Grant us fairer chance

July 25, 2003

The success of a research proposal to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ("Grant rulings 'are skewed'", THES, July 11) depends very much on referees' reports and on how ranking panels deal with the proposal and an applicant's response to referees' reports.

As panellists are not experts in the subject areas of every proposal, they will not always grasp the subtleties of referees' reports and an applicant's responses. Only five minutes is allocated for discussion. If referees make inaccurate and unjust comments, proposals can get turned down.

Would it not be fairer to send each proposal, referees' comments and the applicant's response to one or two expert adjudicators? The panel could then consider the adjudicator's marks and all the papers to produce the final rank order.

Munawar Chaudhri
Cambridge University

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