Remember these final pieces of
advice from the experts who will review your application. It’s really important when you
put your application together to take a step back from it and
review it yourself and make sure that it is a reflection of who you are
and what you want the committee to think about who you might be
in that few pages that you have an opportunity to talk to them. The thing that applicants forget
most often is the references in the research proposal. And that
prevents us from determining whether you know your field.
Very often people don’t separate the various types
of contributions or don’t separate them properly,
which creates more work for the committee and puts you
at a disadvantage. And it’s really important to go
beyond that to get someone else to review your application.
Give it to someone maybe in your lab, maybe there’s a PhD student
or a post-doc student or someone who’s at a more advanced level who
might already have NSERC funding. And also to go to your supervisors.
It’s a really great idea to get your references to read it as well.
They’re the ones who are going to be speaking about your
application and if they review it and give you some
comments on it, then they really do know what’s in your application and
you’ll have a better package that way as well. It’s important that you never leave
grey zones in your file. Everything must be explained.
If there are any delays, any interruptions, any delays
in the academic process, any delay in publishing, explain why.
There are always good reasons and we are well aware of that.
Your reasons may be of a personal or academic nature,
such as the publication of a patent, which prevents you from
publishing. Really try to provide all the information that we request and
use simple, precise sentences. Sometimes I think students
underestimate the competition. The competition at NSERC in each
subcommittee is pretty fierce and it’s really important that you take
the time to make your application the best package that you can. Probably the best piece of advice
I got when I was writing up my scholarship applications was
from my former PhD supervisor. And he said to me, Adrien,
approach the application like you’re getting an investment and not
an award. It’s not the same thing.