review, please indicate your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and the committee and application number in the SUBJECT line of your email message.

Suggested external reviewers should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations for more information. In addition, external reviewers must sign the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they access the application material.

Allegations of Policy Breaches

Allegations of policy breaches, as described in the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, must be treated separately from the peer review process. Should your review reveal concerns of possible policy breaches, report any allegation separately to the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research. Your evaluation should only address the application you have evaluated according to the selection criteria and make no mention of the breach concerns.

Collection and Use of Personal Information

The information you provide 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. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

How to Evaluate the Proposal

Please read the Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks description—including the objectives, expected results, and review process—described in the Program Guide for Professors.

Please assess the proposal using the evaluation criteria described below. For each criterion, please provide your comments in the text box located on the Reviewer Report/Application for a grant (Form 140).

Note on student identification: Applicants should not be penalized for not having the specific names of students if generic information is provided. NSERC requires applicants to obtain consent forms from students before including their names on a Personal Data Form (Form 100). As this is not always feasible, applicants also have the option of providing information on students without providing their names (this information might be more generic).

Evaluation criteria

The following evaluation criteria serve as the basis for reviewing Network Grant proposals. In assessing the merits of the proposal, please comment specifically on each of the following aspects:

Merit of the research proposal

  • the scope and focus of the planned research and the likelihood of achieving the objectives within a five-year time frame;
  • at least 80% of the activities must fall within one or more of the research topics included in the current Strategic Target Area(s)
  • the scientific originality and degree of innovation in the research approach;
  • the scientific or technical feasibility of the planned research;
  • the linkages between the themes and projects, and the plans for integration of the research results;
  • the importance of each theme to achieving the goals of the network;
  • the anticipated scientific/technical advances that will result from the research;
  • the expertise of the researchers and their ability to conduct the proposed research;
  • the relationship of the proposed work to the applicant’s and co-applicants’ research experience, background and current research activity;
  • the adequacy of facilities and equipment available to conduct the proposed research.

Need for a network approach

  • the advantages of conducting the research through a network team approach rather than through individual projects;
  • the incremental benefits of a network approach to the research, highly qualified people (HQP) and partners.


  • the network’s plan for training HQP and increasing their marketability;
  • the opportunities for enhanced training that will take advantage of the multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral environment of the network;
  • the capacity of the user sector to absorb the graduates and retain them in Canada;
  • where possible and relevant, the value of proposed international experiences for trainees.

Interactions and partnerships

  • the nature and extent of the involvement of the partner organizations in the planning, research, direction and management of the network;
  • the capacity of the partners to apply the results of the research;
  • the linkages to be created in the network among universities, industry and government partners;
  • the mechanisms proposed for internal interaction and information exchange between the participants;
  • the strategy and mechanisms for knowledge and/or technology transfer to all stakeholders and the general public;
  • the potential for transfer and impact of network-generated knowledge;
  • the communication strategy to publicize the activities of the network to the scientific community, the partners and the general public;
  • the plan for international collaboration.

Category B applications only:

  • the previous network research activities;
  • the success of that network in fulfilling its objectives and milestones;
  • its success in training highly qualified personnel (HQP);
  • the generation and transfer of new knowledge/technology to Canadian-based organizations;
  • impacts for the past partners of previously funded work;
  • how these organizations, in turn, have generated wealth, created employment and/or influenced Canadian public policy in areas of strategic importance.

Management and budget

  • the leadership and other skills of the applicant to manage a complex, interdisciplinary, multi-institutional project;
  • level of commitment of the key researchers to the network and its management;
  • the proposed management structure and decision-making process for coordinating network activities, including the allocation of resources, setting schedules, monitoring progress and performance of projects, and monitoring expenditures;
  • the justification for the proposed budget, including over or under estimation for particular line items;
  • the nature of the in-kind and cash (if relevant) contributions from the partner organizations;
  • appropriateness of the overall budget, which includes the funds requested from NSERC and the contributions from other sources.

Benefit to Canada and the partners

  • the benefits of the proposed research and its potential impact within a 10-year time frame on Canada’s economy, society and/or environment;
  • the anticipated benefit(s) the Canadian-based partner organizations will have at the conclusion of the network or within the next 10 years. The potential for the research resulting in increased national and international visibility of the network. 

Other considerations

  • Any likely adverse environmental effects that might result from the proposed research, if applicable;
  • The necessity and appropriateness of animal-based methodologies and of the participation of human subjects, if applicable.


  • On the balance of its strengths and weaknesses, would you recommend funding this proposal?