The ESRC has decided to change the configuration of its Grant Assessment Panels. These changes will take effect from November 2014.
Previously, the three panels covered the ESRC's remit as follows:
From November they will be:
My understanding is that these changes came about partly to balance out disproportionate workloads, but partly because (to quote my source) 'panels were getting set in their ways'.
This makes sense. I wouldn't want the panels to ossify (to borrow the ESRC's own term). Nevertheless, this does seem like an odd mix, and there are some strange divisions, such as 'economics' and 'economic and social history' being in separate panels. Similarly, I would have thought that 'Social Policy' had more in common with 'Sociology' and 'Socio-Legal Studies' than, say, international relations.
But the ESRC's task was a thankless one. They were never going to please everyone. I wish them well with this, and I do hope - for all our sakes - that the new arrangement works. For those who might be nervous about how their application might be viewed under the new system, there's still time to get your proposal in to be viewed in July under the final meeting of the old panels.