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Discovery Projects
Selection Report for Funding Commencing in 2012

Overview

The Discovery Projects scheme provides funding for excellent fundamental research projects that can be undertaken by individual researchers or research teams. Proposals for funding commencing in 2012 opened on 24 January 2011, and closed on 21 March 2011. This report outlines recommendations from the selection process for that round.

 The objectives of Discovery Projects are to:

  • support excellent basic and applied research by individuals and teams;
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in the National Research Priorities;
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability;
  • encourage research and research training in high-quality research environments;
  • enhance international collaboration in research; and
  • foster the international competitiveness of Australian research.

Discovery Projects support the Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA), which provide opportunities for mid to late career research-only and teaching and research academics. Selection is based on the needs of the project in addition to the excellence of the researcher.

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Selection Process

ARC Executive Directors, assisted by relevant ARC staff, prepared funding recommendations for submission to the CEO.  The outcomes were based on advice from the College of Experts which:

  • assigned independent detailed and specialised readers/assessors to review the proposals;
  • assessed proposals and reviewed assessments made by independent readers;
  • reviewed applicants’ comments on assessors’ reports;
  • ranked each proposal relative to the others on the basis of the proposal, the assessors’ reports and applicants’ responses to those assessments;
  • assessed and recommended budgets;

and, advice from the ARC Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff or the College of Experts;
  • sought advice from institutions with respect to issues raised; and
  • made recommendations to the CEO in respect of ineligible proposals.

This report reflects the outcomes of the ARC CEO to the Minister. Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.

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Selection Criteria

Selection criteria and corresponding weightings for Discovery Projects proposals are:

  • Investigator(s)                                             (40%)
  • Project Quality                                              (40%)
  • Research Environment                                  (20%)

The ARC assessment and subsequent reporting process for 2012 used five discipline panels; and was managed in the Research Management System (RMS). Changes to the Discovery Projects for funding commencing in 2012 scheme, notably removal of the Early Career Researcher and Discovery Projects Fellowships, and limiting funding to three years mean no historical comparative data is available.

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Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received a total of 3547 proposals for Discovery Projects 2012, of which 3 proposals were withdrawn.  The overall success rate is 21.95 per cent, compared with the success rate of 22.00 per cent in 2011. Please note that within this Selection Report funding may include indicative funding amounts.

Table 1.    Proposal numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for successful proposals from Discovery Projects 2012

Funding round and year Proposals considered
Proposals approved
Success rate
Requested funds over project life (all proposals)
Requested funds over project life (approved proposals)
Funds allocated over project life
Allocation as a percentage of request
2012 3544
778
21.95%
$1,822,442,555
$465,920,659
$236,837,254
50.83%

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Approved funding by discipline panel

Table 2.     Numbers of proposals and success rates by panel

Panel *
Proposals considered
Proposals approved
Success rate
Requested funds over project life for all proposals considered
Indicative funds over project life for approved proposals
BSB
799
171
21.4%
$450,806,281
$57,386,852
EMI
961
207
21.5%
$501,828,226
$69,776,852
HCA
523
119
22.8%
$225,624,242
$25,456,201
PCE
547
115
21.0%
$327,060,112
$44,498,823
SBE
714
166
23.2%
$317,123,694
$39,718,526
Total
3544
778
22.0%
$1,822,442,555
$236,837,254

* BSB = Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EMI = Engineering, Mathematics and Informatics; HCA = Humanities and Creative Arts; PCE = Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences; SBE = Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences

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Project Size

Table 3.     Average first year requested and allocated funding for approved proposals

 
Average year 1 request
Average year 1 allocation
Percentage of allocation
2012
$203,161
$109,646
53.97%

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National Research Priorities

Table 4. Numbers of proposals and success rates by National Research Priority

National Research Priority Area
Proposals considered
Proposals approved
Success rate
Indicative funds over project life
An Environmentally Sustainable Australia
597
141
23.62%
$46,269,307
Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian Industries
1343
293
21.82%
$100,168,355
Promoting and Maintaining Good Health
823
153
18.59%
$41,907,382
Safeguarding Australia
464
97
20.91%
$24,269,277
None indicated
317
94
29.65%
$24,222,933
 Total proposals
3544
778
21.95%
$236,837,254

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Discovery Outstanding Researcher Awards

Discovery Outstanding Researcher Awards (DORAs) were introduced in Discovery Projects in 2012 in conjunction with the Discovery Projects for eligible Chief Investigators. The Awards aim to provide opportunities to benefit, enhance and expedite the overall project for mid to late career research-only and teaching and research academics.

Table 5.     Number of proposals requesting and awarded a DORA

 

Number of Proposals requesting one or more DORAs Number of Proposals awarded one or more DORAs
2012 463 26

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International Collaboration Awards

International Collaboration Awards (ICAs) were introduced in Discovery Projects in 2010 for Chief Investigators and Partner Investigators living overseas. The Awards aim to enhance opportunities for collaboration among researchers, research teams and/or research centres in Australia and overseas, and to build Australia’s international research capability.

Table 6.     Number of proposals requesting and awarded one or more ICAs

 
Number of Proposals requesting one or more ICAs
Number of Proposals awarded one or more ICAs
2012
566
54

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International Collaboration

Applicants foreshadowed 3333 instances of collaboration with researchers in 95 overseas locations on 1965 proposals. Of the proposals approved for funding, 480 foreshadowed 933 instances of collaboration with researchers in 68 overseas locations.

Figure 1.   International collaborations by location in approved proposals

Figure 1.	International collaborations by location in approved proposals

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Selection Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Table 7.  Numbers of proposals and success rates, for funding commencing in 2012, by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation
Proposals considered
Proposals approved
Success rate (%)
Indicative funding over project life (approved proposals)
($)
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian National University
240
90
37.50%
$31,519,554
University of Canberra
12
3
25.00%
$780,000
New South Wales
Charles Sturt University
26
0
0.00%
$0
Macquarie University
106
25
23.58%
$5,979,352
Southern Cross University
13
1
7.69%
$260,000
The Australian Museum
2
0
0.00%
$0
The University of New England
23
4
17.39%
$1,287,751
The University of New South Wales
314
84
26.75%
$24,557,164
The University of Newcastle
95
23
24.21%
$6,703,837
The University of Sydney
346
89
25.75%
$26,827,735
University of Technology, Sydney
97
13
13.40%
$3,550,000
University of Western Sydney
76
10
13.16%
$2,885,788
University of Wollongong
111
11
9.91%
$3,014,204
Northern Territory
Charles Darwin University
9
0
0.00%
$0
Queensland
Bond University
8
 
0
0.00%
$0
Central Queensland University
10
0
0.00%
$0
Griffith University
94
11
11.70%
$2,641,522
James Cook University
23
3
13.04%
$980,000
Queensland University of Technology
111
17
15.32%
$4,734,000
The University of  Queensland
310
92
29.68%
$29,792,912
University of Southern Queensland
22
 
0
0.00%
 
$0 
University of the Sunshine Coast
4
 
1
25.00%
$145,000
South Australia
The Flinders University of South Australia
47
7
14.89%
$1,895,000
The University of Adelaide
159
37
23.27%
$12,459,913
University of South Australia
65
12
18.46%
$3,521,058
Tasmania
University of Tasmania
59
10
16.95%
$2,740,000
Victoria
Australian Catholic University
8
1
12.50%
$128,000
Deakin University
78
11
14.10%
$2,778,773
La Trobe University
76
9
11.84%
$2,124,000
Melbourne College of Divinity
3
0
0.00%
$0
Monash University
320
79
24.69%
$24,023,130
Museum Victoria
2
0.00%
$0
RMIT University
70
9
12.86%
$2,174,000
Swinburne University of Technology
40
7
17.50%
$1,537,740
The University of Melbourne
273
73
26.74%
$23,330,736
University of Ballarat
9
0
0.00%
$0
Victoria University
14
1
7.14%
$180,000
Western Australia
Curtin University of Technology
83
11
13.25%
$3,924,000
Edith Cowan University
11
0
0.00%
$0
Murdoch University
29
2
6.90%
$421,000
The University of Western Australia
145
32
22.07%
$9,941,085
University of Notre Dame Australia
1
0
0.00%
$0
Total
3544
778
21.95%
$236,837,254

 

Content Last Modified: 07/05/13

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