EPSRC Peer Review College Newsletter Autumn 2020

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EPSRC Peer Review College Newsletter

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Welcome to the Autumn 2020 edition of the Peer Review College Newsletter. EPSRC would like to thank you for your continued support during the current COVID 19 pandemic. 

It has been a busy time for EPSRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), in this edition we have included details of the new UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making, changes to the EPSRC Fellowships, the introduction of the new UKRI website and the Funding Finder, how UKRI will be formally recognising reviewer contributions and how UKRI are making changes to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. 

Below you will find details of how EPSRC are supporting researchers who are dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and how we would like this to be considered by reviewers and panel members. 

You also have an opportunity to input into the design of the new UKRI Funding Service.

We hope that you find the content of this newsletter useful, if you have any feedback or suggestions for future content please do let us know by e-mailing the  EPSRC Business Improvement team.

Thank you!

The Business Improvement Team

Thank you

EPSRC would like to thank all College members who have reviewed proposals for the New Horizons call and the COVID-19 call. 

UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making

UK Research and Innovation have published UKRI-wide Principles of Assessment and Decision Making. The Principles are an overview of processes that UKRI Councils currently adopt in assessment of funding applications and decision making. The Principles outline UKRI’s expectations and ambition for assessment processes and provide transparency to its’ commitment to robust decision making.

These replace EPSRC’s current Principles of Peer Review, but all existing safeguards will be upheld through guidance to assessors.

Find out more


Considering the impact of COVID-19 and Flexible working


We recognise 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 career(s) 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. We acknowledge that COVID-19 will have an unequal impact on career paths and have published guidance for applicants and reviewers on how to take account of this when writing and reviewing grant applications.

Guidance for applicants

Guidance for reviewers


Flexible Working

It is important that researchers and their research teams are able to work flexibly and in a way that meets their personal circumstances. EPSRC therefore allows applicants to tailor the support that they request in order to facilitate this. When requesting support for flexible working applicants do not have to describe the personal circumstances that result in the need for this support, rather they should describe the support required. 

Find out more

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College member online training

The College member online training has been updated to reflect the new core assessment criteria following the removal of Pathways to Impact. The training also now reflects the new UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making. 

Please do take the time to look at the updated online training modules to ensure that your contributions are as helpful as possible in reaching sound decisions.

Online training

Matched Funding

With the increased pressures of COVID-19, EPSRC would like to stress that support from the university for a grant is regarded as a benefit to building partnerships but doesn't have to equate to cash or it's equivalent. Unless it is specified in the scheme or call, EPSRC does not require matched funding, either cash or in kind to secure funding.

EPSRC assessment processes including expert reviewing and panels may acknowledge the impact of university contributions, but should not consider the level of matched university funding as a factor on which to base funding decisions.

Find out more

Changes to EPSRC Fellowships

Following an extensive consultation process over the last year, EPSRC Fellowships are changing and the new scheme will comprise:

  • EPSRC Post-doctoral Fellowships
  • EPSRC Open Fellowships

EPSRC fellowships will support talented and ambitious researchers to deliver research excellence and lead our research base in the evolution of a modern working culture.

Key characteristics of the new funding opportunity include:

  • Increased opportunities at early career stage onwards;
  • Opportunity for applicants to focus on discovery science, innovation, instrumentation/technique development or software engineering or to include non-technical elements to create positive change in the research community
  • Allows a high degree of freedom, flexibility and support for talented and ambitious researchers.

As part of the update we would like to encourage College members to update their expertise in Je-S, particularly in relation to topics related to Research Culture including, but not limited to, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; Responsible Research and Innovation or Public Engagement.

Transition between existing and new fellowship schemes

  • Applications that are already under development can continue to be submitted under the existing scheme until 14 December 2020, should candidates wish to do so. 
  • Applications under the new scheme will also be accepted from 30 November 2020 onwards.
  • Researchers that currently hold an EPSRC Fellowship will be not be affected.

A new guidance document contains details of the assessment criteria and applications process so that applicants can work on their proposals in advance of the scheme formally opening for applications.

Queries relating to the new scheme can be submitted to researchcareers@epsrc.ukri.org

Read new guidance

Funding service

The UKRI Funding Service needs your input

UKRI are building a new funding service that will eventually replace the existing Je-S system. If you have any experience of applying for funding, or are likely to apply for or assess funding in the future we would like you to help us design the service in a way that will meet your needs.

If you would like to input into the design of the new service please click on the button below to provide us with your details. We may then contact you to participate in a user research session, which typically would involve you commenting on some proposed designs and takes no longer than an hour. Sessions are arranged at a time convenient to you.

Take the survey

Find out more

Peer Review Support

EPSRC would like to thank our College members for their continued contribution to the peer review process during this challenging time. Your continued dedication to reviewing proposals, attending panel meetings and participating in pilot activities such as New Horizons has been very much appreciated. 

To continue to be able to deliver EPSRC funding we rely on your ongoing commitment to undertaking peer review activities. Below are some reminders of actions that will help us to continue to work together:

Complete and regularly update your Je-S user profile and expertise: This makes it easier for us to identify suitable reviewers

Respond to reviewer requests: A quick response where possible, even when negative helps us to be more efficient. Suggestions for alternative reviewers are possible and always welcomed. 

new UKRI website

The new UKRI Website and Funding Finder

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is creating a new, simpler and better website following intensive user research across all our audiences.

The new site will integrate all the UKRI corporate websites to deliver an efficient, informative, inspiring user experience - providing a strong unified voice for UKRI and its nine councils.

The new website will have a phased introduction. The first phase started on Thursday 29 October when the replacement for the existing UKRI website and a new single funding finder, which will contain all funding opportunities from across all the councils, went live.

Find out more


ORCID Reviewer Recognition

UKRI has developed a  new feature in it's current funding systems to recognise formally the contributions of UKRI reviewers via ORCID.

The ORCID reviewer recognition, which went live on 23 November, will enable UKRI review contributions to be publicly displayed without compromising the anonymity and confidentiality of the assessment process. 

To receive ORCID review credits, UKRI reviewers must hold an ORCID account and link ORCID iD to their Je-S account. UKRI will only send ORCID review credits to the reviewers that submit a usable review via Je-S. Please use the links below to see our webpage on how we recognise reviewer contribution an the guidance on ORCID Reviewer Recognition for UKRI reviewers. 

Get recognition


Reforming our business

UKRI reducing unnecessary bureaucracy

UK Research and Innovation is implementing a set of major changes to how it interacts with applicants- innovators and researchers.

The changes build on work already underway across UKRI to streamline and simplify it's processes (for example the EPSRC New Horizons pilot and the delivery of the new UKRI Funding Service) and the lessons learnt during UKRI's rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Find out more