How we make decisions

In looking at the relationship between research areas we considered the Quality of UK research in the area, its National Importance, and the existing Capacity in the UK.

The overall Quality of the research area considered:

  • The international standing of the research area
  • The area’s potential to lead to transformative or disruptive research
  • Whether the area provides the UK with a unique capability in an international context

The National Importance of the research area considered:

  • How the research area contributes to and/or supports other research disciplines, contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges, contributes to current or future UK economic success and/or enables future development of key emerging industry(s)
  • The extent to which the research area has the potential to meet national strategic needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world leading research activity (including areas of niche capability)
  • How the research area fits with and complements other UK research funded in the area or related areas in EPSRC’s portfolio

The Capacity of the research considered:

  • The balance of people including the number and balance of researchers at different career stages, as well as future aspects such as the risk of losing capacity and potential leadership.
  • The range of accessible facilities and equipment
  • The coverage of research themes across the engineering and physical sciences such as interdisciplinary working, the flexibility of the UK’s capacity and the ability to respond to social challenges and EPSRC’s strategic aspirations.

Our decisions are based on our knowledge of the whole UK landscape, the best available information (such as EPSRC data on Grants on the Web, UK Research Excellence Framework 2014, funding from other bodies, international reviews and other reports), and advice from key groups and individuals (such as Strategic Advisory Teams (SATs), learned societies and industry partners). In addition we invited research institutions and wider stakeholders to submit evidence regarding engineering and physical sciences to identify further information to support our own evidence, knowledge and analysis.

Our Approach

Research area rationales present our strategic ambitions for the next five years and articulate our vision for the portfolio by the end of the current Delivery Plan period (2016-2020).

They are future focused and articulate our plans in relation to the three corporate strategies (Balancing Capability, Accelerating Impact and Building Leadership) and the four Prosperity Outcomes (Productive, Connected, Resilient and Healthy Nation).

How are Rationales generated




The SATs have been closely involved in developing the rationales from September 2015. The advice received from our strategic advisory groups is captured in the research area rationales and more detail on the approach can be found in the EPSRC Theme ‘our approach’ webpages.