Thursday, 29 April 2010

EPSRC Demand Management and 'Office Rejection'

I've been seeking further clarification on the way the EPSRC's new 'demand management' - or blacklisting - system will work. In particular, I was wanting to know whether proposals that had not gone to the panel, so called 'office rejects', would be included in the three unfunded proposal allowance applicants get before blacklisting kicks in. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. However, EPSRC are reassuring on this; a proposal would only be rejected by the office if:
  • it had been sent out to peer review, and the reviews were so unsupportive that there was no point in it going to panel. This may seem fair enough, but I know of at least one case where a proposal was rejected was rejected on these grounds, but the reviews were based on a misunderstanding, and were factually inaccurate;
  • it doesn't fit with the call criteria, or with the remit of the EPSRC. Once again, this seems fair, although there is the question of interdisciplinary proposals. In these situations, however, EPSRC encourages applicants to contact it first and submit a 2 page 'remit query' so that it avoids being rejected on these grounds.
I asked if a proposal would be rejected by the office on a technicality - eg not having the right attachment, or a section of JeS being filled incorrectly, or the costings being incorrect. No, she said, this would not happen: if there was enough time before a deadline (or the deadline was open) the office would come back to you to rectify this. Also, JeS would be unlikely to allow you to submit an incorrectly completed form. If there wasn't time before the deadline and the application was incomplete in some way, the application would be returned, but it wouldn't count as a rejection, as it would not have gone through an assessment process.

1 comment:

  1. Added on behalf of an academic:

    I think that, in general terms, the EPSRC response is okay, but I think that they have been applying the "does not fit the call criteria" fairly pedantically.

    For example, I had a proposal for a Network grant, which got good reviews (6/6/5 in overall scores) but was pulled before panel because
    (1) we were asking for money for research student exchanges and (2) we were proposing to fund visits between universities to do prototypes between projects, which they deemed to be "doing research" and therefore not within the remit of the call.

    They gave us two options: for the proposal to go to panel with those items removed, or for us to restructure and resubmit the project. We opted for the latter, and were told that the original project would count as a failure with regard to the demand management system.

    I think this is a very narrow interpretation - the intention from both EPSRC and the reviewers seems to be that the broad proposal was acceptable and should probably be funded. Therefore it seems to be a pity that in the end, whilst it might well be funded, this is at the cost of one negative mark in the demand management system.