Peer review process FAQs
How long will it take to process my proposal?
EPSRC processes several thousand grant proposals each year. We aim to give proposals fair and considered treatment, using external reviewers to give expert comment. Unfortunately, this process takes time, but you should hear the outcome within 26 weeks of submission if EPSRC are running the process. Most will hear sooner, as we aim to make a funding decision on at least 80 per cent of proposals within 20 weeks of receipt.
What happens to my proposal when I submit it?
Proposals are first checked to ensure current guidelines are met, and both you and your institution are eligible to apply to us for funding. We then choose which of EPSRC's themes your proposal should be considered under. There are no rigid boundaries between disciplines, and joint funding between themes is encouraged.
How does EPSRC choose its reviewers?
EPSRC guarantees that its decision-making relies on independent, expert comment. Proposals are sent to at least four relevant reviewers mainly from the EPSRC Peer Review College, a body of credible reviewers, nominated and renewed by the research community itself, and at least one of whom you will have nominated.
How long does it take for reviewers to reply?
Reviewers are given three weeks to respond to review requests. Many reviewers respond within this period, but others may ask for more time to complete the assessment. If reviewers are unable to respond due to other commitments, EPSRC will approach others. Considerable efforts are made to ensure responses are received promptly, but holiday periods and significant university commitments can make it difficult to receive replies on time.
What does EPSRC do with the reviewers' comments?
Once EPSRC have received comments from a sufficient number of reviewers, usually at least three, the majority of proposals are considered at prioritisation panel meetings. Copies of reviewers' comments are made available to the applicant via the Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) system before the panel meeting, allowing the applicant to comment on any factual inaccuracies they contain. EPSRC endeavour to make all reviewers’ comments available for response. The Pre-Award tracker, available through your Je-S account, gives details of when comments are likely to be sent. Responses should be up to two sides of A4, and returned within five working days of receipt.
Low value grants with excellent reviews may be ‘office funded’, without going to panel; while proposals with unsupportive reviews may be ‘office rejected’ before reaching a panel.
What happens if an insufficient number of reviewers' comments are received?
Reviewers are chased promptly for their comments; however, occasionally we need to approach additional reviewers because fewer reviews are received than required, contain insufficient detail, or cover only parts of the proposal. It would be unacceptable to ask a prioritisation panel to rank a proposal based on an insufficient number of expert comments. Therefore, the decision-making process may be delayed.
How does EPSRC choose its panel members?
Panel members, usually chosen from the college, come from both universities and industry, and whose experience is related to the proposals being considered at the meeting.
How does EPSRC ensure its panel meetings are fair and unbiased?
A chair is appointed to lead the panels who has experience of EPSRC prioritisation panel meetings, and the meeting is overseen by an EPSRC official. Panel work is covered by EPSRC’s code of practice that embraces the seven principles of public life. Panel members declare anything that could be perceived as a conflict of interest, and leave the room while affected proposals are considered. Panel members and reviewers accept an obligation of confidentiality when dealing with proposals, and of respect to the original ideas research colleagues have disclosed.
How soon after the meeting will I know my application’s outcome?
You may know the date of your proposal’s panel meeting, but the availability of funds may not be known for around a week following. You will receive a confirmation letter when a decision is made: normally within the two weeks following the panel meeting. Please wait two weeks before contacting the RCUK Grants Team for the decision.
What feedback will I be given following the decision?
We process thousands of proposals each year, so prioritisation panels simply rank based on reviewers' comments you will have already seen. EPSRC do not normally provide further feedback at this stage unless the panel has requested specific points are passed on.
What will happen if my proposal is funded?
If your proposal is funded, an electronic offer document is sent via Je-S to the organisation's administration authority. This is accompanied by an electronic offer acceptance, whose return results in an electronic start confirmation and payment schedule. Once the project has started, your administration authority will submit the start confirmation via Je-S, which usually activates payments for the grant.
Who can I contact for more information?
You can track the progress of your proposal using the Je-S Pre-Award Tracker. Your institution's administration or finance office may be able to help with any queries. However, if you require further information, contact RCUK Grants Team directly by telephone or email.