Interesting piece in the Times Higher this week. The success rate for EPSRC has gone up, from 26% to 30%, whilst many of its sister Councils have seen rates decrease. No surprise there, but it will act as a spur to the others to introduce some form of demand management, as Adrian Alsop of the ESRC suggested in his talk to us in October. He said that the ESRC was considering a range of options, including barring individual serial low achievers,spreading best practice, introducing institutional quotas, or demanding financial deposits.
The case for formalising internal peer review is getting stronger and stronger, a fact recognised by the Directors of Research at their recent Network meeting. However, any system should be supportive, non-bureaucratic and relatively quick. Otherwise it will act as a disincentive, and may put people off from even considering applying. As Oxford's PVC noted in the Times Higher article, 'it is a bit demoralising when you see your proposal has only a 10 per cent chance of success, but it is worse if you exclude ideas from being aired and evaluated.'
Do read the article in full if you get the chance. In the meantime here are the Research Councils' current success rates: