European Facility For Airborne Research

European Facility For Airborne Research Aug. 19, 2017, 17:01

Guidelines for scientific reviewers


1. Introduction

One of the major goals of Transnational Access to research aircraft and instrumentation in EUFAR2 (2014-2018) is to promote a higher level of scientific impact of the projects to which funding is allocated. A number of mechanisms have been put in place to assist this process before the proposals are eventually presented to the independent reviewers.

The first change implemented is that proposals have a pre-review stage in which they are presented to tutors of the EUFAR Expert Working Groups, who provide feedback to the applicants on improvements to, for example, their choices of instruments and measurements, their selected measurement strategy, and their data analysis and interpretation plans. In addition, the proposals are circulated to all of the TA aircraft operators. The purpose of this is to allow the operators to suggest to the applicants opportunities for clustering their projects with existing field campaigns that may be funded through the operator’s national funding schemes. The potential benefits of clustering in this way are threefold: i) to put the TA applicants in contact with a larger community of scientists, ii) to allow them to benefit from transit flight hours to get the selected aircraft to the desired location that are already funded, and iii) to allow them to remain in the field for a longer period and hence have the best opportunity to exploit optimum conditions for their TA flying.

Following these pre-review stages, the applicants have an opportunity to modify their proposals in the light of the advice received, and these will generally be presented to the independent reviewers in this modified form.

It is anticipated that in most circumstances TA applications will be allocated between 10 and 15 hours of flight time. This is not, however, a firm restriction. Where a project shows the ability to achieve a very high scientific impact, and especially where can benefit a large user group (including projects scientists and any students who will be involved), then it will be possible for flight time to be allocated in excess of the normal. Reviewers are completely free to make their own judgments and recommendations on this point.

It is expected that early on during EUFAR2 there will be a special call for proposals that will involve the development and operation of new airborne instruments. Successful proposals will be able to demonstrate the perceived demand for and potential scientific impact of the new instrument or measurement technique. The same review process will be used for these as for standard airborne science proposals.

Finally, it is also expected that TA funding will be available for the conduct of summer schools in aspects of airborne geoscience and measurements. Proposals for such summer schools will be made by the prospective organiser. Such summer school proposals are envisaged to be the primary mechanism by which EUFAR TA funding is used to provide training in airborne geoscience and measurements. The main criteria for the allocation of funding will be quality and relevance of the proposed teaching program together with the number of students who will be accommodated. The independent review process for such summer school applications will be modified accordingly.

 

2. Clustering of Transnational Access activities

Under EUFAR FP7, there is encouragement for projects to be clustered together. This can take the form of a number of separate TA projects being supported in a single field campaign by an aircraft operator. Alternatively, a single TA project may be clustered with a pre-existing field campaign that is supported either by the operator’s national research funding process or by other EC funding.

The advantages of this clustering are:

  • the TA proposal may benefit from the fact that transit flight hours to its preferred location are already supported.
  • the TA proposal may benefit from a longer period of a time in the field in which to undertake its allocated flight hours, thereby giving it a greater probability of encountering optimum flight conditions.
  • the TA proposers may have an opportunity to work closely in the field with a larger group of scientists.

The overall intention of clustering is to increase the scientific impact of the EUFAR TA supported activity. However, it is also clear that the aims, objectives and outcomes of the TA activity MUST be separately identifiable and measurable from those of the other activities with which it is clustered. Where a TA activity is clustered in this way, we ask reviewers to pay particular attention to this last point.

 

3. Completing the review: Science projects and Instrument development proposals

Reviewers will first be asked to provide detailed comments under five separate headings:

  1. Are the aims and objectives of the research or instrument development clearly described and linked to the current state of knowledge within the field?
  2. Are the proposed measurements and observational strategy well-aligned with and capable of meeting the aims and objectives of the research or instrument development?
  3. Are the methods proposed for the analysis and presentation of the data clearly described and appropriate?
  4. Are the overall resources that will be provided to the task adequate to achieve the specified aims within the proposed timescale of the research? Please consider all of the following:
    • the amount of flight time that should be provided,
    • any supporting measurements that are additional to the aircraft, for example ground-based measurements or satellite data,
    • the number and level of experience of the personnel who will be involved, both in the field campaign and subsequent data analysis.
  5. Where the TA activity is clustered in a field campaign with other activities (supported either by EUFAR, by national research funding or by other EC funding), are its aims, objectives and outcomes separately identifiable and measurable?

Reviewers are encouraged to provide as much detail as possible in each of these five areas.

Finally, reviewers are asked to provide an overall rating for the application, using the following scale:

9 - Exceptional scientific merit and expected to make a major scientific impact.
8 - At the leading edge of its field, and will produce a significant advance of general understanding. May develop a measurement technique that will open up a new field of study.
7 - A well-planned study that will produce competitive science and some advances within its field. May generate significant advances within a specialist measurement area.
6 - A good-quality study that will produce results that strongly support other work within the field of study. May generate a useful advance within a specialist measurement area.
5 - Has some aspects of merit, but likely to provide only moderate support to other studies within the field, or to provide only a modest advance within a specialist measurement area.
4 - Scientifically sound but unlikely to make any advances within a field of science or specialist measurement area.
3 - Identifiable flaws in the approach or proposed methods.
2 - Significant flaws in the approach or methods.
1 - Rejected due to similar measurements or analyses having already been performed.

 

4. Completing the on-line review: Summer school proposals

Reviewers are first asked to provide comments under a number of separate headings:

  1. Is the proposed teaching syllabus clearly described and is there an identified pathway by which the benefits of the teaching can be realised for the students?
  2. Is the level of expertise of the teaching staff identified and appropriate to the proposed teaching syllabus?
  3. Are the overall resources that will be provided appropriate to the task?

Please consider all of the following:

  1. the overall duration of the summer school, including teaching and flight activity periods.
  2. the amount of flight time that will be provided for instructional activities.
  3. the facilities that will be available to the students to process and analyse field data that are obtained in the course of the summer school.

They may again provide any additional general comments and feedback. An overall rating will then be requested on the following scale:

4 - well-planned and well-resourced teaching syllabus that will provide long-term benefits to students.
3 - some shortcomings in teaching syllabus or resourcing, but will nevertheless achieve its overall aims.
2 - clear shortcomings in teaching syllabus or resourcing that will prevent some of the aims from being achieved and which will limit the potential educational benefits.
1 - rejection.

 

5. The User Group Selection Panel

Following the receipt of the independent reviews, the final decision on the allocation of TA funding will be made by a User Group Selection Panel (UGSP) of 9 voting members, comprising four EUFAR activity coordinators (Transnational Access activity, Expert Working Groups, Scientific Advisory Committee, and Education/Training activity), together with 5 permanent members drawn from amongst the panel of independent reviewers. The EUFAR Coordinator may join UGSP meetings in an advisory capacity only. The meeting quorum will be 5, with the proviso that at least 3 of these should be independent reviewers.

In order for a science or instrument development project to be funded, it is expected that it will have achieved an average overall review rating of at least 7.
For summer schools, it is expected that successful proposals will normally achieve the highest rating of 4 although it will be acceptable for funding to be allocated to those which achieve level 3.

Unsuccessful proposals will be returned to the applicant together with a summary of the reviewers’ comments to allow modification and resubmission to a subsequent call.

The overall rating and reviewers’ additional comments will be used to determine priorities for funding amongst competing projects. Proposals will be considered by the UGSP either singly or in groups. The UGSP may meet in person but will more likely consider proposals at webconference meetings or by e-mail circulation.

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 312609

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