The following email was sent on May 17, 2017 in response to European Research Council Starting Grant 2017 rejection letter received on the same day.
[start of the email]
Date: Wed, 17 May 2017
From: Tero Auvinen
Subject: Request for a legal review under Article 22 of Council Regulation No 58/2003 – ERC Starting Grant 2017 Proposal No. 754737
The current procedures are clearly and deliberately inadequate or inappropriate to prevent a conflict of interest on the part of the reviewers through, for instance, non-transparent selective social or technological affinities or to guarantee each reviewer’s capacity and competence for making independent evaluations. In extremis, the current procedures may not prevent potential perpetrators of some of the most serious human rights violations or crimes against humanity in history from funding other perpetrators while denying funding from victims who might be able to bring the perpetrators to justice and information on the types of human rights violations or crimes against humanity committed into the purview of “science”.
I am requesting all proposals, evaluation results, the names of the reviewers and the reviewers’ full publication lists to be made public and all existing judicial, law enforcement and other potentially relevant authorities to disqualify themselves from any administration of justice which may ensue due to a potential conflict of interest.
[end of the email]
The proposal received “Final panel score” C (“Ranking range: 63%-100%”). The evaluation was made by “SH3 Environment, Space and Population” panel. According to the “Information for Applicants to the Starting and Consolidator Grant 2017 Calls” document that has been available to the applicant, no such panel exists. The applicant indicated “SH2 Institutions, Values, Environment and Space: Political science, law, sustainability science, geography, regional studies and planning” as the primary ERC Review Panel and “SH3 The Social World, Diversity, Population: Sociology, social psychology, demography, education, communication” as the secondary ERC Review Panel in the proposal. The applicant-selected ERC Keywords – in order of priority – in the proposal were all from panel SH2: (1) “SH2_1 Political systems, governance”, (2) “SH2_4 Legal studies, constitutions, human rights, comparative law”, (3) “SH2_2 Democratisation and social movements” and (4) “SH2_5 International relations, global and transnational governance”. The applicant-selected free keywords in the proposal were “singularity”, “transhumanism”, “posthumanism”, “social sciences” and “philosophy of science”. The evaluation report including a panel comment (229 words) and five anonymous reviews ranging from 39 to 444 words each – none of which demonstrate substantive competence or publication record in the field of the research proposal – is labeled “CONFIDENTIAL”.
Public – as opposed to confidential – access is not the same as some of the prevailing interpretations of “open” access. According to the proposal:
“The applicant is… requesting exemption from – or overall abolishment of – the requirement to provide ‘Open Access (free of charge, online access for any user) to all peer-reviewed scientific publications resulting from ERC projects’ by limiting the access right to natural persons only – explicitly prohibiting, for instance, access by self-learning artificial intelligence systems either directly or via natural persons – and prohibiting the creation of derivative works.”