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Monday, March 17, 2008

feedback

STFC has started to release feedback on the rankings of the projects. This is dependent on the PIs' approval. No indication of the numeric rankings, just the few sentences of feedback that was provided.

However there are some odd things popping out at me. Here is the feedback for one high priority project:

The ranking reflected the recognition that this project has the potential for truly revolutionary, breakthrough science or already has an established track record for doing so.

Here is the feedback for another:
The ranking reflected the recognition that this project has the potential for truly revolutionary, breakthrough science or already has an established track record for doing so.

Another one:
The ranking reflected the recognition that this project has the potential for truly revolutionary, breakthrough science or already has an established track record for doing so.

And another:
The ranking reflected the recognition that this project has the potential for truly revolutionary, breakthrough science or already has an established track record for doing so.

Deja vu anyone?

Obviously the feedback for the highest priory ranked projects could be considered as less important than for the lowers (they already made the cut), but for those aiming to achieve higher priority, either through the consultation process or in the next programmatic review (assuming that STFC doesn't realise what a great big, bureaucratic waste of resources it is as currently designed) these are hardly helpful.

You would think that the feedback for each project could be a little more specific and at least state whether it has potential or was established. Oh well.

On to a Medium-Lower priority mission, STEREO:
The ranking reflected PPAN's view that this was a potentially high impact mission. The UK has invested substantially in instrumentation for Stereo. Since the mission is in an early phase of operation and results are just emerging, the case for further support will be reviewed in due course.

Obviously there is a caveat but it is far from clear why this would merit the level of priority that has been assigned. This could illustrate that things were so tight that it is a fine line, but that just highlights the import of releasing the exact details of the ranking and the process (including normalization).

CDF also got a medium-lower priority ranking:
The ranking reflected PPAN’s view that, while this facility is nearing the end of its lifetime, there remained an opportunity for revolutionary, ground-breaking results.

So revolutionary and ground-breaking results are so offset by nearing the end of its lifetime that it is considered as medium lower priority? Unless there is a distinctive difference between 'ground-breaking' and 'breakthrough' that I am unaware of, this is just the same as the feedback for the high priority cases above.

A colleague of mine has stated that the review process should be so transparent that going into the programmatic review one should be able to calculate the score before hand. That makes sense to me. At the moment I can make no sense of this feedback.

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