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Evaluation of ERC grant proposals: what to expect in 2024
ID 70 2023-07-03 / 2024-09-30
The 2024 ERC Work Programme is expected to be formally adopted in July 2023 and some of the planned changes that the ERC Scientific Council has proposed to introduce have been made public last December (evaluation forms and processes) and in March this year (new panels and lump sum funding). This announcement gives further detail on research assessment, the evaluation process, lump sum funding, as well as the tentative schedule of the upcoming grant competitions.
Research assessment: focus on the project
The proposals for ERC grants will continue to be evaluated based on the sole criterion of scientific excellence. ERC panels will primarily evaluate the ground-breaking nature, ambition, and feasibility of the research project. At the same time, they will evaluate the intellectual capacity, creativity, and commitment of the applicant principal investigator, with a focus on the extent to which the applicant has the excellence and required scientific expertise to successfully execute the proposed project.
Broad assessment of the applicant
The ERC Work Programme will no longer include detailed prescriptive profiles of principal investigators. In the application, the Curriculum Vitae and Track Record will be merged into one document of up to four pages. The applicant will be expected to include – apart from standard biographical information – a list of up to ten research outputs that demonstrate how they have advanced knowledge in their field, with an emphasis on more recent achievements, and a list of selected examples of significant peer recognition (for example, prizes). A short explanation of the significance of the selected outputs, the applicant’s role in producing each of them, and how the applicant has demonstrated their capacity to successfully carry out the proposed project can also be included. The applicant may also include relevant information on, for example, career breaks, unusual career paths, as well as any particularly noteworthy contributions to the research community. These will not in themselves be evaluated but are important to provide context to the evaluation panels when assessing the principal investigator’s research achievements and peer recognition in relation to their career stage.
In Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants calls, ERC panels will be able to admit at most 44 proposals to step 2 of the evaluation. A distinction in the scoring at step 1 will be made between proposals obtaining a score of A and invited to step 2 of the evaluation, and proposals obtaining a score of A but not ranked among the 44 proposals admitted to step 2. A candidate whose proposal is scored A at step 1 of the evaluation, but not taken to interview, will be free to submit a proposal in the following year’s calls.
Lump sum funding in Advanced Grants
2024 Advanced Grants will be awarded as a single lump sum contribution for the entirety of the project, for a sum approved by the ERC panel. The payment of the lump sum will be based on the work carried out and reported, irrespective of the actual costs incurred for the project or the successful outcome of the project activities. Additional funding, for example to purchase major equipment or get access to research facilities, can be applied for and will be made part of the lump sum. Successful applicants will still be able to benefit from portability, meaning that they will be able to request to transfer their entire grant, or a part of it, to a new beneficiary, as has been the case under the funding based on the actual costs until 2023.