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Peer Review

All seven Research Councils of the RCUK adhere to the Code of Practice principles below.

These principles constitute a robust and quality assessment process and mirror the Nolan Committees seven pillars of public life, namely Selflessness; Integrity; Objectivity; Accountability; Openness; Honesty: and Leadership and translate into:


Use a peer review process that is appropriate to the type of proposed research and in proportion with the investment and complexity of the work.

Managing interests

Ask all participants to declare interests when carrying out peer review activities so that any conflicts can be identified and managed. This includes interests of a close member of your family, if that interest is connected in any way (however remote) to the subject matter of the matter in question.


Treat proposals in confidence and ask those who advise us to do the same. Adhere to the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Expert assessment

Use expert peer reviewers, mainly from Funder’s college of reviewers, to assess the individual merit of all proposals against the published criteria.


Prioritise proposals for funding by assessing the merit of each proposal against that of others if its expert assessment has been sufficiently supportive.

Right to reply

Give principal investigators the right to reply to the expert reviewers’ assessments when proposals are being prioritised.

Separation of duties

Separate peer review of proposals against the assessment criteria from making funding decisions. Funding staff will make funding decisions based on peer review advice, taking into account budgets available and the competing tensions between budgets. Those acting as peers will not also be responsible for authorising the funding decision.

No parallel assessment

Avoid carrying out multiple parallel assessments of a proposal’s relative merit.

You can expect these principles to apply to the assessment of full proposals submitted through through responsive mode funding, calls for proposals and all grant schemes that are peer reviewed. They do not apply to schemes like doctoral training grants, which are calculated using an algorithm.

Any exceptions to these principles we will be clearly stated at the time a call or scheme is established.

Please also refer to your department's policy with regards internal peer review of research grant and contract applications prioir to submission to a funder.