Monday, 24 January 2011

BBSRC Hints at Demand Management

Prof Douglas Kell, CEO of the BBSRC, has sent out a letter detailing changes in light of its Delivery Plan and its move to the Shared Services Centre. Whilst not explicitly introducing demand management systems (as the ESRC has stated it will), it is moving to limit neuroscience applications and has hinted that there may be some form of 'triage' in the futre.

SSC: Delays, and Future Deadlines
There will be some delays to grant applications submitted on 11 Jan, as a result of the BBSRC's move to the SSC. In addition, the next two deadlines will be later: 25 May 2011, and 25 Oct 2011.

Changes to Committee Structure
The new quadripartite 'clover leaf' system of grant committees will remain, although Committee C will expand, from 25 May, to take over responsibility for genetics and development.

Changes to Grading of Proposals
From 11 Jan the BBSRC will move to grading proposals on a 1-6 scale, in line with the other Research Councils. It notes, ominously: 'Enabling referees to score grants means that, if necessary, it will be possible in future to operate a triage of grant proposals based on referee scores, in order to eliminate lower-scoring applications before the committee meeting and reduce the burden at meetings.' Whilst I understand that having a grading system would allow triage to happen, should we read anything in to the fact that the BBSRC will sharing the same grading system as that used by the other Councils? Does this hint at the Research Councils introducing a kind of 'Shared Triage Centre'?

In addition they will be grading the 'Pathways to Impact' section, and this will have an effect on the overall grading.

Limiting Allowance for Errors
It will also limit the allowance it makes for errors in applications that have been rushed to be submitted. Apparently there are too many of these. If errors are picked up the BBSRC won't allow applicants to amend and resubmit to the same deadline, but will have to wait until the next.

Use of JeS for Referees
It sounds like they're getting strict on referees, too. 'Individuals with a poor track record of responding to such requests [to referee proposals] are unlikely to be invited to join Committees and other bodies involved in developing and delivering BBSRC science,' it states. In addition, they will be corresponding with all potential referees through the JeS system. So make sure your profile is up to date.

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