3 minute read / July 12, 2023
In a move aimed at fostering scientific excellence and enhancing the evaluation process, the European Research Council (ERC) has recently adopted its highly anticipated 2024 Work Programme. Building upon the ERC’s commitment to cutting-edge research, this plan introduces several innovative elements that promise to reshape the assessment of research proposals and the selection of candidates. Moreover, it heralds a more streamlined and efficient evaluation process, ensuring that only the most exceptional projects receive funding.
One of the noteworthy changes lies in the evaluation of research proposals. While scientific excellence continues to be the paramount criterion, the Work Programme introduces modifications to the structure of the Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Track Record, as well as to the evaluation procedure itself. Under the new system, greater emphasis is placed on the project’s quality, offering researchers an opportunity to showcase the true potential and impact of their work.
In a groundbreaking pilot initiative, lump sum funding will be implemented for Advanced Grants, revolutionizing the way these grants are awarded. This novel approach provides a fixed amount of funding, offering researchers greater flexibility and autonomy in executing their projects. Starting, Consolidator, and Synergy Grants, on the other hand, will continue to be awarded based on the actual cost model, ensuring that all funding needs are met.
Another significant development in the ERC’s 2024 Work Programme concerns Proof of Concept Grants. Starting from 2024, these grants will undergo a revamped evaluation process, with applications being assessed and selected in two rounds instead of three. The introduction of two specific cut-off dates streamlines the selection process, enabling a faster and more efficient evaluation.
In a bid to enhance the fairness and objectivity of the evaluation process, the ERC has implemented changes in the assessment of Starting, Consolidator, and Advanced Grants. At step 2 of the evaluation, a maximum of 44 proposals per panel will be assessed. Additionally, a distinction will be made in the scoring at step 1 between proposals that receive a score of A and are invited to step 2, and proposals that also receive a score of A but do not rank high enough for an invitation. The latter group will no longer face resubmission restrictions, granting them an opportunity to refine their proposals for future submissions.
Acknowledging the importance of multidisciplinary research, the ERC has introduced a new evaluation panel, SH8, dedicated to the Social Sciences and Humanities domain. This addition aims to restore balance and ensure adequate coverage of these vital fields. Furthermore, adjustments have been made to some descriptors, such as LS3 and LS5, to provide clearer disciplinary guidance for applicants, facilitating their understanding of the areas covered by each panel.
In an effort to recognize and celebrate impactful research, the ERC will launch the Public Engagement with Research Award. This prestigious accolade invites ERC grantees with ongoing or recently completed projects to showcase their endeavors in engaging the public with their research. By encouraging scientists to communicate their work to a broader audience, this award fosters a culture of transparency and outreach, strengthening the connection between the scientific community and society at large.
The ERC’s 2024 Work Programme also includes an indicative calendar and budget for its various calls throughout the year. Researchers and prospective applicants are encouraged to explore the full details of the programme to stay informed about upcoming opportunities and deadlines.
With its comprehensive set of changes and enhancements, the ERC’s 2024 Work Programme marks a significant step forward in advancing frontier research in Europe. By fostering scientific excellence, streamlining evaluation processes, and promoting public engagement, the ERC continues to empower researchers and drive innovation across a broad spectrum of disciplines. As the scientific community eagerly awaits the implementation of these new measures, the future of European research looks more promising than ever.