Nominate a Chair

The Canada Research Chairs program offers eligible Canadian degree-granting institutions the opportunity to nominate outstanding researchers for senior professorships in areas that will further the institution's overall research priorities and enable them to maximize their contributions as centres of research and research training.

Each university nominates researchers to fill its allocation.  Universities must ensure that nominations are submitted under the appropriate agency chair allocation (NSERC: engineering and the natural sciences; CIHR: health sciences; SSHRC: social sciences and humanities).  Complete guidelines on selecting the appropriate agency allocation for Canada Research Chairs nominations are available at

Universities will be asked to change the agency allocation of a nomination in cases where the proposed research is deemed to be within the mandate of a different agency, and may be required to use the corridor of flexibility to change the allocation if necessary.

If an initial nomination is not recommended for funding, the university can nominate the same nominee two more times, for a maximum of three nominations, should its chair allocation permit.

Nomination deadlines, decisions and announcements
Value and duration
Eligibility of nominees
Selection criteria for nominations
Peer-review process
Requests for infrastructure support from CFI
Recruitment and nomination process

Nomination deadlines, decisions and announcements

Nomination deadlines* Final deadlines to submit letters of reference** CV update deadlines*** Anticipated decision dates Anticipated public announcements of Chairs awarded (subject to change)
April 28, 2014 May 12, 2014 September 15, 2014 October 2014 Spring 2015
October 10, 2014 October 24, 2014 March 16, 2015 April 2015 Fall 2015
April 27, 2015 May 11, 2015 September 14, 2015 October 2015 Spring 2016
October 9, 2015 October 23, 2015 March 14, 2016 April 2016 Fall 2016

All nominations must be submitted electronically by the deadline date. Nominations received after the deadline date will be withdrawn from the cycle. The paper copy of the nominations must be postmarked by midnight of the nomination deadline date.

Presentation specifications and page limits are indicated in the nomination form and curriculum vitae instructions. These requirements ensure that all institutions and nominees have exactly the same amount of space to present their information. This in turn facilitates the work of peer reviewers who must review multiple nominations. Failure to respect these specifications may render a nomination ineligible.

Foreign nominations

A foreign nominee (either foreign nationals or Canadian citizens) is defined as either:

  • a foreign researcher who has been employed at the nominating institution on a full-time basis for less than one year prior to the date of the submission of the nomination; or
  • a foreign researcher who is outside of Canada at the time of the submission of the nomination.

* The Secretariat has an open submission process for the nomination of foreign researchers who are employed outside of Canada at the time of submission. These nominations are accepted at any time during the year. In these cases, where peer review is unanimously favourable, the executive director of the Chairs program has the delegated authority to approve the funding recommendation made by the College of Reviewers.

All other foreign nominations must be submitted to one of the program’s deadline dates and will not be expedited.

The Chairs program imposes no restrictions on nominees with regard to nationality or country of residence. Procedures to allow non-Canadian chairholders to work in Canada have been established by Employment and Social Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Other procedures have been established by the government of Québec for foreign researchers taking up a chair in this province.

Letters of Reference

** All nominations must include three letters of reference. Institutions are provided an additional two weeks after the submission deadline date to help facilitate this requirement. Institutions should consult the extranet and monitor the receipt of letters to ensure that all three letters are received for each of their nominations before the deadline date. Note that a nomination that is missing letters of reference after the extended deadline date will be withdrawn from the cycle. Please consult the guidelines for letters of reference for further information.

CV updates

***The Secretariat will accept, by the CV update deadlines indicated above, supplemental information strictly limited to updates regarding publications and research support. The Secretariat will forward the supplemental information to members of the Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee as necessary. Note that only nominations that have received one or more unfavourable assessments from members of the College of Reviewers will be reviewed by the Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee.

Important: After the relevant nomination deadline indicated in the above chart, any further CV updates must be sent, by the relevant CV update deadline, to the Secretariat by the institution’s research office as an email attachment. Neither updates made to the Chairs online CV after the relevant nomination deadline nor updates sent by email after the CV update deadline will be seen by reviewers.

Institutions are encouraged to submit all CV updates by the relevant CV update deadline to ensure that committee members have adequate time to consider the supplemental information prior to the committee meeting. Should institutions wish, in extenuating circumstances, to submit supplemental information after the relevant CV update deadline, they should contact their institution’s designated program officer with their request.

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Value and duration

There are two types of Chairs:

Tier 1 Chairs, tenable for seven years and renewable, are for outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. For each Tier 1 Chair, the university receives $200,000 annually for seven years.

Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. For each Tier 2 Chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years. Note: If a researcher resigns from a Tier 2 Chair position at one university and accepts a Tier 2 Chair at another university, he or she cannot be nominated for a third term, regardless of the number of years in the initial term.

Chairs are awarded to individual researchers who take up the chair on a full-time basis.

Tier 2 Chairs are not meant to be a feeder group to Tier 1 Chairs. The intent of Tier 2 Chairs is to provide emerging researchers with support that will kick-start their careers. As part of their strategic considerations in managing their allocations, universities should develop a succession plan for their Tier 2 Chairs.

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Eligibility of nominees

Tier 1 Chairs

Nominees for Tier 1 positions must be full professors or associate professors who are expected to be promoted to the full professor level within one or two years of the nomination. Alternatively, if they come from outside the academic sector, nominees must possess the necessary qualifications to be appointed at these levels.

Tier 2 Chairs

Nominees for Tier 2 positions must be emerging scholars. They should, at a minimum, be assistant or associate professors, or possess the necessary qualifications to be appointed at these levels.

Tier 2 Justification

As nominees for Tier 2 positions must be emerging scholars, universities must justify nominating to a Tier 2 Chair a professor or a researcher who is more than ten years from their highest degree at the time of nomination. In these cases, a formal justification must be submitted to the Chairs Secretariat by the university to explain why (e.g., maternity/paternity leave, extended sick leave, clinical training, breaks in career) the nominee is more than ten years from his/her highest degree.

Where the potential candidate has obtained more than one PhD, or has obtained a professional degree (MD, DVM, DDS, DC, etc.) in addition to a PhD, and the first of these degrees is obtained more than 10 years previous, a Tier 2 Justification is required.

In cases where an habilitation qualification (or equivalent) is being pursued or has been attained, the candidate’s PhD is deemed to be the highest degree.  In addition, time spent completing the habilitation qualification (or equivalent) is not considered a break in career and therefore cannot be used as a justification. 

Tier 2 justifications must be submitted by universities using one of two methods. The university must either:

  • submit a Tier 2 justification with the full nomination package to the program’s two intake cycles; or
  • submit only the one-page Tier 2 justification and the nominee’s CV to Cynthia Paquin at any time throughout the year (there is no deadline for these submissions).

Please note: Potential candidates should contact the Research Grants Office, or equivalent, at the host institution for details regarding their available CRC allocations, eligibility requirements, and their internal application process.

All Tier 2 justifications will be peer reviewed by a sub-committee of Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee members.  Only the justification and the candidate’s CV will be examined as part of this process even in cases where a full nomination was submitted.  A turnaround time of approximately six weeks from receipt of the justification package to notification of the decision to the university is to be expected.

In cases where the justification is submitted with a full nomination and the candidate is deemed eligible to apply for a Tier 2 Chair, the peer review will continue as per the program’s guidelines.  If the justification is not accepted, the nomination will be withdrawn from the cycle.

In cases where only the justification is submitted and is accepted, the university will need to submit a full nomination package within the timeframe designated by the sub-committee to one of the program’s regular intake cycle deadlines. If the nomination is for a foreign researcher it can be submitted off-cycle, i.e. at any time throughout the year during the timeframe provided by the sub-committee. The nomination will then be peer reviewed using the program’s full evaluation criteria.  If the justification is not accepted, the university cannot put the candidate forward as a Tier 2 Chair nominee.

Universities must adhere to the following presentation guidelines for the one-page justification:

  • The nominee’s name should appear at the top of the page.
  • A 12-point font, or larger, and a maximum of six lines per inch should be used.
  • Paper must be 8 1/2" x 11" (22 cm x 28 cm) and margins must be at least 3/4" (2 cm) around.
  • The university may submit a cover letter to the Secretariat along with the justification package, but this letter will not be included in the information forwarded to the IAC sub-committee for consideration.
  • The CV of the nominee must be presented using the Chairs Secretariat CV form. Please note: As per the CV guidelines, the candidate must list all research contributions over his/her career.

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Selection criteria for nominations

The program is founded upon an uncompromising commitment to excellence in research and research training. Reviewers assess all nominations against the following two criteria:

  1. Quality of the nominee and quality of the proposed program of research

    Tier 1 nominees should:

    • be outstanding and innovative world-class researchers whose accomplishments have made a major impact in their fields;
    • be recognized internationally as leaders in their fields;
    • have superior records of attracting and supervising graduate students and postdoctoral fellows (taking into account different practices in the relevant field or discipline) and, as chairholders, be expected to attract, develop and retain excellent trainees, students and future researchers; and
    • be proposing an original, innovative research program of the highest quality.

    Tier 2 nominees should:

    • be excellent emerging world-class researchers who have demonstrated particular research creativity;
    • have demonstrated the potential to achieve international recognition in their fields in the next five to ten years;
    • as a chairholder, have the potential to attract, develop and retain excellent trainees, students and future researchers; and
    • be proposing an original, innovative research program of high quality.

    Note: Canada Research Chairholders’ involvement in intellectual leadership activities such as the stewardship of large initiatives (e.g., leading a national network, national facility or smaller network) is important, and may allow them to have influence and impact beyond their own institution at national and international levels. Such involvement may, however, in some cases, negatively affect their research outputs, as measured by traditional peer review metrics such as the publication record. External reviewers and committee members are asked to take into consideration nominees’ legitimate intellectual leadership activities when assessing their potential productivity as a chairholder with regard to their proposed program of research.

    As well, both career interruptions (when for health or family reasons, a nominee is taken away from their research work for an extended period of time) and personal circumstances (when for health, family or other reasons a nominee has a slow-down in research productivity) may affect the record of research achievement of nominees. External reviewers and committee members take these into account and carefully consider their impact when assessing nominees’ research productivity.

  2. Quality of the institutional environment, institutional commitment and fit of the proposed Chair with the university's strategic research plan

    When deciding whether to recommend support of a nomination, reviewers assess the institutional environment, the institutional commitment, and the fit of the proposed chair with the university's strategic research plan. In addition, reviewers are asked to give a global assessment of support based on these factors.

    1. Institutional environment

      The university must describe the quality of the existing or planned institutional environment in which it will establish the proposed Chair,, including opportunities for collaboration with other researchers working in the same or related areas at the nominating institution, in the same region, within Canada and abroad.

    2. Institutional commitment

      The university must demonstrate that it and, as applicable, any affiliated institutions, hospitals, institutes, etc., will provide chairholders with the support they need to ensure the success of their work, such as protected time for research (for example, release from teaching or administrative duty), mentoring (if applicable) additional funds, office space, administrative support, and hiring of other faculty members.

    3. Fit of the proposed Chair with the strategic research plan

      The university is required to demonstrate the fit of the proposed Chair with the university’'s strategic research plan and the importance of the proposed Chair to the attainment of the university’'s objectives.

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Peer-review process

The program follows a peer-review process governed by the College of Reviewers and the Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee.

All nominations, whether they are for a new Chair, the renewal of a current Chair or the advancement of a Tier 2 chairholder to a Tier 1 Chair at the same university, are assessed by the College of Reviewers.

College of Reviewers

The College of Reviewers is made up of experts (including current chairholders) from a wide range of fields of research. In selecting members, the prime considerations are excellence in research, wide experience and sound judgment.

Members of the College of Reviewers assess nominations and accompanying CFI infrastructure requests. Based on these assessments, the Secretariat makes recommendations to the Steering Committee.

For each Chair nomination and CFI infrastructure request, the Secretariat selects three reviewers from the College of Reviewers. If the reviewers concur and their assessment is favourable, the Secretariat makes a recommendation to support the Chair. If any of the three assessments is not favourable, or if the nomination includes a justification for a Tier 2 Chair, the nomination goes to the Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee, which then recommends whether to support the nomination or not.

In the case of nominations for researchers from abroad (foreign nationals or Canadian citizens) where peer review is unanimously favourable, the executive director of the Chairs program has the delegated authority to approve the recommendations.

Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee

The Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee (IAC) is made up of 15 experts from the College of Reviewers. A superior record of research achievement, extensive experience, sound judgment and proven ability to recognize excellence are the prime considerations in the selection of IAC members. As well, the membership of IAC balances, as far as possible, language (English/French), gender, region, economic sector, academic discipline, and type of institution.

IAC reviews cases where any assessment was not favourable and nominations that include a justification for a Tier 2 Chair. IAC also plays a major role in ensuring the consistency of standards across the program.

Foreign nominations

In the case of foreign nominations where the assessment from the College of Reviewers is unanimously favourable, the executive director of the Chairs program has the delegated authority to approve the recommendations.

IAC will review all foreign nominations that do not receive a favourable assessment from the College of Reviewers, or that include a Tier 2 justification. Evaluations of foreign nominations will take place at the same time as other nominations referred to IAC within a given cycle.

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Requests for infrastructure support from CFI

Institutions may include a request for infrastructure support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) with their Chair nomination.

Through its John R. Evans Leaders Fund, the CFI contributes up to 40 per cent of the total cost of the infrastructure project. The institution and its partners are responsible for securing the remaining funding. Small institutions (those that receive less than one per cent of total granting agency funding) may request up to 100 per cent of the eligible costs of the Canada Research Chair infrastructure project if the total cost of the project does not exceed $75,000. As well, universities may also request funding from the CFI for infrastructure that will be shared by two or more Chairs.

The CFI's board of directors is responsible for the review of requests for infrastructure support for successful Chair nominations, including foreign nominations. Following the review process, the CFI will communicate the decisions directly to the universities.

To apply for CFI infrastructure funding, institutions must log onto the CFI's Awards Management System (CAMS), choose ‘‘Create a new proposal’, then ‘John R. Evans Leaders Fund – Funding for research infrastructure associated with an application for research support funding from another program’ and select ‘CRC’ under ‘Joint funding with’.

Note that the CFI request must be submitted in CAMS by the Chairs program’s deadline dates.

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Recruitment and nomination process

All institutions must ensure that their recruitment and nomination processes are transparent, open and equitable as outlined in the Guidelines for Ensuring a Fair and Transparent Recruitment and Nomination Process. This applies to the nomination of new Chairs, whether the Chair is used for retention purposes or as a recruiting tool, as well as to the advancement of a Tier 2 chairholder to a Tier 1 Chair at the same institution. Institutions are also encouraged to establish clear criteria that will be used to determine whether a chair will be submitted for renewal to the program and to communicate these criteria to chairholders at the beginning of their terms.

The recruitment and nomination processes must be consistent with the principles and safeguards embodied in the institution's existing tenure-track hiring practices (as described in the collective agreement or equivalent), and should contain features such as:  

  • open advertising with a statement of commitment to equity in the nomination and appointment process;
  • encouragement for persons in designated groups (women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities) to apply;
  • active recruitment measures for members of underrepresented groups; and
  • involvement in the Chair recruitment, nomination and appointment process by university equity officers, or equivalent.

The Secretariat monitors the adherence of institutions to the Chairs program’s recruitment and nomination guidelines, and reserves the right to ask institutions to provide, at any time within the 24 months following the nomination, documentation which attests that the process used to recruit chairholders was transparent, open and equitable.

1 University submits strategic research plan and summary
2 Nominee completes curriculum vitae form and forwards PIN to university
3 Nominee or university completes nomination form and CFI request
4 University submits all forms (curriculum vitae, nomination form, CFI request)
  • University login
  • Also submit one copy of all forms, postmarked by midnight of the deadline date, to the Secretariat.
5 University submits chairholder profile

More information

General inquiries:
Canada Research Chairs Secretariat
350 Albert Street, P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, ON K1P 6G4
Tel: 613-943-3087
Fax: 613-943-3282

Inquiries about equity:
Louise-Michelle Verrier
Manager, Policies, Planning and Performance
Tel: 613-995-3236