date: Tue May 17 17:28:25 2005
from: Keith Briffa <k.briffaatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
to: Eystein Jansen <eystein.jansenatXYZxyz.uib.no>
We have now heard that Millennium will definitely be funded . This means that the very
worst case scenario has been realised - because it means that the EU are not likely to call
for any palaeoclimate in the next funding round.
I have to say that, though there is normally an element of randomness in the refereeing of
EU proposals , that to a large extent is unfortunate but inevitable, I believe strongly
that the system has let us down very badly in this case.
It is clear that we, the IMPRINT community were misled ; first by Ib Troen's direction
(given publicly in Utrecht) that we should produce a proposal which was of the scale to
unify the whole Palaeoclimate community , with a specific role to bring data and modelling
foci to bear on the issue of climate predictability; that we should be careful to not to
over-emphasise the collection of new data but rather work mostly to consolidate and jointly
interpret existing data , and that we should formulate a scheme where these are fed
directly into a hierarchy of modelling experiments that would address causes of climate
change, model viability and issues of probability of future climate and its causes.
Secondly, We were misled by the accepting , on the basis of the published call, that the EU
required IP proposals of ambitious scope , large enough to move the science of European
palaeoclimate forward as a whole and with relevance to globally important issues, with
aims clearly beyond the scope of "slightly bigger STREPS" . On reading the cursory
referees' responses to our proposal , I am also moved to express my own opinion that they
are an insult to the community of researchers that constitute IMPRINT , and an indictment
of the failure of the referees to address their assessment to the generally publicised aims
of the IP concept.
To describe the whole proposal as "too complicated", and to state that there is " no value"
in the first four workpackages , and most of all , to rate the quality of the consortium as
4 out of 5 , all require explicit justification well beyond the few lines with which we
While I have no ill will at all regarding the competing proposal Millennium , I feel that
the extended IMPRINT community can justifiably ask very serious questions regarding the
apparent lack of equitable assessment of the two proposals in the light of the published
call requirements - the efforts of the IMPRINT consortium over recent months at least
deserve answers as to how , for the sake of 0.5 of a mark , that proposal will be funded
when it clearly did not address the scope of the original call - in terms of community
integration, emphasis on wider data consolidation, scope of model hierarchy, and specific
addressing of the data/model integration towards the issue of climate
Expressing these concerns should not be considered "sour grapes " . They are not and I
congratulate the MILLENNIUM team on having succeeded . They will do valuable research.
Rather these comments are justified because the review process has not taken account of the
scope of the IP concept, and the need to invoke a research plan with the necessary breadth
and expertise (and proven managerial ability - as can be gauged by the assessment of the
CARBO OCEAN coordination plan) , and because the success of the much more limited
MILLENNIUM project has already been cited by European officials as justification for the
lack of any need to fund palaeoclimate research in the next call - effectively cutting off
the wider palaeoclimate community from EU research support for the next few years.
I believe we are justified in questioning the operation of the IP concept , and questioning
it in fora beyond the circle of EU administration, which has , in my opinion has done a
serious dis-service to our community and palaeoclimate in general. At the very least , the
"goalposts" regarding IP proposals seem to have been moved and the time of many researchers
has been wasted.
My motivation in writing this is upset , but also serious concern for the non-transparent
and inconsistent way important funding decisions are made.