16 Mar 2016
ERC comments on FP7 ex-post evaluation
The European Research Council (ERC) has issued a statement on the recently published ex-post evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) by the High-level Expert Group.
The Scientific Council of the ERC appreciates the evaluation in general, but sees some aspects missing and, by means of its statement, wishes to provide a "complementary view" of issues that have not been covered to a sufficient extent, from the ERC's point of view. It highlights the fact that the ERC was created with FP7, thus providing for the first time an FP component which funds individual researchers of any field, including the social sciences and humanities, solely on the basis of the scientific quality of their project. The statement also points out the ERC's governance by an autonomous body, which it regards as a major institutional innovation and a major change in EU research policy. The ERC Scientific Council would have liked to see more focus put on this aspect in the FP7 evaluation, thus complementing the 2010 independent Interim Evaluation of FP 7 which highlighted the novel measures of FP7.
Some other aspects which the ERC Scientific Council would have liked to see dealt with more profoundly in the FP7 evaluation, or which it regards as not being adequately represented, include:
- the constantly rising level of applications, which resulted in success rates only around half of those of other Specific Programmes in FP7;
- the fact that more than half of the ERC's FP7 projects were still on-going at the time of the publication of the FP7 report, making assessment of their impact difficult at this time, even though the ERC sees sufficient evidence of the outstanding scientific impact of ERC-funded researchers to be discussed as such;
- a misunderstanding regarding the ERC’s two step evaluation process, where the HLEG report describes applications which received a grade B at step 1 as not of "high quality", while the ERC Work Programme describes them as "of high quality but not sufficient to pass to step 2 of the evaluation", which leads to a misconception about what the report calls the ERC's "adjusted success rate";
- criticism in the report of the two pilot Synergy calls and the Proof-of-Concept sub-programme funds, which the ERC regards as being unjustified;
- the ERC's impact on making Europe a more attractive place to carry out research, which is challenged in the report;
- the ERC's efforts to achieve a better gender balance, which it sees as not being sufficiently recognised in the HLEG report.
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