Administrative procedure for the Researcher Project calls in 2022
Learn about the administrative procedures for the Researcher Project calls with application deadlines in February 2022.
- The applications are first assessed by a set of referee panels assembled based on the scientific scope of the applications. This is independent of which topic the applicant has selected.
- The Research Council then considers the application’s relevance to the topic selected by the applicant.
- Applications that, in principle, target topics other than Ground-breaking Research (FRIPRO), but are not granted funding, will compete for the funding for Ground-breaking Research if they meet the qualification requirement: a mark of 6 or 7 for all the criteria assessed by the panel.
- Finally, the Research Council administration presents alternative ranked lists to the portfolio boards, which will make the final funding decisions.
Click on the boxes below to open them and see a more detailed description of the various elements of the administrative procedure:
As soon as the applications are received, the Research Council conducts a preliminary administrative review. Applications that do not meet the formal requirements described in the call may be rejected.
The applications are assessed by 29 different panel groups. Within each panel group, the applications are distributed between a certain number of referee panels on the basis of the applications’ scientific scope and the number of applications received under the research area in question.
See the panel groups for the Researcher Project calls (pdf in Norwegian).
In total, there will be around 100 panels in 2022. It is the applications scientific scope, not the selected topic from the call, that determines which panel that will assess the application. With support from a machine learning algorithm, the around 2,500 applications that we receive, are distributed on the different panel groups. The algorithm is trained based on previous project descriptions and the panel groups they were assigned to. This pre-sorting of the 2,500 applications, frees up a lot of our case officer's time.
The case officers of each panel group distribute the proposals to the panel that will give the best possible assessment. The projects title, objectives and summary are the main sources of information we use when assigning applications to panels. Therefore, we encourage applicants to write these texts clearly so that case officers and referees with a general scientific understanding of the field can understand. Several applications are regarded to fit in more than one panel group. For example, interdisciplinary proposals and proposals where it is difficult to find similarities to others. In such cases, the application is considered for more than one group. Finally, when case officers agree, it is assigned to the panel group where it will receive the best and most qualified assessment.
Once the applications have been assigned to a group, we organise them in panels of 20–30 applications. The applications in a panel are within the same scientific field, which means that 4–7 referees have the expertise to assess most of the proposals in the panel. Normally, the same case officer is involved in all parts of the process, from the application is assigned to a panel, until the panel meeting is completed.
Recruiting referees to assess the applications starts before the application submission deadline but is not completed before proposals have been assigned to a panel.
Our referees must meet the following requirements:
- They must work abroad.
- They must be active researchers who have produced a significant body of work in terms of both quantity and quality.
- They should qualify for professorship. The minimum requirement is qualifications as associate professor.
Expert Lookup is our most important tool to find referees. We perform automated searches based on project titles, objectives and summaries, as well as manual searches. The case officers then make a thorough assessment whether the referees are a good match for one of our panels, or perhaps to assess individual applications. We supplement the findings in Expert Lookup with searches on other websites such as the Web of Science and Google Scholar, as well as well-known foreign universities in the various fields. The list of sources varies from field to field. We also consider the applicant’s own suggestions for suitable referees or description of suitable expertise.
The main rule is that the same referee is not to be used more than three times in a row.
When the entire application process is finalized, the panels with their referees are published.
The researchers that have accepted to be a referee, receive a list of all project managers and partners of the applications assigned to their panel. The list is returned with statements regarding their impartiality towards everyone on the list. They are asked to pay special attention to the points in the impartiality provisions where collaboration, friendship and conflicts are discussed.
The panel consists of minimum four referees. Overall, their competence must cover the scientific content of all the applications to be assessed by the panel. At least one panel member must have experience from interdisciplinary research.
Before the referees get access to any content of the proposals they are to assess, they must consent to our provisions on confidentiality. Based on the title, objectives, and summary of the applications, the referees declare their level of expertise. Therefore, we encourage applicants to word these texts in a way that enables the panel members to state their level of expertise as accurately as possible. The texts must be informative to referees with general expertise in the field.
The levels of expertise are defined as:
- Specialist (S): The proposal is within your primary area(s) of expertise or connected to your research interests. You are well qualified to evaluate the proposal.
- Generalist (G): You have a general knowledge of the main subject of the proposal (or at least one of the main subjects if there are several). You are qualified to evaluate the proposal
- Minor (M): You have only minor relevant expertise on the main subject(s) of the proposal.
According to our standards, at least two panel members must have a generalist or specialist expertise on each application. If the mapping of the panel’s expertise shows that some applications are not adequately covered, we will find additional external referees with specialist expertise. These external referees evaluate only individual applications and provide a similar assessment as the panel members. In 2021 there were approximately 560 referees participating as panel members and additionally 420 as external referees.
When referees are formally appointed to serve as a panel member, they receive information about the administrative procedure through the document Guidelines for referee panels assessing Researcher Projects 2022 (PDF). The document describes the whole process and the referees’ role before, during and after the panel meeting.
The four assessment criteria (Excellence – potential for advancing the state-of-the-art, Excellence – quality of R&D activities, Impact and Implementation) are also described in detail and the scale of marks is defined. Among other things, we emphasise the importance of consistent marking and the quality of the feedback to the applicants.
All panel members read and assess all applications. The grant application form, project description, CVs and other requested attachments are the basis of the assessment. Each application is given special attention by a principal and a second assessor.
- Prior to the panel meeting, the members submit their individual assessment of each application. This is made available only to the other referees when everyone has submitted their assessments. On this basis they may prepare for the discussions in the panel meeting. The principal assessor submits a draft for a complete written assessment and a mark for each of the four assessment criteria.
- The second assessor submits a brief written assessment and a mark for each criterion.
- The other panel members submit a mark for each criterion.
- Any external referees who are not part of the panel will submit a complete written assessment and a mark for each criterion.
Panel meeting procedures are described in the Guidelines for referee panels assessing Researcher Projects 2022 (PDF).
At the beginning of all panel meetings, we show a short film with instructions. This is to give all the panels the same information and to ensure consistency across the panels. You may see the film here.
The members attend the panel meeting with their different professional views, various emphasis on the elements of the application and their own interpretations of the scale of marks. All panel meetings have a common start with a review of the general instructions, including how to use the scale of marks, the assessment criteria, and expectations related to the content of the written feedback to the applicant. The panel reaches a consensus-based assessment and a unified use of the scale of marks.
The panels have access to the priorities described within each topic in the call, which allows them to see the context in which the application is written. However, the panel will not assess its relevance. The application’s relevance to the topic, i.e. how well it addresses the priorities, will be assessed by the Research Council after the panel meetings.
The Research Council's case officer will not participate in the scientific discussions. Their role is to provide guidance and ensure progress in the meeting, a joint interpretation of the assessment criteria and scale of marks, and that everyone contributes. They also handle impartiality according to the rules and stop discussions about matters that are outside the panel's tasks.
The case officer reads the written assessments, making sure that they are in accordance with the panel’s decision and meet the quality requirements described in the Guidelines for referee panels assessing Researcher Projects 2022 (PDF).
The relevance assessment is conducted by the RCN administration. As a general rule, only applications given the mark 5 or better on all criteria are eligible for funding and will be assessed for relevance to the topic selected by the applicant. For some topics, if the number of applications is very large compared to available funding, stricter mark requirements might be set for the applications that are to be assessed for relevance. Applications targeting Ground-breaking Research are exempt from relevance assessment.
The panel’s judgment of the application’s impact addresses the project’s general potential for scientific or societal impact. The Research Council assesses if the application addresses the priorities described under each topic in the call for proposals. These priorities are based on the ministries’ Letters of Allocation to the Research Council.
Primarily, the attachment Relevance to the topic is the basis for our assessment, but the application, project description and the referee panel's assessment may also be used. For Researcher projects we have internal guidelines for assessing relevance to the topic (only in Norwegian).
Applicants that have selected topics other than Ground-breaking Research (FRIPRO), but are not granted funding, will compete for the funding for Ground-breaking Research if they meet the qualification requirement: a mark of 6 or 7 for all four assessment criteria from the panel (Excellence – potential for advancing the state-of-the-art, Excellence – quality of R&D activities, Impact and Implementation). The mark awarded for relevance is not taken into account.
When the portfolio assessment begins, the applications have been awarded five separate marks and written assessments: Excellence – potential for advancing the state-of-the-art, Excellence – quality of R&D activities, Impact and Implementation and Relevance, respectively (applications that target the topic Ground-breaking Research (FRIPRO) are not assessed for relevance).
When we prioritise proposals and prepare ranked lists for the portfolio boards, we carry out a portfolio assessment that includes:
- the assigned marks based on the assessments;
- a good distribution of projects in relation to priorities set out for the specific topic;
- the relative volume and quality of grant applications within the same topic under other calls in 2022;
- any changes in the financial or scientific framework set by the ministries;
- priority will be given to projects with female project managers when the applications otherwise are considered to be on a par.
All these factors are included in the portfolio assessment, which forms the basis for the ranked lists we present to the portfolio boards.
The portfolio boards decide which proposals that are granted funding. There are 16 portfolio boards with significant variation in available budget, number of announced application types, number of Researcher Project applications for processing, thematic span and expected number of granted applications.
The various boards may emphasise the factors mentioned above (see the section ‘Portfolio assessment’) differently. However, they are not allowed to deviate from the priorities described under the topics of the call. Commonly, the administration presents alternative ranked lists to the portfolio board where the factors are differently emphasized. The lists form the basis for the portfolio board’s discussion of the considerations they want to prioritise, within the available budget and the priorities described in the call. Their final decisions may differ from the lists presented by the Research Council.
Which applications that were grated funding will be published on our website and in our newsletter in the beginning of September 2022.
For applications that are not grated funding, the applicant will receive a letter of rejection in MyRCN as soon as possible.
All applicants will receive a feedback from the panel in terms of marks with written assessments on the four criteria.
For applications assessed for relevance the written relevance assessment will be included in the feedback.
The letter of decision will also provide information on
- Which panel assessed your application
- Which referees participated in the panel
- Which portfolio board made the funding decision
- The principles applied in the portfolio assessments
- Statistics about the applications and marks
Messages at time of print 26 September 2022, 04:23 CEST