Expert reviewers

Expert reviewers

The Wolfson Foundation is committed to a process of expert (or 'peer') review. While peer review is most commonly associated with the assessment of academic research, we use reviewers across each of our programmes. They are selected as experts in their field who are qualified to provide an informed and impartial review. The process is central to our decision-making and we are extremely grateful to those who undertake this work for us.

This page provides some brief guidance for reviewers. Even if you are an experienced reviewer, the information here may be helpful in explaining what we are looking for in a review.

Advice on the format

We do not issue detailed guidance to reviewers, preferring to give you freedom to comment on the merits of the applicant organisation and project within the areas that you have expertise and experience. As such, we do not operate a formal scoring system. Reviews vary in length, depending on the complexity of the project, but generally range from a few paragraphs to a few pages (a longer review is more common in the assessment of scientific research proposals).

Advice on the content

Reviewers are chosen for their expertise in the field within which the applicant operates, and as such, we do not expect detailed commentary on the financial or capital (i.e. construction) elements of the application, although you should feel free to raise any points in these areas (it may be helpful to note that all applications are subject to internal detailed financial assessment). Rather, we are most interested in your view of the organisation's level of excellence within their field (and in a regional, national or international context), and the merits of the specific project in furthering this.

When reviewing an application, it may be useful to know that we do not ask applicants to apply for a specific amount, instead requesting costs of the entire project together with a breakdown of different areas that may be suitable to award a grant against.

Research proposals

Many (albeit by no means all) of our research funding applications are for new facilities housing a range of activity. We recognise that it can be difficult for a reviewer to feel comfortable commenting on such wide-ranging applications. In such cases, we encourage reviewers to comment on the research themes which are most relevant to their own area of interest.

Criteria

Reviewers' comments are considered alongside the application by our expert panels, who make recommendations to the Trustees. Key criteria used by Trustees to assess applications include: the excellence of the organisation and project; the anticipated outcome of the project; financial viability, including value for money and adequate provision for ongoing costs/ maintenance.

Conflicts for reviewers

Reviewers are asked to declare potential conflicts of interest in their written submissions. Where there is a significant conflict, we ask that you discuss this with the Foundation office in advance of submitting a review.

Significant conflicts (which would preclude a reviewer from making comments) include:

1) sitting on a Board with responsibility for strategic oversight of the applicant organisation

2) being in receipt of any funds (wages, consultancy fees or otherwise) from the applicant organisation

3) having research which is directly dependent on connections with the applicant research groups

Policy on confidentiality

The confidentiality of the reviewers chosen is integral to the process. We do, however, provide feedback questions or queries to applicants where appropriate. This is done without compromising the identity of reviewers.