As a result of UKRI's change to Pathways to Impact, the EPSRC’s assessment of impact will be considered as part of the overall proposal assessment.
EPSRC started using new standard criteria for peer review from 1 March 2020. These are: Quality (primary criterion); Importance (secondary major criterion); Applicant and Partnerships (secondary criterion); Resources and Management (secondary criterion).
Exceptions to this will apply to some EPSRC calls that are already open.
What this means for assessing impact in EPSRC proposals
- impact will no longer be a separate assessment criterion
impact remains a central consideration of how Research Council's allocate resources and is reflected in the decision to take a holistic approach, embedding assessment of impact planning throughout the assessment criteria:
- assessment of scientific methodology and all additional activities to realise research outcomes will be collectively considered as part of the ‘Quality’ assessment criterion
- fundamental aspects of impact planning, such as the project partners and requesting resources for impact enhancing activities, are embedded into other assessment criteria where appropriate
where impact is integral to the funding programme, we will request additional documentation or include call specific assessment criteria as necessary
How this will be reflected in EPSRC research proposals
Activities that support impact creation are an integral part of high-quality research programmes. From 1 March 2020:
- applicants should still consider how they will or might achieve impact throughout their projects and include this as part of their Case for Support
- applicants should consider what impacts are appropriate for their research programme across the widest definition of impact, for example on society, economy, people or knowledge
- appropriate resources to facilitate this impact within applications should be requested and justified in the Justification of Resources attachment
- partnerships and co-creation of research are important mechanisms to enable knowledge exchange and should be demonstrated
- public engagement and activities to support Responsible Innovation continue to be supported through EPSRC research projects, and where appropriate should also be described in the Case for Support
Why Pathways to Impact is changing
Impact is now a core consideration throughout the grant application process, with Pathways to Impact having been in place for over a decade. The change will also simplify bureaucracy and help streamline systems for applicants.
UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walkport, says:
Over the next 12 months, UKRI will be piloting simpler, streamlined application and assessment processes for its research and innovation calls. These pilots will inform changes across UKRI to reduce the burden placed on researchers and innovators applying to UKRI whilst ensuring it continues to invest in the best ideas and people.
Impact remains a central consideration for the allocation of resources and is reflected in this decision for a more holistic approach. As impact will no longer be a separate assessment criterion, applicants can integrate the impact of their work throughout their proposed research and include this as part of their Case for Support. Reviewers will assess whether the proposed impact activities are appropriate for the scientific discipline and project as a whole, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Managing the transition
Where EPSRC calls have already been launched, call leads from the EPSRC have directly contacted applicants with additional guidance. If the call has not yet launched, the call documentation will reflect this change.
Recent UKRI communications stated the changes to JeS which took place 24 to 28 February 2020. Those who tried to submit during this time may have found the impact summary and Pathways to Impact attachment disappeared and you got an error message. If this is the case contact EPSRCPeerReviewPolicy@epsrc.ukri.org for support.