External Reviewers' Guidelines


Project Grant proposals and Postdoctoral Fellowship proposals are generally reviewed by two external experts, whereas Grant of Excellence proposals are evaluated by three external experts. Within each expert panel, proposals are ranked based on external evaluations and discussions within the panel. The ranking list is presented to the IRF Board to make a final decision on awards.

All reviewers engaged in reviewing applications for IRF are kindly requested to read Section 1: General information about the Icelandic Research Fund, and Section 3: The review process for new applications in the IRF handbook.

No fee is paid for external evaluations of proposals to the IRF.


In accordance with Icelandic law, IRF cannot keep the names of external reviewers confidential. IRF only informs applicants of the identity of reviewers upon request and the reviewer will be notified if this happens.


External reviewers are asked to identify any conflict of interest. Conflict of interest disqualifies reviewers.

In addition to grounds for disqualification based on conflict of interest as listed in the Administration Procedure Act (no. 37/1993) [1] the following leads to disqualification of external reviewers, expert panel members and Board members of the IRF:

  • If a panel member, Board member or external reviewer is a spouse, close relative or close friend of the applicant.
  • Personal conflicts between a panel member, Board member or external reviewer and an applicant.
  • If a panel member or Board member is a professional competitor of the applicant.
  • Panel members cannot be principal investigators of a proposal to the IRF.
  • If a Board member is a participant in a grant proposal. In such cases, the interested Board member is asked to resign from his/her position in the affiliate and a deputy board member will take his/her place.

Board members, expert panel members and external reviewers are responsible for identifying circumstances that might influence their judgment of proposals, thus ensuring that conflicts of interest will not arise.


Application details are available in the on-line evaluation system. It contains the proposal under review, including links to the project description and accompanying documents relevant to the review process.

The Review sheet is divided into two parts. In the first part there are three boxes for reviews with the review criteria listed above the boxes (see also below). You are asked to give grades by selecting the best describing wording (Excellent - Very good – Good - Moderate - Poor)

PART 1 – Review criteria

It is important to provide clear and constructive criticism in the review. When evaluating the proposal, the following is to be considered:

1.1 Originality and impact of the project

  • Originality of the aim, research questions/ hypotheses and approach.
  • Project's potential impact on the academic field and society.
  • Expected deliverables (e.g. articles or books, patents or other kind of property 

    rights). Dissemination and other communication to the general public and stakeholders.

1.2 Scientific quality and feasibility

  • Scientific quality of the project.
  • Is the project described in adequate detail, in terms of, for example, research question

    and methods? Are project aims clearly specified?     

  • Feasibility and importance of proposed project. Project plan, work packages,

    milestones and deliverables.

1.3 Principal investigator, other participants, and project management

  • Relevant knowledge, experience and qualifications of the principal investigator and

    other participants in the field of the proposed project.

  • Experience with national and international collaboration.
  • Research environment, infrastructure and resources.
  • Management structure and coordination of project.
  • Role of graduate students.

1.4 Impact on carrier development (when evaluating Postdoctoral fellowship proposals)

  • Project relevance to career plans of applicant.
  • Future cooperation with host institution.

PART 2 – Summary

In this section, the proposal's overall strengths and weaknesses are summarized.

2.1 Overall strength

2.2 Overall weakness


Upon confirmation, the review is submitted to the IRF database and becomes accessible to Expert panel members. 

Grade Reference
5 - Excellent Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses
4 - Very good Very strong with only minor or negligible weaknesses
3 - Good Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses
2 - Moderate Some strengths but at least one moderate weakness.
1 - Poor A few strengths and at least one major weakness

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