Peer Review College - ESRC


Being a college member

As a college member, you will play a vital role in the peer review process and the UK funding landscape. By joining the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Peer Review College, a two-way agreement is formed. For details please read the service standards section.

The main role of college members is to provide reviews of research applications (grants and fellowships) and to participate in panel meetings when invited.

We aim to cap the number of review requests to no more than eight in any 12-month period for a UK academic, and four in any 12-month period for college members at user organisations or who are not based in the UK, while the number of requests made per year is often less.

Members may also be asked to assess applications to other ESRC funding schemes, or advise on funding policy and process development.

The Peer Review College is an invaluable community to us as the college members are experts in not only their respective scientific disciplines, but also ESRC’s strategy and priorities. They are encouraged to complete training to familiarise themselves with the ESRC assessment principles, so they are able to provide reviews informative to the assessment panels as well as the applicants.

Member benefits

Better understanding of reviewing and writing applications and application assessment

The benefits of becoming a college member are in the training and the reviewing of ESRC applications. These provide members with in-depth knowledge of our peer review processes and principles, helping them further increase their knowledge of reviewing and application writing. They will be a critical part of the decision-making process and get a broader view of the novel ideas coming through the funding pipeline in their area.

Formal recognition from UKRI and ESRC

ESRC is very grateful for the significant contribution our college members make via collective peer review effort to the social science research community. With consent, the name and institution of each college member will be published on the ESRC website.

View the membership list.

Completed reviews are recorded as ‘review credits’ on an ORCID account to recognise formally the contributions of the reviewers. See ORCID reviewer recognition for UKRI reviewers.

Opportunities for learning and networking

College members may receive emails from ESRC to inform them of changes to our policy or process that may impact on their role as a college member.

Training for college members

We provide college members with online training which has been developed to enable the members to understand details of the ESRC peer review process, the roles they are asked to fulfil, how they fit into that process, and how to ensure that their contributions are as helpful as possible in reaching sound decisions. The training consists of three modules which take around 45 minutes in total to complete.

See guidance for peer reviewers for information on training.

All members are strongly encouraged to complete the training before starting to review. The training is updated to remain in line with current ESRC policy and processes, and therefore we may ask the members to revisit training modules to ensure their knowledge is up to date.

Fees and expenses for members

ESRC is currently unable to pay fees for reviewers, including the college members, for reviewing.


ESRC welcomes anyone with knowledge and expertise in economic and social research subjects regardless of their research organisation or seniority.

We take a proactive approach to maintaining an appropriate balance of members across the college to ensure it contains a spread of expertise covering the full breadth of ESRC remit while upholding an appropriate balance of career stage, gender and ethnicity. This is necessary to reflect the wider research community, as well as a mix of academic and non-academic backgrounds, and geographic locations.

We seek college members from academic and non-academic backgrounds (such as, commercial or industrial, health services, public services and charity roles), regardless of where they are based (whether UK or abroad). We welcome applications from a broad range of roles and seniority.

ESRC is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and welcomes applications from all. We strongly encourage applications across the ESRC disciplinary remit from persons who identify as an ethnic minority, persons with disabilities, persons of diverse gender identities and expressions, and persons identifying with other groups that are currently underrepresented.

We are pleased to discuss any concerns about whether they can actively participate in the college, and to consider reasonable adjustments that enable individuals to apply.

Service standards agreement for members

Members are expected to:

  • be familiar with and follow the ESRC peer review code of practice
  • be familiar with ESRC’s key assessment criteria
  • provide informed, objective and timely reviews which are in line with the UKRI principles of assessment and decision-making
  • provide up to eight such reviews per year
  • provide a review within 15 working days of receipt of the application, or a mutually agreed extended period if appropriate
  • notify ESRC within five working days of a request for review if you are unable to meet the peer review request (and where possible suggest alternative reviewers)
  • keep your Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system details up to date, particularly the elements relating to availability and areas of expertise
  • notify ESRC of any prolonged period of absence (more than four weeks) in order that review requests can be suspended for an agreed period, or provide an alternative email and postal address that requests can be sent to. If the period is for longer than six months, members should contact
  • undertake training provided by ESRC for college members before start reviewing, when the reviewing process changes, and when you are undertaking a new role (for instance, panel member)
  • keep up to date with developments that may affect your role as a member of the college through, for instance, the ESRC website, newsletters or attendance at ESRC-organised events
  • serve on prioritisation panels where invited (please note that such opportunities are limited)
  • agree to membership for a period of at least two years. Continuation beyond this period or earlier withdrawals of membership are at ESRC’s discretion. You may also resign your college membership at any time by contacting

ESRC will:

  • ask you to review up to eight applications to our funding schemes or programmes during each 12-month period, although exceptionally you may be asked to review more
  • seek to ensure that all applications sent to you for review are appropriate to your areas of expertise
  • avoid soliciting reviews during any period where you have indicated you will be temporarily unavailable
  • make training available that explains your role within the ESRC process
  • ensure that you are updated when necessary with changes and developments which may affect your role and responsibilities as a Peer Review College member
  • occasionally forward your contact and subject expertise details to bodies that ESRC has a formal funding agreement or collaborative arrangement with (for instance, other research councils), or bodies where ESRC has a formal agreement that has been drawn up as part of its international strategy, so that they may contact you to request a review
  • publish your name, research or other organisation (where appropriate) and college groups on the ESRC website, including any panel meetings you attend
  • monitor the performance of all of its college members
  • invite you, if selected, to serve on our panels, which make grading and ranking decisions on grant applications submitted to ESRC

We reserve the right to discontinue the membership of individuals who fail to observe these standards of service.

We reserve the right to make reasonable changes to these standards of service.

Last updated: 24 April 2024

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