The Academy of Finland receives each year some 4,000 applications for funding. The application process breaks down into three stages: checking and verification, assessment and review, and funding decision. In a nutshell, project proposals submitted to the Academy are checked and then reviewed and rated by panels of international experts. Based on the panels’ review reports, funding decisions are made by the Academy’s research councils, the Strategic Research Council, the Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee and the Academy’s subcommittees.
Although it may seem like a long wait for the applicant, there are good reasons for the time it takes to process the applications. Aki Salo and Hannele Kurki, Senior Science Advisers at the Health Research Unit and Culture and Society Research Unit, respectively, explain what happens in the first stage of the application process.
High-level international peer reviews are the most important tool in the Academy’s efforts to find the best and most promising research projects. Panels of leading international experts prepare review reports on every application submitted. The duration of one panel depends on its working methods and the number of applications, but usually a panel will spend one to two days reviewing applications. Senior Science Adviser Juha Latikka from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Unit describes the second stage of the application process.
The third and last stage of the application process involves making the final decisions on the applications selected for funding. Once the individual panels have completed their review reports on all applications, the Academy’s research councils, the Strategic Research Council, the Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee and the Academy’s subcommittees will prepare for decision-making together with the research units’ science advisers. Anneli Anttonen, Chair of the Research Council for Culture and Society, describes the council’s role in the third stage of the decision-making process.