Tagged / peer review

Call for Members – NERC Peer Review College

NERC invites nominations for membership and affiliate membership of the NERC Peer Review College by 27 January 2012. Those selected will make an important contribution to determining the research that NERC funds and have a pivotal role in maintaining its quality. The Council is looking for College members with a high level of expertise and experience, who are prepared to devote sufficient time and take responsibility for contributing to these key decisions.  They are asking you who you think should be representing the environmental sciences community and peer reviewing applications to the NERC by nominating yourself or a colleague for membership.  Further information and guidance on how to apply can be found on the NERC website at http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/assessment/peerreview/members-call.asp or by contacting the College team (college@nerc.ac.uk).

AHRC still seeking nominations for peer reviewers – excellent opportunity!

The AHRC are still seeking nominations for new members to be appointed to its Peer Review College (PRC) who would be able to assess proposals submitted under AHRC’s research themes. In parallel they wish to increase the capacity of the College in specific research areas.

Peer review lies at the heart of the AHRC’s operations, and they remain fully committed to the principle of peer review for the assessment of proposals to their schemes and programmes. PRC members provide expert quality reviews of proposals within their areas of expertise, which inform the AHRC’s decision making processes. As well as making an important contribution to the AHRC’s peer review processes, the experience gained by membership of the College also provides benefits to individuals, departments and higher education institutions.

BU is actively encouraging all research-active staff in relevant areas to consider putting themselves forward as peer reviewers. Being part of a peer review college for a prestigious funding body such as the AHRC has a number of significant benefits, such as:

  • it will help to raise your profile
  • it is a useful way of getting an insight into how the funder works
  • it will help you to keep abreast of what work is currently being done in your discipline, thus ensuring your teaching and research are cutting edge
  • you will gain an understanding of what it takes for an application to get funded
  • you will be in a stronger position to mentor and help your colleagues with regard to internal peer review and bid writing

BU’s Dr Richard Shipway is a peer reviewer for the ESRC and recently wrote an excellent blog post on the benefits of being a peer reviewer. You can read Richard’s post here.

Further details of the call for nominations are available on the AHRC website, available here.

Applications are sought from academics at all stages of their career and, if chosen, you will serve a four year term. Candidates must be nominated by a senior academic within the University. If you want to be nominated then send your CV to me by Friday 9 December and I will liaise with Matthew Bennett,  who will put forward nominations on behalf of BU.

How to kill your funding application

Funding proposals are not the easiest (or quickest) thing in the world to write.

Not least for multi-tasking academics up against a wall of deadlines.

Jonathan O’Donnell, author of the most excellent Research Whisperer Blog,  has a similar job to mine – supporting the writing of funding proposals at his university.

I like him.  He has some good advice.   I found this post – its called 5  ways to kill your application. I think its worth reading. 

I hope you find it helpful too.

For information about how BU’s very own Research Proposal Review Service can support your current/next funding application, please contact Caroline O’Kane.

The AHRC are seeking nominations for peer reviewers

The AHRC are seeking nominations for new members to be appointed to its Peer Review College (PRC) who would be able to assess proposals submitted under AHRC’s research themes. In parallel they wish to increase the capacity of the College in specific research areas.

Peer review lies at the heart of the AHRC’s operations, and they remain fully committed to the principle of peer review for the assessment of proposals to their schemes and programmes. PRC members provide expert quality reviews of proposals within their areas of expertise, which inform the AHRC’s decision making processes. As well as making an important contribution to the AHRC’s peer review processes, the experience gained by membership of the College also provides benefits to individuals, departments and higher education institutions.

We are actively encouraging all research-active staff in relevant areas to consider putting themselves forward as peer reviewers. Being part of a peer review college for a prestigious funding body such as the AHRC has a number of significant benefits, such as:

  • it will help to raise your profile
  • it is a useful way of getting an insight into how the funder works
  • it will help you to keep abreast of what work is currently being done in your discipline, thus ensuring your teaching and research are cutting edge
  • you will gain an understanding of what it takes for an application to get funded
  • you will be in a stronger position to mentor and help your colleagues with regard to internal peer review and bid writing

BU’s Dr Richard Shipway is a peer reviewer for the ESRC and recently wrote an excellent blog post on the benefits of being a peer reviewer. You can read Richard’s post here.

Further details of the call for nominations are available on the AHRC website, available here.

Applications are sought from academics at all stages of their career and, if chosen, you will serve a four year term. Candidates must be nominated by a senior academic within the University. If you want to be nominated then send your CV to me and I will liaise with Matthew Bennett,  who will put forward nominations on behalf of BU.

Become an EC Evaluator to increase your chances success and earn spondoolies!

Becoming an EC evaluator has many benefits – it can improve your understanding of the funding approval process, strengthen your knowledge of the schemes, enable you to understand what makes a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ proposal and can help you gain further kudos in your subject area.

Being an Evaluator is basically being a peer-reviewer for  the EC, It involves examining proposals for funding against published criteria and providing comments and recommendations to the Commission. You can still apply to the EC for funding if you are registered as an evaluator.

The number of proposals you could review depends very much on your area of expertise and while normally undertaken at home, you can also travel to Brussels to perform a review.  Unlike British funders, you will get paid a day rate (up to € 450) for your time, plus travel and subsistence expenses if these have been incurred. You also do not have to review an application just because you are requested.

So what do you have to lose? Register to become an evaluator today.

The Research Development Unit welcomes our new team member, taking over the RPRS

The RDU are delighted to introduce Caroline O’Kane as our new member of the team!

“When I’m up and running I’ll be looking after the Research Peer Review Service. At the minute you can find me in Melbury House but I will be moving to Talbot Campus before too long.

I may be new to BU but I’m not new to proposal development and bidding. I’ve worked in international development for 13 years, where I was heavily involved in the bidding process from initial concept to developing and submitting funding applications and then to managing resulting projects.

I’m not new to the area either – myself, husband (1), children (3) and chickens (2) live just down the road in Parkstone.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the RPRS. If you’re any way involved in funding applications then I’ll be introducing myself to you soon.

You can contact me on extension 61356, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday mornings”

Feedback, not failure…

Prof Alan Fyall, Deputy Dean (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Tourism, discusses the experience of receiving reviewers’ comments…

After nearly 15 years of publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals I am sure I am not alone in still living in fear of emails containing the “feedback” from editors and reviewers of journals about my papers. Over the years, the inconsistency of reviewers’ comments never ceases to amaze me, while the often unhelpful and sometimes down right rude tone of some reviewers does make me sometimes beg the question …. why do I bother? After a “time out”, however, often a period of two-to-three days, upon revisiting the comments advanced I often, albeit reluctantly, accept that the two or three reviewers have probably made some good comments and that, if I calm down and just adhere to the questions raised, will generate a paper far superior to the one I first submitted. This is not always the case but more often than not reviewers do actually provide very honest, fair and helpful comments in an attempt to improve the quality of submissions. Yes, they can sometimes be pedantic, over-emphasise their own contribution and state the obvious. More often, however, they will provide a critical overview of the broad theme of the paper and its rationale, the methodology and sampling, presentation of findings and conclusions drawn, as well as an overview of the way in which the paper is organised and presented.

My advice to old and new researchers is quite simple. In the first instance, take a deep breath when opening that email, read its contents and then leave for a while and avoid at all costs a hasty and reactive response that will only make things worse. Secondly, accept that editors and reviewers are only human (well, most of them) and that what they are communicating is their views and opinions which most probably do not concur with yours and more often than not will conflict with those of other reviewers. Thirdly, take all the feedback provided and take time in amending your paper and the reply to editors and reviewers that explains exactly what changes have been made in improving the quality of your submission. Where you still disagree be constructive in your explanation and offer further insights that the reviewers may have missed in their interpretation of your work. Finally, resubmit your paper and promise to yourself that you bear no grudges against the editor and/or reviewers as you can normally guarantee that at some point in the future they will once again review your work and remember the professional manner in which you dealt with their feedback the first time. For me, after 15 years of publishing I am still learning, still amazed at some of the comments I receive and am still ……. slightly nervous about opening that email; a fear which is unlikely to vanish perhaps as we continue to learn and learn from others in our respective academic publishing journeys

The benefits of reviewing grant proposals for a research council: An insider’s perspective

Dr Richard Shipway, Senior Lecturer in Sports Studies in the School of Tourism, is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and Regional Editor (Europe) for the International Journal of Event and Festival Management. Here he provides an insider’s perspective to the benefits of being a reviewer…

Since 2010, I have been a member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Peer Review College, reviewing grants in the social sciences.  This invitation was extended eighteen months ago when I was a PI (Principal Investigator) on an ESRC funded project linked to Sport Tourism and Sports Events (the STORMING Initiative).  At first I was overwhelmed and somewhat daunted by the thought of reviewing up to eight grant applications each year and slightly wary about the additional burden this would add to my existing academic workload at BU. However, upon reflection it has proved to be one of the most rewarding and important aspects of my current role as an academic at BU. It has also been an intense and somewhat steep learning curve.   

Importantly, being regularly involved with the review of grant proposals has provided opportunities to observe what constitutes both good and bad applications, and I now feel far more competent in my own ability to write a competent grant proposal along with some of the possible tactics and strategies that can be used to enhance the possibility of success. In the past eighteen months I have also been able to observe the diversity of innovative approaches that colleagues at other institutions are adopting, along with the range of multidisciplinary projects which are emerging, and how applicants creatively highlight where their research will have both economic and societal impact.

There are also additional benefits to being a member of the ESRC Peer Review College. I am fortunate enough to receive various invitations to attend briefing events and functions organised by the ESRC and other research councils.  These have proved to be good opportunities to firstly stay informed on current strategic developments, and secondly to network with academic colleagues across different disciplines and institutions from all around the UK.  I also take every opportunity to feedback any information to colleagues at BU, both centrally and at School level. Only last week I attended an event at The Royal Society in London, hosted by the ESRC where the challenges and opportunities of implementing the ESRC Delivery Plan 2011-2015 were outlined and discussed at great length.

In my opinion, an active involvement with reviewing (be it on behalf of either a research council or an academic journal) is important for several reasons: firstly, it enhances our own continued professional development; secondly it provides opportunities to be associated with particular research councils or academic journals; thirdly, an active involvement is an important addition to your CV; and fourthly, reviewing can provide opportunities to view new research before anybody else and enables us to remain up to date with emerging research trends and directions. As such, if asked to review work for a research council or an academic journal, my advice to colleagues would be to acknowledge and accept the significant time commitment involved with this process, but to grasp the opportunity for the benefits it can potentially provide.

All of the Research Councils recruit academic peer reviewers differently. If you are interested then familiarise yourself with the recruitment process and times, and keep an eye of the relevant research council website:

The European Commission is always recruiting academic reviewers. See our EU reviewer recruitment webpage for details on how to get involved.

Peer review and busy academics…

Prof Edwin van Teijlingen, School of Health and Social Care, reflects on the benefits of getting involved in peer review…

Prof Edwin van TeijlingenOne of the main elements of quality control in academic publishing is the process of peer review of articles.  Editors of scientific journals will send manuscripts submitted to their journal out to a number of reviewers who are experts on, for example, the research topic, the method, theoretical approach or the geographical in the manuscript. 

Typically journal editors will quickly read the summary or abstract of the submission and on the basis of this decide whether or not to send out the paper for review. The process mentioned above ‘blinds’ as the editor or editorial assistant removes his name from the manuscript before sending it to peer reviewers. However, in many of the newer Open Access journals the review is ‘open’.  This means the reviewers note the name and affiliation of author(s) and the author(s) will receive the feedback and verdict of named reviewers.  Reviewing is an essential element of the process of academic quality control.  More over the reviewers are ordinary academics who volunteer to do this work without additional pay.   Similarly, most editors of academic journals are also volunteers and unpaid.

journalsThose of us who are actively involved in publishing about academic research are regularly asked to review articles for journals in their field.  I usually am invited to review a paper twice or three times a month and I try to do at least one a month.  The reasons for reviewing papers are plentiful.  First, I believe in the essence of peer-reviewing as a system to maintain scientific quality.  Secondly, you get to read some interesting research findings before anybody else, or the flip side, you get some pretty awful papers which makes you realise your own work quite good.  Thirdly, it is something expected of all-round academic, as task you can add to your CV, etc.  Fourthly, if I want my submitted papers to receive proper attention in the review process I feel I must to the same for someone else.  Lastly, I get a chance to see ‘the other side’ as I am also an editor.

As an editor or member of an editorial board I regularly invite, beg or plea to colleagues to review a paper for the journals I’m involved with.  Some times it is more difficult than others to get people to volunteer for the review process. I know how hard it can be to get a decent reviewer for a particular manuscript.   An example of the latter is a recent paper submitted to BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth for which I needed to find reviewers.  In the first week of April I invited eight reviewers from across the globe (as the paper focused on maternity care in a developing country); on the basis of its past experience BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth suggests to its Associate Editors that they invite eight reviewers per paper to ensure at least two agree to review.

Later last month I was asked by the editorial assistant to find a few more potential reviewers for the same paper as none of the people I had originally invited has: (a) accepted the invite; or (b) replied at all.  So, I emailed a few reminders to those who had not replied and found four extra names as possible reviewers.  To my surprise, I received another email yesterday from the editorial assistant that no one had accepted the invitation to conduct a review yet.  There were now nine who had formally declined and the remainder had not replied at all.  So this morning I invited two more reviewers and sent a reminder to those who had not replied at all.

My plea in this blog is encourage BU researchers to get involved in peer reviewing.  If we want to benefit from others reviewing our work, we need to be prepared to do the same in return.  I think, especially for more junior researcher such as Ph.D. and Doctoral students, acting as a reviewer is a good learning exercise as well as way of becoming part of the scholarly community.

I would like to thank Ms. Sheetal Sharma, Ph.D. student in the School or Health & Social Care, for her comments on the draft text of this blog.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
School of Health & Social Care

Associate Editor BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth Guest Editor Special Issue on ‘The Maternity Workforce’ for Midwifery (2011)

links for 2011-03-31

Two exciting reports from the Research Information Network: