The RAS has emphasised its continued commitment to the peer review process as an essential element in the allocation of grants by the UK Research Councils. In response to the consultation being carried out following a Research Councils UK (RCUK) commissioned study to identify the potential for improving the efficiency of the peer review process, whilst maintaining the same standard of quality review, the RAS:
* Commends the consolidation of separate research projects into a single submission, along the lines of the Rolling Grant system operated by PPARC for many years
* Opposes the introduction of institutional-level quotas
* Notes the importance of maintaining a balance between avoiding unsuccessful
applications automatically being resubmitted and fairness to applicants.
* Opposes extending the use of outline proposals beyond directed programmes
* Cautions that the lack of obvious economic impact should not influence the funding of the most highly rated proposals
* Opposes charging for proposals
The full response can be read below
The total cost of Research Council peer review - across all activities and including the costs incurred within both Research Councils and research organisations – is calculated as approximately £196 million per year. 84% of this cost is incurred by the preparation and peer review of full research proposals by applicants and reviewers, within which 74% is the time researchers spend preparing proposals. The time costs of reviewing applications are the next largest element, and are four to five times larger than the internal administrative costs of Research Councils.
The RCUK consultation concentrates on four options which could yield significant efficiency gains in principle but which could also have significant, adverse, impacts in practice. At the same time comments were requested on the recommendations for peer review in the “Warry” report : ‘Increasing the economic impact of Research Councils’