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Aarhus BSS sharpens its pen in competition for large grants

Aarhus BSS has just introduced a new internal peer review model with the aim of strengthening the quality of applications to Sapere Aude, ERC and the Danish National Research Foundation. The purpose is to attract more external research funding, says Vice-dean for Research and Talent Development Per Baltzer Overgaard.

2018.08.21 | Sinne B. Jakobsen

Photo: Colourbox

Competition for the Danish and European research grants is fierce and a good application must meet a number of requirements. It must be of the highest academic quality, it must thorough and well founded, and not least, it must be able to convince a broad assessment panel that the research itself will make a contribution that goes beyond the academic field of the applicant.

In order to strengthen the quality of the applications submitted by the school, Aarhus BSS has just introduced an internal peer review model. From now on, all applications to Sapere Aude, ERC and the Danish National Research Foundation must be assessed by three senior researchers from across the school. Prior to the internal peer review, the departments must screen the applications and ensure feedback from academic peers. In short, the new process is much more systematic than previously, says Vice-dean for Research and Talent Development Per Baltzer Overgaard:

“As a school, we simply have to attract more external research funding as this is an increasingly important source of financing for our research,“ he says. “Competition is fierce and applications need to be of an exceptionally high quality to be successful. That’s why we need to make a targeted effort to strengthen the quality of our applications and make them sharper and more focused. The internal peer review is an important step in the right direction as it allows us to simulate a real-life assessment process. This gives applicants a chance to improve their application before they submit it.”

The art of persuading widely

In connection with the new internal peer review model, a group of senior researchers from across the school (two from each department) has been appointed. They will take turns to act as internal reviewers. When an application has gone through the department’s screening process, it is submitted to the Dean’s Office, which then selects the internal peer review team. The team reads the application and offers feedback for the applicant well in advance of the application deadline. The team will typically consist of a researcher from the applicant’s own academic field and two researchers from other fields.

Professor Christoffer Green-Pedersen from the Department of Political Science is part of the group of internal reviewers. In his opinion, it is important that the internal review team is broadly composed:

“In the real world, assessment committees also consist of people from various academic backgrounds,“ he says. “That’s why applicants must be able to argue for their idea to a broader audience and communicate their contribution so that it makes sense to other people than their peers. When people from other academic fields read your application, they will often spot things that your peers would never have noticed. At the same time, the application must document a sound academic knowledge and this can be a very difficult balance to strike.”

A good application takes time

Per Baltzer Overgaard and Christoffer Green-Pedersen both stress that writing a good application is a demanding process.  In fact, it takes as much effort as writing a good research paper, Green-Pedersen points out. Applicants should thus allow themselves plenty of time, and this is indeed one of objectives of the new peer review process. As part of the process, the departments are responsible for informing their researchers about calls and deadlines on an ongoing basis and in good time. Ultimately, this should also inspire more researchers to apply for the large research grants, says Overgaard:

 “We have a lot of very talented researchers at the school, and I would really like to see more people apply for the large and elitist grants. I would also encourage more of our young and talented researchers to apply. For them, an ERC Starting Grant would be an obvious choice,“ he concludes.

Group of internal reviewers:

Professor Peter Lindgren (BTECH)
Associate Professor Sofoklis Kyriazakos (BTECH)
Professor Nabanita Datta Gupta (ECON)
Professor Helena Skyt Nielsen (ECON)
Professor Klaus G. Grunert (MGMT)
Professor Erik Reimer Larsen (MGMT)
Professor Christoffer Green-Pedersen (PS)
Professor Jens Blom-Hansen (PS)
Professor Dorthe Berntsen (PSY)
Professor Vibeke Frank (PSY)
Professor Tine Sommer (LAW)

As of 29 June 2018

Aarhus BSS
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