Overview

One of the 2016–17 actions identified in the ARC Statement of Support for Interdisciplinary Research is for the ARC to provide data on interdisciplinary proposals.

This is the second data report (updated June 2017), enabled by the inclusion in proposals of questions about whether the proposed research is interdisciplinary. The report includes the outcomes of all selection rounds for funding commencing in 2017 except Linkage Projects, which is still underway and ARC Centres of Excellence, for which data are not available.

The selection rounds included are:

Discovery Program

  • Discovery Projects (DP)
  • Discovery Indigenous (IN)
  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)
  • Future Fellowships (FT)
  • Australian Laureate Fellowships (FL)

Linkage Program

  • Industrial Transformation Research Hubs (ITRH)
  • Industrial Transformation Training Centres (ITTC)
  • Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF).

The analysis of data arising from the interdisciplinary research (IDR) questions is the first step by the ARC in seeking information to help it better understand the IDR profile of ARC-funded researchers to inform future ARC policy and to assist with the appropriate assessment of proposals.

The report is indicative of the volume and range of interdisciplinary applications and outcomes. It should be noted that these are both subject to large variations between disciplines and in interdisciplinary intensity, so that drawing any direct conclusions about application versus success rate needs to be approached with caution.

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Key figures

  • Overall, 60.1 per cent of proposals received and 59.3 per cent of projects funded identified as involving interdisciplinary research
  • The success rate of interdisciplinary projects was 18.5 per cent
  • ‘Methodology’ was the most frequently indicated interdisciplinary element of proposals and funded projects (80 per cent and 84 per cent respectively)
  • The primary 2-digit Field of Research with the highest proportion of interdisciplinary proposals was ‘Medical and Health Sciences’ (82.1 per cent of proposals)
  • The primary 2-digit Field of Research with the lowest proportion of interdisciplinary proposals was ‘Economics’ (24.1 per cent of proposals)

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Summary of outcomes

What proportion of total proposals received by the ARC identified as involving IDR?

Of the 5384 proposals received for funding under all schemes, 3235 (or 60 per cent) identified as involving IDR. The proportion of IDR proposals received was highest under the ITRP schemes where all proposals identified as being interdisciplinary.

Table 1. Proportion of IDR proposals received

Scheme

IDR proposals received

(no.)

Total proposals received 

(no.)

IDR proposals as a proportion of total proposals received (%)

DP17

2073

3540

58.6

IN17

24

31

77.4

DE17

649

1197

54.2

FT17

230

294

78.2

FL17

83

112

74.1

IH17

5

5

100.0

IC17

26

26

100.0

LE17

145

179

81.0

Total

3235

5384

60.1

Of the 1009 research projects funded under all schemes, 598 (or 59 per cent) identified as involving IDR.

Table 2. Proportion of IDR projects funded

Scheme

IDR projects funded

(no.)

Total projects funded

(no.)

IDR projects as a proportion of total projects funded

(%)

DP17

351

630

55.7

IN17

8

11

72.7

DE17

104

200

52.0

FT17

74

91

81.3

FL17

11

17

64.7

IH17

3

3

100.0

IC17

9

9

100.0

LE17

38

48

79.2

Total

598

1009

59.3

What is the success rate of IDR proposals compared to the overall success rates?

The success rate of proposals that indicated they involved IDR ranged from 13 per cent under the Laureate Fellowship scheme to 60 per cent under the Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme. Success rates for IDR proposals are generally on par with overall success rates achieved for each scheme, with the largest differences recorded under the Discovery Indigenous scheme (33 per cent versus 36 per cent) and the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme (13 per cent versus 15 per cent).

Table 3. Success rates for IDR and non-IDR proposals

Scheme

IDR proposals 
received

(no.)

IDR projects 
funded 

(no.)

IDR proposals 
Success rate

(%)

Non-IDR proposals 
received

(no.)

Non-IDR projects 
funded

(no.)

Non-IDR proposals 
Success rate

(%)

Total proposals 

received

(no.)

Total projects 
funded

(no.)

Total proposals Success rate

(%)

DP17

2073

351

16.9

1467

279

19.0

3540

630

17.8

IN17

24

8

33.3

7

3

42.9

31

11

35.5

DE17

649

104

16.0

548

96

17.5

1197

200

16.7

FT17

230

74

32.2

64

17

26.6

294

91

31.0

FL17

83

11

13.3

29

6

20.7

112

17

15.2

IH17

5

3

60.0

0

0

N/A

5

3

60.0

IC17

26

9

34.6

0

0

N/A

26

9

34.6

LE17

145

38

26.2

34

10

29.4

179

48

26.8

Total

3235

598

18.5

2149

411

19.1

5384

1009

18.7


How is the research interdisciplinary? By Design, Investigatory Team, Methodology or Other?

Of the proposals across all schemes that identified as involving IDR, the largest proportion selected ‘Methodology’ as the means by which the research was IDR (80 per cent of proposals and 84 per cent of funded projects). This was followed by ‘Investigatory Team’ (64 per cent of proposals increasing to 67 per cent for funded projects), ‘Design’ (42 per cent of proposals and 41 per cent for funded projects) and ‘Other’ (6 per cent for both proposals and funded projects). Note that researchers were able to select more than one category.

Table 4. Instances of IDR element for IDR proposals received

IDR element

Element selected

(no.)

All IDR proposals received

(no.)

Element selected as a proportion of IDR proposals received

(%)

Element selected

(no.)

Funded IDR projects only 

(no.)

Element selected as a proportion of funded IDR projects

(%)

Methodology

2587

3235

80.0

502

598

83.9

Investigatory Team

2068

3235

63.9

398

598

66.6

Design

1347

3235

41.6

244

598

40.8

Other

201

3235

6.2

34

598

5.7

Figure 1. Instances of IDR element selected on research proposals

 

Alternative text for figure 1:

  • Red—All IDR proposals
  • Blue—Funded IDR projects
  • Methodology—Red 80%, Blue 83.9%
  • Investigatory Team—Red 63.9%, Blue 66.6%
  • Design—Red 41.6%, Blue 40.8%
  • Other—Red 6.2%, Blue 5.7%

When comparing elements across all schemes for funded projects (Figure 2), ‘Methodology’ made up 42 per cent of all instances identified, followed by ‘Investigatory Team’ (33 per cent), ‘Design’ (22 per cent) and ‘Other’ (3 per cent). Approximately 70 per cent of funded IDR research projects indicated that they were interdisciplinary in two or more ways.

Table 5. Instances of IDR element for proposals received and projects funded

Scheme

 

Design

Investigatory Team

Methodology

Other

DP17

Proposals received

806

1497

1644

107

IN17

Proposals received

12

18

18

0

DE17

Proposals received

304

222

532

55

FT17

Proposals received

106

111

201

13

FL17

Proposals received

43

55

72

9

IH17

Proposals received

4

5

3

0

IC17

Proposals received

21

26

24

2

LE17

Proposals received

51

134

93

15

Total

Proposal instances

1347

2068

2587

201

DP17

Projects funded

129

265

293

18

IN17

Projects funded

4

5

6

0

DE17

Projects funded

48

38

91

8

FT17

Projects funded

32

39

64

4

FL17

Projects funded

7

6

11

0

IH17

Projects funded

2

3

2

0

IC17

Projects funded

7

9

9

1

LE17

Projects funded

15

33

26

3

Total

Project instances

244

398

502

34

 Figure 2. Instances of IDR element on research projects funded 

 ""

Alternative text for figure 2 :

  • Red—All IDR proposals
  • Blue—Funded IDR projects
  • Methodology—Red 80%, Blue 83.9%
  • Investigatory Team—Red 63.9%, Blue 66.6%
  • Design—Red 41.6%, Blue 40.8%
  • Other—Red 6.2%, Blue 5.7%

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By Field of Research

In what 2-digit Fields of Research (FoR) are the largest proportion of IDR projects recorded as a proportion of total projects?

The 2-digit FoRs with the highest proportion of IDR proposals (that is, IDR proposals as a proportion of total proposals) were Medical and Health Sciences (82 per cent), Philosophy and Religious Studies (81 per cent), Built Environment and Design (80 per cent) and Law and Legal Studies (77 per cent).

Figure 3. Proportion of funded IDR projects by 2-digit FoR

""

Alternative text for Figure 3:

  • A graph of proportion of funded IDR projects by 2-digit FOR.
  • Blue—IDR projects funded
  • Red—Non-IDR projects funded
Table 6. Funded projects by 2-digit FoR

2-digit Field of Research code

IDR projects funded

(no.)

Total projects funded

(no.)

IDR projects as a proportion of total projects funded

(%)

01 Mathematical Sciences

19

56

33.9

02 Physical Sciences

31

78

39.7

03 Chemical Sciences

49

67

73.1

04 Earth Sciences

34

45

75.6

05 Environmental Sciences

21

28

75.0

06 Biological Sciences

91

153

59.5

07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

6

8

75.0

08 Information and Computing Sciences

20

42

47.6

09 Engineering

98

165

59.4

10 Technology

22

33

66.7

11 Medical and Health Sciences

32

39

82.1

12 Built Environment and Design

4

5

80.0

13 Education

7

15

46.7

14 Economics

7

29

24.1

15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

3

11

27.3

16 Studies in Human Society

46

68

67.6

17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

23

48

47.9

18 Law and Legal Studies

10

13

76.9

19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

8

12

66.7

20 Language, Communication and Culture

19

27

70.4

21 History and Archaeology

31

46

67.4

22 Philosophy and Religious Studies

17

21

81.0

Total

598

1009

59.3

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