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

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.