2. What to include in your application - MRC

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2.5 Peer review

When the application is received, it will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts from the UK and overseas.

UKRI recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities and are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their careers such as breaks and delays, disruptive working patterns and conditions, the loss of ongoing work, and role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts of the impact that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal and will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing. Where disruptions have occurred applicants can highlight this within their application, if they wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

More information on peer review at MRC can be found on our peer review webpages.

2.5.1 Nominating peer reviewers

Applicants can nominate up to three independent reviewers whom MRC may approach for assessment of the research proposal.

Please note only one of the three nominated reviewers will be approached and we may decide not to approach any of the applicant’s nominated reviewers.

Nominated reviewers must be experts in the research field or be able to provide an expert view on the value and benefits of the research proposal.

Investigators shall not provide reviewers from their own organisation, or from current or proposed project co-funders, or where any possible conflict of interest may arise.

International reviewers can be included.

Please note MRC considers possible conflicts of interest when selecting experts to review a proposal. Reviewers are asked to identify any possible conflicts of interest before they begin reviewing a proposal and to decline to review a proposal if there are any. MRC treats any such disclosures appropriately and fairly. The covering letter can be used to name conflicted experts that you request not to be used as reviewers – see section 2.2.5.

2.5.2 Applicants’ response to reviewers’ comments

When a research grant application has been shortlisted for a board meeting, principal investigators have up to three pages (A4) within which to respond to the comments given by the reviewers.

When a programme grant application has been shortlisted for a board meeting, Principal Investigators have up to 4 pages (A4) within which to respond to the comments given by the reviewers.

The response should be clearly presented, concise and should not exceed the page limits listed above, irrespective of the number of reviews or additional points made by the triage or shortlisting panel that applicants should respond to – for example with reference to experimental design.

Additional pages will only be granted if the triage panel has requested for example a Gantt chart, flowchart, diagram that requires additional space. Use an A4 format with Arial typeface and a minimum font size of 11pt. The response is to all reviews received. A subsequent response to any late reviews must also retain response text on all earlier reviews and not exceed the specified page format.

If the response needs to be amended, for example because of further later peer review comments, the existing copy will need to be removed and a new version uploaded.

You may like to read our blog post on 10 expert tips for responding to peer review comments.

Last updated: 20 August 2021

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