Peer review

Peer review is crucial to our funding decisions, helping to ensure that we support the very best research.


Our Carnegie Research Assessors assist with the assessment and selection of research proposals submitted for the Carnegie Research Incentive Grants. They represent a vast range of research and are recruited from within the Scottish academic community, the rest of the UK and internationally. The Trust is very fortunate to have the support of a set of Carnegie Research Assessors that bring a wealth of research expertise as well as experience of peer review processes from a wide range of UK and international funding bodies and other grant-making charities.

The review process is organised as follows:

  • A first sift is conducted by Carnegie staff to identify ineligible applicants and projects;
  • Eligible applications are sent to Carnegie Research Assessors with expertise in the project topic area, for review;
  • Carnegie staff then compile a shortlist of proposals based on the Assessors’ scores;
  • Applications and assessments for shortlisted applicants are sent to the relevant Selection Committee for review;
  • The two Selection Committees meet separately to discuss the shortlisted proposals and decide on the relative rankings;
  • The Chairs of the two Selection Committees meet with the Trust’s Secretary & Treasurer to review rankings and scores across the two committees and finalise the allocation of awards.

The Panel of Carnegie Research Assessors

Carnegie Research Assessors are recruited from within the Scottish academic community and represent the different areas of research undertaken in Scotland. Additional Assessors are identified further afield when no local expertise is available in Scotland or to avoid potential conflict of interest.

The Assessors are selected on the basis of their expertise in reviewing and their in-depth knowledge of their subject field. Some are previous grant holders of the Carnegie Trust, others are, or have been, reviewers for the Research Councils, or for other funding bodies such as the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Selection Committees

When assessing proposals submitted for the Research Incentive Grants, two Selection Committees are established for each round:

  • Selection Committee A: covering research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Selection Committee B: covering research in the fields of Science, Medicine, Engineering, Technology

The Selection Committee members are drawn from the panel of Carnegie Research Assessors. Individuals are invited to serve for specific Committee meetings, depending on availability, and to recognise the areas of specialism that need to be covered, ensuring that the load is suitably spread over time.

Each Committee is chaired by one of the Assessors – selected as Chair for that meeting alone, on the basis of their relevant experience.

Committee members receive the full set of papers for the shortlisted applications, together with the reports from the Assessors. We try to avoid inclusion as a member of the Selection Committee of an Assessor who has already acted as the reviewer for a shortlisted proposal. Where this is not achievable the assessor is expected to hold back from the discussion of the particular application on which they had reported, unless otherwise invited by the Chair.

The Selection Committees is asked to rank those proposals which they have been allocated according to the aims of the schemes and the quality of the planned project. A guide is provided as to where the cut-off point is likely to be (i.e. as determined by the budgeted total set aside by the Trustees for the scheme). The Committees give careful consideration to proposals that appear likely to be in the vicinity of the cut-off (above and below) and are asked to give some form of assessment as to the proposals’ absolute standard.

Once both Committees have met, the Trust’s Secretary and the Committee Chairs, seek to merge the two lists into a single ranking. Applying the available funding to this overall list then determines which applications are to be funded.

Should any special issues arise in the course of the above process, concerning one or more particular proposal, the Secretary will consult with individual Trustees or the Chair of Trustees, as appropriate, before making final funding decisions.

You can download the Guide for Carnegie Research Assessors.

If you would like to bring your expertise and experience to our peer review process, you can register your interest in being included on our list of Carnegie Research Assessors, using the link below to the registration form.

Please note that in order to be considered by the Trust as a Research Assessor you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be suitably qualified in your field of research. Typically, the Trust will only accept Assessors who possess a doctorate (PhD) in their specialism and have developed their independent postdoctoral research career for more than 5 years. Exceptions may be made for individuals who can demonstrate significant industrial research experience for at least 10 years;
  • Be available and willing to undertake a minimum of two proposal assessments per year (one for each round). Research Incentive Grant proposal reviews take place during April and late September/early October. You will not be asked to assess more than three proposals for any given round. If no applications are received in your research area, you will not be called upon to review;
  • Be willing to act, if invited by the Trust, to serve upon one of the scheme’s Selection Committees. This will be contingent on your availability and you will be called to serve only for specific meetings. Committee Members are required to review 6-7 proposals prior to selection meetings.

Register here


RIG Peer review timeline

Stage 1Internal sift for eligibility of applicant and project
Stage 2Each proposal sent to 2 separate Carnegie Research Assessors for review
Stage 3Carnegie staff draw up shortlist for Selection Committee review based on assessors' scores and comments
Stage 4Each shortlisted proposal sent to 2 panel members for review ahead of meeting.
Stage 5Committees meet and decide on ranking, based on overall average scores from Committee members and assessors.
Stage 6Committee Chairs meet with Secretary to agree, on the basis of the rankings and available budget, the final set of proposals to be funded.