Panel member selection and participant roles - EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) uses a prescribed process for selecting and inviting meeting participants. The process was developed to ensure that EPSRC can demonstrate consistency and transparency in its approach, and to ensure that meeting participants are well placed, briefed and qualified in their roles.

Identifying potential meeting participants

Peer review panel members are selected from the stakeholder community relevant to the specific panel remit.

The aim of the selection process is to assemble a meeting that collectively possesses the requisite competencies, including:

  • sufficient knowledge of the areas under consideration
  • a knowledge of EPSRC and its processes
  • skills in analysis and judgement
  • appropriate interpersonal, organisational and management skills
  • an appropriate set of values and ethics.

If possible, participants are selected from the EPSRC Peer Review College (see reviewer selection).

It is important to stress that there is no hierarchy between reviewers and panel members. They are of equal standing within the process but have different roles. The reviewer considers the strengths and weaknesses of a specific proposal, whereas the panel participant gives a subjective judgement across a group of proposals.

Role descriptions

Panel chair

Each panel has a chair to lead the meeting and ensure panel decisions are delivered to EPSRC. Chairs are selected based on the panel chair person specification and availability.

Person specification

EPSRC will aim to select a panel chair with as many of the following attributes as possible:

  • EPSRC reviewing experience within the last two years
  • an EPSRC college member
  • recent EPSRC panel experience, ideally within the last two years
  • awareness of EPSRC policy, procedures and strategy
  • able to lead and chair a panel meeting
  • standing in the research community served by the panel
  • able to take a broad and strategic view of research inside and outside
  • their own research area.

The panel chair is asked to carry out the following actions:

  • lead the panel meeting
  • facilitate discussions
  • keep the meeting to time
  • have an overview of all the proposals at the meeting
  • ensure all attendees have a fair opportunity to input into the meeting
  • lead discussions that help set the proposals in the wider context of the whole EPSRC portfolio
  • be familiar with EPSRC’s policies and strategies
  • work with panel members and EPSRC staff before, during and after the meeting to ensure the panel considers all relevant information
  • ensure the meeting advice has broad support of panel members, delivers EPSRC’s strategic goals, and is clearly and correctly reported to EPSRC
  • bring a non-biased view to the proposals and the applicants.

Introducers

Each introducer has specific roles listed below and is asked to:

  • read in detail those proposals assigned to them
  • read as many other proposals in the pack that they can in advance of the meeting so that they can join in the tensioning and ranking discussion
  • concentrate on the reviewer comments, principal investigator’s response and the contextual information in making their recommendation on the proposal
  • take into consideration the written comments made by the reviewers rather than focusing on just the tick boxes
  • make comments based on the assessment criteria (quality, national importance, impact, resources and management, applicant ability) and any other scheme-specific criteria
  • bring a non-biased view to the proposals and the applicants.

Each application will have three introducers assigned to it.

First introducer (generalist)

First introducer should:

  • identify discrepancies between reviewers’ comments, highlight important issues, and address whether the principal investigator has responded well to these
  • lead discussion on the proposal, basing this on the assessment criteria and the scores given to each criterion
  • focus on quality as the primary criterion, giving due consideration to the other criteria
  • comment on how the research fits with EPSRC’s published strategy as part of the discussion of the ‘national importance’ criterion.

Second introducer (specialist)

In this context, specialist refers to the meeting participant with expertise closest to the subject area of the proposal (taking into account any conflicts of interest). The second introducer should:

  • add any additional comments to first introducer
  • highlight reasons for differences in scores between introducers (where appropriate)
  • focus on quality as the primary criterion, giving due consideration to the other criteria
  • comment on how the research fits with EPSRC’s published strategy as part of the discussion of the ‘national importance’ criterion.

Third Introducer (generalist, contextual)

Third introducer should:

  • identify any discrepancies, particularly where there’s disagreement between the first and second introducer
  • focus on the major secondary criterion of ‘national importance’, introducing any issues for discussion that haven’t taken place
  • raise any strategic issues based on the batch of proposals they are introducing (the third introducer will be assigned proposals based on a grouping of research areas).

The aim is that the third introducer should look at a group of proposals in similar research areas so that they are able to compare proposals.

The meeting convenor

This role would usually be carried out by an EPSRC employee. The convenor is required to:

  • be an active member of the meeting
  • brief the chair before the meeting on the proposals and any other relevant issues
  • give a presentation at the start of the meeting so that everyone in the room understands the objectives of the meeting and their own role throughout
  • assist the chair in keeping the meeting to time
  • ensure the meeting adheres to EPSRC policy and procedures
    prevent any re-reviewing
  • ensure attendees use the invited resubmission policy correctly
  • be able to answer any questions that the attendees may have
  • be able to suggest solutions and help the chair to resolve disagreements at the meeting
  • have the final say on how any disagreements are resolved (such as defer for more reviewers)
  • ask the introducers whether they have any specific feedback for the applicant
  • keep a formal record of the discussion at the meeting
  • ensure any conflicts of interest are identified and handled appropriately.

Rover

Roving panel members (rovers) are used where multiple panel meetings are held in parallel on the same day. Rovers are used to advise the head of theme as to the relative quality of the proposals assessed by each panel.

Rovers are required to:

  • read a selection of the proposals to be assessed at each panel meeting
  • observe the discussion of these proposals during the panel meetings
  • participate in a tensioning meeting to discuss the relative qualities of the rank ordered lists.

Rovers do not act as introducers on proposals.

Last updated: 28 February 2022

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