In accordance with its strategy and in all its research funding, the Academy of Finland stresses the importance of the quality and impact of research and the renewal of science. Academy funding is based on competition and international peer review. As a rule, the participating experts are esteemed international researchers in their field or otherwise regarded as peers regarding the application.
In general the applications are reviewed in field-specific or thematic international expert meetings, i.e. panels. If the theme of the application is multidisciplinary, it may be reviewed in two different panels. Applications that cannot be reviewed by any of the panels are reviewed by at least two independent experts. Independent experts may also be asked for a review report to support a panel. If it becomes apparent in the panel meeting that the panel’s expertise is not sufficient to review an application, we try to attain a review from an independent expert after the meeting.
Thematic programme calls, such as Academy Programme funding and strategic research funding, are typically two-stage calls. Therefore their review processes may differ from the aforementioned. Reviews in the thematic programme calls also assess how the application matches the programme objectives. The applications for strategic research funding are reviewed separately for their societal relevance and impact as well as scientific quality. The members in strategic research panels include both national and international experts in science and societal relevance.
Additionally, the Academy offers funding that cannot be applied for annually or that can be applied for by a research organisation. These include Centre Of Excellence Programmes, funding for research post as Academy Professor, funding to strengthen university research profiles, research infrastructure funding and international co-funded programmes, which have a tailor-made review to match each call’s objectives. The review processes for different funding instruments are described in the call text or on the funding instrument’s website. In international calls, such as ERA-NET joint calls, the review process may be carried out outside the Academy in accordance with the agreement for the international network of research funders.
Academy of Finland’s officials organise the application reviews and from the panels based on the applications submitted to the call. When assessing the most suitable panel for each application, attention is paid to the content and research field(s) of the application, its relation to other applications and the expertise of the panel members. The applications are placed in panels so that each receives the best possible expert review with applications that are on the same level.
To ensure an equal and informed review process, we ask our experts about their possible disqualifications before forming the panels. In the scientific reviews we ask about their expertise in the themes of the applications to be reviewed in the panel. We ask our reviewers to go through all the applications in the panel, with the exception of the applications that they are disqualified to review. If an expert is disqualified with regard to an application, they do not participate in its review. We ask at least two reviewers to prepare preliminary review reports for each application before the panel meeting. To support the panel’s review process and expertise, we may also ask for preliminary review reports from experts outside the panel. The panel members have access to all preliminary review reports before or at the latest during the panel meeting.
The panel will assemble to discuss the applications assigned to it. It will also make a consensus decision on the application ratings. Based on the discussion and preliminary review reports, the panel prepares a collective review report on each application. Finally, the panel will rank the top rating applications, with the exception of strategic research reviews.
The Academy officials participate in panel work by helping the external experts. If need be, the Academy staff will help the panels in writing the final review report. The officials also make sure that all applicants are treated equally and according to the same criteria.
We ask for the reviewers’ consent to taking on the assignment. The principles of the Academy review process are explained to them, and they commit to professional secrecy while they act as experts.
Experts participating in reviews
Experts in the September 2019 call – Academy Projects, Academy Research Fellows, Postdoctoral Researchers, Clinical Researchers
- Reviewer list for the September 2018 call for the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment
- Reviewer list for the September 2018 call for the Research Council for Culture and Society
- Reviewer list for the September 2018 call for the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering
Experts in other calls
- Reviewer list for FIRI 2019 funding call (PDF)
- Reviewers for the Academy Programme calls 2019 (PDF)
- Reviewer list for Competitive funding to strengthen universities’ research profiles (PROFI 5) (PDF)
- Reviewer list for ICT 2023 calls (PDF)
- Reviewer list for the December 2018 call for Strategic Research Council (PDF)
Academy of Finland review criteria
The Academy of Finland’s funding decisions are based on a review of the scientific merits of research plans, action plans, research infrastructure project plans and applicants. The following criteria are used when reviewing scientific merits:
- scientific quality, innovativeness and novelty value of the research as well as its impact within the scientific community
- competence of applicant or research team in terms of project implementation
- feasibility of research plan (incl. research ethics)
- quality of research environment and collaborative networks
- researcher mobility and researcher training.
Besides or instead of the aforementioned, the peer-review of organisation-driven funding instruments includes other review criteria. You can find the review criteria for research infrastructures, strengthening university research profiles and flagships on their respective websites.
Review criteria for strategic research
In SRC calls, the proposed projects are reviewed based on their societal relevance and impact as well as their scientific quality. The projects to be funded are selected based on panel review reports, interviews with applicants (if applicable) and the SRC’s aims for the programme concerned. All selections will be made considering the needs of the programme.
Review criteria for strategic research are:
- societal impact of research
- significant societal relevance
- realistic and convincing interaction plan
- required collaboration with the stakeholder network
- interaction merits and competence of the consortium
- scientific quality
- how the research compares with international standards
- plan for strengthening the quality and renewal of research
- scientific merits and competence of the consortium parties
- compatibility of the research with the provided strategic research programme
- ability to answer the posed programme questions
Read more about the how-to guide for international peer reviewers.
Applications submitted to the Academy of Finland’s calls are mainly reviewed based on a scale of 1–6.
6 = outstanding
Demonstrates exceptional novelty and innovation. Potential to substantially advance science at global level. High-gain project that may include risks.
5 = excellent
Extremely good in international comparison – no significant elements to be improved.
4 = very good
In general sound but contains a few elements that could be improved.
3 = good
In general sound but contains important elements that should be improved.
2 = fair
Contains flaws. In need of substantial modification or improvement.
1 = poor
Severe flaws that are intrinsic to the proposed project or the application.