Unsuccessful applicants and resubmissions - EPSRC


EPSRC policy on resubmissions

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) does not accept uninvited resubmissions of proposals to help reduce the pressure on everyone involved in our peer review process.

EPSRC expects submitted proposals to have been carefully planned, written, and checked, so it is highly competitive for funding.

Applicants should submit fewer, higher quality proposals so reviewers can spend more time reviewing each one. This will produce well considered reviews, benefiting applicants, panel members, and the wider community.

To help explain what constitutes a resubmission, EPSRC asked experienced and diverse peer reviewers what they think differentiates a new proposal from a resubmission:

Professor Paul Raithby, Department of Chemistry, University of Bath

In order to succeed with a new proposal and differentiate it from a resubmission I think that it is important to reformulate the idea with a different focus and modified objectives.

I try to use the constructive comments from the reviewers on the previous proposal and, depending on what they have said, either focus down and tighten up the proposal or consider expanding the objectives by bringing in collaborators who can add a new dimension to the proposal.

If it has been possible to do some work in the area, then, including new preliminary results is helpful, and this often opens up new directions that can be capitalised upon in the new proposal.

Professor Ian White, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

For me, a new proposal would be warranted if it concerned a separate topic from a previous proposal or introduced a major new concept that hadn’t been part of a previous proposal.

Professor Mark Harman, Department of Computer Science, King’s College London

I think that a good ‘litmus test’ is that a new proposal would have a different set of objectives to any other previously submitted. I think it is important that researchers are not anxious about submitting proposals that really are different for fear that they may be branded as resubmission.

As reviewers, we should remember that many excellent researchers naturally tend to follow a particular line of research enquiry in their work. This inherently means that they will be using a similar overall approach to a set of problems, or will be attacking closely related problems in several grants.

However, as prospective project leads, it is important that we reconsider all aspects of a proposal. The best way to do this is to start with a blank sheet for every new grant, and resist the temptation to use a previous near miss as a starting point. Having said that, I certainly see no problem with the re-use, where appropriate, of referee-favoured aspects of a previous unfunded proposal.

Professor David Hukins, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham

I would expect to see a new idea that didn’t appear in the original proposal. This could be a new way of doing the project or substantially changed aims.

Whatever the change was, I would expect it to come from the applicants and not merely be in response to specific comments made by reviewers for the original proposal.

Considerations when preparing new proposals

EPSRC expects previously unfunded proposals to be substantially changed before being submitted for funding again. It is the responsibility of the project lead to ensure that their application is not a re-submission, to the satisfaction of EPSRC.

If you amend a past proposal to only account for panel and reviewer comments or other minor changes, the application will be rejected as a resubmission.

Check the guidance on what to include when you’re preparing a new proposal.

Examine the first draft of your new application critically, asking yourself the following questions:

  • are the overall aims and high-level objectives largely the same?
  • is the general scientific approach used to meet these objectives broadly the same?
  • is the team of project leads, co-leads and researchers similar?
  • are the resources required mostly the same?

If the answer to most of these questions is yes, particularly the first and second question, it is likely your proposal would be considered a resubmission. Therefore, ensure new applications have different aims and objectives, target a different problem, or establish a programme using different techniques.

If you still have questions after going through this process, contact the relevant portfolio manager for your area to discuss further. EPSRC staff are happy to discuss general principles regarding the policy, but cannot discuss the details of a particular proposal.

Contact details for all EPSRC staff.

Last updated: 28 July 2023

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