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As agreed by the Delegates in 2004, all of SCAR’s Scientific Research Programmes (SRPs) are to be reviewed internally every two years and externally every four years in order to ensure that SCAR is obtaining good value for its investment and that results are emerging at an appropriate rate.

The SRP Astronomy and Astrophysics from Antarctica (AAA) was externally reviewed in 2014. The following are due for review in 2016:

  • Antarctic Climate Change in the 21st Century (AntClim21)
  • Antarctic Thresholds - Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation (AnT-ERA)
  • Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics (PAIS)
  • Solid Earth Responses and influences on Cryospheric Evolution (SERCE)
  • State of the Antarctic Ecosystem (AntEco)


SCAR recognizes that the success of SRPs depends primarily on science carried out, funded and peer-reviewed within national and international programmes, and there is no wish to duplicate the scientific review process of national activities. SCAR adds value to national efforts by facilitating international collaboration and communication that might not otherwise occur. An assessment of the extent to which that value has been added through such collaboration is the objective of the review process, providing a basis for prioritizing the many competing demands on SCAR’s limited resources. If an SRP is judged to be deficient in its performance, SCAR will recommend changes to improve performance, or it may redirect funds to other more deserving activities. SRPs are also to be of a finite duration (6 to 8 years) allowing for the renewal and reinvigoration of the SCAR scientific portfolio on a regular basis. Reviews and assessments are used to encourage this replenishment.

The external review process is not meant to be unduly burdensome and should be proportional to the funds provided by SCAR to the SRPs. SRP leaders report biennially to meetings of the Standing Scientific Groups (SSG) and the SCAR Delegates. In the intervening years SRPs report to the Chief Officers of their SSGs who then report to the SCAR Executive Committee. Where feasible, SRP leaders should personally report to the SCAR Delegates. However, it is recognized that time and resources may not allow this in all the cases, so the relevant Chief Officer of the SSGs can present the SRP reports on behalf of the SRPs if necessary.

For the external review, an independent external review group will comment on the reports of SRPs under review. The reviews and annual reports will be made available to the Delegates by June 2016. Delegates are then asked to review the reviews and to provide comments and rankings for continued support by 15 July 2016. The Delegates’ comments will be shared with the SRPs in late July. SRPs are then asked to address any concerns and given an opportunity for constructive discussion to be held as part of the Delegates’ meeting.

The Review Process and Timeline

The report from the SRPs will be due by 28 February 2016.

The report will then be sent to three external reviewers, selected by EXCOM, with requests for review returned by 15 April 2016. During this time, the SCAR Standing Committee on Antarctic Data Management (SCADM) will also review data plans of the SRPs.

External reviewers should not be directly involved in the programme under review but should be knowledgeable about the demands of science in the Antarctic region. SSG and SRP leaders will be asked for suggestions on reviewers, with the final reviewers invited being selected by the SSG leaders.

Reviewers will evaluate the report based on the criteria in the reviewers form. They will be asked to comment on the extent to which the SRP has met the Terms of Reference given below.

Reviewers’ comments will be provided to the SRPs upon receipt. SRPs are able to comment on the reviews to correct errors, etc. with comments due to the Secretariat by 1 June 2016. Reviews and comments from the SRP will be posted for Delegates on the SCAR website by 10 June 2016.

The SCAR Delegates will use the external reviews and their own judgment to rate the projects into categories (A, B, C or D - see below). Comments from Delegates are due to the Secretariat by 15 July 2016 and will subsequently be shared with the SRPs.

SRP leaders will be invited to present their work and comments to revisions at the Delegates Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (29 August 2016). If they are unable to attend the Delegates meeting, another member of the SRP or the SSG Chief Officer responsible can make presentations on their behalf.

The Delegates will decide whether projects should continue, when they should end, to what extent they should continue to be funded, and the level of funding.

If major revisions to the SRP are required, the SRP leaders will be asked to present an action plan for such revisions to the SCAR Executive Committee, within 6 months.


28 February 2016
The report from the SRPs due to Secretariat

15 April 2016
Reviewer evaluations due to Secretariat
SCADM comments on SRPs due to Secretariat

1 June 2016
SRP Comments on Reviews due to Secretariat

10 June 2016
Reviews and comments from the SRP will be posted for Delegates on the SCAR website.

15 July 2016
SCAR Delegate Scores for SRPs due to Secretariat

29 August 2016
SRP Reviews discussed at SCAR Delegates Meeting

Scientific Research Programme Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for a SRP will be:

  • to oversee and guide the development and execution of the programme’s implementation activities, adjusting and optimizing the science and implementation plans in the light of events and progress,
  • to actively seek support of the programme’s implementation through national and international mechanisms,
  • to ensure the delivery of agreed/approved scientific outcomes, including synthesis activities and public/policy outreach,
  • to respond to requests for expert advice/support from the SCAR Executive Committee in a timely and effective manner,
  • to ensure appropriate exchange and archiving of data generated as a result of the programme,
  • to establish scientific liaison and logistical cooperation with other Antarctic activities as appropriate,
  • to advise the SCAR Executive Committee and Delegates on progress and on the use of funds.

Criteria for Membership of the SRP Steering Committee

The membership of a SRP Steering Committee will be:

  • explicit,
  • appointed by the Executive Committee in consultation with the Meeting of Delegates,
  • based primarily on internationally recognized scientific expertise fulfilling required mix of skills and experience with geographical and gender mix taken fully into consideration,
  • for a 4-year term with the possibility of extension depending on contribution and performance,
  • governed by a phased rotation scheme.

Scientific Research Programme Evaluation Categories

SCAR Delegates are asked to give each SRP being reviewed a grade as follows:

  1. The SRP is adding significant value to SCAR’s portfolio of activities, and needs no significant revision. Good progress is being made.

  2. The SRP is adding value to SCAR’s portfolio of activities. Good progress is being made but there is a need for some minor revisions or clarifications.

  3. The SRP does not appear to be adding significant value to justify SCAR’s continued support or endorsement without significant revision.

  4. The SRP does not appear to be adding any value to justify SCAR’s continued support or endorsement, and funding should be withdrawn.