It seems that there is hope. A short while ago I was a member of an EPSRC ICT Panel, this was my second research panel, the previous being around two years ago. At that time we tried to rank around 35 good proposals and of those only a very small amount (if my memory serves me correctly) just 5 were funded.
At this most recent panel, I’m very pleased to say that of the 24 proposals being ranked around 10 were funded. This gives me hope, I’m liking those odds. While it is true that some of the 14 that were not funded were still good proposals, I think it right that at least 5 to 6 of those were not upto the right standard, and I think the remainder were borderline.
I was also encouraged by the way the panel session was conducted in general. It is always good to see how the machinery of research councils work and with regard to the EPSRC process I feel that at present they are doing a good job. As you might remember this was not the case on a number of occasions previously, but now I feel that when my grants get rejected… well maybe there was something I could have done better, or maybe it is just in the noise; but at least I’m confident that the majority of good grants have been funded.
This is not to say that those few borderline grants should be underfunded in a perfect world, sadly we don’t live in perfection.
So if you are a researcher in the EPSRC domain, then I suggest you get writing – there is hope and your chances, if you follow the advice of your mentor’s, I think is about 60/40 against on a good day, and when it comes to Grants I’ll take those odds any time!