Scientific Research Licence

Scientific Research Licenses

Research that does not fall under the Wildlife or Archaeologist legislation requires a Scientific Research Licence which is administered by the Scientific Services Office at the GNWT ‘s Department of Education Culture and Employment. Applications for Scientific Research Licences can be submitted through an online system (POLAR) and the GNWT's "Doing Research in the Northwest Territories: A Guide for Researchers" can be found, here

It is recommended that applications be submitted at least three months before the  proposed start date, especially if you have not already started communication about your project. It is best to be proactive, apply early and begin your communication with community organizations as early as possible.

Anybody proposing to conduct research within the NWT are expected to follow ethical principles throughout all stages of a research project. If people are the subjects of your research, review our ethical research requirements.


Northern Research Priorities

Government Research Priorities for the Northwest Territories

Some Government Departments have developed their own research priorities or agendas that they would like to have shared with the scientific community:

1. The GNWT created the Knowledge Agenda: Northern Research for Northern Priorities in 2017. This agenda establishes a strategic framework for science and identifies priorities that will guide future research and science integration in the GNWT. The Knowledge Agenda: Action Plan 2019-2024, released in 2019, will also serve as a valuable tool to direct science practitioners in the NWT toward investigations that yield relevant and valuable information for NWT residents. These documents build upon the Science Agenda (2009) and will refocus science initiatives and funding across the NWT.


2. The GNWT Department of Health and Social Services also publishes a Research Agenda highlighting territorial Health and Social Services Research Priorities. Assistance for researchers studying priority areas include letters of support for funding and strategic support including potential collaboration. For more information on how the GNWT, HSS supports research in the NWT visit their website: Health and Social Services.


Community Research Priorities and Resources


The NWT is home to a diverse set of community organizations with varying geopolitical influences, research interests, and challenges. Local organizations provide unique points of view on NWT research, and many have identified priorities for their regions. These organizations are valuable sources of information for scientists, and consultation with them is a crucial step in conducting successful research projects within the Territory. The following organizations have offered their guidance to those planning research projects within their respective regions of the NWT:

1. The primary governing body responsible for managing wildlife, fish, and forests in the Gwich'in Settlement Area (GSA) in the Northwest Territories of Canada is the Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board (GRRB). The GRRB has identified several research priorities and interests that reflect the community's needs and aspirations, as well as their desire to protect and preserve their traditional way of life. Research studying priority areas may receive letters of support, funding opportunities and in-kind research support.

2. The Gwich'in Tribal Council Department of Cultural Heritage also provides a guide to assist researchers conducting traditional knowledge research in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA):


3. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) is a Canadian Indigenous organization that represents the Inuvialuit people of the Western Arctic region of Canada and it plays a critical role in their social, economic, and cultural development and in the sustainable management of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. IRC research website resources include:

-A new researcher guide
-Documents and resources
-Inuvialuit Indicators (public access statistics dataset)
-Inuit research priorities
-Information on both current and climate change based research projects.


4. The Northwest Territories Metis Nation has developed a research process overview and ARI South Slave Lake has been fortunate to work with the Fort Smith Metis Council to perform water and wildlife environmental monitoring.


5. The Sambaa K’e Dene Band has published research procedures for respecting the gathering, use, and distribution of yúndíit’õh (traditional knowledge). Other research interests include indigenous environmental stewardship, climate change, traditional foods systems and youth engagement with traditional knowledge and culture. The Decho First Nations have partnered with the Scotty Creek Research Center to study and evaluate the impacts of permafrost thaw on the region and how to seek adaptation and mitigation measures.


6. Hotıì ts’eeda is a research support unit hosted by the Tłı̨chǫ Government and primarily governed by Indigenous Governments of the Northwest Territories (NWT). Its purpose is to facilitate connections between NWT organizations and communities, researchers, and funding sources to achieve their health research and training goals. This initiative is financially supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Hotıì ts’eeda online resources include:
-Research priorities page which identifies community research priorities in colonization, indigenous history, socioeconomic and physical determinants of health, community partners, and the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
-Funding opportunities and applications
-Resource library
-A list of previously supported projects


7. The Scotty Creek Research Station (SCRS) in the Northwest Territories (50km south of Fort Simpson), Canada, has been collecting data on permafrost thaw and its hydrological and ecological impacts since the mid-1990s. The station has expanded over time, and now operates between mid-March and early September each year, making it one of the busiest research stations in Canada's North. The SCRS is uniquely positioned in one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth and provides an opportunity for high-quality training and community engagement involving world-class expertise and state-of-art research infrastructure. The station's leadership is managed collaboratively with Indigenous communities in the Dehcho and is indigenous-led. Resources include:
-Research license applications for the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation (LKFN)
-Examples of community engagement and opportunities
-A list of recent publications
-Scotty Creek Research Station GNWT-Wilfrid Laurier partnership


8. Dedats'eetsaa is the Tłı̨chǫ Research and Training Institute established by the Tłı̨chǫ Government in 2013. It is dedicated to advancing the study of Tłı̨chǫ lands, language, culture, and way of life through research, training, education, and monitoring, within a Tłı̨chǫ cultural framework. Its activities include coordinating research in social, health and wellness, cultural, and environmental concerns, supporting independent research by partnering with research partners, hosting the Tłı̨chǫ Digital Archives, coordinating cultural programming and activities, and overseeing Tłı̨chǫ land use, monitoring, and preservation activities. The institute aims to be a repository of knowledge on Tłı̨chǫ culture, language, and way of life, useful for future generations. It supports research projects that involve Tłı̨chǫ leadership and communities and facilitates capacity-building and training of Tłı̨chǫ researchers, students, and community liaisons. Other resources include:
-A research agenda
-A list of publications
-A project database



Supporting Information

Retrospective on Research Licensing in the NWT 


There are two report which explore research trends in the NWT. The first was a 10-year retrospective examining licensing information from 2000 to 2009.

As a part of the 50th Anniversary celebration for research in the Inuvik Region, a 40-year retrospective was prepared, which looks at licensing information from 1974 to 2013, the years for which licensing information is available.