MRC remit and multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary applications - MRC

If the Medical Research Council (MRC) has invited you to review an application, please respond on the assumption that:

  • the application falls predominantly within our remit
  • discussions with other research councils have taken place if needed.

Do not be tempted to adjust your comments or score downward because you do not think that the research fits fully within MRC’s remit.

Applications spanning remits

All research councils encourage research that adds value by linking science across our remits. Research applications that need to span the distinct remits of different councils will be handled by one lead council, with others contributing to the review and funding as needed.

If invited to review multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary applications, you may not be familiar with all aspects of the research. You may have been approached as a reviewer:

  • because of your particular expertise in one aspect
  • because of your experience of cross-disciplinarity.

If you only feel confident to comment on particular elements of the application, please restrict your comments to these, and tell us what they are in the declaration of interests section in the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Reviews will also be sought from experts in all aspects to ensure appropriate coverage.

Cross-disciplinary applications should clearly articulate the added value of the approach, presenting an explicit view of how they will gain ‘more than the sum of their parts’ from the collaborations.

Reviewers considerations

We do not necessarily expect a step-change in state of the art for each individual discipline. The combination of the disciplines may be the novelty. Reviewers should apply a broad perspective to consider this, even if an expert in only one aspect of the application.

Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research may necessitate a researcher moving disciplines. While it is important you are convinced that the appropriate logistical support is in place (including training where necessary), you should take care to review the project and not the applicant or applicants.

Reviewers are encouraged to consider more deeply:

  • the benefits of a cross-disciplinary approach
  • the appropriate disciplines to involve
  • the integration required
  • how it can be achieved.

While MRC’s role is not to support industrially-led research, MRC strongly encourages academic-industry collaboration and will separately review any collaboration to ensure that MRC support would be appropriate.

Please do feel free to comment if you think the project merits MRC support. Or for example, alternatively if it should be supported directly by industry or through other means, such as via Innovate UK. But do not modify your overall score as a result.

Further concerns about the acceptability of an application

If you have any queries about the acceptability of an application which are not covered in this MRC guidance, please contact the relevant board or panel team via email:

Last updated: 23 February 2023

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