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AHRC expands peer review college

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has appointed 220 members to its peer review college, bringing the total membership to more than 1500.

The AHRC says the new members, representing close to 70 UK research organisations, have been selected in “priority areas”.

In its 2011 call for nominations, which closed on 16 December, the council said it was seeking individuals with sufficient experience to review proposals across AHRC themes such as the “connected communities” and “science in culture” programmes. In particular, it was looking for members with expertise in areas including archaeology; design; history; languages and literature; linguistics; philosophy; and visual arts.

The AHRC suffered a strained relationship with some members of its peer-review college last year over references to the government’s ‘Big Society’ slogan in its delivery plan. As the council refused to remove such references despite lobbying by a group of academics, over 40 senior researchers resigned from the college in protest, as reported by Research Fortnight on 29 June.

The RF article also reported that several of the 43 resigning members—including Leslie Green and Ritchie Robertson from the University of Oxford, Stephen French from the University of Leeds and Alexander Miller from the University of Birmingham—were even calling for Rick Rylance, the AHRC chief executive, to stand down.

Members of the peer review college are appointed for four years and are expected to review up to eight proposals during a 12-month period.

“We are delighted that our capacity has been significantly strengthened in our priority and thematic research areas through the response to the most recent nominations call,” said Mark Llewellyn, AHRC director of research, in a statement announcing the appointments.

“My thanks go to our new peer review college members, as well as their institutions, for supporting our work in committing their time, energy and expertise in this way.”