10 May 2013

  ARC CEO Professor Aidan Byrne

Image courtesy: Photography by Norman Plant


In this our second edition of ARChway, we showcase more great ARC funded research, two of which demonstrate the success of research industry collaborations. We also feature a piece on Winthrop Professor Harvey Millar who has received the 2013 Charles Albert Shull Award. Professor Millar is the first Australian to win the prestigious award which recognises outstanding investigations in the field of plant biology. I congratulate Professor Millar, who is also Deputy Director at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the University of Western Australia, on this wonderful achievement.

In other news for the ARC, the Industrial Transformation Research Programme (ITRP) round 1 results were announced 1 May, with more than $23 million awarded to eight research projects that will advance Australia’s food industries and address challenges in important areas such as future food storage, food processing, manufacturing capabilities and product opportunities. This culminates a long gestation period for this new funding scheme which is designed to invigorate Australian industry, and foster a new generation of research talent. We have now also announced the priority areas for the second round of ITRP. This second round will have a dual focus: food and manufacturing. The Programme will continue to address research areas that are vital for, and assist with, Australia’s future food storage, food processing, food manufacturing capabilities and product opportunities. In addition, the Programme will target product design and development, manufacturing techniques, defence manufacturing and firm organisation and management. I anticipate the guidelines will be released for applications before mid-year. More information on the ITRP announcements can be found in an article in this issue of ARChway, and on the ARC website.

In the lead up to the release of ARC's Open Access policy, the ARC consulted with the sector and took into account the major issues raised in the consultation. Since the ARC released its new Open Access (OA) policy in January this year, I have continued to be involved in many conversations across the country about the issues that this policy raises, which present themselves differently to different parts of the research sector. To recap briefly: the ARC policy, which is now incorporated in funding rules for all rounds that have been opened since January, requires that any publications arising from an ARC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve month period from the date of publication. By requiring researchers to make use of open access repositories already in place in Australian institutions, we hope to unite and strengthen an open access regime so that it becomes an important resource to the Australian innovation sector.

Our policy is not overly prescriptive and I am sure that the devils in the detail will play out over the next few years as the policy continues to evolve and respond to national and international developments over time. As our OA policy is not applied retrospectively to pre-existing grants, the first publications are not potentially due to be made available in an institutional repository until after 1 January 2014. The ARC understands that some researchers may not be able to meet the new requirements immediately, for various reasons, and we are keen to work through these issues as they arise. Ultimately the goal of open access is threefold – it is about realising the benefit to research in general, to wider society, but perhaps most importantly it is about the benefit to the individual researcher, whose ideas and findings can find a new and wider audience. We are optimistic that any difficulties which arise can be worked through. If we get this right, our shared solution to these problems can inform the development of new open access standards, which are revolutionising the way the international research community interacts online.

Enjoy your reading of this edition of ARChway.