Pre-award assessment criteria

In selecting and prioritising proposals for funding, the following criteria are assessed (as well as determining the priority for funding, the criteria will also be used to guide evaluation of outputs from NERC funded projects and programmes):


There is no simple definition of research excellence. Proposals may build directly on prior work, or may involve a speculative leap forward. It may involve progress along an established research direction or a tangential switch into a new or different area, or may bring together expertise and approaches from different discipline areas. All of these approaches could demonstrate excellence.

A proposal that demonstrates excellence can be characterised by terms such as: novel, ambitious, timely, exciting, at the international forefront, adventurous, elegant or transformative, but need not demonstrate all of them.

Proposals will be assessed on a numerical scale - 0-6 by reviewers and 0-10 by moderating panels. Guidance on the use of the pre-award assessment criteria for reviewers and moderating panel members can be found in each scheme's specific guidance notes on the handbooks, guidance and forms page.

Fit to scheme

Each grant scheme and strategic research programme will have specific objectives and requirements, both scientific and non-scientific. These are set out in the scheme description or the programme announcement of opportunity. When assessing a programme research grant proposal, reviewers are asked to assess the proposal against the programme's objectives and requirements, as expressed in the specific announcement of opportunity.