Assessment of proposals

Home > Assessment of proposals

Assessment of proposals

The ICMS Programme Committee (a list of the members can be found here) is charged with overseeing the peer-review process. Although it is designed to be balanced and broadly based, it is not possible for any committee such this one (or similarly the editorial board of a major journal) to cover the entire range of the mathematical sciences with equal authority. The Programme Committee will take the necessary steps to assess proposals properly by seeking outside expert advice on the correct choice of referees when necessary. Therefore proposers are encouraged to apply, even when their topic is in an area not obviously covered by the membership of the Programme Committee.


The Committee meets in person only once a year. In order to react quickly to proposals, decisions are made outside meetings at other times each year (see Procedures and Mechanisms below). In addition to assessing new proposals, at their annual meeting the Committee is tasked to

  • review and evaluate proposals made over the past 12 months
  • evaluate and review past ICMS activity
  • discuss topics where workshops should be encouraged.

Conflict of Interest

Committee members are asked to disqualify themselves from participation in the decision-making process if there is a possible conflict of interest, for example if a proposal comes from a personal friend, departmental colleague, a current or very recent collaborator, or a student (<3 years ago).



A proposal is submitted to the ICMS office, where the Centre Manager (CM) acknowledges it and passes it on to the Scientific Director (SD).

Appointment of referees

The SD consults all members of the Programme Committee by e-mail. A minimum of three referees will then be asked to comment on the proposal. (See Choice of Referees below.) The CM requests referees' reports, collates responses and passes them to the SD.

Feedback to proposer

The SD sends the referees' comments to the proposer and invites a response. The SD may ask for a proposal to be revised in the light of the referees' comments.


  • Decisions will be made by the Programme Committee twice a year in February, and July (the July meeting will be the main annual meeting).
  • The Programme Committee will be presented with the proposal (and revision where this has been requested), the referees' comments and proposers' responses. One of the Committee will be asked to act as 'Reader' for a specific proposal. Each member will be asked to score all proposals on the basis of the referees' comments, the selection criteria and ICMS Scientific Policy. The scores are:

    1 - Excellent. Meets all criteria and is likely to have a high impact
    2 - Very good. Meets all criteria
    3 - Satisfactory. Meets most criteria but is unlikely to be funded without revision
    4 - Does not meet criteria

    General comments are also invited.

    Decisions will be reached by email in February. The CM will collate the Programme Committee members’ scores and comments and pass them to the SD, Chairman and Readers who will use this information to make a preliminary recommendation. This recommendation will be circulated to the Committee, inviting immediate email discussion.

  • Once a consensus is reached, the SD will recommend to the ICMS Management Committee those proposals that should be funded, bearing in mind the resources available and the need to produce a balanced programme.
  • Should the number of highly rated proposals exceed the Management Committee's capacity to allocate funds for a given year, some proposals may have to be turned away or offered a later date.

Choice of Referees

A minimum of three referees is asked to comment on the proposal. In the case of novel or interdisciplinary proposals, a greater number is likely to be invited to comment. Referees are appointed on the basis of their area of expertise; both national and international referees will be used as a matter of course.

  • One referee will be chosen from the list supplied by the proposer.
  • The remaining referees will be chosen by the Scientific Director on the basis of suggestions from members of the Programme Committee
  • A full record of all correspondence will be kept at ICMS for 5 years.