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Summary of Peer Review harmonisation activities

Subject Classification

  • PRGPG agreed that in the long term classification harmonisation across the whole higher education and research sector would be desirable and that the Research Councils should aim to achieve alignment over a period of a few years and would not adopt JACS at this stage, although JACS could be used for external reporting.
  • With the exception of MRC (which has signed up to a UK-wide classification system for health research, the Health Research Classification System, HRCS, the hierarchical structure of which MRC considers cannot be accommodated within the RCUK structure) the Research Councils will initially seek to harmonise the classifications across the Councils.
  • Two Classification workshops were organised, as a result of which the RCs have delivered to UK SBS enough defined structure and content to create the required three-level research classification and reviewer matching structure. The information which will be used to populate the top two levels of the structure are 90% accurate as agreed (apart from possible typos and stylistic considerations). There are, however, some duplications (some of which are intentional and some unintentional) that should ideally be reviewed.
  • The third level of the hierarchy (Keys), required by EPSRC and BBSRC for reviewer matching are 90% compliant with the requirements of UK SBS. Unfortunately, the third level hierarchy (Keys) will not provide a reviewer matching functionality for EPSRC that is fit for purpose without further review.
  • While the structure of the hierarchy is very unlikely to change over time, agreed changes will, inevitably, need to be made to data fields in the future and in the short term to Keys, to make them fit for purpose for reviewer matching. Attention will now be given to how this will be handled, given that PRGPG is not a standing group.

Grading Harmonisation in Peer Review

  • PRGPG agreed that for all Councils reviewers will use a grading scale from 1 to 6 (with 6 being the best) and using 0 as a reserved (non-scoring) value for special cases. It was also agreed to move towards a single panel grading system of 1-10 and in the meantime to use either 1-6 or 1-10 with 0 as a reserved (non-scoring) value for special cases.

Multi Institutional Collaborative Grants

  • PRGPG agreed that maintaining both approaches (one proposal or grant for each participating organisation with a designated lead – the Multi-Grant approach; one proposal or grant for the entire project – the Single Grant approach) provided the necessary flexibility to ensure that funding of multi institutional collaborative projects could be optimised to the nature of the specific project.

Anonymity of Referees’ Comments

  • PRGPG endorsed RACG’s recommendation not to proceed with the proposal that when referees’ comments are fed back to the principal investigator that copies should be made available to the central institutional contact.

Joint RC response to the HESA consultation

  • PRGPG noted that the Research Councils had contributed to the initial restructuring and that HESA have already included some comments prior to the consultation

A copy of the RCUK Research Classifications can be found below:

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