The EPSRC has announced that from the 15th November 2011 their peer reviewers will be asked to assess the national importance of research proposals. The Council have tried to reassure people that research quality will remain the key criteria by which research proposals are assessed.
The EPSRC added the following definition of National Importance to their website:
What is National Importance?
National importance looks over a 10 to 50 year time frame. It takes into account the national importance of the research in relation to other research in the area, how it aligns to national UK priorities, user/stakeholder pull or if it underpins priority areas for other research councils.
When considering National Importance for research and training we take into account;
- the potential impact of a research area on the current or future success of the UK economy,
- whether it has been identified as an area that will enable the future development of key emerging industry(s),
- if the area makes a clear contribution to meeting key societal challenges facing the UK,
- If the area is key to the health of other research disciplines.
We are asking applicants to demonstrate the importance of their proposed research project to the UK in relation to other research in that area. We do not expect applicants to be able to predict the impact of their research, nor do we expect reviewers to make assumptions about the probability of the benefits being fully delivered. The purpose of national importance is to encourage applicants to articulate how their research aligns to national UK priorities, user/stakeholder pull or if it underpins other research areas. We encourage and recognise the research we invest in has a global impact.
A full list of the FAQs can be found on their website here.