Principles of peer review assessment and decision making
UK Research and Innovation have published UKRI-wide Principles of Assessment and Decision Making. The Principles are an overview of processes that UKRI Councils currently adopt in assessment of funding applications and decision making. The Principles outline UKRI’s expectations and ambition for assessment processes and provide transparency to its’ commitment to robust decision making.
These replace EPSRC's current Principles of Peer Review, but all existing safeguards will be upheld through guidance to assessors and managed primarily through members of the College of Peer Reviewers.
Reviewers are expected to have peer recognition or established expertise in the field to review the application. Through the continuous review of the assessment processes, we ensure that our panellists have the appropriate range of expertise and knowledge to carry out assessments, which is especially important for the assessment of cross-disciplinary applications.
Our Councils’ funding guides are available online and we publish assessment criteria and details of the assessment process in the call documents in advance of submission deadlines. Following the review of an application, we endeavour to, where possible, make the comments available to applicants in advance of the panel meeting, so that the applicants can respond to comments by reviewers.
We take steps to manage conflicts of interest according to defined processes. We guide our staff and panels on ways to manage conflicts of interest. We expect individuals involved in the decision-making process to be aware of circumstances under which conflicts of interest arise as defined by UKRI. See the EPSRC Conflicts of Interest policy.
We aim to ensure that our assessment processes are appropriate to the proposed research and innovation with respect to its scale and complexity. We are committed to continually evolving funding assessment and design our assessment processes to reduce biases, which includes our commitment to responsible use of metrics in research evaluation.
Applications to our Councils, including related data, intellectual property and application documents, must be treated in confidence by any individuals or organisations involved in the assessment process. The identity of the reviewers is kept anonymous to the applicant to allow the provision of free and frank comments and advice.
Integrity and Ethics
Responsible research conduct is intrinsic to society’s trust in research and innovation. We aim to promote and safeguard the public value of research and innovation and ensure that funding decisions are based on evidence and rigorous analysis.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We are committed to driving a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion providing the best opportunities for individuals and teams of people from all backgrounds to thrive. We will take steps to improve the assessment process by utilising the talent and resources offered by assessors from underrepresented groups such as women, early career researchers, and members of all ethnicities.
Separation of Duties
It is our legal duty to ensure that decisions on individual funding applications are taken following an independent assessment of their quality and likely impact. As such, research funding from UKRI must adhere to the Haldane Principle.
These principles apply to full proposals assessed through our Standard Research funding, calls for proposals, and all grant schemes that are peer reviewed. They do not all apply to schemes such as Doctoral Training Partnerships, which are calculated using an algorithm, but EPSRC still endeavours to uphold all these principles wherever possible.
If there are exceptions when EPSRC is unable to adhere to these principles, this will be clearly identified in any publications.