How MRC selects peer reviewers - MRC

1. External peer review process

MRC programme managers work closely with Expert External Referee Selectors (EERS) to select independent expert reviewers to review most of our grant and fellowship proposals. This excludes some managed mode funding opportunities, which are reviewed by a panel of experts. EERS are qualified scientists with experience of nationally and internationally-competitive research relevant to MRC’s remit.

If you are interested in becoming an EERS:


We aim for three reviews for each proposal. More reviews may be sought for larger-scale, more complex or interdisciplinary proposals. Sometimes it may not be possible to obtain three external reviews due to pressures on the academic community. With the support of our expert board and panel members, a funding decision will be taken if there is sufficient evidence.

A balance of expert reviewer opinions is sought to cover the different aspects of the proposal, which typically relate to:

  • scientific understanding and rationale
  • technical aspects of the proposal
  • medical need and relevance
  • deliverability and project plan.

An appropriate balance of national and international reviewers is sought, as is a gender diversity balance.

Reviewers are expected to have established expertise based on peer recognition and publication record, a strong track record in the research area and appropriate seniority to review the proposal.

Reviewers should not have a conflict of interest with the proposal. If a conflict of interest is declared that influences or is seen to influence the outcome, the review will not be used in the assessment process.

2. Assessment criteria and scoring

The assessment of all research proposals is based on three core criteria:


How important are the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed?

Scientific potential

What are the prospects for good scientific progress?

Resources requested

Are the funds requested essential for the work and does the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested?

Further detailed criteria for the different schemes we operate can be found on the Assessment criteria page.

Our scoring system allows peer reviewers to provide an overall score for a research proposal, taking into account all the assessment criteria. The scoring matrix contains descriptions of what we expect of proposals in each scoring band.

3. Next steps

External peer review comments inform decisions about whether proposals advance to the funding meeting.

Last updated: 19 May 2022

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