Selection processes

To fulfil its primary mission of providing project-based research funding, the French National Research Agency (ANR) relies on rigorous competitive selection processes guaranteeing fair treatment, independent scientific peer review and impartiality.

Peer review

The selection of projects submitted to the Generic Call for Proposals (AAPG) and specific calls for pro-posals is based on the fundamental principle of peer review. It calls on two types of independent reviewers belonging to the scientific communities:

  • Scientific Evaluation Panels, which consist of:
    • An office, consisting of a chairperson appointed by the Agency following a call for applications (one-year term renewable twice) and vice-chairs appointed by the ANR based on proposals from the chairperson.
    • French and international scientific figures from the relevant research communities, invited on the basis of proposals from the office.

Gender parity and a balance of geography and affiliations are examined carefully when putting the panel together. The members individually assess a portfolio of projects based on strict criteria specific to the call, then debate the projects together and reach agreement on the list of projects they propose for funding.

  • Experts, French or foreign specialists in the scientific field involved in the project are invited to con-tribute by the ANR based on proposals from panel members. They assess projects independently based on criteria specific to the call without any discussion with the panel.

Integrity, ethics, confidentiality of information and transparency of processes

Before accessing the project documents, the panel members undertake to respect the principles of the ANR code of ethics and scientific integrity and the French National Charter for Research Integrity, protect the confidentiality of the information and declare that they have no conflicts of interest. If potential conflicts of interest arise (such as links with the project, previous collaborations, joint publications, professional or personal relationships), the members must inform the panel and leave the session when the project(s) con-cerned are discussed. The ANR undertakes to take appropriate actions if these rules are breached.

Focus on the two-stage selection process for the AAPG 

The evaluation process for the Generic Call for Proposals (AAPG), the Agency's main call for proposals, is the responsibility of the Scientific Evaluation Panels, each corresponding to one of the AAPG’s research themes.

In stage 1, the composition of the panel is adjusted to cover all the themes in the pre-proposals submitted. Each project is allocated to two panel members. An additional peer review may be requested if necessary, particularly for interdisciplinary projects. The committee then meets to examine and discuss the projects before collectively deciding on a list of projects that will be invited to submit a full proposal in stage 2. An evaluation report summarising the panel's final opinion is sent to the coordinators of each eligible pre-proposal.

In stage 2, the panel composition may be revised based on the scientific themes of the full proposals. Each project is allocated to two panel members, who suggest a list of potential external peer reviewers to obtain at least two external reviews for each proposal. The reviews are sent to the scientific coordinators during the rebuttal stage so that they can pass on their comments if they find any inaccuracies in the re-views. The members assigned to evaluate the project review it individually based on the criteria in the AAPG text, taking into account the external reviews and any responses from the coordinator. The members then present an evaluation summary at a plenary meeting. After collective discussion, the panel ranks the best projects on a primary list and drafts a supplementary list of projects to be funded if co-funding is available or if budgets are reallocated due to project cancellations or postponements of other calls scheduled for the same budget year. An evaluation report summarising the panel's final opinion is sent to the coordinators of each eligible proposal.

Non-selected projects

Anyone involved in a project that has not been selected for the ANR’s Generic Call for Proposals or a spe-cific call for proposals has two months from the date of notification of the decision or of the reasons for non-selection to send questions or appeals to the ANR at contact.projetsnonselectionnes(at)anr.fr. All requests are processed by the scientific departments and the chairpersons of the committees concerned in conjunction with the Legal Affairs Department.

Find out more:

ANR’s Scientific integrity policy

Gender aspects

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment