NSERC Discovery Horizons (pilot) – full application

Aboriginal Peoples
Arctic and Northern Regions
Community, Regional & Enterprise Development
Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources
Governance and Public Policy
Information and Communication Technology
Oceans, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Social Justice
Well-being, Health and Biomedical Discovery


Academic Unit: inquire with unit

Memorial Deadline: Thursday 13th, October 2022

External Deadline: Tuesday 18th, October 2022


Extension Requests:

  • The Discovery Horizons deadline for invited full applications is on October 18th. There may researchers from your institution who are co-applicants on applications with a principal applicant outside of the Atlantic provinces. If an extension is required, the co-applicant must contact horizons@nserc-crsng.gc.ca ahead of the deadline, while including the principal applicant in cc. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The Discovery Horizons program provides NSERC’s entry-point to the tri-agency interdisciplinary peer-review mechanism. It supports Discovery research projects that would significantly benefit from being assessed by a tri-agency interdisciplinary peer review committee, and aims to:

  1. – answer NSE research questions that are best addressed through interdisciplinary approaches
  2. – advance NSE disciplines through cross fertilization and new ways of thinking about research questions; ideas and frameworks; approaches and methods; platforms, tools and infrastructure; people, partners and trainees
  3. – provide leading-edge NSE training for highly qualified personnel (HQP) in interdisciplinary research environments
  4. Application procedure

    The Discovery Horizons application process has two stages: the letter of intent (LOI) stage and the full application stage.

    Letter of intent 

    Deadline: June 16, 2022

    The LOI is mandatory and includes a brief summary (2,500 characters max) and responses to the four points below. Reviewers will assess program fit, to identify a limited number of LOI applicants who will be invited (no later than August 16) to submit a full application.

    1. Explain how your project would benefit from being assessed by a tri-agency interdisciplinary peer review committee, as opposed to a joint review by NSERC’s Discovery Grants evaluation groups (1,000 characters max)
    2. Demonstrate that the interdisciplinary approach is essential to achieving the project goals (1,000 characters max)
    3. Describe how the interdisciplinary approach enriches HQP training (1,000 characters max)
    4. Demonstrate that the interdisciplinary elements are integrated and inseparable (i.e., not sub-projects that could be reviewed on their own merit) (1,000 characters max)

    See the instructions for completing a letter of intent for more details.

    Full application

    Deadline: October 18, 2022

    Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal and will receive further guidance on application requirements with that invitation. Full applications will need to address the selection criteria listed below in a ten-page (max) research proposal.

    The full application instructions provide more details.

  5. For more information click here.

Webinar for the second edition of the NSERC Discovery Horizons pilot program:

French session: June 2nd, 10:00 – 11:30 am (Ottawa time), Event password: DH0001

English session: June 2nd, 12:00 – 1:30 pm (Ottawa time), Event Password: DH0002

A short presentation of the program will precede a Q&A session. The webinar will be recorded and distributed to this mailing list shortly after.

Frequently asked questions:

  1. Can applicants who hold a Discovery Grant or are applying for a Discovery Grant in Fall 2021 submit a LOI to Discovery Horizons?

Yes, researchers holding a Discovery grant or applying for one this year are eligible to apply to Discovery Horizons.

  1. Can co-applicants be from non-NSE disciplines (Economics, Sociology …)

As long as the faculty members meet all eligibility requirements they can be from any departments. However, in the Discovery Horizons proposal, they must work towards advancing knowledge in the NSE.

  1. Is the proposed work under Discovery Horizons expected to be drastically different from the work proposed for Discovery? Is conceptual overlap allowed as long as there is no budgetary overlap?

Discovery Horizons proposals should be different from Discovery Grants (applied for or held) since the Discovery Horizons applications, due to their broad level of interdisciplinarity with the social sciences or health research are not suitable for the DG program. At the full application stage, applications must indicate that the funds requested from the Discovery Horizons program will be for expenses that are distinct from those covered by support from other sources. For funding applied for, you must indicate that there will be no duplication of funding for the same expense(s) and explain how funds will be used if all applications are successful.

  1. Does the application need to have all three components: (1) social sciences and humanities, (2) natural sciences and engineering, and (3) health and wellness?

No, Discovery Horizons applications must be rooted in the NSE and integrate elements from the social sciences and humanities and/or health and wellness.

  1. How does the Discovery Horizons Program and the Tri-Agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review process differ from the interdisciplinary research funded under the New Frontiers in Research Fund?

Although the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) was also created to fund interdisciplinary research in response to the Fundamental Science Review’s recommendations, it is focused on high-risk, high-reward, and fast-breaking research and supports research that proposes novel interdisciplinary approaches that bring together disciplines that do not traditionally work together. Please see the New Frontiers in Research Fund website for more details. Discovery Horizons, as well the other funding opportunities reviewed by the Tri-Agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review Committee will complement NFRF by focusing instead on investigator-initiated interdisciplinary research projects that are aligned with the core funding programs at each of the three major funding councils, including research projects that use existing interdisciplinary approaches.

  1. Can I submit the same application to more than one of the funding opportunities participating in the Tri-Agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review Committee?

No, applicants may not identical or essentially identical applications to more than one funding opportunity participating in the pilot of the Tri-Agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review Committee, NSERC’s Discovery Horizons, SSHRC’s Insight Grants and CIHR’s Project Grants. In addition, all applications must meet the eligibility requirements and guidelines of the funding opportunity to which they apply, including those related to multiple applications. As a result, it is important to consult the funding opportunity’s webpage.

  1. How do I determine which funding opportunity to apply in order to have my application reviewed by the Tri-Agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review Committee?

Applicants should apply to the agency funding opportunity that supports the dominant research area of the proposal.

  1. Will interdisciplinary applications that fall entirely within the research areas of one agency be considered by the Tri-Agency Interdisciplinary Peer Review Committee?

No, applications that fall entirely within the research areas of one agency should be directed towards existing committees or evaluation groups, based on the practice and criteria of each agency. For example, interdisciplinary research solely within the natural sciences and engineering, with no social science, humanities, health, and/or wellness components should be directed towards another NSERC program, such as the Discovery Grants Program.

Funding Sources

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

This opportunity was posted by: RGCS

Last modified: October 13, 2022