Transparency of the peer review process - ESRC

Information on the transparency of ESRC’s peer review process.

Feedback of reviewers’ scores

We feed back to applicants not only the text of reviewers’ comments but also the scores assigned to the individual elements of the comment, and their overall grading of the application. Given this element of feedback, it is important that you ensure your scores reflect your textual comments. In addition, your comments should clarify your assessment of the different elements of the proposal.

Comments are passed to the applicant unattributed. This provides greater transparency and is also in accord with data handling standards. You are therefore reminded of the need to ensure that you provide professional and constructive comments.

We will of course continue to read all comments that are received. If a comment is considered unusable it will be referred back to the reviewer for revision. Reasons why a comment might be considered unusable include:

  • the reviewer’s identity is disclosed
  • there are discriminatory or gratuitously offensive remarks
  • there is inadequate justification of the scores assigned to the proposal
  • the text does not match the scores
  • the text suggests a misunderstanding of ESRC policy, such as the remit of a call.

Please be assured that the completed reviews seen by the applicants will remain anonymous. All the personal details and the self-assessment sections on the form will automatically be removed from the version seen by applicants.

Number of reviewers’ comments

We seek a standard number of three reviews on all grant proposals irrespective of the value of the award (apart from some call-specific variations).

However, we have the freedom to decide that more reviews are needed for a particular proposal that is, for example, highly interdisciplinary, particularly complex, or where the quality of the comments received will not effectively contribute to the decision-making process.

In addition, there may be some calls which require exceptional rules to be applied, for example fast-track or small-scale investments where only two reviews are sought, or more reviews for the commissioning of large-scale investments, for example the centres and large grants scheme.

Last updated: 28 February 2022

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