Research Council of Finland publishes panels for winter 2024 call, changes review process

13 Sep 2023

The Research Council of Finland has published a finalised review panel structure and descriptions of the individual panels for the upcoming winter 2024 call for applications. The panel structure is part of a comprehensive reform that concerns the Research Council of Finland’s call schedules, the review of applications and the feedback provided to applicants.

The next application round for Academy Project Funding, Academy Research Fellowships and Clinical Researcher Funding will open in November 2023, not in September. The call is known as the winter call. The winter call will also include a call within the new Academy Programme for Sport Science and Physical Activity.

Explore the panel structure

Starting with the winter 2024 call, applicants for Academy Project Funding or Academy Research Fellowships will choose the most relevant panel for their applications among panels announced in advance. Applications for Clinical Researcher Funding and funding from the Academy Programme for Sport Science and Physical Activity will be automatically assigned to the panels designated for these funding schemes.

The panel structure (PDF) consists of 42 panels, listed in alphabetical order (with the exception of the Clinical Researcher panel, which is shown last). The panels have not been categorised by scientific council; any panel can assess applications to be decided by any of scientific councils. In other words, the applicant will independently choose

  • the scientific council to which they want to submit the application for decision
  • the panel to which they want to submit the application for review.

The panel descriptions include a general description of the panel’s thematic area and a list of keywords that the panel will cover. Applicants should examine several panel descriptions to find the most relevant panel for their application. The panels are often multidisciplinary. The panels cover a broad range of topics, that is, a specific topic might not be expressly mentioned in the panel description.

Changes to review process and researcher assessment

The Research Council of Finland is also introducing changes to the review process. For applicants, the essential changes concern how the review panel is selected, how the application will go forward to the panel review and what feedback they will receive.

Key points about the review process in the winter 2024 call:

  • As before, at least two individual reviewers will be asked to comment on the applications before the panel review stage. In the two-stage review process, some applications will be rejected at this stage and will not proceed to the panel review.
  • The applications will be shortlisted based on the overall ratings given by the individual experts. Applications that have received an overall rating of at least 5 (excellent) or 6 (outstanding) in one of the reviews will proceed to the panel review stage.
  • In the panel review, experts will meet to discuss the applications and the scientific merits of the applicants. For each application, the panel will prepare a summary review report on the strengths and weaknesses of the application. Additionally, the panels will rank the applications that have received the best ratings.

Under the new procedure, the feedback to applicants will include all individual expert reviews and ratings. Applicants who have proceeded to the panel review stage will also receive the panel summary review and the final rating. The review reports include the names of the reviewers.

The review criteria and rating scale remain unchanged. The review guidelines will be published at the same time as the call texts, in late October. The scientific councils will make the funding decisions by mid-June on the same day for each funding scheme. The decision dates will be announced later on the Research Council’s website. As before, each decision will be accompanied by a justification for the scientific council’s decision.

The web pages about the Research Council of Finland’s review process will be updated during autumn 2023 before the call texts are published.

The reforms will improve the transparency of the review

In spring 2023, the Research Council of Finland collected comments from stakeholders on a draft set of panels and panel descriptions for the winter call. The comments and the panel structure were also discussed with the Research Council’s scientific councils. The comments were used to finalise the set of panels that has now been published.

The possibility to choose the panel means that applicants will have more influence on the review process, and it will also increase the transparency of the review. Another aspect that will improve the transparency is the more detailed feedback that will be provided to applicants.

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