23 December 2014

ARC CEO Professor Aidan Byrne 

Image: ARC CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne.
Image credit: Norman Plant Photography

Welcome to the final edition of ARChway for 2014.

2014 was shaping up to be a busy year for the ARC from day one. Following the swearing in of a new government in late 2013, and the incorporation of the ARC under a portfolio headed by Minster for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, the general opening and closing of grant rounds commenced. In addition this year we have seen the opening of new ARC Centres of Excellence along with Industrial Transformation Research Training Centres and Research Hubs, which has kept the ARC calendar busy. The year culminated with the annual announcement of our major grants in November (there are some stories from that event in this edition of ARChway).

The statistics for a year at the ARC help to highlight the amount of work undertaken by this small agency.

In 2014 the National Competitive Grants Programme team coordinated (in round numbers) 22 000 assessments of 7000 proposals, resulting in 1300 new grants to add to the already 8000 active grants. A total of 1600 post-award requests were also processed.

Our ERA team visited nearly all Australian universities and added 2000 new journals to the ERA journal list as part of the consultation process for ERA 2015. Membership of the ERA Research Evaluation Committees will be finalised in the New Year and about 1000 peer reviewer nominations have been received. Submissions for ERA 2015 will open in January.

As part of the Australian Government’s agenda to cut red tape we have conducted an audit of all of the ARC’s regulations around our grants processes, and progress on regulatory reform will be reported throughout 2015. We are also working to further harmonise our processes with those of the NHMRC, and have streamlined all our funding rules.

The ARC has also worked hard this year to improve policies on the Eligibility of Medical ResearchConflicts of Interest, our Research Opportunity Performance Evidence (ROPE) Statement and Open Access and Open Data requirements.

The ARC also hosted 19 different international delegations this year, which is always a great opportunity for sharing ideas and finding mutually beneficial opportunities for collaboration. The research sector is already extremely well integrated internationally—in 2014 over 60% of all our grants awarded involve international collaborations. Issues like Open Access have affected researchers the world over, and these discussions can yield very interesting insights.

The ARC’s Information Technology team has had an extremely busy year with the release of Research Management System (RMS) 2.0 modules, and several functional updates which are still continuing. Over 2500 RMS related requests have been resolved since July, and work is also continuing on the System to Evaluate the Excellence of Research (SEER) for ERA 2015 (the information technology platform that supports the implementation of ERA).

The Research Administrator’s Seminar, run jointly by the ARC and NHMRC in Canberra, was again well-attended in 2014. Thank you to  everyone who attended—this event is an important opportunity to share information and network with colleagues. For those who were unable to attend, the ARC presentations from the day are now on our website.

As we break for Christmas I know that many researchers are working on their Discovery Projects grant applications, with the scheme open for proposals until 4 March 2015.

As another year comes to a close I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our ARChway readers and everyone across the sector for such a productive year.

I would also like to publicly thank the fantastic team at the ARC for their dedication and commitment to the tasks performed at the Agency. This is a most enjoyable and exciting agency to be part of, and I do tell the staff here that I enjoy coming to work each day because of the commitment and dedication shown by staff on a daily basis.

I do hope you are all able to have an enjoyable break over the festive season. I thank you for your support in 2014 and look forward to the challenges ahead in 2015.  

Aidan