Strategic packages

GEN1: General

These notes are intended to provide reviewers with specific guidance for the completion of the reviewer form. They should be read in conjunction with the reviewer principles. Specific guidance is available for each individual section of the report you are completing. A full justification for your assessment of the proposal should be provided. The prompts are given as a reminder of those issues that are likely to be most significant in determining the overall merit of a proposal. Please provide as full a response as you believe you are qualified to. You should note that your review will be sent back, unattributed, to the investigator, who will then be allowed the opportunity to comment on any factual errors and answer any specific queries you have raised.

We are committed to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). You should not use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an investigator’s contributions, or to make funding decisions.

For the purpose of research assessment, please consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets, software, inventions, patents, preprints, other commercial activities, etc.) in addition to research publications. You should consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

The content of a paper is more important than publication metrics, or the identity of the journal, in which it was published, especially for early-stage investigators. Therefore, you should not use journal impact factor (or any hierarchy of journals), conference rankings and metrics such as the H-index or i10-index when assessing UKRI grants.

GEN2: Assessment methodology

You are asked to assess the proposal/report against a number of criteria. These criteria may vary according to the scheme or call that the proposal has been submitted to. Prompts are provided as a reminder of those issues that are likely to be most significant in determining the overall merit of a proposal. A full justification for your assessment of the proposal should be included in each section: please provide as full a response as you believe you are qualified to.

You are asked throughout to assess “the proposal” but please be clear that this means the ideas, concepts and approaches contained therein not the specific form of the document itself. The clarity of presentation may help or hinder your ability to review a proposal, so a comment to this effect would be appropriate, but this should not become in any form a competition in stylish writing. Elegance of presentation is not of itself an assessment criterion for an EPSRC grant!

There is no set way for answering questions on the form. However, prioritisation meetings generally find reviews most useful where they explicitly identify the main strengths and weaknesses in the proposal, while also giving a clear view on which should be accorded the greater significance and why. It is also a helpful technique to raise issues or concerns with the proposal in the form of explicit questions for the applicants. This makes it easier for the panel to assess how complete and convincing the applicants responses are.

GEN3: Ethics

It is important that EPSRC funds are used ethically and responsibly but this is mainly assured by requiring that universities have in place and operate appropriate ethical approval processes. Ethical considerations should not therefore normally be an assessment criterion and you should not take these into account when making your assessment.

If the proposal is in a subject or area that causes you serious personal concern, to the extent that you feel you cannot provide an objective review, then you should decline to review the proposal giving the reason as other, and stating “ethical issues” in the comment box. If you have a concern that the proposal raises ethical issues that have not been clearly identified or addressed, then you should raise this directly with EPSRC who will need to make a policy decision on how the proposal should be treated.

GEN10: Call for proposals

This proposal has been submitted in response to an open call against the Strategic Packages funding scheme. You are asked to read the scheme guidance and to make your assessment of the application within the context of the aims, objectives and specific assessment criteria of the scheme.

EXC3: Quality/Excellence

Primary Criterion

No detailed programme of work is required in making the case for a strategic package so the main quality assessment will be based on the calibre of the proposed candidate which you should comment on under the Applicant section of the form. Please therefore only use this section to comment on other quality aspects related to this proposal where relevant. Where no other such comment is needed simply indicate this on the form.

IMP2: Importance

Secondary Major Criterion

Drawing upon what the applicant has said, reviewers should comment on:

  • The UK need in this area in the context of the status of the research field in the UK and internationally
  • The difference this appointment would deliver to the benefit of the UK

In assessing this aspect of the proposal you should comment explicitly on how this appointment could be expected to help establish or maintain a world leading research capability. In addition, where appropriate, you should also indicate if this appointment would contribute to, or help maintain the health of other research disciplines, contribute to addressing key UK societal challenges, or contribute to current or future UK economic success and/or enables future development of key emerging industry(s).

Please answer these questions even though they are not reflected on the reviewer form.

PAT2: Pathways to Impact

No Pathways to Impact statement is required for this proposal, as there is no specific detailed research programme to link one to. You should therefore not comment under this section.

MAN5: Management and planning

Secondary Criterion

As there is no specific detailed project or associated project plan there is no requirement to comment under this heading.

RES4: Resources and Management

Secondary Criterion

Please comment on the extent to which the proposal justifies the resource requested from EPSRC. You should draw attention to anything in your view that has been requested but not justified or conversely needed but not identified. You should also comment on the suitability of arrangements for accessing resources other than through the grant, such as by collaboration with external groups.

Please answer these questions even though they are not reflected on the reviewer form.

CALL3: Proposal Assessment - university track record and ability

Secondary Criterion

This proposal has been submitted against a call, which has a specific additional assessment requirement. Please comment on the extent to which the university submitting the proposal is best placed in the UK to host the appointment in this research area, making reference to:

  • The research environment at the university, the benefits to the UK of locating the appointment at this institution
  • Plans for developing the research area, the broader subject/discipline and forging new links
  • The plans for supporting the appointment both through the strategic alignment of financial resources and through activities to engage them with the UK research and funding environment

ASS3: Overall Assessment - Overall score

You should assign a score using the six-point scale provided. This should reflect your overall conclusion, and should be consistent with your comments on the individual sections of your review taking account of all the assessment criteria and the various weightings you applied.

The reviewer form asks the reviewer to score the proposal:

  1. This proposal is scientifically or technically flawed
  2. This proposal does not meet one or more of the assessment criteria
  3. This proposal meets all assessment criteria but with clear weaknesses
  4. This is a good proposal that meets all assessment criteria but with minor weaknesses
  5. This is a strong proposal that broadly meets all assessment criteria
  6. This is a very strong proposal that fully meets all assessment criteria

ASS4: Level of confidence

To assist the prioritisation panel in reaching their overall conclusion on the proposal, and to help EPSRC in monitoring the effectiveness of its reviewer selection procedures, you are asked to indicate your confidence with regard to this review. This should report your own confidence, or otherwise, in being able to make your assessment, not your confidence in the success of the proposal if it were funded. If, for any reason, you feel that you are not able to assess the proposal, please advise EPSRC accordingly.

The reviewer form asks reviewers to score their confidence as low, medium or high.

ASS5: Overall assessment - Strategic Packages

You should provide your overall assessment of the proposal. Think of this as your report to the prioritisation panel, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses you identified in the individual questions and then making a clear and explicit recommendation about whether or not you believe the proposal warrants funding. Please indicate the relative weighting you have given to each aspect in reaching your overall conclusion.

The reviewer form asks reviewers to summarise their view of the application.