RSS to carry out research exploring potential bias in peer review processes

The RSS has been commissioned by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to carry out an independent exploration of its portfolio of research grants.

This will involve structured data analysis and textual analysis of its reviewer comments and scores, with the aim to improve understanding of EPSRC’s portfolio of grants. By looking at a range of factors including gender, ethnicity and age, as well as discipline, interdisciplinarity and regions, the project will explore the applicant population, and variation and potential bias in its peer review processes. These factors will be considered using data collected over the years 2014-2023.

The project falls under EPSRC’s equality, diversity and inclusion action plan to foster an inclusive and diverse research and innovation system, working in partnership with the research community to support action.

The RSS will be drawing on member expertise to deliver some aspects of the project and intends to publish its results in the summer. Plans for engagement with the EPSRC research community will be publicised in the coming months.

Prof Jon Forster of the RSS steering group that will lead the work commented “Evidenced-based policy is at the heart of the Society’s mission. By applying best practice and robust methodology we will be able to gain some essential insights into EPSRC’s review processes and support its aim of equity, diversity and inclusion throughout its work.”
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