NERC Pre-award assessment criteria
In selecting proposals for funding, NERC is seeking to meet a number of strategic objectives:
As well as determining the priority for funding, the criteria will also be used to guide evaluation of outputs from NERC funded projects and programmes.
There is no simple definition of research excellence. Proposals may build directly on prior work, or may involve a speculative leap forward. It may involve progress along an established research direction or a tangential switch into a new or different area, or may bring together expertise and approaches from different discipline areas. All of these approaches could demonstrate excellence, so your judgement should not simply be based on which approach has been adopted.
A proposal that demonstrates excellence can be characterised by terms such as: novel, ambitious, timely, exciting, at the international forefront, adventurous, elegant or transformative, but need not demonstrate all of them.
NERC's strategic priorities for science funding are set out in its strategy 'Next Generation Science for Planet Earth'. NERC's theme action plans then identify the research programmes needed to address the science challenges and priorities identified by the strategy. Each research programme's specific objectives and requirements are set out in the announcement of opportunity.
Therefore, when assessing research grant applications within a research programme funding round, reviewers should assess the application against the programme's objectives and requirements, as expressed in the specific announcement of opportunity.
NERC wishes to demonstrate the economic and societal impact arising from its investments. A core part of NERC's mission is to use its science for the benefit of the UK and more widely. Key to this is knowledge exchange, which provides the mechanisms for the impacts of research to be realised.
Impact activities should be an integral part of any research and NERC expects all researchers to carry them out. Along with the UK's other research councils, NERC has made it mandatory for all research grant proposals to be accompanied by pathways to impact.
Proposals will be assessed on a numerical scale - 0-6 by reviewers and 0-10 by moderating panels. Guidance on the use of the pre-award assessment criteria for reviewers and moderating panel members can be found in each scheme's specific guidance notes.