Guidelines for Proposals

Guidelines for Proposals

Please read the descriptions of our various programs before preparing your proposal. Proposals should be submitted using the online form.

1. Subject Area

Please indicate the subject area of your proposal. If the codes are not adequate (particularly for emerging fields), use Other and specify in Additional Comments.

2. Organizing committee

A. Number of organizers per proposal
  • A proposal for a
    • 2-Day Workshop
    • 5-Day Workshop
    • Summer School
    • BIRS Now! or
    • Hybrid Thematic Program

    requires a minimum of two and a maximum of five organizers. More than five organizers may be allowed under special circumstances. Such requests should be made in the "Additional Comments" section of the proposal.

  • Applications for
    • Research in Teams(RIT), or
    • Focused Research Groups(FRG)
    • may have a single organizer, and no more than five.

B. Role of the organizing committee
  • A member of the organizing committee should be designated as the lead organizer or contact organizer. All other members of the organizing committee are called co-organizers or supporting organizers.
  • The lead organizer serves as the main point of contact between the organizing committee and BIRS. Co-organizers are expected to assist in all aspects of proposal preparation, planning and program delivery.
  • During proposal preparation, the lead organizer alone can edit the proposal. Co-organizers can review the proposal and are expected to contribute in key aspects of the proposed program. Equitable delegation of organizational duties is recommended. The lead organizer is responsible for proposal submission and for possible revisions.
  • If a proposal is successful, all organizers are expected to be on-site during the delivery of their program and participate actively in the execution of the event.
  • The organizing committee:

    • is responsible for ensuring that the composition of program participants and the activities that take place during the program should be in accordance with the original proposal and schedule approved by the BIRS Program Committee.
    • is required to manage/collect title and abstract of the talks from the invited speakers and upload schedule items to the BIRS Workshops system and coordinate any special program requirements with BIRS staff.
    • is expected to manage the participant list and meet with the set deadlines.
    • is committed to provide a welcoming environment that encourages the free expression and exchange of ideas. For more information of the BIRS Code of Conduct for Events, please visit:
    • is required to provide a post-event report within 10 weeks of the conclusion of the program.
C. Composition of the organizing committee
  • Except for FRG and RIT proposals, each organizing committee must contain at least one early-career researcher (ECR), within ten years of their doctoral degree at the time of submission of the proposal.
  • An organizing committee can contain at most one member per institution. Any exceptions must be listed under the "Additional Comments" of the proposal, with adequate justification.
  • An organizing committee of two, regardless of proposal type, must contain at least one organizer who self-identifies as a member of an under-represented group (URM) in STEM disciplines. For organizing committees of three or more, this number has to be at least two.

    BIRS follows NSERC’s definition of under-represented groups, "including, but not be limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Metis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities/racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities”. A glossary of terms concerning under-represented groups can be found under BIRS EDI resources.

  • An organizer can count towards ECR and URM simultaneously if they satisfy both descriptions.
  • Organizers will be asked to fill in a self-identification questionnaire. Filling in this questionnaire is mandatory. The extent of the information shared in this questionnaire is at the discretion of the responder, since "prefer not to answer” is an acceptable response to every question. Data collected in this questionnaire helps BIRS assess the inclusivity of its programs.
  • In order to be competitive, a proposal whose organizing committee does not meet the guidelines stated above should explicitly address how the proposed program will include and support BIRS’ mandate of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). For such proposals, the applicants are invited to look closely at their own research field and assess how it might be made more inclusive.
D. Number of proposal submissions by an individual organizer
  • An individual can be the lead organizer of at most one proposal of the same type in a given year. They can be a co-organizer in other proposals.
  • An individual can be a co-organizer or supporting organizer in any number of proposals, even in the same year.
  • Organizers of multiple 5-day proposals should disclose this information under the "Additional Comments" section of every proposal they are involved in.

3. Adding participants

In Step 1 of the proposal, organizers will be asked to "Add Participants”.

  • Please add the names and email addresses of researchers you would like to invite if your proposal is funded. Upon your confirmation, BIRS sends these prospective participants an email meant to gauge their interest in the proposed workshop. If a proposal is successful, researchers who expressed interest in the proposal are automatically included in the participant list and will receive a formal invitation to join the program in a format (in-person/online) convenient to them. Any spots released due to invitations being declined are made available to organizers for new invitations, subject to capacity.
  • Prospective participants may need additional details of the proposed workshop from the organizers to make an informed decision. Such information should be provided outside the BIRS platform.
  • For each invitation or batch or invitations, organizers are asked to assign a date by which the prospective participant(s) should respond. Organizers may wish to set an early date to give themselves time to invite more participants, depending on the responses from the initial rounds.
  • The workshop's capacity constraints should be kept in mind while issuing invitations at the proposal preparation stage. BIRS recommends inviting less than the maximum possible number of participants at the proposal stage to allow greater flexibility in adding participants later.

  • Participants who express interest in the proposed program will be asked to fill out a self-identification questionnaire. The extent of the information shared through this questionnaire is at the discretion of the responder. While filling in this questionnaire is mandatory, "prefer not to answer" is an acceptable answer to every question. The aggregated responses will be used in a non-identifying way to populate the "Demographic Charts" page (the tab on the top right of the proposal). These charts are intended to help organizers ensure a balanced participant pool.
  • Responses to "expression of interest" invitations received after the proposal submission deadline cannot be included in the proposal evaluation process.
  • The list of prospective participants who have expressed interest by the submission deadline is used by the BIRS Program Committee to assess
    • the interest of the scientific community in the proposed workshop, and
    • the diversity profile of the intended participant pool.

    BIRS follows NSERC’s guidelines on equity, diversity and inclusion, and its definitions on under-represented groups. These definitions and guidelines may be found in

    and in the list of resources linked therein. More resources on inclusive event organization are listed on BIRS’ EDI resources page.

4. Participant limits

All BIRS programs are hybrid, with limited in-person capacity as indicated in the table below, and up to 300 virtual participants. The number and composition of prospective participants should be aligned with the program objectives and program structure outlined in the proposal, and should leave room for possible additions if revisions are requested. In case the number of invitees exceed the in-person capacity of the workshop, the proposal should indicate a concrete plan for hybrid delivery.

LOCATION 5-Day Workshops Half-Workshops 2-Day Workshops Focused Research Groups Research in Teams Summer School Training Camps Hybrid Thematic Programs PIMS-BIRS Team-up Programs BIRS Now!
Banff Up to 42  Up to 21 Up to 25 Up to 8 2 to 4 Flexible; up to 40 Up to 42 2 to 6 Up to 42
CMO (Oaxaca) Up to 20(and up to 22 additional self-funded participants)                
IASM (Hangzhou)  Up to 42                
IMAG (Granada)  Up to 42                
CMI (Chennai)  Up to 42                

5. Dates

With regard to your proposed dates, please give us options - particularly “low-season” alternatives. To make sure that the dates you indicate as being acceptable really are acceptable to you, you may use this calendar for a list of holidays.

  • BIRS - January to December
  • CMO - April to June; August to November
  • IASM - January to December
  • IMAG - April to July
  • CMI - January to March; September to December

6. Proposal content

  • The workshop should be sufficiently innovative and timely that holding it has the potential to make a difference to the subject. Of special interest are proposals that take advantage of newly emerging links between areas, explore synergies between evolving fields or offer meeting opportunities for groups of participants who do not normally meet together. A clear description of the mathematical content and innovation is a crucial criterion for assessment of the proposal objectives.
  • The proposal should avoid being too diffuse and should not attempt to cover too many areas at once. If applicable, indicate why it is distinct from other events in related subject areas being held elsewhere.
  • The proposal should indicate detailed planning for program delivery and embed a variety of events in addition to the traditional meeting format. BIRS aims to host events that facilitate new collaborations, demonstrate inclusive programming and support for under-represented groups, train young talent, and have a mentorship component with the capability of long-range impact tracking.
  • The proposed participant list should be realistic and coherent with the goals of the event. It is more convincing to the selection panel if you can indicate that a number of your participants have confirmed their interest in the workshop, and how you intend to involve them.
  • Proposals must include contingency plans for situations similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate adaptability to virtual or online models under such circumstances.

7. Proposal format

The sections titled "Overview" and "Objectives" of the online form should total between 2 to 4 pages for 5-day workshops, summer schools and Focused Research Groups. For smaller or shorter programs such as 2-day workshops or Research in Teams, the requirement is less, preferably between 1 and 2 pages.

Submissions should be in plain text, with UTF-8 encoding (for the Unicode character set). You may use LaTeX2e syntax for mathematical expressions or formatting. Formatting may include itemized lists, sections (\section*{section name}), subsections (\subsection*{subsection name}), citations, and bibliographies (add “\begin {thebibliography}{99} ...” to the end of "Objectives").

8. Confirmation

If the proposal is successfully submitted, the lead applicant will receive an auto-generated confirmation, with a copy of your proposal attached. Please check that the proposal received by BIRS is the same as the one you submitted. The BIRS Program Coordinator will send you an e-mail within one week of submission to confirm that the proposal has been received and is complete. If you do not receive this confirmation, if the copy of the proposal in the auto-generated message seems corrupted, or if you have other questions about proposal submission, please contact the BIRS Program Coordinator at

9. Evaluation rubrics

The following rubric used to evaluate a proposal’s merit in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

BIRS follow the Tri-Agency’s Action Plan on EDI, available here:

For ideas and resources on crafting an EDI positive program, please refer to: Resources for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

9.1. Scientific merit rubric

BIRS uses the following rubric to evaluate a proposal’s scientific merit.

PROPOSAL TITLE Average score (5) Exceptional (4) Good (3) Neutral (2) Requires action (1) Not passing the bar

(Is this proposal unique?)
The workshop shows a world-leading approach, a “first of its kind” endeavour. It is a forerunner in an emerging area of study that holds transformative potential. The workshop is highly innovative in a developing field of study, significantly adding to current subject knowledge or application, and promoting new research directions. The workshop outlines an interesting approach, idea or methodology that builds on a well-established area of study, with potential to advance subject knowledge. Workshop topic is well established, but there is some indication of a fresh perspective or approach. Insufficient evidence provided as to how it will add to the established body of knowledge. Subject is already well established, and there is little to no evidence that the proposal adds significantly to the existing knowledge. Similar workshops have been held previously/recently.
Scientific impact

(Does this radically challenge our current understanding?)
Impacts a large and diverse scientific community with significant scientific breakthroughs or real-world impact.

The impact is clearly defined and will be measured.

There is a high likelihood that this significant impact will be realized.
The outcomes of this workshop are likely to impact more than one field, with possible real-world impact.
Short-term benefits are notable, clearly described, and can be measured.

There is a reasonable likelihood that the impact will be realized.
Impact to a small area of research is described, but broader impact is unclear.

Short-term benefits to the research area are described and can be measured, but they are not exceptional.

Some of the objectives of the workshop could be achieved with the proposed activities.
The impact of the workshop is restricted to primarily one field or application. It might have minor real-world impact, but the case for this has not been clearly established.

Unclear how the impact can be measured.
Only a minority of the stated objectives of the workshop can be expected to be achieved.
No breakthrough. The outcome represents a “natural progression” in the field. Negligible impact on field, application, or wider community.

There is lack of clarity or specificity about the benefits of the workshop activities.

(Is it important now?)
Area has seen recent breakthroughs; the time is ripe for new discoveries. A hot topic area that is the focus of much current study. Area has been under study for a long time, but new perspectives are emerging. Workshop will be of interest to the broad area. Fairly obscure topic within the subject area, attracting little interest beyond specialists. No new developments to make the workshop relevant. Extremely specialized niche of research, even within its broader subject area.
Potential for cross-disciplinary synergy

(Does it break down sub-specialty silos?)
The interdisciplinary approach is reflected in the workshop team. The proposal is designed from an interdisciplinary perspective, with the aim to develop the interfacing frontiers.

The various disciplinary approaches and perspectives are fully integrated; the project is not an amalgamation of disciplinary-specific approaches.
The interdisciplinary approach is somewhat reflected in the team. The proposal incorporates different disciplinary approaches, bringing a novel perspective.

Proposes the application or adaptation of tools/methods/techniques from one discipline to solve a problem in another discipline.
The interdisciplinary nature of the project is achieved through an amalgamation of projects/activities that are disciplinary.

The proposal appears to have an interdisciplinary component “added on” to a more conventional project or program of research.
The team does not reflect the expertise required to execute an interdisciplinary approach.

The proposed tools/methods/techniques are already in use in or can be easily applied to the second disciplinary area, requiring little adaptation or development.
Subject area is hyper-focused, with little relevance to those outside of this specialization.

The application did not adequately establish the interdisciplinary nature of the project.
Training and mentorship

(Does it build future experts?)
Clearly defined and integrated T&M goals and activities targeting a diverse population. Will have with long reaching impacts beyond the workshop. Clearly defined T&M goals and activities, although further improvements could reasonably be made. Some incorporation of T&M, but they are limited in detail, scope and/or long-term impact. Invite list or program holds the potential for T&M opportunities, but this has not been explicitly integrated into the proposal or invite list. Program or invitation list has been made with no consideration for T&M opportunities.
Participant/organizers lists

(Are the right people attending the workshop?)
Experts from diverse research areas have expressed interest in attending and contributing.

Very strong organizational record. Organizers have used detailed, well-defined criteria for selecting workshop participants.
Most of the subject experts are likely to participate.

Strong organizational record. Some effort has been made to explain the mechanism for participant selection.
Some of the main experts in the workshop topic are present, but not necessarily any from the broader field or other areas that might be relevant for the workshop.

Criteria for selection unclear.
Several experts in the field are conspicuous by their absence. As a result, the workshop might be missing significant perspectives on the topic. Few experts in the field are participating. Unclear if the organizers can achieve the workshop objectives with the proposed participants.
9.2. EDI rubric
PROPOSAL TITLE Average score (5) Exceptional (4) Good (3) Neutral (2) Requires action (1) Not passing the bar
Organizing committee The organizing committee has been carefully chosen to represent diversity within multiple categories, such as: career stage, backgrounds/minoritized groups, geography, subject area. The organizers represent diversity within three distinct categories among: career stage, background/minoritized groups, geography, subject area. The organizers represent diversity within two groups: career stage, background/minoritized groups, geography, subject area. The members of the organizing committee have some variation within only one category: career stage, backgrounds/minoritized groups, geography, subject area. The organizers do not represent a diverse group in any sense.
Participants The participant list has been crafted with explicit attention to diversity and inclusion along multiple axes. Participants include different backgrounds and under-represented groups, career stages and geographical areas. The participant list explicitly addresses diversity along three different axes but not all, among: backgrounds and under-represented groups, career stages and geographical areas. The participant list explicitly addresses diversity along two different axes but not all, among: backgrounds and under-represented groups, career stages and geographical areas. The participant list only includes people with some variation within one of the following groups: backgrounds and under-represented groups, career stages and geographical areas. The participant list is monolithic
Program The program is highly innovative and inclusive with a wide variety of strategies to welcome and engage people from many different groups and career stages. The proposal provides evidence of environmental and regional awareness and makes targeted efforts to reduce the event's carbon footprint by maximizing the benefits of academic travel. Explicit measurements of impact have been integrated into the proposal. The program makes a conscious attempt to be inclusive with several different types of programming. There is intent to track impact. The program has some interesting aspects but requires more detailed planning and description. Unclear if impact can or will be tracked. The program is traditional and needs major improvement. The participants can watch a series of lectures online instead.