Internal Processes

Internal Processes

Internal Peer Review

Peer Review and Mentoring Procedure

Peer Review Procedure

This procedure is intended to be supportive and constructive, with the aim of increasing the competitiveness of grants submitted for external funding.  The process is not intended to take the place of any informal review that may be arranged between colleagues.

Peer Review is mandatory when leading an application to:

  • UKRI;
  • the Wellcome Trust;
  • any funder where the value is >£150K;
  • where the Principal Investigator has not previously secured a research grant >£20k; or has not been awarded a research grant within the last 18 months.

In addition, all applications from the following Schools/Institute require, proportionate, peer review regardless of value: Schools of Divinity, History and Philosophy, Psychology, Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture, Social Sciences, Law, Business School, Education and the Institute of Applied Health Sciences

What is required

Peer review should be arranged from at least two reviewers who are independent to the research.  Reviewers are usually internal to the University but external reviewers can be used, where appropriate. Senior staff in your School, or your Research Development Executive (RDE), may be able to provide guidance on identifying appropriate peer reviewers.

Please ensure you approach your peer reviewers early and agree a reasonable timescale for them to receive, review and return comments on your application.

Expectations of peer reviewers

  • Consider yourself as a ‘critical friend’ by offering constructive, impartial and honest advice to help to increase the overall quality of a proposal;
  • Review all parts of the application: e.g. JeS form, budget, Data Management Plan etc– not just the plan of work;
  • Provide written comments to the applicant in any preferred format e.g. by email, tracked copy of the proposal; using a proforma (example here or, if you only have a few remarks, please provide these in the peer reviewer approval box in Worktribe;
  • Consult the Guidance for Peer-reviewers here

When will a proposal be signed off?

The Head of School/Institute will only approve proposals requiring peer review, when they are satisfied appropriate review has been undertaken and any comments addressed. Please note: R&I is not be permitted to authorise submission of applications without Head of School/Institute Approval.

How to record peer review in Worktribe

Principal Investigators

  • Nominate the 2 peer reviewers under the peer review tab;
  • We would encourage you to provide copies of any peer reviews you receive under the document tab;
  • Please submit the proposal for internal approval in Worktribe, once the reviewer has confirmed they are happy to approve the proposal.

Peer reviewers

  • Please respond to the Worktribe notification by confirming you have reviewed the proposal and whether you support submission.
  • If your comments are minimal these can be stated directly in the approval box. Otherwise please return your comments, in any convenient format, directly to the principal investigator.
  • Peer reviewers are not currently able to edit or upload their comments into to the Worktribe record directly.

Intention to Submit

Intention to Submit UKRI Research Councils or Wellcome Trust Grant Applications


All grant applications led by University of Aberdeen investigators to UKRI or the Wellcome Trust should follow the relevant School/Institute Intention to Submit (ITS)/Supporting Grant Application (SGA) process. Some Schools may also require proposals to other funders to follow this process.

UKRI and Wellcome Trust calls are highly competitive. The aim of ITS/SGA is to help maximise the quality and success of your grant application by providing an opportunity to receive early constructive feedback and enable discussion with senior colleagues who have a track record with major funders.

What do I need to do?

Lead investigators should complete the relevant proforma  and submit this to their R&I Research Development Executive (RDE), Programme Lead or other contact as directed. Where possible* this should happen at least 2 months, or ideally 3-4 months, ahead of the application deadline. Please note there is a separate process for the NERC Discovery science responsive mode.

*For calls with short deadlines: please contact your R&I RDE to discuss the submission process.

ITS/SGA Proformas:

What happens next?

Schools, excluding SMMSN: Lead Investigators will be contacted by a RDE or senior colleague e.g. Research Director or Programme Lead who will provide feedback and an opportunity to discuss this.

SMMSN: a meeting will be arranged with senior staff where investigators will have the opportunity to present their proposal and receive and discuss feedback directly.

 Queries: Please contact your Business Development Officer if you require assistance with any aspect of this process.

NERC Intention to Submit

All applications to the NERC Pushing the Frontiers and Exploring the Frontiers schemes must follow the "NERC Intention to Submit" process.

As part of its Demand Management NERC introduced new measures designed to raise success rates for the discovery science standard grants. The University of Aberdeen has an institutional cap on the number of applications that can be submitted to the responsive mode calls. Our current cap is 2 applications per round.

Researchers are asked to join the “NERC pipeline” to benefit from tailored support and guidance from experienced NERC award holders and panel members as their bid develops. Please complete this form and send it to to be part of the pipeline.

Supporting Fellowship Applications

UKRI: Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme – Round 7

The UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Round 7 will open on the 6th of September 2022, with the mandatory outline proposal deadline on 18th October, followed by the full application deadline on 6th December 2022.

The UKRI FLF award offers long-term, flexible support, including the fellow's salary and research, staff and training costs, plus the opportunity of a permanent academic position on successful completion of the fellowship. Due to the extremely competitive nature of these fellowships and a cap on the number of full stage applications that can be submitted per institution, candidates will need to participate in the Fellowship Application Support process and a triage exercise to select our applicants.

Fellowship Application Support materials to be submitted by 26th August 2022.

Our UKRI cap limits the University of Aberdeen to submitting 4 applications to the full deadline.


To develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK:

  • To foster new research and innovation career paths including those at the academic/business and interdisciplinary boundaries, and facilitate movement of people between sectors
  • To provide sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators
  • To provide long-term, flexible funding to tackle difficult and novel challenges, and support adventurous, ambitious programmes.


Investment of around £1.5 million over four years, with the ability to extend to up to seven years, will enable the next generation of researcher and innovators to benefit from outstanding support to develop their careers, and to work on difficult and novel challenges.

The FLF scheme has funded fellowships from £300,000 to over £2m, and there is no preference for lower or higher cost proposals. Support for applicants from diverse career paths, including those returning from a career break or following time in other roles. The support offered is long-term and flexible, with seven years of support available on a 4 (+3) model.

In addition to the award, the University of Aberdeen will offer support to successful applicants on a case-by-case basis through discussion with their Head of School.  Examples of support include:

  • A cash contribution to the Fellow’s capital costs,
  • Funding to recruit a full-time PhD student,
  • Commitment to employ the Fellow through a Senior Lecturer post at the end of the Fellowship plus
  • Mentoring and Support from Senior Management and Professional Services to underpin Leadership pathway.

Applicants must discuss their application with the relevant Head of School before submitting their Fellowship Support paperwork.


These fellowships are for early career academics and innovators who are transitioning to or establishing independence. Applicants should use the Person Specification in the call guidance’s- Annex B to assess and justify their suitability for the scheme with reference to the objectives of the programme.

Applicants are expected to hold a doctorate by the start date of the fellowship OR to be able to demonstrate equivalent research/innovation experience and/or training. There are no eligibility rules based on years since PhD or whether the applicant currently holds a permanent/open-ended academic position or job role, though individuals who currently hold a permanent position should:

  • Show that their current position does not demonstrate that they have achieved research/innovation independence and thought leadership
  • Provide a clear rationale why a Future Leaders Fellowship would be different to their current role.
  • Clearly state that all their working time costed to the fellowship would be dedicated to that fellowship to focus on research/innovation, shielded from other professional commitments.
  • Demonstrate that a Future Leaders Fellowship would be the best way to support their long-term career goals and chosen career route. Applicants who have already achieved research/innovation independence (for example, by securing funding aimed at this career stage) will not be competitive. Senior academics and innovators are not permitted to apply.


The Fellowship Application Support process is now open and applies to both internal and external candidates.

An open and inclusive selection process will be used to ensure the University is selecting the best candidates to support to the full application stage. This will include scrutiny by an internal review panel of each candidate’s draft CV & Project Abstract, followed by an interview with the Selection Panel in late September ahead of the mandatory outline proposal deadline. 


Please send all Fellowship Application Support documents to

Document templates available: Internal Processes | StaffNet | The University of Aberdeen (

Fellowship Applications Support Process

Fellowship Applications Support Process

Fellowship schemes are highly competitive and require the applicant to plan well in advance in order to target their applications correctly. Chances of success are strongly increased by:

  • A strong C.V.
  • Awareness of and alignment with the funding programme
  • Well-designed project plan
  • Highly polished application

In order to provide our candidates with the best chance for success, it is recommended that the following steps are undertaken as part of our internal fellowship applications support process.

1. Initial discussion

Find out more about the types of fellowship schemes that are available and receive information on the benchmarks of competitiveness that should be achieved through one to one discussion with your School Research Development Executive (RDE), induction workshops and grant writing courses. The Fellowship Applications Support Process varies between Schools and your School RDE will be able to advise on the support available to you.

2. Complete required fellowship documents

At this stage, you are required to provide information regarding the funders/schemes you wish to target, along with an abstract of the proposed project and CV. You would also need to identify a Supervisor.

3. Discussion with senior staff

Potential applicants will have the opportunity to discuss their research idea with a group of senior staff (in person/virtual meeting) to critically assess the strength of their proposal. The discussion outcome will be classified as follows:

- Proceed with the application.

- Further development is required e.g. securing additional publications, supporting data or collaborator links.

- The proposal is unlikely to be competitive with the named funder/call. Senior staff will be on hand to discuss other options to support the researcher’s career development such as alternative projects, training or career development pathways. 

4. Personal timetable

Candidates will be assigned an Application Mentor, peer reviewers and fellowship buddy (if applicable to the scheme), and a timetable towards submission.

It is recommended to have the traffic light interview 3-6 months prior to the funder’s deadline. External fellowship candidates need to go through this process too, so if you are aware of any external fellowship candidates please forward the associated forms to them.