RCUK Demand Management week on the blog! NERC and demand management

Welcome to RCUK Demand Management week on the blog! Today’s focus is on the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and their views on, and actions around, demand management.

What does NERC do already in respect of demand management? – NERC already employs various measures to manage demand and to maintain success rates at around 20%, such as:

  • limiting the number of proposals a principal investigator can submit;
  • rejecting around 40% of proposals prior to external peer review through a triage-type sift;
  • limiting resubmissions;
  • requiring preapplication outlinebids for large grants;
  • publishing the success rates of research organisations to encourage selfmanagement of demand and quality;
  • consolidating and streamlining grants schemes (e.g. the small grants scheme which closed recently).

What are NERC’s future plans for demand management? NERC’s 2011-15 Delivery Plan stipulates a number of further plans for managing demand for funds in future, including the introduction of demand management procedures for Responsive Mode proposals submitted from 1 January 2012. The aim will be to improve success rates and to increase the efficiency of the applications and assessment procedures. Uncompetitive proposals (defined as those scoring 6 ot below for excellence) will be the main focus. NERC aim to manage this by working with institutions, asking them to self-manage their applications and focus on competitive proposals. All institutions will be required to participate and will be eligible for sanction, if progress in reducing uncompetitive proposals are not observed to the targets and timescales agreed. Full details of the demand management system being introduced will be available from the NERC website later this month. We will bring you full details on the Blog when they are announced.

I am interested in applying to NERC. How can I make sure my application stands the best chance of being funded? – BU has established an internal peer review scheme (Research Proposal Review Service) which has been up and running in its current form for almost 12 months now. The scheme is managed by Caroline O’Kane and a whopping 21 proposals have been reviewed since July. If you are submitting an bid to NERC then I strongly encourage you to work with Caroline through the RPRS. You can also check the Blog to see what proposal writing sessions are running at BU. For example, on 23 and 24 November Dr Martin Pickard will be visiting BU to run sessions specifically focusing on writing and preparing applications for Research Council funding – read more and book a place here. Martin’s sessions are excellent and always well received, and I would encourage anyone considering applying for research funding to attend.