Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific Challenge: The aim of this pilot activity is to promote co-operation between national/regional funding bodies and contribute to increasing the quality of research in Europe.

To this end, national/regional funding bodies will form consortia to launch synchronised calls at European level, addressing a pre-determined scientific field with one identical call deadline and using joint international peer review. This international joint peer review will ideally replace the national/regional evaluation procedure of the national research proposals. The funding decision will ultimately be made by each national/regional research funding body.

Synchronised Calls are intended to:

  • enhance research excellence by helping Member States to improve their evaluation systems

  • enhance transparency and fair treatment by providing one comparable pan-European score for proposals at national/regional level based on joint international peer review.

  • improve the  effectiveness of national research systems by helping Member States to benchmark areas where their researchers perform best and to guide national research and innovation strategies focused on their strengths

  • increase efficiency of research funding in Europe by highlighting topics in which different researchers are focusing on the same aspect of a research issue (in order to avoid duplication). 

  • increase visibility of high performing researchers in less research intensive countries by identifying them through the joint international peer review.

For each Synchronised Call, research funding bodies will determine a scientific field in which they publish a call on a synchronised basis in several European countries. There will be a common deadline for proposal submission as well as common evaluation criteria and a common scoring method. There will be a common working language for proposals. A common evaluation panel will be composed of internationally recognised experts.

After the joint international peer-review the participating funding bodies will receive the evaluation summary reports only for their national research proposals. The abstracts and metadata of proposals which are above threshold will be made available across the participating research funding bodies, e.g. to facilitate benchmarking. The actual selection of proposals for funding would ultimately be made by each national funding body: individual funding bodies would not be bound by the evaluation result, but would be encouraged to fund only those proposals which are above threshold. The project proposals may, but are not required to, have a transnational dimension.

Scope: The Synchronised Calls initiative will be open to any thematic area and each consortium will launch one call in a scientific field pre-determined by that consortium.

The consortium of national/regional funding bodies will:

a) Organise a Synchronised Call (planning, documentation, evaluation process, selection of evaluators, call publication, IT systems for proposal submission and evaluation, promotional activities, etc.)

b) Implement the joint international peer review of the Synchronised Call;

c) Provide a detailed report on the outcome of the Synchronised Call and related statistics.

Up to 5 Synchronised Call initiatives will be supported under this action. The expected duration of the project is to 2 years.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 0.2 million and 0.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: Participation in a joint international peer review process will help Member States to improve their evaluation systems. By evaluating research project proposals on a transparent, objective and comparable basis, it will be possible to identify the best researchers in Europe. This in turn will bring the best ideas in a particular field to the forefront and ensure equal and fair treatment.

Synchronised calls based on a joint international peer review allow Member States to benchmark how their research teams perform against their European peers.  Equally, because this approach helps to identify high performing researchers in less research intensive countries, it will increase the visibility of high calibre researchers in those countries. This could also open the way to new research collaboration opportunities for these researchers and, in this way, contribute to achieving the widening objective for research in Europe.

It can facilitate the entry of new research teams to the Framework Programmes and the ERC; researchers who have not participated yet in the Framework Programme could be encouraged to submit research proposals to the Framework Programme building on the positive experience of a joint international peer review through the synchronised call.

Type of action: Coordination and support actions

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