Proposals submitted for the ERC are being evaluated by independent experts within an internationaly oriented peer review procedure. These experts are chosen by the Scientific Council on the basis of their scientific reputation. To structure the evaluation process the Scientific Council has established 25 thematically focused panels, which are streamlined in three domains:
- Social Sciences and Humanities: 6 panels
- Physical Sciences & Engineering: 10 panels
- Life Sciences: 9 panels
Each panel consists of a chair and 10 to 15 members. Above that there are also external experts involved in the evaluation process. The names of the panel chairs will be published on the ERC website before the end of the deadline.
The names of the other panel members will also be published, but only after the end of the evaluation process.
In order for the ERC to properly match a proposal to the right panel, it is important to tag the proposal correctly in the A-forms. Inter- or multidisciplinary projects are funded in all three domains of the ERC. Researchers can draw attention to the interdisciplinarity of their project by pointing out more than one panel. The first panel will then give these proposals to a second panel for evaluation or ask reviewers from that panel for their evaluation.
All submitted proposals are evaluated in a two-stage process, which is also supported by external evaluators.
In both stages there is first a remote evaluation by some of the reviewers, which is then followed by an evaluation by the whole panel. The remote evaluations as well as the panel evaluations will result in a mark (A, B or C – each time referring both to the PI him/herself and the project idea).
During the first step of the evaluation part B1 of the proposal is evaluated by at least three evaluators (mostly panel members). The remote evaluation will then be discussed in the panel and is possibly modified. The proposal is then ranked on the basis of the decision made in the panel.
To reach the second step of the evaluation a proposal needs to have a minimum evaluation score. The result of the first step will be communicated to the researchers:
- A – project is of high quality and passes to step 2
- B – project is of good quality but not sufficient enough to pass to step 2
- C – project is not of sufficient quality to pass to step 2
In the second step of the evaluation the complete proposal will be evaluated by the panel, also including external experts. Additionally – except for the ERC Advanced Grants and Proof of Concept – there will be interviews in Brussels, during which the researchers have to present their idea in front of the panel. On the basis of the decision made by the panel the proposal will be ranked again on the panel list. After the end of the panel evaluation the panel chairs of each domain will decide on the final ranking list of all proposals.
To be recommended for funding, a proposal must have a very good evaluation result and at the same time be in the frame of the panel's budget. Proposals which are below the budgetary cut-off will be put on a reserve list. The result of the second step will be communicated to the researchers the following way:
- A – project is recommended for funding
- B – project is not recommended for funding
In order to prepare candidates for this interview, the NCP ERC offers special interview trainings for Starting Grant / Consolidator Grant applicants.