The review and decision-making process of the winter call in a nutshell

27 Feb 2024

The funding decisions on the Research Council of Finland’s winter call will be made in June (Academy Projects, Academy Research Fellowships and Clinical Researchers) and May (Academy Programme for Sport Science and Physical Activity). The new funding periods start on 1 September 2024.

We interviewed Counsellor of Science Kata-Riina Valosaari, who heads the team responsible for the review and decision-making processes.

The review and researcher assessment process has changed with the winter call. How would you describe the application review in a nutshell?

The winter call closed in mid-January, so now we’re working on the review of applications. Applications submitted to the Research Council are assessed with international peer review. For the first time, applicants were able to choose the most appropriate review panel for their application from a selection of 41 panels. It gave them the opportunity to personally influence the treatment of their application.

Most of the reviewers were recruited by our science advisers even before the call closed, but the expertise of the panels has also been supplemented by new experts as needed. All applications are assessed during February, and the review panels will meet in March. All applications rated 5 (excellent) or 6 (outstanding) by the individual reviewers will be assessed at the panel meetings.

An introductory webinar for reviewers was held in January and attended by nearly 400 experts. The webinar was part of a comprehensive set of instructions for reviewers to ensure a high-quality, fair and accountable review.

See the instructions for reviewers: Guidelines and forms for reviewers.

When will the funding decisions be made?

The scientific councils will have access to the applications and review reports in April/May and will prepare the funding decisions based on them. In making the decisions, the scientific councils use their own funding policies and the Research Council’s joint science policy, especially in the case of applications of equal scientific merit.

This year, the scientific councils will make the decisions on Academy Project, Academy Research Fellowship and Clinical Researcher funding at the same time:

  • The Scientific Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment will make the Academy Project, Academy Research Fellowship and Clinical Researcher decisions on 12 June 2024.
  • The Scientific Council for Social Sciences and Humanities and the Scientific Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering will make their Academy Project and Academy Research Fellowship decisions on 13 June 2024.
  • The Subcommittee for Academy Programme for Sports Science and Physical Activity will make the funding decisions on the Academy Programme for Sports Science and Physical Activity in May.

Applicants receive an automatic email after the decision has been made. The decision notice and review reports from both individual reviewers and the panel – if the application progressed to the panel stage – are available in the online services (SARA) under My Applications > Decisions. Each decision is accompanied by the scientific council’s justification for the decision.

Review panels in the winter call 2024:

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.

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 and the final rating. The review reports include the names of the reviewers.

Explore the panel structure: Panel structure for winter call 2024 (PDF)

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