PM Perspectives: After peer review

Posted by EPSRC Engineering team on 08 March 2019

For new researchers, applying for your first grant with any funding body can be daunting. We have created a series of blogs, written by EPSRC Portfolio Managers (PMs), to demystify the process and provide hints and tips for stronger applications.

If you have not applied for EPSRC funding before, our Funding Options Podcast and Funding Options Flowchart are a great starting point. Here you will find out the differences between our funding options and hear our PMs tackle some of the most common myths around funding options.

You didn't get funded. Now what?

You have spent a lot of time, energy, and effort writing a proposal. The reviews were encouraging. And you still didn't get funded.

It's very easy for us to say Don't take it personally, but please keep in mind that, on average, success rates for standard mode panels are 20-30%. It is a highly competitive process that, in the case of Engineering, can see the ranking of 30-40 standard mode proposals across over 20 different research areas. To ensure we are spending taxpayers' money effectively, quality has been adopted as the primary criterion and those proposals at the top of the list are those the panel assessed as the highest quality. It is unfortunate, but we cannot fund every proposal.

We are unable to provide specific panel feedback, but panel members are not re-reviewing your proposal: they are using the reviewers' comments to make their assessment. These comments should be used to help you in writing future proposals. Likewise, assess your PI response to ensure you are taking advantage of this opportunity to address all reviewer questions or concerns.

You can also speak to members of your institution who have been successfully funded, or those who regularly provide reviews or sit on panels. They may be able to offer additional suggestions.

You can apply to join the college yourself to see the peer review process from the inside.

When you are ready to apply again, check out the resubmission policy to make sure that your proposal would not be considered a resubmission.

If you have any questions about future proposals, please contact the research office at your institution or the Portfolio Manager who looks after your research area.

You did get funded. Now what?


However, your work doesn't stop with successfully making it through panel. While carrying out your research, please keep the following in mind:

  • Your institution's research office can help with queries or problems.
  • Please let the Portfolio Manager who looks after your area know about good news stories that we can disseminate through our communication channels.
  • Make sure you complete outcomes of your research in Researchfish. This can be done throughout the year, then submitted during the submission window.

Don't wait until your grant comes to an end to start thinking about your next steps.

Further Assistance

If you have additional questions that aren't answered here, please consider the following resources:

  • Your institution's research office: This is a great way to find out more information about general EPSRC policy and activities, as well as processes that may be specific to your institution.
  • Colleagues: Colleagues who are familiar with applying to and reviewing for EPSRC can potentially provide subject-specific guidance for your proposal.
  • Portfolio Managers: As EPSRC portfolio managers we are happy to provide general help about the peer review process and our given research areas. However, we are not technical experts and we cannot provide advice on the content of proposals. Instead, take advantage of the EPSRC remit checking service if you have any concerns regarding which research council your proposal is best suited for.


In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Photo of three members of the EPSRC Engineering team
Name: EPSRC Engineering team
Section / Team: Engineering
Organisation: EPSRC

A note from the authors:

As EPSRC Portfolio Managers, we each oversee a different community within our main research theme and although the research areas may differ, the questions we receive are often the same. We thought it would be beneficial to share what we have learned through managing the peer review process and convening panels and we hope you find this a useful addition to what is already on the website.

This advice was written by Engineering Portfolio Managers, but is applicable to other EPSRC themes. The information is correct at time of publishing in February 2019.