Principles for peer review at the Swedish Research Council

The purpose of the principles is to provide a basis for safeguarding the scientific assessment, based on clear quality criteria with competent reviewers, within the framework of a sound peer review culture and good research practice.

The principles should be read together. They may conflict with each other and therefore need to be balanced against each other. How the principles are balanced against each other must be discussed in each individual case.

The guidelines clarify how the principles are to be followed.

1. Expertise in the assessment

The assessment of applications shall be carried out by experts with a documented high scientific¹ competence within the research area or areas or the disciplinary area or areas to which the application relates and the scientific review shall be based on clear quality criteria. Reviewers shall be appointed according to clear criteria in a systematically documented process.

2. Objectivity and equal treatment

All assessments shall be carried out in an equivalent manner and be based on the quality of the research planned and performed and on the applicant’s merits, irrespective of the origins or identity of the applicant. To avoid any conflict of interest or partiality, assessments shall be based on clear quality criteria and formalised processes.

3. Ethical considerations

The assessment presumes an ethical approach and high level of integrity. The reviewers shall not carry out any preliminary ethical review, but should take into account how the applicant discusses the research and formulates the research question with regard to good research practice. If an application includes research that clearly breaches ethical rules and/or clearly is not in compliance with Swedish or international law, this should be reflected in the assessment of the quality and/or feasibility of the research.

4. Openness and transparency

The assessment shall be based on and justified by the documentation requested by the Swedish Research Council, which in a typical case is an application for research funding. The assessment of the documentation shall be based on rules and guidelines set in advance and publicly known.

5. Appropriateness for purpose

The peer review process shall be adapted to the call and the research area, and shall be proportional to the size and complexity of the call without neglecting legal security.

6. Efficiency

The total resources used in the application and assessment, in terms of both time used and cost shall be minimised for all involved, i.e. applicants, reviewers and Swedish Research Council personnel, with consideration for maintaining quality, objectivity, transparency and appropriateness for purpose.

7. Integrity

All participants in the review process shall respect the integrity of the process and shall not disclose to any third party what has been discussed at the meeting or the opinion of other reviewers in the ongoing processing of applications. The final assessment shall always be documented and published once a decision has been made.

8. The peer review shall be prepared and followed up in a structured manner.

Review processes and reviewers shall be prepared and followed up according to clear criteria. All reviewers shall have access to the same type of documentation for the review.

¹ Or artistic competence when relevant.

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Updated: 2018-02-27

Guidelines for peer review of research funding

We implement new guidelines starting in 2018. The guidelines clarify how our principles for peer review are to be followed.

Guidelines for peer review at the Swedish Research CouncilPDF