AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL POLICY STATEMENT ELIGIBILITY AND CAREER INTERRUPTIONS

 

Purpose

This policy statement relates to the extension of eligibility periods for early-career awards and mid- career fellowships.

Introduction

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is committed to ensuring that all eligible researchers have fair and equitable access to competitive funding through the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP).

The ARC promotes and encourages, within the NCGP, approaches to both eligibility and assessment, which take into account the diversity of career and life experiences of individual researchers.

  • In relation to eligibility for a scheme, the eligibility period for early-career awards and mid- career fellowships may be extended to take into account career interruptions experienced due to specified career and life experiences.
  • In relation to assessment within a scheme, the ARC uses the selection criterion Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) to assess the quality of individual researchers. ROPE aims to ensure the assessment processes accurately evaluate a researcher’s career history relative to their current career stage, and considers whether their productivity and contribution is commensurate with the opportunities that have been available to them.

All researchers applying for ARC funding are required to address research opportunity issues, including career interruptions, in their proposal. Further information about the implementation of ROPE can be found in the  ROPE statement on the ARC website.

Implementation

Under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and Future Fellowships schemes of the NCGP, the number of years between award of PhD (or equivalent) and submission closing date for a proposal are a key element of eligibility.

  • Under the DECRA scheme, researchers are eligible to apply within five years of the award of their PhD or equivalent degree (Higher Degree by Research as certified by the Administering Organisation).
  • Under the Future Fellowships scheme, researchers are eligible to apply between five and 15 years since the award of their PhD or equivalent degree (Higher Degree by Research as certified by the Administering Organisation).  Where a Future Fellowship candidate holds a professional equivalent to a PhD, this must be certified by the Administering Organisation.

The ARC recognises career interruptions can have a significant impact on the duration of the period between when a researcher is awarded a PhD or equivalent and subsequently applies for ARC funding. The ARC does not want researchers who have experienced specified career interruptions to be disadvantaged in applying for DECRA or Future Fellowships due to falling outside the eligibility periods.

To this end the ARC allows the eligibility periods for the DECRA and Future Fellowships schemes to be extended due to career interruptions.

What career interruptions can extend the eligibility period?

The eligibility period may be extended if a researcher has a career interruption for one of the following reasons:

  • disruption due to international relocation for post-doctoral studies or other research employment
  • unemployment
  • non-research employment not concurrent with research employment
  • illness
  • maternity or parental leave
  • carers’ responsibilities, including:
    • being the primary carer of a dependent child
    • being the primary carer of a dependent child with extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability
    • other caring responsibilities.

The period or periods of the career interruption must be at least equal to the period since the award of a PhD and the beginning of the eligibility period for the Scheme. That is, if the total time of the career interruption is added to the eligibility period (five years in the case of DECRA or 15 years in the Future fellows), this must equal the time elapsed since the award of the PhD.  Career interruptions of less than one month will not be considered.

How long can a significant interruption extend the period of eligibility for a scheme?

The amount of time by which the eligibility period may be extended is dependent on the type of interruption that is being claimed.

If the career disruption is due to an international relocation, the researcher can extend the eligibility timeframe for the period of time commensurate to the interruption, up to a maximum of three months.

If the career interruption is due to:

  • unemployment
  • non-research employment not concurrent with research employment
  • illness
  • maternity or parental leave
  • carers’ responsibilities

the researcher can seek an extension of the eligibility period for a period of time that is commensurate with the interruption.

If the career interruption is due to the researcher being the primary carer of a dependent child at the time of the submission of the proposal, the researcher is able to extend the period of eligibility by two years per child. The extension of two years per dependent child must include any periods of maternity or other parental leave.

If the career interruption is due to the researcher being the primary carer of a dependent child who has required extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability, a further extension may be sought for the period of time of the extensive caring responsibilities.

Process for extending the timeframe for eligibility

It is the Administering Organisation’s responsibility to certify that:

  • a DECRA Candidate is an early-career researcher; or
  • a Future Fellow Candidate is a mid-career researcher

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or equivalent of the Administering Organisation must certify through the certification page within the proposal that the candidate meets the eligibility requirements and is eligible to apply under the relevant scheme.

It is the Administering Organisation’s responsibility to assess whether the researcher’s circumstances meet the eligibility criteria and that it is satisfied with the supporting documentation provided, with the exception of claiming for two years extension for caring for a dependent child, where supporting documentation is not required.

The ARC reserves the right to audit any evidence on which an application is based.

For policy development and auditing purposes the ARC may ask questions relating to career interruptions within the proposal form.

Summary

Reason for career

interruption

Time which can be claimed

Disruption due to

international relocation

A period not exceeding three months per international relocation.

Carer’s responsibilities

For any of these reasons, a period of time commensurate with the

interruption will be considered, as long as the total interruption would be commensurate with a PhD awarded within five years (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award candidates) or fifteen years (Future Fellowships candidates).

Illness or disability

Maternity or parental leave

Unemployment

Non-research employment

not concurrent with research employment

Being the primary carer of a

dependent child (inclusive of

carer’s responsibilities and any maternity or parental leave)

Two years per dependent child, inclusive of any period of maternity or other

parental leave, with no maximum identified.

If a primary carer of a dependent child with extensive caring responsibilities

due to reasons such as illness or disability, a further extension (in addition to the two years) may be granted with justification as long as the total interruption would be commensurate with a PhD awarded within five years (DECRA candidates) or fifteen years (Future Fellowships candidates).

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