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Projects Peer Review Panel – large projects

Checking connections on the ATLAS end cap
(Credit: STFC)

The Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) is responsible for the assessment of projects that are considered to have significant scientific priority in particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy and particle astrophysics.

The Panel assess new large/complex novel projects (PPRP large projects) and smaller R&D projects (PRD - Project Research and Development).

PPRP Large Projects are major new projects such as participation in new experiments or missions, the development of new instruments or upgrades to existing detectors.


Future PPRP large projects and PRD meeting dates

Meeting date Venue Proposal submission deadline
24 January 2018 RAL, Didcot 18 October 2017
28 March 2018 Polaris House, Swindon 4 January 2018
5 June 2018 Cockcroft Institute, Daresbury 6 March 2017
4 & 5 July 2018 Polaris House, Swindon 3 April 2018
11 & 12 September 2018 Polaris House, Swindon 12 June 2018

It is the Panel's policy to hold the scientific presentations it receives in open session. Details of these presentations are distributed through the Astrocommunity and Hi-Phi mailing lists.

Please e-mail Rob Edgecock if you would like to be added to the HiPhi mail.

Statement of Interest

The consideration of a Statement of Interest is the first step in the STFC review of any major, new proposal.

Further information and guidance about submitting a Statement of Interest.

PPRP large projects guidance

Artist’s impression of E-ELT
(Credit: STFC)

Applicants who have submitted a successful Statement of Interest will be invited to submit a full proposal to the PPRP. Guidelines on writing a full PPRP proposal and templates are given below.

Applicants should also refer to the STFC Project Management Framework. The Framework sets out the control environment within which science projects are appraised, managed, monitored and evaluated, and contains useful advice on writing proposals and on good project management practice.

Proposals submitted to PPRP should be proportional to the size and complexity of the project, but should not exceed 40 pages including technical appendices. This page limit will be strictly enforced.

Applicants must submit their application through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) System by 4pm by the deadline given by the PPRP Secretary.

Academic applicants must meet the normal eligibility requirements for Science and Technology Facility Council research grant funding as set out in the FEC Research Grants Handbook.

The specific aims of the PPRP scheme are to assess each proposal in a systematic and time constrained process; calls for proposals and PPRP meetings are scheduled in advance with deadlines set to allow efficient and effective due diligence. Applicants who have submitted a successful Statement of Interest (SoI) will be invited to submit a full proposal to the PPRP.

STFC provides research grant funding opportunities via quarterly PPRP calls. The corresponding PPRP meetings are scheduled in advance and STFC makes every attempt to ensure that the review process is carried out in a timely way. Should STFC need to cancel any meetings, applicants will be informed as soon as possible with an explanation of any delays; accordingly, applicants are required to meet any specified deadlines so that an efficient and effective review process can take place.

The PPRP is responsible for the assessment of projects that are considered to have significant scientific priority in particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy, particle astrophysics, accelerator and solar system science.  The panel will be supplemented with area specific experts for each proposal.

The PPRP will provide proposal recommendations to be submitted to the Science Board (SB).

  1. Applicant liaise with Programme Manager

    The applicant must contact the relevant Programme Manager of STFC to discuss the proposed programme. Once the Programme Manager agrees, the applicant is requested to send a Statement of Interest.

  2. SOI

    A Statement of Interest (SOI) must be completed for initial evaluation and review by the Science Board. This document details the key scientific aims and a full economic cost of the proposed programme of work.

  3. Science Board Meeting

    During the Science Board meeting, the SOI is reviewed by the Executive and Science Board committee. If agreed, the applicant will be asked to submit a comprehensive proposal to PPRP.

  4. Proposal Submission to PPRP

    The proposal along with the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) form must be submitted through the electronic submission system to the specified PPRP call. The submission deadlines are publicized on STFC Funding Opportunities web page.

    Each proposal is assessed by external reviewers via Je-S. Reviewers submit written comments on the proposal; applicants will be given the opportunity to see and respond to all reviewer comments. There is a half a page limit per review for responses and it should be returned within 10 days of receipt.

    Preliminary assessment of the proposal and resource work package will be explored by the PPRP Secretary, external experts and nominated PPRP members.  Applicants will be contacted directly if there are any areas of the proposal that requires more detail or rework in advance of the PPRP meeting.

  5. PPRP Meeting

    The PPRP meeting is held to assess the proposal and question the applicant. The meeting consists of open sessions, where members of the public can attend, and closed sessions. In its assessment of proposals the panel will look at each category referred to in the STFC Grants Handbook Assessment Criteria to ensure all requirements are met.  Feedback questions from the meeting are sent to the applicant; the responses are assessed at the Visiting Panel Meeting.

  6. Visiting Panel Meeting

    The Visiting Panel meeting carries out a detailed assessment of the proposal. The meeting consists of Panel experts and members of PPRP. The final recommendation usually takes place at the end of this meeting during a closed session.

  7. PPRP Report

    A report from the Visiting Panel is written in conjunction with the STFC Office and agreed and finalised by the Visiting Panel Chair. The report presents the Visiting Panel’s findings and is submitted to the next Science Board meeting.

  8. Science Board Meeting

    At the Science Board meeting, the Visiting Panel Chair presents the Visiting Panel’s recommendations to Science Board. Science Board decides on the strategic recommendations and reports directly to Council.

  9. Outcome of Proposal

    After discussion with the STFC Executive on Science Board’s recommendation, the Science Board Secretary will inform the applicant of STFC’s decision. On average a successful proposal will take 6-9 months.

  10. Informing PPRP

    PPRP will be informed of the recommendations made to Science Board by the Visiting Panel and the actual funding decisions made by Science Board at the next PPRP meeting.

STFC policies and procedures are aligned with the Research Councils UK policies; applicants can refer to the following supporting documentation:

All proposals should be submitted online using the Je-S System; there are links to tutorials and help areas on the system. Applicants should select the following options in the Je-S system when generating their proposal:

Council: STFC
Document Type: Standard Proposal
Scheme: PPRP
Call: PPRP Round X 20YY

Failure to select the options displayed above may result in the proposal not reaching the correct Research Council or department therein, and cause the Je-S proposal to be returned and resubmitted.

It is the responsibility of the submitting grant’s Principle Investigator (PI) to insure that the institution’s administration department submits the proposal before 4:00pm on the deadline day. Applicants can view the status of the proposal online by logging into the Je-S system. STFC are unable to view the proposal until has been submitted by the institution’s administration department and has undergone initial checks by the RCUK Grant Operations team.

Councils operate a 'page' restriction policy on attachment length; the proposal attachments should not exceed 40 pages including technical appendices.  Applications that exceed the requested page restriction on any part of the submission may be rejected.

The completed Je-S proposal form will require an accompanying Case for Support, a Pathway to Impact and a Data Management Plan, each as a separate attached PDF file and all must be submitted by 4.00pm on the closing date. For information on other supporting documents please see the STFC Grants Handbook.

Case for Support

The Case for Support document should not exceed the 40 page restriction including technical appendices; STFC specific page format and style guidance is available on the Je-S Handbook. The Finance Tables and Risk Register should be appended to the Case for Support document but are not included in the 40 page limit.  The Case for Support should be clear and concise with minimal technical jargon, and address the following:

Scientific Needs

  • Objectives: A description of the intended end result of the project should be given.  This should be clearly stated so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period. Any intermediate results upon which the final result depends should be identified.
  • Project Description: A description of the applicants proposed contribution to the project should be given. The stage of the project (e.g. R&D, construction etc.) should be specified. The document should highlight any unique contributions, likely global impact and aspects of UK leadership.
  • STFC Science and strategy:  Identify the specific STFC science opportunities that this project addresses. How does this relate to STFC priorities? What aspects are particularly relevant? What is its potential impact? Are there any long-term implications or liabilities that may be generated as a result of investing in this project?
  • Awareness & Context: Describe the present status of related research and development worldwide. Where is this research field likely to be in 10 years’ time? What is the current state of play?  How important is it that we act now?  Does the project have a strong supportive user base among the relevant community both in the UK and internationally?
  • Competing research: Provide a summary of any competing experiments or research and level of investment. There should be some analysis of the benefits of this particular research against similar past and current research worldwide.
  • Track record: Explain your track record in this field. Why do you consider your group the best or most appropriate to carry out this programme? How should the introducers be confident that you would be able to deliver the project? What is the competency of your group to perform this work?

Business Needs

  • Project Management Plan: The STFC Project Management Framework sets out the programme management framework within which projects are appraised, funded, and managed by STFC, and must be followed for all funded projects and programmes.
  • Project organisation and participants: Proposals should identify the implementation strategy, duration, project deliverable ownership, and work packages; representation of this information in Gantt chart format is recommended. All funded UK participants, their staff category, FtE (full time equivalent) project/work package allocation per year, activity and justification for each post, should be listed.  Key individuals, such as the UK Spokesperson and Project Manager(s), responsible for ensuring that the project and its constituent parts are kept on schedule and budget should be identified.

Finance Tables

Finance tables must be appended to the Case for Support; exemplars can be found in Annex 1. Finance Tables ; cost tables should be completed for each work package.

Advice on costing should be sought from the relevant Programme Manager.  All project costs should be presented in a clear and understandable way, and all resource requests must be fully justified; failure to provide full and explicit resource justification is likely to result in resource request being rejected.

All costs in the finance tables must be in agreement with the funding requested within the Je-S form; there should not be any discrepancies as the proposal will be returned where there is inconsistency.

Working Allowance

This is used to cope with the uncertainties that occur in all projects, such as increased cost of materials, complexity of design and manufacture of components. It can be calculated in a number of ways and should take account of the project risks and their mitigation. There should be a reasonable chance (i.e. greater than 75%) that the project can be completed within the budget of the base cost plus the working allowance; it is awarded as part of the grant at announcement (at 100%).


This should not be requested on the Je-S form;  it is for the unknown and unexpected things that can occur within a project and which could not reasonably be predicted. It should be calculated on the basis of an understanding of the risks of the project and there should be a high expectation that the project can be completed without the use of contingency.  Contingency will only be released on the approval of STFC Executive after it has considered advice from the STFC Oversight Committee or Project Board and explored the possibilities of de- scoping the project.

STFC Laboratory costs

These should be shown as 100% in the Full Proposal (case for support) document and staff costs, including overheads, based on the Internal Research Funding for STFC Sites Policy.  These always count as ‘new’ costs.  Please consult with the Programme Manager for the latest advice on STFC costs and costing.

Risk Management

The systematic identification and analysis of the strategic, financial and operational uncertainties associated with the proposal helps devolve the responsibility for risk management to the appropriate level.  It is recommended that a Risk Register identifying the proposal’s risks, mitigation activities and associated schedule/financial impact with an explanation of how these have been calculated.  Further information about risk management and a risk template can be found in Annex 2.

Collaborative Projects:

Describe linkages and/or collaborations with key collaborators and/or external players in this area. Include a description of how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators, both within the UK and internationally. For international collaborations, the membership of the international collaboration, a brief breakdown of responsibilities within it, and how the significance of the UK contribution to the project fits relative to those from other countries, should be given. The status of approval and funding of the international experiment should be provided.

Key Stakeholders/Cross-Council involvement:

The key stakeholders in the project should be identified.  Describe any links to other (non-STFC) research council or research establishment (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills; Ministry of Defence; Department of Health, etc.).

Pathway to Impact

The Grants Research Handbook provides Pathway to Impact guidance.  PPRP Grants will not be allowed to start without an acceptable ‘Pathway to Impact’ statement.

Data Management Plan

The Grants Research Handbook provides Data Management guidance. PPRP Grants will not be allowed to start without an acceptable Data Management and Sharing plan.




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