Advice for reviewers

This page provides general advice and guidance for reviewers on completing reports for the EPSRC peer review process. You should also refer to the detail guidance notes when preparing to complete a review.

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 around a series of assessment criteria. There are five core criteria: research quality; national importance; pathways to impact; applicant ability; and resources and management. In addition most funding schemes have additional scheme-specific criteria. Research quality remains the pre-eminent assessment criterion for all proposals, while national importance will also play a major role in the assessment process.

Within the national importance assessment reviewers are also asked to comment explicitly on the strategic fit of the proposal with respect to the portfolio we are trying to create (as described in the our portfolio section of the EPSRC 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) 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 Research Councils UK Je-S system.

If you prefer to work off-line then download versions of all review forms are available on our website. Once you have completed your report in this way then submit it by cut 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, please 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.

Further information

Obtaining reviewer reports is a part of the grants processing system now managed on our behalf by the RCUK Grants Team. If you have an issue or query relating to a specific review request you have been sent, then please raise this with the RCUK Grants Team contact that sent you the request.

General enquiries regarding the role of reviewers and the EPSRC peer review process can be sent to EPSRCPeerReviewPolicy@epsrc.ac.uk.