Behind the curtains (after I got the project). Part III: getting the project ready to start.
Once the selection process is over, you receive several communications from the ERC. First you get the results of the external experts revisions. In my case, the project was reviewed by 8 international experts who judged the research project, the scientific approach as well as my academic profile. All the reviews offered some suggestions and tips on how to make sure the project can be satisfactorily completed. None of the reviewers or the pane members will probably read this, but I would like to thank them all for their work.
Now comes the bureaucratic part. The project is assigned a project manager and an ethic assessor. As RAINDROPS includes ethnoarchaeological interviews, fieldwork outside the EU and laboratory work, the first thing I was asked was to comply with EU ethical regulations on work with humans, data protection, import of samples and fieldwork and laboratory safety for project's members. The procedure is quite lengthy as the requests from the ERC are very specific and they require very detailed answers. I personally found the whole process very useful as it forced me to rationalise things that I aways do in auto-mode. Luckily again, the HI helped greatly through the Internal Committee for the Ethical Review of Projects (CIREP), which was very supportive.
At the same time, you work together with the project officer to finalise the details of the budget according to EU rules. I must say that I found this part frustrating at the beginning, as the terminology is a bit alien to me (the subte distinctions between subcontracting, contacting and third-party in kind contribution took a while to become clear). However, again, if you take this as a way of learning something new and be more responsible with the money that a public funding agency is entrusting to you, I think that the whole process takes on a completely different light. My suggestion is that you do not defer all this to the HI research manager as, at the end of this process, you become a more responsible researcher. And I believe that it is our duty to be aware of our responsibility and know enough of the technicalities to be able, at least, to effectively communicate with the administration.
Well, that's it. Ethic review completed, Grant Agreement signed. I guess this will be the last 'Behind the curtains' post. Next: RAINDROPS begins!