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  • Updated on 13/05/2016

R&D Units

Evaluation of R&D Units 2013


This page is dedicated to the 2013 R&D Units evaluation process . In order to allow researchers to follow the process, FCT regularly updates this page with new and/or relevant information.


The FCT Board set up a Funding Support Programme for those R&D Units that have been awarded low or no funding in this review. The aim of this one-off support is to sustain research at these units, until the upcoming review, planned to take place in 2017.

A total of 96 R&D units are included in the support programme:

  • 60 units that were not awarded funding;
  • 36 units awarded only core funding;

The funds to be allocated to each unit are calculated based on the size of the unit (i.e. number of “integrated members” listed in the application) and its laboratory intensity. The funds thus calculated constitute the reference for the total FCT funding to be awarded; any unit funded below this reference may request the outstanding funds.

All R&D units wishing to benefit from this support programme will need to submit a two-year “recovery” plan to FCT (for the 2016-2017 period). Clear and explicit support from the unit’s host institution is required. Funding shall be allocated according to the Regulations of the Restructuring Funds – 2016 (available in Portuguese only).

    • The formal complaints submitted by R&D Units, on both scientific and administrative grounds, were analysed at the end of 2015, by a panel of international experts set up specifically for this purpose. The members of the panel were selected in cooperation with the Council of Rectors of the Portuguese Universities (CRUP).

      Of the 322 R&D units evaluated in this review, 73 submitted a formal complaint: 48 referring to the decision of Stage 1, and 25 relative to the decision of Stage 2.

      The result of the analysis of the complaints is as follows: for 45 units the initial evaluation decision was maintained; for 28 units the decision was changed so that:
      - for 13 units, recommendations for increased funding
      - for 8 units, changes in partial scores, with no change in funding
      - for 7 units, recommendation for a Stage 2 evaluation
      were received.

      The conclusion of the review exercise, and subsequent funding allocation, for the seven units for which a Stage 2 evaluation was recommended, will be coordinated with each unit.

    • Under Portuguese law, R&D units may appeal the decision of the evaluation panels and FCT’s funding decision. Of the units that progressed to the second phase of the review, 123 submitted appeal requests (audiência prévia). These included appeals on administrative issues and appeals on scientific issues.

      Of the 123 appeal requests received, funding was amended for 15 units (12%), 9 of which (7%) were also awarded changed grades.

      The results of the assessment of appeals on administrative issues was released in March. The results of appeals on scientific issues were released in May, thus concluding both phases of this review of R&D units.

      All units that do not accept the decision of appeal have the right to submit a formal complaint to the FCT Board. The complaints containing solely administrative issues have been analysed by FCT; funding for 2 of 7 units has been subsequently amended.

      Formal complaints based on scientific issues will be assessed by a new panel, to be set up specifically for this effect. Currently, 53 complaints based on scientific issues are being considered; these were submitted by units that did not progress into the second phase of review.

    • Find here the guidelines for reviewers for the final meetings of the panels.

      Below is the schedule for the upcoming steps leading to the final release of results.
      24 - 26 November 2014 – Evaluation panel meetings
      December 2014 – Announcement of results of the second phase of evaluation
      January 2015 – Appeals process
      1st trimester 2015 – Approval and announcement of the final results

    • As announced by the Minister for Education and Science, on 1 October 2014, a special fund to support the strategic restructuring of research units has been set up, to support the necessary reorganisation of units, so as to increase their international scientific competitiveness, for the 2017 mid-term review.

      This fund will be available to those research units that have demonstrated a strong potential for development and international competitiveness in the 2013 review, but did not obtain a grade that allows them receive strategic funding (that is, did not go through to Phase 2). Access to the restructuring fund will continue to be based on criteria of scientific merit, and will, in brief, entail the following:

      1. The fund will support those units that have obtained an overall score of 14 or 15 in Phase 1 (as the sum of all evaluation criteria), as well as those units that, after Phase 2, have been awarded a final score of 14 or 15.
      2. Allocation of the funds requires submission of a plan for strategic restructuring of the unit, with particular focus on the development of the unit’s potential and the quality of its integrated members (researchers).

      All additional funds within this support scheme will be awarded as a multiple of the value for each grade, as specified in the regulations, and taking into consideration each unit’s size and laboratory intensity. The accumulated value of funding will not exceed the core funding awarded to units with a final grade of Very Good, of equivalent size and laboratory intensity.

      More information here.

    • On 2 October FTC released the final results of phase 1, after the appeal time period and process.

      131 appeals requests were received, submitted by research units that were not recommended to be admitted to the second phase of evaluation. A further 53 comments or clarifications were submitted by research units that were recommended to be admitted to the second phase. The second phase will include site visits to each unit.

      All submitted comments and appeals were analysed, for both administrative and scientific issues, with the aim of identifying any situation that may require correction(s) and thus address the several concerns that have been expressed by the scientific community.

      All requests were analysed by the evaluation panels. Of all requests submitted during the appeals process, 21 had their classifications changed. 10 obtained classification to moved to the second phase. These will be organised to take place during the already scheduled period of site visits agreed and disclosed on this page.

      FCT would like to underscore that the appeals process is not a second evaluation of the research units. Rather, the aim of this appeals process is to identify and correct factual mistakes or misunderstandings that may have been missed or arisen during the evaluation.

    • July, September and October 2014 – Site visits to the research units by evaluation panels
      • Exact Sciences: 1 - 5 September | 29 September - 03 October | 6 - 11 October 2014
      • Engineering Sciences: 1- 5 September | 6 - 11 October 2014
      • Health and Life Sciences: 21 – 24 July | 6 - 11 October 2014
      • Natural and Environmental Sciences: 22 - 26 September | 3 - 8 November 2014
      • Social Sciences: 21 – 25 July | 6 - 11 October | 20 - 25 October 2014
      • Humanities: 8 - 12 September | 20 - 25 October | 27 October - 1 November 2014
      • Multidisciplinary Panel: 24 - 26 September | 13 - 17 October | 20 - 24 October 2014
    • The information below and further details are available in the . Guidelines for Site Visits

      Before The Site Visit

      The R&D Units that go through to the 2nd phase will have the opportunity to respond to comments of the review panel before the site visits take place. The comments addressed to the review panels may be submitted on the same FCT online platform used for the panels’ comments.

      In preparing for the site visits, R&D units are advised to take particular attention to critical aspects and comments presented in the evaluation panels’ consensus report of the 1st phase.

      During the site visit

      Each visit is expected to include:

      • A 15 minute (maximum time allowed) presentation of the research team(s) and of the proposal, highlighting the strategic programme for the next six years, and addressing answers/clarifications to specific questions raised by the panel;
      • A site visit lead by the Unit coordinator(s) and a limited number of research members, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers;

      Recommendations of the Review Panels for the site visits:

      • Include in the presentation of the R&D Unit a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities);
      • Facilitate meetings with PhD students and young principal investigators (PIs) during the visit.

      After the site visit

      Once the site visits/ are completed, the evaluation panel shall meet to discuss and integrate the results of the first phase and the main conclusions arising from the site visits. Following this stage, a final consensus report with recommended classifications for each R&D unit will be produced.

    • 30 December 2013 - Deadline for submission of applications by the R&D units.
      13 and 15 January 2014 -Notice to R&D Units to verify the submittes list of publications, indexed in Scopusand imported via the ORCID Identifier, for each registered researcher.
      17 January 2014 - Deadline for updating ORCID profiles from the Scopus database.
      February 2014 – Completion of the bibliometric analysis that will contribute to inform the assessment by the external reviewers.
      February and March 2014 – Allocation of external reviewers to each application.
      May 2014 – Rebuttal, by applicants, of the external reviewers’ reports.
      May 2014 - Meetings of the Evaluation Panels.
      June 2014 – Announcement of results of the first phase of evaluation. Publication of the evaluation panels and of the results of the bibliometric study carried out by ELSEVIER.

    • Under an agreement between FCT and the European Science Foundation (ESF), and in compliance with the rules and regulations of the call the selection and allocation of international reviewers for the evaluation process of R&D units will be the responsibility of ESF, with over three decades of experience in implementing peer-review and evaluation. ESF will also collaborate actively in all procedures associated with the first phase of the evaluation process. The coordinators of R&D units who have submitted applications may be contacted directly by ESF, on behalf of FCT, and are requested to reply in a timely fashion and diligently to all ESF requests, so as not to delay the course of the evaluation process.

      The evaluation process of the R&D units begins with three external reviews, by independent experts (reports will be submitted on the dedicated electronic system).

      The reports of external reviewers will be sent ipsis verbis to the coordinators of applying R&D Units, who will have the opportunity to comment, reply or clarify critical issues raised by the reviewers (rebuttal).

      The reports of the external reviewers will be brought together and jointly discussed by the evaluation panel. At the meetings, members of the evaluation panel will act as rapporteurs of applying R&D units. The rebuttals submitted by the unit coordinators will be included in the information presented by the rapporteurs at the panel meetings.

      In this first phase, all applications will be discussed in detail by the evaluation panel, and a consensus report will be produced for each unit. This report should justify the score assigned to units that do not go through to the second phase of evaluation. Applications submitted by multidisciplinary research units will be reviewed by panel members belonging to each of the scientific areas considered to be relevant to the unit, so as to ensure an appropriate evaluation of the application.

      The composition of the review panels will be publicised after the first phase of the evaluation process is concluded. International best practices advise that the identity of the panel members is kept confidential during the assessment process, to ensure an independent and fair assessment. Keeping this information confidential reinforces the integrity of the evaluation as it prevents any interference in the process. Confidentiality of the experts involved is one of the aspects ESF considers crucial in ensuring neutrality and integrity of the review processes which it performs for partner organisations.

      Reviewers will have access to the bibliometric study carried out by ELSEVIER, as an additional piece of information, to be considered together the proposal itself (the application form) and the curricula of the associated researchers.

      FCT wishes to underscore that the evaluation of R&D Units is a peer review exercise. Thus, it is wholy up to the evaluation panels to decide which indicators of scientific, technological or cultural outputs best characterise the research activity of each of the research units.