Responding to reviews

RCUK / UKRI and some other funders usually provide Principal Investigators the opportunity to respond to comments by reviewers. The success of a PI response in addressing the concerns of reviewers or convincing the panel those concerns are less relevant can be key to securing funding.

“The PI response did not fully allay the concerns of the reviewers and could have been clearer… On the research design, the investigators agree that more work… is required by providing only a sketchy response... Responding to the challenge of whether or not the researchers will be able to produce xxxx, the researchers reply that this is the focus of the research! The researchers do a good job in their reply in accounting for the costs… but little other technical detail as requested by reviewer 3.”

[Example of real panel feedback]

Process

Specific calls may differ in the time between application submission and PIs being asked to respond but this is usually between 6 weeks and 3 months after submission. PIs will usually only be sent reviews and asked to respond if their proposals have been scored highly enough to go to the grant assessment panel.

RCUK funders will usually give the PI five working days to respond to all their reviewers’ comments in a two page response document which is uploaded to the application system. The number of reviewers does not make any difference to the length of the allowed response.

If RCUK receive late reviews after the others are sent to the PI then they will make a decision about whether to give the PI additional time to respond; this can be as short a period as 48 hours and involves the re-writing of the original 2 page document. RCUK will make clear to panellists where reviews were received late and PIs had less or no time to respond.

The time frame for responses is something you and your Co-Is should be aware of during the application process as a well formulated response with the right input can be vital to securing funding. The tone of the response is also very important; a defensive response can immediately put off potential supporters on the panel and the response will never be seen by the reviewer.

Research Development Staff across the University can offer support in writing and checking reviewer responses. If you’re not sure who to contact then please email r-idevelopment@leeds.ac.uk.