The French National Research Agency Projects for science

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Projects and ResultsWork Programme 2015Evaluation – Stage 2

The evaluation process, details of stage 2

The evaluation of the full proposals involves some forty Scientific Evaluation Panels (CES in French) and external peer reviewers. It is based on three criteria:

  1. Scientific excellence and/or innovative nature for technological research
  2. Quality of project construction and its feasibility, with a more stringent analysis of budget/objectives match
  3. Overall impact of the project

The relevance of any changes in the full proposal with respect to the pre-proposal is also analysed.

The full proposals for "International Collaborative Research Projects" are evaluated against two specific additional criteria:

  • Balance of the respective scientific and financial contributions of the partners of each country
  • Added value of the international cooperation and benefit for France

A competitive evaluation based on peer reviews

The full proposals are evaluated by at least two external peer reviewers who are asked to examine one or more proposals. The peer reviewers work individually and confidentially, without interacting with third parties. The only elements at their disposal are the constituents of the pre-proposal and the full proposal as submitted by the scientific coordinator on the closing date of the second submission stage. The reviewers fill out an individual evaluation report in which each of the three evaluation criterion is rated on a scale similar to that used in the first selection stage with written argued comments for each criterion.

The full proposals are also evaluated by at least two members of the Scientific Evaluation Panels. The panel members evaluate the proposals individually, aided by having at their disposal the individual evaluation reports drawn up by the peer reviewers. If they have been designated rapporteur for a proposal, they draw up their own individual evaluation report.

A collegial decision

During the plenary meeting of the scientific evaluation panel, the members briefly present the objectives of each proposal, making a synthesis of the peer reviewers' evaluation and their own opinion, highlighting the strong and weak points.

The collegial discussion proposal by proposal allows a competitive evaluation of the proposals: it gives all the members the opportunity to compare the quality of the proposals they evaluated with respect to all the proposals evaluated by the panel. The panel's discussions result in a consensus in which the proposals are ranked with respect to one another. A final evaluation report synthesises the final consensus reached by the panel members.

In view of budget constraints, a large proportion of ANR's actions were transferred in 2014 to a two-stage selection process through the generic call for proposals, but without changing their scope. For the scientific community, the added value of this system is that the first stage requires less preparation, with the prospect of a much higher success rate in the second stage with a "target" success rate of 30 to 40% for the projects selected in the first evaluation stage.

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