ERC application evaluation takes place in several stages. Applications from the various research domains are assigned to and evaluated by specialist panels consisting of experts in the applicable domain.

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Excellence is the only evaluation criterion of the ERC. Scientific excellence, ambition and feasibility of the project idea are given priority; excellence is also the only evaluation criterion for applicants. Descriptions of the procedure and the evaluation criteria can be found in the respective work programme as well as in the guidelines for applicants of the current call.

The Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants Review Process

Applications submitted are evaluated in two stages.

In both stages, the applications are first evaluated individually by several reviewers and then finally by the panel. Both the individual reviews and the panel evaluation include a grade for the proposal; the focus is on the research project, but the research achievements and career of the applicant are also evaluated.

The structure of the panels with the research areas assigned to them can be found in the current work programme as well as in the guidelines for applicants for the current call .

guidelines for applicants.

  • A - invited: Project is of sufficient quality to proceed to the second stage
  • A - not invited: Project is of sufficient quality, but does not make it to the second stage
  • B - Project is of high quality, but is not sufficient enough to advance to the second stage
  • C - Project is of insufficient quality and will not advance to the second stage

Within the second evaluation stage, the entire application is re-evaluated by the panel with the assistance of external experts. Additionally, interviews take place in Brussels in which PIs present their research projects to the respective panel. On the basis of the decision made by the panel, the application is then classified in a new ranking list. After the panel assessments have been completed, each funding area’s panel chairs create a consolidated ranking list of all applications.

In order to be funded, an application must have achieved an outstanding rating and, at the same time, be within the framework of the respective panel’s budget.
Applications that fall outside the panel’s budget are placed on a reserve list. The PIs are informed of the status of their application as follows following the second stage:

  • A – Project is recommended for funding
  • B - Project is not recommended for funding

The Synergy Grant Peer-Review Process

In Synergy Grant calls for applications, the one-stage application process is followed by a three-stage evaluation process. Applications are evaluated by independent experts in a peer review process. Scientific excellence is the sole selection criterion. The PIs and the project are evaluated and given a score (A/B/C). The PIs are evaluated individually, taking their career status and academic environment into account.

Stage 1: Only Part B1 is evaluated at this stage (5-page summary of the project, CVs, track records).
The evaluation is carried out by a pool of around 80 experts. The respective panels are dynamically assembled to ensure the best possible expertise for a specific group of applications.

Possible results:

  • A - invited: High quality – will progress to Stage 2
  • A - not invited: Project is of sufficient quality, but does not make it to the second stage
  • B: Good quality - will not progress to Stage 2
  • C: Insufficient quality

Stage 2: At this stage, the entire application is evaluated, in other words both Parts B1 (see above) and B2 (fifteen-page project description).
The complete application will be examined. Applications selected will be re-evaluated by five panels. Based on these assessments, a subset of applications submitted will progress to the next stage, which consists of PIs being invited to an interview in Brussels (or at the moment to a virtual interview).

Possible results:

  • A: High quality – will reach Stage 3
  • B: High quality – will not progress to Stage 3

Stage 3: Principal Investigators are invited for an interview.
PIs whose applications received a score of A in Stage 2 will be invited to an interview by the panels in Brussels (or at the moment to a virtual interview).

Possible results:

  • A: Project is recommended for funding
  • B: Project is not recommended for funding

Should a project not be recommended for funding and be resubmitted at a later date, the results of this submission will likely influence the requirements for resubmission.

The Review Process for Proof-of-Concept Grants (PoC)

PoC Grant application assessment takes place in a one-stage evaluation process (peer review), with the panel only meeting in exceptional cases. In many cases, appraisers do not have any special technical expertise, but are selected primarily on the basis of their business skills.

As with the other ERC grants, "Excellence" is the only assessment criterion for PoC applications. Projects are evaluated in terms of innovation potential and suitability with regards to the chosen method. PIs will be judged on their capacity and commitment. The assessment is made based upon three assessment elements, specifically "Breakthrough innovation potential", "Approach and methodology" and "Principal Investigator - strategic lead and project management" and projects are awarded a score of either "very good", "good" or "fail". In order to be funded, an application must receive approval ("very good" or "good") from a majority of the reviewers for all criteria. The projects are then ranked.

Interviews in the Review Process

In all funding lines, with the exception of the PoC, interviews form part of the assessment.

In the interviews, panel members have the opportunity to ask PIs questions. The questions can come directly from the members of the panel on-site or from external experts who have sent their questions to the panel. Traditionally, PIs give a short presentation of 5-10 minutes in length (depending on the panel) about the project. The question and answer session will directly follow the presentation. Here, PIs have the opportunity to briefly answer questions about the project and about themselves.

The procedural specifications and means of preparation for the interview can vary depending on the type of grant, subject area and panel. All PIs invited to an interview will receive specific information directly from the ERC..

The NKS ERC organises interview trainings for the respective type of grant (StG, CoG, AdvG and SyG) and subject area.

The Review Panels

Project applications submitted to the ERC are evaluated by independent experts in an international peer review process. These are selected by the Scientific Council "Scientific Council" on the basis of their scientific reputation. The selection process and the evaluation criteria are set out in the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation.

To structure the review process, the Scientific Council has established 28 thematically focused review panels for StG, CoG and AdvG that are divided into the three major research domains:

  • Social Sciences and Humanities: 8 panels
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering: 11 panels
  • Life Sciences: 9 panels

Each panel consists of a chairperson and around ten to fifteen members. Further external experts are additionally involved in the assessment process.

The names of the panel chairs are announced before the submission deadline. The names of the panel members are also published, but only after the review process has ended.

At the time of application submission, the PI(s) must specify their preferred primary evaluation panel themselves. In the case of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary projects, the PI can also select more than one panel. It is also possible that a primary panel will send interdisciplinary applications to another panel for a second assessment or consults experts from this secondary panel as part of the assessment.