In this post, we will focus on how to prepare document B1 of your ERC proposal. There are three parts in an application: part A (administrative part), part B1, and part B2.
Initially, reviewers will only have access to B1, so it is important to make a good impression. B1 has 3 sections: an extended synopsis of your proposal, a curriculum vitae, and a track record of your achievements. It should be around 9 pages long (with given page limits for the different sections). Although it may sound obvious, try to use the templates provided by the ERC as much as possible and don’t overpass the page limit.
- CV is the second section in B1. When writing your CV, the ERC recommends using the provided CV model as much as possible. The CV and the track record of B1 is as important as your project. So, do not leave it until the last moment. It is an opportunity to convince the panel that you are a leader in your field. Highlight your key strengths and accomplishments, tell them your story. Avoid letting panel members wonder about things; they really look at your proposal in detail. If there are gaps or other issues in your CV, explain why.
- Track-record. This third section of B1 will also have to include a list of 5 to 10 selected publications you have worked on. The reviewers like when PIs specify their role in the paper and why they chose that publication. This list does not have to be a simple numbered list, you can be creative: you can group them, you can add an image, add a description, etc. Also, feel free to explain the publishing habits of your field, of your country, or even of your group if you need to do so. Also, describe any other activity that could indicate scientific maturity. You will need to include some measure of your track record: the h-index will not determine the success of your proposal. The ERC mentions that if you could check the h-indices of all winners, the results would surprise you. However, panel members do like to look at records, so if you provide them with a link to your updated publication, such as ORCID for example, this will help. They also like to look at numbers, so it is better if you provide them directly yourself, don’t let them wander off. In the end, the main idea is that you give them the whole picture to make their life easier.
You may be wondering: what is the difference between part B1 and B2? Both describe the science underlying your project. Although there is no perfect recipe when writing your proposal, there are some important differences to consider:
- When reading B1, the reviewers are primarily looking for feasibility. They are acting as a generalist panel, not specialists. Try to avoid excessive highlighting, bold, underlining, italics, etc. It is an opportunity to make a good impression of yourself and your project, but also not oversell it. This is a difficult challenge: to find the sweet spot. Explain why and how your project is innovative.
- It is important to make the reviewers want to know more about your project. Make them curious: make them want to explore how precisely you will deliver what you promise in your proposal. B2 is where you will “wow”-them, where you will deeper into the methodology of your project. At this early stage, panel members are often looking for reasons to reject a proposal (the quality of the proposals submitted to ERC increases every year). The evaluators will try to “weed” out proposals, rather than reward them by going into the next stage.
This information was extracted from an ERC video, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsmQRM88yyM