The following description sets out the current ISRF procedure for assessing proposals and selecting grantees.

Longlisting

Following the relevant application deadline, the field of proposals will be narrowed down to a longlist, usually of no more than 40 applications.

As part of this longlisting stage, proposals may be sent out for triage by a panel drawn from previous ISRF Fellows. Triage panels will be disciplinarily diverse, with each application randomly allocated to two panel members.

Triage panel members will be briefed on the ISRF’s criteria, and instructed to each nominate a number of proposals for further assessment. This will assist the Director of Research in producing a longlist, usually of no more than 40 applications.

External Assessment

Longlisted proposals are sent out for independent, external assessment. In the first instance, appropriate academics (identified by keywords submitted by applicants) are asked to recommend suitable assessors for each project, based on the title and abstract.

These nominated assessors are contacted and invited to provide an assessment or to suggest other suitable assessors.

Confirmed assessors are sent a file containing the full Research Proposal, including the anonymised Bibliography. No identifying information is included, and submitted information regarding prior publications/outputs and qualifications/experience is not seen by external assessors.

For MCF6 & PERF5, assessors will be asked to comment on:

  • The merit of the proposal overall
  • The importance of the proposed topic (Research Topic and Background) (i) within the (inter)disciplinary area; (ii) as a problem of real, human, life; (iii) reflecting awareness of relevant existing research
  • Quality, value, and originality of the project’s main theses or claims (Background and Project Thesis) – does the proposed project offer (i) a critical challenge to incumbent theories?; and/or (ii) a new approach to empirical problems with no currently adequate theory or investigative methodology?
  • Innovativeness and aptness of the methods (Methodology): (i) fit with the social phenomena under study; (ii) unusual or distinctive theoretical approaches motivated by critical challenge of incumbent theories; (iii) potential interdisciplinary combinations of particular empirical or theoretical value
  • Cogency, Thoroughness, and Seriousness of Ethics Statement (Ethics Statement)
  • Feasibility in the 1 year period of the award (Work Plan and Outcomes)
  • Likelihood that the project is otherwise fundable by mainstream funding bodies
  • Other Comments (may include quality of the written proposal)

For FG9, assessors will be asked to comment on:

  • The merit of the proposal overall
  • Importance of the study question within the (inter)disciplinary area, and as a problem of real, human, life (regarding the Research Focus, Background, and Project Thesis)
  • Innovativeness and aptness of the methods, whether of new methods or of new uses of accepted method (regarding Methodology and Work Plan)
  • Likelihood that the project may lead to conceptual or theoretical innovation. Does it usefully challenge incumbent theories, or address afresh empirical problems with no currently adequate theory or investigative methodology? (regarding Outcomes)
  • Cogency, thoroughness, and seriousness of Ethics Statement
  • Other Comments (may include quality of the written proposal)

We usually aim for at least two independent external assessments for each longlisted proposal.

There is no honorarium offered to external assessors. We are very grateful for the work that is taken on, free of charge, to help us with our selection process, and hope that the experience is intellectually rewarding (and interesting) for those taking part as assessors.

Shortlisting

A shortlist – usually no more than 10 proposals – is constructed based on the independent external assessments.

Selection Panel

A shortlist dossier – comprising the full Research Proposal, Bibliography, submitted information regarding prior publications/outputs and qualifications/experience, and external assessments – is circulated to a Selection Panel comprising four academics drawn from across the social sciences and humanities. Normally, one member of the ISRF Academic Advisory Board will participate in the Selection Panel, which is chaired by the Director of Research.

The Selection Panel will meet to consider the shortlist, and to nominate proposals for funding. The Foundation Board is informed of the competition outcome, and applicants are notified.

Feedback

Assessment feedback is shared – anonymously – with all long-listed applicants. Unfortunately, given the number of applications, it is not possible to offer feedback for proposals which do not reach the longlist.


The Foundation subscribes to a code of ethics which covers, amongst other things, academic values of fairness, transparency and independence.