How we find our experts

When SAPEA starts work on a topic as part of the Scientific Advice Mechanism, one of our first priorities is to assemble an interdisciplinary working group of Europe’s top independent experts. This is the group that will write the Evidence Review Report — a detailed overview of the current scientific knowledge on the topic, used to inform the Scientific Opinion of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

But how do we find these experts?

1. Establish criteria

Members of the working group are chosen for their scientific excellence and the relevance of their expertise for the topic we are working on. These are always the main criteria. They are not remunerated for their work.

We also ensure that each working group has the full range of interdisciplinary expertise necessary to cover the scope of the topic we have been asked to work on. Depending on the topic, this can include experts from natural, applied, and social sciences and humanities.

As well as this, we have a strategy of diversity and inclusiveness.

2. Issue a call for nominations

The main way that we identify suitable experts is to send out a call, via our Academy Networks, to more than a hundred individual academies of sciences across Europe.

Experts can also be identified through desk research (using bibliographic sources and others), and by approaching selected organisations which have expertise in the topic.

We always want the best independent experts. This is why the responsibility for nominating experts lies with our academies and Academy Networks. But each expert is nominated purely on the basis of his or her expertise, not academy membership. This means that experts nominated by academies do not have to be Fellows (members) of those academies. Instead, the role of the academy or Network is to assess the scientific excellence of the person they are nominating.

If you are a researcher and you are interested in joining the working group for a forthcoming topic, please approach either the academy in your country or the Academy Network in charge of the topic.

3. Propose working group composition

Once we have collected all the nominations, we form a selection committee consisting of:

  • members of the SAPEA Board
  • the chair of the working group
  • an independent expert on the topic

This selection committee works through the list of nominations, applying the criteria, and proposes a list of experts to form the working group.

The SAPEA Board makes the final decision.

4. Check for possible conflicts of interest

We assess whether any of the experts have a conflict of interests which could jeopardise their independence, and take appropriate action where needed. For full details of how this process works, see our Quality Assurance Guidelines.

Experts’ declarations of interests are published on this website at the same time as the Evidence Review Report is published, and stay there for six months.

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