Repeatedly Unsuccessful Applicants Restricted Period

The Repeatedly Unsuccessful Applicants (RUA) policy helps alleviate pressure on all involved in EPSRC’s Peer Review process. Over the two decades preceding the policy, the number of applications received by Research Councils had doubled, putting a huge pressure on the Peer Review system, including reviewers and panels.

EPSRC restricts those with long term poor application behaviour to submitting one application, as either a Principle or Co-Investigator, in the following 12 months. We ask the restricted applicant to review their submission strategy with their colleagues and research organisation.

RUA Selection Criteria

EPSRC check grant applicants who, as a Principle Investigator, have:

  • Three or more applications ranked in the bottom half of a funding prioritisation list, or rejected before panel, within the previous two years
  • An overall personal success rate of less than 25 per cent in the same two year period

Calculating Personal Success Rates

EPSRC calculate your success rate by dividing the number of funded proposals with you as the Principle Investigator, by the total submitted with a funding decision decided. All full proposals submitted as a Principal Investigator are considered over a rolling two-year period. However, we do not consider:

  • Applications submitted as a Co-Investigator – only your record as a Principal Investigator is considered
  • Proposals rejected because they were out of EPSRC remit
  • Applications withdrawn prior to peer review
  • Activities where Peer Review is led by another funding body
  • Training grants
  • Outline applications
  • Managed Calls with a formal EPSRC sift stage - applications passed a formal EPSRC sift stage and invited to a second or Interview stage are included in the applicant’s personal success rate, but not counted towards the 'bottom half’ criterion
  • Institutional awards, where EPSRC dictates who must lead a bid - for example in Science Bridges and Bridging the Gaps
  • Proposals ranked on prioritisation panel lists consisting of less than ten grant applications; however, though this data does not contribute to the ‘bottom half’ criterion, it is used to calculate a person’s success rate

Joint Applications by Multiple Research Organisations

EPSRC consider all Principal Investigators equally, irrespective of whether they are from the lead organisation or not.

Policy Implications on Restricted Applicants

Applicants meeting the criteria can only submit one application during the following 12 month period, and asked to review their submission behaviour.

RUA Notification

Each month EPSRC email those who:

  • Become restricted and enter their 12 month restricted period
  • Become close to meeting the criteria, advising when a person is only one unsuccessful application away from restriction
  • Because of a recent decision or an old unsuccessful decision falling out of the rolling two year period, are no longer only one unsuccessful decision away from becoming restricted
  • Come to the end of their 12 month restricted period. At this point, depending on the decision dates of applications, a person may enter a second restricted period, become warned, or no longer be affected by the policy
  • Have restricted or warned colleagues, such as Research Officers at their organisations

Applications in Peer Review when Informed of Restriction

Applications already submitted to EPSRC are processed as usual, but you will only be able to submit one new application during the restricted period.

Application Withdrawal

Applications withdrawn before Peer Review do not count towards the RUA policy, but after Peer Review, count as an unsuccessful proposal and contribute to policy calculations.

RUA Appeals

If you have been contacted about restriction but feel you do not meet the criteria, first contact the EPSRC portfolio manager for your research area. If your disagreement remains unresolved, your query will be escalated to the EPSRC Theme Lead. If a problem still remains, ask your university pro-vice chancellor to contact EPSRC to discuss the matter.

Restricted Period Dates

Individuals meeting the RUA policy criteria are identified on the 1st of each month and use proposal data from the two years preceding it. The restricted period will start three or four working days later, when EPSRC issue an email to the individual and their university. The restricted period automatically ends after 12 months. EPSRC expect to receive details about what steps have been taken to address issues with submission behaviour.

Applications During a Restricted Period

EPSRC will reject all applications after the one permitted during the 12 month restricted period. Only the first full application you submit will be accepted.

After the Restricted Period

Following a restricted period, track records are calculated as normal using data from the previous two years. If you choose to make the permitted single full application, it is used in identifying RUAs whether it is successful or unsuccessful. With extreme submission behaviour, it is therefore possible to be subject to two consecutive restricted periods. This policy may seem harsh, but EPSRC believe it is the fairest method so all are judged in the same way, and have found it effective at deterring poor submission behaviour.

More information

If you have any questions, please contact the EPSRC portfolio manager for your research area.

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