Grading scale

This grading scale is used for most of the programmes and schemes run by the AHRC, although the descriptors may vary slightly for some schemes such as the Leadership Fellows Scheme and for technical reviews. Any variations to the scale are outlined in the guidance for individual schemes.

Grade Descriptor
6 An outstanding proposal that is world-leading in all of the following: scholarship, originality, quality, and significance. It fully meets all the assessment criteria for the scheme and excels in many or all of these. It provides full and consistent evidence and justification for the proposal, and management arrangements are clear and convincing. It should be funded as a matter of the very highest priority.
5 A proposal that is internationally excellent in all of the following: scholarship, originality, quality, and significance. It fully meets or surpasses all the assessment criteria for the scheme. It provides full and consistent evidence and justification for the proposal, and management arrangements are clear and convincing. It should be funded as a matter of priority, but does not merit the very highest priority rating.
4 A very good proposal demonstrating high international standards of scholarship, originality, quality, and significance. It meets all the assessment criteria for the scheme. It provides good evidence and justification for the proposal, and management arrangements are clear and convincing. It is worthy of consideration for funding.
3 A satisfactory proposal in terms of the overall standard of scholarship and quality but which is not internationally competitive and/or which is more limited in terms of originality/innovation, significance and/or its contribution to the research field. It satisfies at least minimum requirements in relation to the assessment criteria for the scheme, provides reasonable evidence and justification for the proposal, and management arrangements are adequate overall. In a competitive context, the proposal is not considered of sufficient priority to recommend for funding.
2 A proposal of inconsistent quality which has some strengths, innovative ideas and/or good components or dimensions, but also has significant weaknesses or flaws in one or more of the following: conceptualisation, design, methodology, and/or management. As a result of the flaws or weaknesses identified, the proposal is not considered to be of fundable quality. A proposal should also be graded 2 if it does not meet all the assessment criteria for the scheme. It is not recommended for funding.
1 A proposal which falls into one or more of the following categories:
  • has unsatisfactory levels of originality, quality, and/or significance
  • falls significantly short of meeting the assessment criteria for the scheme
  • contains insufficient evidence and justification for the proposal
  • displays limited potential to advance the research field
  • the potential outcomes or outputs do not merit the levels of funding sought, or
  • is unconvincing in terms of its management arrangements or capacity to deliver the proposed activities.
It is not suitable for funding.