Early Career Researchers—Western Sydney University
7 September 2016
Dr Fiona Cameron

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Outline

  • Research landscape overview 
  • National Competitive Grants Program
    • Discovery Program
      • DECRA
    • Linkage Program
      • ITRH and ITTC
    • NCGP lifecycle and assessment
  • Grants process and writing tips

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Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2015–16 (%)

Pie chart of Commonwealth investment in R&D 2015-16

There are the following segments in this chart:

  • 7.72% CSIRO
  • 4.44% DSTO
  • 8.13% ARC
  • 8.70% NHMRC
  • 6.42% Australian Government R&D 
  • 29.89% Industry R&D Tax Measures
  • 2.65% Business Innovation
  • 20.54% Block Funding
  • 0.44% Higher Education R&D
  • 0.60% Other Health
  • 1.51% CRCs
  • 3.13% Rural
  • 3.73% Energy and the Environment
  • 2.10% Other R&D

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ARC NCGP funding by Fields of Research 2007–2015 

ARC NCGP funding by Fields of Research 2007 to 2015

This is a stacked area chart showing a long time series of funding by Fields of Research.

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National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP)

The NCGP comprises two main elements—Discovery and Linkage—under which the ARC funds a range of complementary schemes to:

  • support researchers at different stages of their careers
  • build Australia’s research capability
  • expand and enhance research networks and collaborations
  • develop centres of research excellence.

*Clinical and other medical research is primarily supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council. 

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National Competitive Grants Program

National Competitive Grants Programme

Graphical representation of schemes in the ARC's National Competitive Grants Program. Each scheme is a rectangle with the area of the rectangle representing amount funded over the period 2011–2015.

Area of box represents amount funded over the period 2011–2015.

  

N.B.

  • Centres of Excellence, SRIs, not awarded in every year.
  • ITRP and DECRA only funding since 2012

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First-time awardees by ARC scheme 2008–15

First-time awardees by ARC scheme 2008–15

 First-time awardees in Discovery Projects and DECRA schemes, 2008–2015 (Note: DECRA scheme commenced in 2012).

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Participation and success of Chief Investigators (CIs) in DP15 by gender and career age*

Participation and success of Chief Investigators (CIs) in DP15 by gender and career age*

Graph showing participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in the Discovery Projects scheme (funding commencing in 2015) by gender and career age. *Career age categorised by years since PhD.

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Participation and success of Chief Investigators (CIs) in DP16 by gender and career age*

Participation and success of Chief Investigators (CIs) in DP15 by gender and career age*

Graph showing participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in  the Discovery Projects scheme (funding commencing in 2016) by gender and career age. *Career age categorised by years since PhD.

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Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)

 

  • The DECRA scheme supports excellent basic and applied research by early career researchers.
  • It creates more opportunities for early-career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions.
  • The scheme aims to advance promising early career researchers and promote enhanced opportunities for diverse career pathways.
  • Researchers may be eligible to apply if they have been awarded a PhD within five years, or longer if combined with periods of significant career interruption (see Funding Rules and FAQs for detailed information).

 

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DECRA

  • Key aspects of selection criteria
  • ROPE factors
  • Teaching/administration commitments
  • Data
    • Gender
    • Success rates
    • Age profile

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Key aspects of selection criteria:

The Administering Organisation must provide a statement signed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or equivalent which: 

  1. indicates that this area is a core or emerging research strength and describes the level of resources to be provided to support the successful DECRA candidate (for example, project costs, PhD students, or salary top-up).
  2. details opportunities for the DECRA Candidate to demonstrate the level of independence required to be competitive for research and/or research and teaching pathways at the Administering Organisation during and after the Project.

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Research Opportunity

 

  • The ARC is committed to ensuring all eligible researchers have fair access to competitive funding through the National Competitive Grants Program.
  • The ARC considers that Research Opportunity comprises two separate elements:
    • Career experiences (relative to opportunity)
    • Career interruptions
  • The ROPE Statement (released Feb 2014) is available on the ARC website. 

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DECRA commitments

  • The DECRA Recipient is expected to spend a minimum of 20 per cent of her/his time on activities at the Administering Organisation, and 80 per cent of her/his time on research activities related to the proposed DECRA. 
  • The DECRA Recipient may not engage in other professional employment for the duration of the DECRA without prior approval from the ARC
  • The DECRA Recipient may spend up to 0.2 (20 per cent of Full Time Equivalent (FTE)) of her/his time annually on teaching activities. The DECRA will not be extended to accommodate any periods of teaching. Supervision of honours or postgraduate students is not included in this limit. 

 

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Carer’s responsibility

Carer's responsibility for a child and maternity or partner/parental leave can have an effect on a person's research opportunity and performance evidence above and beyond any actual time taken as leave. In recognition of this, the ARC will allow a DECRA Candidate in the DE17 round to claim an Eligibility Exemption of two years per dependent child (inclusive of carer's responsibility and any maternity or partner/parental leave). (Without providing justification)

 

“A person who has taken more than two years off to care for a dependent child, or who otherwise believes they are entitled to a greater than two year extension, would need to justify their claim when submitting an eligibility exemption request. FAQ 1.25 above does not cap career interruptions for carers of dependent children to two years per child. It does however allow carers of dependent children to claim up to a two year career interruption without justification”.

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Number of early career researchers* on submitted proposals—Discovery Projects and DECRA

Line graph showing the number of early career researchers on submitted proposals—Discovery Projects and DECRA schemes. *An early career researcher is a researcher who obtained their PhD in the last five years, or any DECRA applicant.

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Proportion of Early Career Researchers* on submitted proposals—Discovery Projects and DECRA

 

Line graph showing the proportion of Early Career Researchers on submitted—Discovery Projects and DECRA schemes. *An early career researcher is a researcher who obtained their PhD in the last five years, or any DECRA applicant.

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Gender—DECRA 2016

Panel*

Number of female candidates

Number of approved female candidates

Female success rate

Number of male candidates

Number of approved male candidates

Male success rate

BSB

93

16

17.2%

158

26

16.5%

EIC

34

7

20.6%

240

38

15.8%

HCA

92

18

19.6%

84

11

13.1%

MPCE

75

12

16.0%

205

34

16.6%

SBE

108

18

16.7%

126

20

15.9%

Total

402

71

17.7%

813

129

15.9%

*(BSB – Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EIC – Engineering, Information and Computing Sciences; MPCE – Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences; SBE – Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences; HCA – Humanities and Creative Arts)

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Citizenship and residency—DECRA 2016

Citizenship/residency status

Proposals considered

% of proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate

Foreign Nationals

399

32.7%

62

15.5%

Resident Australians

752

61.6%

128

17.0%

Returning Australians

57

4.7%

9

15.8%

Not Specified

12

1%

1

8.3

Total

1220

100.0%

200

16.4%

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DECRA—success rates

DECRA—return and success rates

Success rates for DECRA over 2012–2016, with the success rate ranging from about 12 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2016.

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Number of DECRA proposals and success rate by career age, 2014–2016

 

Graph showing number of DECRA proposals and success rate by career age, 2014–2016.

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Average age of first-named Chief Investigators—Discovery Projects, 2000–2015 (including DECRA 2012–2014)

Average age of first-named Chief Investigators—Discovery Projects, 2000–2015(including DECRA 2012–2014)

 

Line graph showing average age of first-named Chief Investigators in Discovery Projects grants from 2000–2015 (including DECRA 2012–2014). The average age for DECRA only is about 35 years.

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Average age of first-named Chief Investigators—Future Fellowships, Discovery Projects, DECRA 2002–2016

Average age of first-named Chief Investigators—Future Fellowships, Discovery Projects, DECRA 2002–2016

Line graph showing average age of first-named Chief Investigators for Future Fellowships, Discovery Projects and DECRA schemes, 2002–2016.

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Linkage Program

The ARC's Linkage funding schemes aim to encourage and extend cooperative approaches to research and improve the use of research outcomes by strengthening links within Australia’s innovation system and with innovation systems internationally.

Schemes: 

  • Linkage Projects
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities
  • ARC Centres of Excellence
  • Co-funded Centres
  • Special Research Initiatives
  • Linkage Learned Academies Special Projects.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program

Objectives: 

  • fosters important partnerships between university-based researchers and industries 
  • supports researchers (including higher degree by research and postdoctoral fellows) to gain ‘hands-on’, practical skills and experience in important priority areas.

Consists of two schemes: 

  • Industrial Transformation Research Hubs
  • Industrial Transformation Training Centres

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Fostering the next generation of researchers

ARC’s Industrial Transformation Training Centres place early career researchers in an industry setting.

Training Centres normally have funding for a Manager and at least ten Higher Degree by Research candidates and three postdoctoral fellows in each Training Centre.

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ARC Assessment Process

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This pictorial graph shows the ARC assessment process.

  1. Application
  2. Panel (can go directly to Selection Meeting)
  3. External Assessment
  4. Selection Meeting
  5. Outcomes

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Proposal assessment—overview

 

  • The peer review process is designed to be fair, thorough and transparent
  • All proposals are assessed against the selection criteria, and in accordance with the weightings for that scheme
  • Proposals are generally assigned to two types of assessors:
    • at least two General assessors (usually College of Experts members), and
    • at least two Detailed assessors
  • ARC staff assess eligibility etc., but do not decide which proposals should be funded

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 Grant process and writing tips

  • All grants that are successful should provide exciting new outcomes and be an excellent investment
  • Decisions will align with Scheme Objectives
  • Not all excellent proposals can get funding; most applicants will be disappointed

 

Research Impact Pathway*

Inputs

Activities

Outputs

Outcomes

Benefits

  • Research income
  • Staff
  • Background IP
  • Infrastructure
  • Collections
  • Research Work and Training
  • Workshop/Conference 
    Organising
  • Facility Use
  • Membership of Learned 
    Societies and Academies
  • Community and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Publications including 
    E-Publications
  • Additions to National 
    Collections
  • New IP: Patents and 
    Inventions
  • Policy Briefings
  • Media
  • Commercial Products,
    Licences and Revenue
  • New Companies—
    Spin offs, Start Ups
    or Joint Ventures
  • Job Creation
  • Implementation of 
    Programs and Policy
  • Citations
  • Integration into Policy
  • Economic, Health, Social, Cultural, Environmental, 
    National Security, 
    Quality of Life, Public Policy
    or Services
  • Higher Quality Workforce
  • Job Creation
  • Risk Reduction in Decision Making

*Items listed above are high level examples that may assist with the development of a Research Plan and in understanding your Research Impact Pathway

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Insights into grants process 

  • Consider where to apply for funding; choose a scheme. 
  • Pay attention to eligibility and ARC cross scheme limits
  • The scheme objectives and the selection criteria—address every one of them
  • Choosing Field of Research Codes—assisting the ARC choose the right assessors
  • Track Record—career interruption— the ROPE provision
  • The scale of assessment 
    • The external assessor: 1–2 proposals
    • The ARC panel member: 10–50
    • ARC Panel meeting: 150–400
  • The rejoinder  
  • Understand the research field and international context. Develop your ideas to solve a research problem. 
  • Network with leaders in the field. Consider the research environment when applying. 
  • Apply by yourself or as a team member….
  • Career interruptions – making a case for ROPE
  • Seek mentors on writing good grant applications
  • Your first grant application  
    • Write for your peers—write so that someone broadly in your field will understand  your project
    • Write for  the public—write a plain English statement
  • Don’t over-inflate authorship claims but don’t undersell yourself either 

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Low ranked proposals

  • Use too much technical jargon
  • Make grandiose and implausible claims about outcomes
  • Don't support claims of excellence or progress with evidence
  • Relate to research areas without momentum
  • Are weakly linked into national and international research networks
  • Emphasize the collection of data rather than the solution of controversies
  • Set a negative or depressive tone about the state of the subject in Australia
  • Contain a high rate of spelling and grammatical errors
  • Are badly structured and difficult to follow

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Responding to an assessment/rejoinder

  • Read the assessments then wait at least a day before starting the rejoinder
  • Approach it constructively
  • The rejoinder is to help College of Experts to seek applicant’s views on criticisms made by peers
  • Don’t get angry at the assessor – you’re wasting valuable space to address important concerns

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