How reviewers use the UKRI Funding Service

We recognise the huge contribution of all our reviewer communities when reviewing grant proposals across the research councils and for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). As such we have worked to improve the experience for those providing a review on the UKRI Funding Service.

If you have been asked to review an application in the Funding Service, this guidance gives an overview of:

  • responding to your invitation to review
  • how to carry out your review using the service
  • what happens to your review once submitted
  • the guidance we give you within the service
  • differences you may notice if you’ve used previous funding systems

For more information on how the Funding Service is being developed, start with our pathway for change. And check status updates on the UKRI Funding Service.

Accepting or declining an invitation to review

When you are invited to review an application, you will receive an email from UKRI.

The email will contain:

  • a summary of the application so you can see if it is in your area of expertise
  • details of the team involved so you can identify any conflicts of interest
  • a ‘respond now’ button which you will need to use to set up your account on the Funding Service
  • the button to respond will take you to the UKRI Funding Service to accept or decline the invitation

Accepting the review

You do not need to sign in or create an account to accept or decline the review.

You can accept your review through the button in the email inviting you to review.

Starting your review

Once you accept an invitation to review, you can either:

  • start your review immediately
  • come back to the UKRI Funding Service later to start your review

Create an account on the UKRI Funding Service

You need an account on the UKRI Funding Service to start your review, You cannot use your Je-S account credentials to sign into the UKRI Funding Service and do your review.

To create an account you need to:

  • have accepted a review
  • return to your invitation email and hit the ‘Respond now’ button which will take you through the account creation process

Deadline

The deadline for the review is set automatically and is usually 21 days after you accept. It may be less than 21 calendar days however, depending on the final review deadline set by UKRI for the funding opportunity.

If you are not able to meet the review deadline, contact the relevant council using their peer review email address to discuss a suitable deadline within the timeline for the funding opportunity.

Sign in to the UKRI Funding Service

If you have a Funding Service account, you can sign in to continue a review you’ve accepted.

You’ll need the email address and password used to set up your account when you previously:

  • accepted an invitation to review
  • applied for a funding opportunity

Carrying out your review

Your Funding Service account lists all the reviews you’ve accepted and their deadlines.

Before you start a new review you will be asked to read and confirm that you accept the reviewer protocols. These are the rules you must follow when carrying out your review.

Read the application

You can use the Funding Service to:

  • read the full application online in your browser
  • see the questions and assessment criteria for each application section
  • open and download any attachments uploaded by the applicant
  • view the full application as a PDF to read offline or print out

Write and submit your review

To provide your review you can either:

  • write your review using the text box in the Funding Service – you can save your unfinished review to come back to later
  • use an alternative writing tool such as Word to write your review and then copy it into the text box

You will need to structure your review using the assessment areas as subheadings.

You also need to score the application from 1 (poor) to 6 (exceptional). There is guidance in the service to help you write a good review and decide the score.

You can preview and check your review before submitting it.

When your review is finished, submit it to UKRI.

What happens after submitting your review

UKRI checks that your review has followed the guidelines to see if we can use the review.

When we have enough usable reviews, we send them anonymously to the applicants for their response.

You can check the status of your reviews (complete or incomplete) in your Funding Service account.

Feedback about your experience

After submitting your review you will receive an email asking for feedback about your experience.

We are developing the Funding Service in an iterative way, gradually introducing functionality and piloting new features and different funding types. We appreciate any comments you have which help us improve the service for reviewers.

Guidance on writing a good review and scoring the application

Here you’ll find the same guidance which is given in the Funding Service to help you write your review and score the application.

How to write a good review

Where possible, reviews must be based on evidence, which you should clearly show in your comments. Make sure to:

  • familiarise yourself with any specified assessment factors or scoring matrix
  • provide comments and recommendations that are consistent with, justify, and explain your scores
  • ensure your comments are comprehensive but concise
  • clearly identify strengths and weaknesses of the application in a constructive manner
  • raise any concerns in the form of questions for the applicant
  • avoid jargon,  panellists may not be specialists in your field
  • consider other aspects of the proposed research or innovation, like its methodology, experimental design and data management plan, as well as its potential impact (and the pathways to achieving it) including any ethical and social issues (for example, the appropriate use of animals or human tissue)

Scoring range definitions

6

Exceptional: the application is outstanding. It addresses all of the assessment criteria and meets them to an exceptional level.

5

Excellent: the application is very high quality. It addresses most of the assessment criteria and meets them to an excellent level. There are very minor weaknesses.

4

Very good: the application demonstrates considerable quality. It meets most of the assessment criteria to a high level. There are minor weaknesses.

3

Good: the application is of good quality. It meets most of the assessment criteria to an acceptable level, but not across all aspects of the proposed activities. There are weaknesses.

2

Weak: the application is not sufficiently competitive. It meets some of the assessment criteria to an adequate level. There are, however, significant weaknesses.

1

Poor: the application is flawed or of unsuitable quality for funding. It does not meet the assessment criteria to an adequate level.

Differences to previous systems

UKRI has launched a new Funding Service, which means that the reviewer experience is changing.

If you’ve reviewed for UKRI before, you’ll notice a few differences aimed at making it easier to find the information you need to complete your assessment. These include:

  • a review request containing a summary of the application, where you can accept or decline the invite without signing in to the UKRI Funding Service
  • a single, streamlined application
  • fewer attachments
  • an application layout closely aligned to assessment criteria
  • applicant guidance which is visible to reviewers
  • no more reviewer forms, and instead a single text box to structure your comments
  • an overall assessment score
  • a dashboard overview to better manage reviews and deadlines

Resources: video demonstration and newsletter

Receiving an invitation

Video credit: UKRI
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube

Completing a review

Video credit: UKRI
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube

Newsletter

Keep up to date with the development of the Funding Service through future editions of the ‘Simpler and Better’ newsletter.

Last updated: 7 February 2024

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