Rotation 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. 

Rotation: charities must rotate the experts involved in decision making to ensure they are regularly incorporating fresh ideas and new perspectives into their expert review processes. This allows charities to incorporate the views of a range of individuals, including those who may not have been otherwise represented. It also allows charities to change the membership of their research review committee(s) as appropriate and required to meet their research strategy. 

Regular rotation ensures that new individuals with diverse expertise and perspectives are involved in decision-making. This helps minimise the risk of reduced efficacy, stagnation, and potential for ‘groupthink’. 

Achieving rotation

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

  • Charities must have a fixed term of office for members of the research review committee(s). Typically, members (including the chair) should serve for no longer than two terms of three years (a maximum of six years) before stepping down from the committee for at least three years. It can be beneficial to set an initial term of three years for committee members, with the option of renewing for an additional three years. This enables both the charity and committee member to re-assess whether their committee membership is working well, still a good strategic fit, and fulfilling all the AMRC expert review principles.

  • Being the chair of the committee is considered a separate role from being a member of the committee. If a committee member, or a chair, takes on the other role before their term is complete, they can ‘re-start’ their six years of service as long as they do not serve for more than nine years in total across both roles.

  • Others involved in the funding decision making process, for example through providing in-depth review of an application or as members of a college of experts, should also be rotated, and the charity needs to monitor their involvement to avoid using individuals continuously or for a prolonged period of time.

  • The fixed term of office should be outlined in the committee’s terms of reference, clearly communicated to all members when they join the committee and communicated as appropriate throughout their term.

  • Stagger appointments to the research review committee to avoid the need for a large proportion of members to step down at the same time. Staggered membership can ensure a degree of continuity for the committee and help in succession planning. 

  • The charity may wish to choose a chair with research field insight, who is well-respected in their field, and has a clear idea of the charity’s mission, research strategy and the aims of the funding stream under review. It is also important that the chair can manage a diverse committee and range of perspectives.

  • The charity should avoid appointing a chair who is very likely to apply for funding themselves. If the chair applies for funding, they will need to absent themselves from the whole meeting and a nominated vice-chair would need to step in to take on their role.

  • The charity could ask committee members or the former chair to provide suggestions for a successor. To allow for a smooth transition when inducting a new chair, the new chair can be asked to join as a committee member for the final year of the chair’s term of office.

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