Proportionality is one of AMRC's six principles of expert review, which form the foundations of rigour that guide our member’s expert review and funding processes.

Proportionality: charities must ensure the review process is ‘fit for purpose’ with reviews proportionate to both the size and scale of the award and the expertise sought sufficient and relevant to provide effective review. Charities must seek additional review for applications where there is a lack of expertise on a particular subject area on any research review committees or among in-depth reviewers used by the charity, or where the funding requested is substantial in relation to the charity’s research spend. 

Having each grant application evaluated by enough expert reviewers is integral to the expert review process for AMRC charities. It ensures robustness, reliability and consistency in decision making. Too few reviewers may impact negatively on the quality of decision-making. On the other hand, too many might lengthen the review process, use unnecessary resources, and increase burden on the reviewer community. 

Achieving proportionality

The following describes steps that charities can take to meet the principle of proportionality.

  • At least two experts, be these research review committee members or other external subject experts, must provide in-depth review of each funding application. In-depth review can take the form of a written report, an oral report, or a combination of the two. 

  • The charity must ensure that expert review is proportionate to the size of funding requested and complexity of the application. For smaller grants, the research review committee can be used as the key point of external scientific input, with at least two members of the review committee assessing each application in-depth. These grants shouldn't require reviews beyond the committee unless they are considered necessary by the committee to make an informed decision. Where the application requires substantial funding in relation to the charity’s research spend, the committee can use additional external reviews. 

  • For research review committee decisions to be valid, five members or more than 50% of the committee, must be present (whichever figure is higher). This also applies to decisions made out of cycle (i.e. annual reviews assessed outside of research review committee meetings). It applies even when conflicts of interest arise and committee members, including the chair, must be excused.

  • Above all, the charity should ensure that they have a sufficient range of expertise to be able to make informed funding recommendations.

Click the below images to view our other principles.