Prof David Delpy, looking for all the world like an ageing member of Herman's Hermits (or should the be Derek Smalls?), has been interviewed in Physics World. The EPSRC CEO robustly defended the Council's blacklisting procedure, pointing to the fact that the success rate has risen to 30% - way ahead of that of its sister Research Councils.
However, Prof Philip Moriarty, a condensed-matter physicist from Nottingham University, questions what he sees as the arbitrary nature of the blacklisting rules. He suggests that the EPSRC runs "a simple experiment" to test its assumption that grants falling in the bottom half of a ranked list are necessarily of poor quality.
"They should take the same set of proposals, send them out to different referees, and then give them to five different panels [and] look at the correlation in the ranked lists," he says. "If they are so confident that the principle underlying the blacklisting process is robust, then why not do this experiment? It would silence me and all the other critics of the scheme."
Well, don't hold your breath. I think EPSRC are quite happy with the new procedures, thank you very much, and won't be making a move any time soon to test the fairness of their underlying assumptions.