Britain's academic community will be able to complete and submit research proposals electronically over the internet within the next month.
But only one of the four research councils involved in the system's development is ready to implement it.
The Electronic Document Submission system was a joint initiative between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council. It allows researchers to download a form-filler application from the relevant research council website on to their PC and complete it off-line. The application is then emailed to the research council.
The system was originally expected to go live in July, but still only the EPSRC is ready to use it.
The four research councils are closely watching the Medical Research Council's web-based Electronic Application and Assessment system with a view to modifying EDS to run completely online.