Advisory Committee selection process

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Introduction to research programme planning describes how the definition and delivery of the STFC programme is aided by a range of advisory, peer review, coordinating, steering and management committees.

STFC places great importance on obtaining high-quality scientific advice which we use to guide our investment strategy and in developing our overall science and technology programme. Our advisory committees comprise experts, drawn mainly from universities and industry.

The principles governing appointments

The Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life laid down a set of principles concerning appointments to public bodies. Although the full impact of these principles strictly applies only to the selection procedure for members of its council, STFC considers that the spirit of the Nolan recommendations should also be applied to its main advisory panels and any peer review committees that influence decisions on funding.

STFC places great importance on obtaining high quality scientific advice which we use to guide our investment strategy and in developing our overall science and technology programme. Our advisory committees comprise of experts, drawn mainly from universities and industry.

The STFC process

In deciding the membership of its advisory committees and specialist panels, STFC consults widely with its community on an annual basis. STFC may also issue additional calls on an ad hoc basis for specific committees and panels when needed. The community is notified about any calls for nominations through this website, community mailing lists, newsletters and other publications. We also invite nominations and seek advice from our council and science board.

The factors

The principle of selection based on merit is the key factor when deciding on STFC committee membership. In this context, merit relates to the high professional standing of the nominees, their experience of working in areas that are relevant to STFC and their abilities as committee members. We then consider whether the nominees have:

  • the appropriate scientific or technical expertise for the vacant appointment, in terms of the function of the committee and of the expertise provided by the other members (so that we have the right balance with no gaps or unnecessary duplication)
  • the relevant experience (for example, of working abroad, in industry, in a large group or in a small group, in collaboration with other groups or other agencies, or of serving on STFC and non-STFC committees)
  • the time to do the job effectively, or whether we are in danger of over using a person in our committee system
  • appropriate links with other bodies, for example, we might want cross membership with other STFC committees or someone who had direct links into other organisations
  • any possible conflicts of interest.

Weight is also given to achieving the right balance of scientific expertise and geographical representation on individual committees, including international perspectives.

The nomination and selection process is undertaken in line with STFC’s policy on equal opportunities.

The selection process

Membership of our standing committees and panels (including peer review panels) is reviewed annually.

As an essential part of this exercise, the community is invited to make nominations for membership. Following the close of the call for nominations, the following process is adopted:

  • short listing: using the list of nominations (but not confined to it), a shortlist of names for each vacancy is drawn up following discussions between STFC staff in consultation with the committee chair and, if required, others
  • interviews of chairs and deputy chairs: in the case of appointing a chair, an interview panel comprising STFC representatives and representatives from the committee to which they will report is usually convened. For committees reporting directly to council, this process is also followed for the appointment of a deputy chair
  • convene selection panels for each committee and recommendations to council: for committees that report directly to council, a selection panel is conducted. Following the selection panel, a recommended list of membership is prepared for the STFC Council. Recommendations (with reserves) are discussed with the Executive Chair and STFC Executive Board, and passed to council for approval
  • informing new members: following approval, new members are sent letters of appointment, together with conduct information and a list of meeting dates.

Oversight of the process

The process is overseen by the STFC Executive Chair and reported to council.


If you have any queries on this process, contact:

Trish Mullins – Research and Innovation Strategy

Telephone: 01793 442873

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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