The application process for Horizon Europe calls requires further clarity while a more stable and user-friendly submission platform is needed, researchers and research support officers from The Guild universities highlight.
The Guild consulted its member universities on their experiences of applying to Horizon Europe grant calls. Over 100 researchers and research support officers shared their views on the revised application process and forms.
Although overall feedback of the application process was positive, the responses showed that seemingly minor issues in the application form design can impact the applicant’s ability to fully express the relevance and novelty of their proposed research. The forms were considered rigid and often repetitive. The researchers and research support officers also called for more clarity on terminology used in the forms and the level of detail required from the applicants.
Additionally, the respondents noted that mandatory tables fill a large part of the forms which reduces the space to discuss the impact and excellence sections of a proposal. Allowing researchers to fully express the quality of their ideas and their capacity to break new ground should be the main concern of Horizon Europe applications. Thus, it is crucial that space for describing research excellence is prioritised and secured.
Following the feedback of the researchers and research support officers, The Guild proposes recommendations for the Commission to improve the application process:
- Further clarity is needed on multiple areas of the application process, including the administrative forms and the Model Grant Agreement. This is particularly important for the research support officers for them to facilitate high quality applications from their researchers.
- Creation of a more stable submission platform must be an urgent priority. Respondents from both groups found the online submission platform unstable, prone to crashing and failing to save entered data.
- For the Part B application form, it is essential that space to discuss background and key scientific concepts is protected. Reducing the number of tables and eliminating the requirement to repeat already provided information would be an effective way to resolve the issue.
Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild said: “Horizon Europe’s commitment to research excellence must also be reflected in the application process. Whilst there are many aspects of the application processes that applicants value, we urge the Commission to maximise the opportunity for researchers to express the originality and quality of their proposal fully.”
This article was first published on 13 January by The Guild.