Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland

CREW FAQs & Feedback

CREW FAQs & Feedback

Queries related to CRW2020/1

Q – For the full application, is there a word/page limit for the ‘method’s section in the word document?

A – No, we have not imposed word count/page limits to either the full application or its methods section. However, we expect that all interested HEIs/Research Institutes will provide clear, focussed, and precise written communication, which is centred on the project ask, and without a need for delving into the minutiae. We therefore advise all applicants to consider impacts of total word count/page limits on the tender reviewers and being as concise as possible with relevant information on research proposals.


Q – Is there a limit on the number of PI/Co-Is that can be listed under the Project Leaders Details section?

A – Yes, on CREW projects there needs to be a clear nominated lead PI from all interested HEIs/Research Institutes who will be expected to work closely with the CREW Project Manager, act as the single and central point of contact for project delivery and assume responsibility for coordinating the work of one or more key contributors, possibly involving Co-Is and multiple research teams, to deliver on the overall project ask. However, we have not limited the overall support to be provided to the lead PI by for example Co-Is and/or research delivery teams that can be listed under the Project Leaders Details section. We therefore advise all applicants to accurately consider the time required for a designated lead PI to manage such resources and coordinate larger research delivery teams, to ensure that the project needs specified are met against the agreed timeline and maximum budget available.


Q -Are there any rules excluding SEPA from being a potential project partner?

A – Yes, in this situation, including SEPA as a potential project partner and staff representatives from the organisation as part of the research delivery bid would be perceived as an example of a direct conflict of interest to this CREW project. 

For the benefit of all interested HEIs/Research Institutes, this strategic research project will be expected to engage with and meet the water research:policy:practitioner needs of multiple key Scottish stakeholder organisations. Although SEPA information and relevant data-sharing agreements may be needed to support research delivery, for example to answer the research questions, this CREW project will need to draw on the relevant knowledge, skills, and experience across key Scottish stakeholder organisations (please refer to the specification document for details).

A crucial element of achieving success is having the right people on a CREW project at the right time. This involves the CREW Project Manager working closely with the Research Team and Project Steering Group (PSG) members to ensure that expectations are clear, and objectives are met against the milestones and timeline specified (please refer to Table 1, Phase I DRAFT Delivery Roadmap in the specification document), and to the agreed maximum budget.

For guidance purposes, CREW PSG members are expected to act on behalf and in the best interest of their respective stakeholder organisations, and as such roles typically involve, but are not necessarily excluded to, undertaking the following core responsibilities:

  • Demonstrating impartiality when partaking in the tender review process
  • Participating in project meetings and workshops to help steer overall direction
  • Sharing data/information and providing timely expert feedback on draft project outputs
  • Collaborating with the Research Team and wider PSG membership, which includes the CREW Project Manager, to ensure the overall project aim and research questions are met within the constraints (e.g. supporting reasonable requests, taking actions forward, engaging in discussions)

In this situation, SEPA (as have other key stakeholder organisations) has committed staff resource for absorbing this role as CREW PSG members and it is important their project objectivity is protected. Also, it may be useful to communicate that SEPA is not the originator of this specific CREW project request, although policy-relevant outputs it is expected to deliver will be very relevant to the organisation, there are a broader stakeholder needs to be considered. We therefore advise all interested HEIs/Research Institutes to demonstrate a wider understanding in their research proposals and help to mitigate potential conflicts of interest involving key project stakeholders, such as the example question posed above.


Some FAQs:

Q – How does CREW funding work?

A – There are two types of funding available: Call-down and capacity building. Call-down projects typically require a quick turnaround time (24 hours-3 months) and respond to a very specific policy question. Capacity building projects have longer turnaround times (3-18 months) and are more strategic in nature, but still relate to a direct policy request. There is no predictable schedule for funding announcements since requests for projects are submitted as need arises, so please check the website frequently or request to join the register of expertise if you would like to be contacted when new projects are announced.

Q – Who requests and uses CREW research?  

A – CREW delivers easily accessible research and expert opinion to support Scottish Government and its delivery partners (Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Drinking Water Quality Regulator, Scottish Water, Scottish Natural Heritage) in the development and implementation of water policy in Scotland. The requests for the research are made by these groups to CREW, with the outputs of the projects used to inform policy decisions. The outputs are also published on the CREW website.

Q – Do I need to work with someone from the James Hutton Institute to prepare a proposal or are independent proposals expected from HEIs? 

A – When tendering, the HEIs are expected only to address the areas specified as being HEI within the project description provided. Depending on the proposal, this may be the entire project or a specific portion of a larger project. You do not need to work with someone from the James Hutton Institute to prepare a proposal if this is not specified, but where noted, collaborative approaches are encouraged. If you have any questions about proposals, especially collaborative opportunities, please contact Dr. Emma Defew for clarification. All non-confidential queries and answers will be published on this website.

Q – Can non-HEI or non-Scottish HEI involvement be included in a proposal? 

A – CREW funding is open to submissions from all relevant Scottish Universities, SEFARI Institutes, National Research Centres (NERC Centre Surveys such as the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology or British Geological Survey, and the Met Office) and the James Hutton Institute. In line with the existing focus on building capacity within Scotland, there must be a Scottish HEI/James Hutton Institute partner for any research projects led by a non-Scottish HEI or research institute. CREW cannot directly fund consultancies, but consultants and SMEs can work in partnership with a HEI. In this circumstance, the consultant works as a sub-contractor to the HEI who retains full responsibility for the delivery of the project.

Q – How are proposals evaluated?

A – Projects are evaluated by a team, composed of one person from CREW and two relevant end users. Projects are evaluated using the following criteria:

·       How well does the proposal fit the funding call?

·       Does it propose an appropriate methodology?

·       Are the resources, expertise and facilities appropriate for conducting the proposed work?

·       Are the proposed allocation of staff time and effort appropriate?

·       Does the proposal represent good value for money?

·       What is the ability/track record of the project team to deliver on time and to budget?

Q – What are the benefits of working on a CREW project as a HEI researcher?

A –The demand-driven nature of CREW projects ensures that all projects are immediately relevant, with the potential for high-impact results in water policy. CREW projects also help create and strengthen connections between researchers at different institutions and between researchers and end users, enhancing your network in the Scottish water community.  

Q – Would the research team be able to freely publish any results in journals? 

A – Generally, publications are encouraged, subject to the conditions of the contract. CREW and ultimately the relevant end user would have to have sight of the draft publication prior to its submission and be at liberty to comment upon it. The full details of any IP rights are provided within contracts when awards are made.

MASTS Resources

We’re working behind the scenes to bring you a suite of useful, and updateable, resources including: 

  • Find an expert
  • Find facilities & equipment
  • MASTS Publications


If you would like to be updated when the resources section is live please let us know.