Advice for reviewers - EPSRC

This page provides general advice and guidance for reviewers on completing reports for the EPSRC peer review process. You should also refer to the detailed guidance notes when preparing to complete a review. Guidance by scheme can be found on the Reviewer forms and guidance notes page.

Reviewers’ input is the single most important element in the peer review process, providing advice on the qualities of the many research proposals we receive each year. For the process to work effectively, reviewer comments should be timely, objective, fair and informed.

Reviews are based on a series of assessment criteria.

Assessment criteria

Assessment is based on four core criteria:

  • quality
  • importance
  • applicant and partnerships
  • resources and management.

As some schemes may have additional scheme-specific criteria you should always refer to the specific guidance. Quality remains the pre-eminent assessment criterion for all proposals, while importance also plays a major role in the assessment process.

When assessing Importance, reviewers are also asked to comment explicitly on the strategic fit of the proposal with respect to the portfolio EPSRC is trying to create (as described in our portfolio section of this website). This should include comment on how the proposed research relates to EPSRC research areas, and any strategic actions that are highlighted in them, and also on where a successful research programme would position the UK in the global research landscape, identifying the international leaders in the area.

Good reviewing

To maximise their value to the peer review process, reviewer reports should aim to:

  • provide clear and concise comments and recommendations
  • clearly identify strengths and weaknesses
  • give justification for overall markings
  • raise concerns in the form of questions for the applicant
  • provide constructive criticism.

It is important to bear in mind how your report will be used. Your report will be fed back anonymously to the applicant, who will then be allowed to respond to factual inaccuracies or questions you raise. Following this, members of prioritisation panels will be asked to use your reports as the chief tool for distinguishing between proposals.

How it works

When you are asked to review a proposal, all the necessary documents will be sent to your Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system account. If you are asked to review a proposal submitted against a particular call for proposals, we will also include a web link to the call document which will set out all the call requirements.

All reviews on our behalf are submitted using the electronic forms available through the UKRI Je-S system.

If you prefer to work offline, downloadable versions of all review forms are available on this website. Once you have completed your report in this way you can then submit it by cutting and pasting from the completed report into the relevant sections on Je-S.

Timescales and confidentiality of comments

If you cannot comment within the indicated timescale, confirm this immediately so we have time to approach an alternative reviewer or perhaps extend the deadline. In addition, please confirm immediately if you do not feel qualified to comment at all.

The process is an open one and the assessment procedure can only accommodate confidential comments that will be withheld from applicants in exceptional circumstances.

How to send in your review – reviewing on the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system

We use reviewer forms tailored to a particular type of proposal (standard, fellowships, networks and so on). Reviews requested by EPSRC must be completed through the research councils’ Je-S system.

We provide PDF versions of the forms, and guidance on how to complete the forms, on the Reviewer forms and guidance notes page. You should refer to this guidance before completing the form on Je-S.

Further information

Ask a question about the role of reviewers and the EPSRC peer review process

Email: epsrcpeerreviewpolicy@epsrc.ukri.org

Last updated: 1 March 2022

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