The changes, which have been made in response to community feedback in order to increase confidence in the process, will:
- Involve more established academics and grant holders in peer review.
- Set, monitor and support consistently high standards of contributions from all College members.
- Ensure all proposals receive a defined and uniform level of peer review from experts with high or medium expertise.
- Remove the ‘sift’ so that all Standard Grant proposals follow the same review process with the opportunity for applicants to respond to reviewer comments.
- Make funding decisions more quickly for Standard Grant proposals.
- Give moderating panels more consistent membership and more stable scientific remits.
- Raise the quality of feedback from panels to applicants.
The changes will apply to responsive mode research grant and fellowship calls with closing dates on or after 1 October 2013. Processes for the July 2013 Standard Grant call are unchanged; the first Standard Grant call following the new process will be in late January 2014.
The main changes relate to consistency of review number and expertise and the standard grant process.
Consistency of review number and expertise
For each scheme minimum and optimal number of peer review reports required have been agreed; these are detailed in the assessment process. The reviews will be provided by a combination of NERCCollege members and internationally-recognised experts.
Standard grant process
There will no longer be a ‘sift’ or triage to reject uncompetitive proposals and all proposals will reach the stage where there is an opportunity to respond to review comments. Proposals, reviews and responses will be assessed by two panel members who will assign a ‘pre-score’ for excellence. The Chair will then prioritise the proposals to discuss at the moderating panel. NERC will aim to provide decisions on the majority of Standard Grant proposals within 20 weeks of the closing date.
Changes will also be adopted in the running of moderating panels and feedback, with further changes expected to be made to the NERC Peer Review College from January 2014.
For full details please visit the NERC website.