Thursday, 15 October 2009

Engineering Eligibility

In its latest Newsletter the EPSRC reminded applicants of the changes it is to make next year to its rules on eligibility. Following uproar from the science community earlier this year EPSRC backpedaled somewhat on its original proposals, and the current plan is that from April next year the following rules will apply:

Applicants will be limited to submitting only ONE application in the subsequent year if they:

  • have 3 or more unfunded proposal within a 2 year period ranked in the bottom half of a prioritisation list, or are rejected before the panel meeting AND

  • have an overall success rate of less than 25% over the same 2 year period.

EPSRC's revised proposals have been so watered down that I imagine in reality they will only affect a very small percentage of applicants. But I've heard that some surprisingly strong applications have recently been rejected before the panel meeting, as one out of three of their reviews have been poor (with the other two excellent). Is this EPSRC 'engineering' the system? I couldn't possibly comment.

Other Research Councils will be looking on with interest. Given the current poor success rates and the squeeze on funding, all will be looking at ways to cut out time-wasting or hopeless applications. But let's hope not too many babies are thrown out with the bathwater.

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