Western Sydney University
7 September 2016
Dr Fiona Cameron

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Outline

  • Research landscape overview
  • Interdisciplinary Research
  • National Competitive Grants Program
    • Discovery Program
    • Linkage Program
    • NCGP lifecycle and assessment
  • National Innovation and Science Agenda
  • Grants process and writing tips

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2015–16 Federal Budget—$429 billion

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2015–16 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated to agencies are shown by the size of the circles of each department and agency.

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2015–16 Federal Budget—R&D $9.7 billion

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2014–15 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies.

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2015–16 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated to agencies are shown by the size of the circles of each departments and Agency. This graph particularly illustrates about $9.7 billion of this funding which is allocated to R&D.

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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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Interdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary Research

Graph showing relationship between Interdisciplinary Distance (IDD) and proportion of successful and unsuccessful research proposals.

Scatter plot showing proportion of successful interdisciplinary research proposals by different Field of Research codes.

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Interdisciplinary Research (2)

  • Interdisciplinary research (IDR) is becoming increasingly important to the national and international research effort
  • A new ARC approach to better understand and address IDR is multifaceted:
    • new IDR question in all applications
    • analyse the success rate of self-identified proposals, relevant patterns in CoE and assessor assessments, relevant patterns in applications themselves whether related to investigator(s), topic, disciplinary fields and/or cross-disciplinary domains
    • evaluate and publish the results of the analysis, along with an ARC Policy statement.

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Discovery Projects 2017—‘Is your project interdisciplinary?’ by 2-digit FoR code

DP17 Interdisciplinary by 2 Digit FOR

Graph showing proportion of research proposals classified as interdisciplinary across different Field of Research (FOR) codes.

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Interdisciplinary Research (3)

New ARC approach to better understand and address IDR is multifaceted:

  • identify current CoE members who have expertise and/or understanding of IDR
  • assign pre-identified applications to CoE carriages and/or external assessors who have known expertise and/or understanding of IDR
  • advise existing external assessors to update their RMS profile to indicate their expertise and/or understanding of IDR  
  • new question for 2016 CoE nominations on expertise and/or understanding of IDR
  • appoint future CoE members with expertise and/or understanding of IDR as required

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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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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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Industrial Transformation Research Hubs (ITRH)

  • Opportunities for universities and industrial partners to focus on significant collaborative R&D projects with outcomes beyond their independent endeavours.
  • The ARC will invest up to $1 million per year in each Research Hub with matching investment by industry partners up to a maximum of five years.

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Industrial Transformation Training Centres (ITTC)

  • To foster close partnerships between university-based researchers and industry to provide innovative training for early career researchers vital to Australia’s future industry.
  • The ARC will:
    • establish training centres nationwide
    • support Higher Degree by Research candidates and postdoctoral fellows 
    • provide a maximum of $1 million per year for up to five (5) years for each Training Centre.

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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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NCGP Lifecycle

 

Funding Rules

  • Approved by Minister
  • Published on the ARC website
  • Sector advised of availability.

Proposals

  • applications submitted via RMS by Eligible Organisations by the relevant scheme closing date 
  • instructions to applicants, sample application form and FAQs published on ARC website.

Assessment

  • proposals are considered against eligibility criteria and compliance with the Funding Rules.
  • proposals are assessed by independent assessors 
  • applicants may be given the opportunity for a rejoinder to assessors’ written comments 
  • proposals are assessed by the ARC College of Experts or a Selection Advisory Committee.

Selection meeting

  •  the ARC College of Experts or a Selection Advisory Committee consider all proposals, rank each proposal relative to other proposals in the same discipline cluster and recommend budgets for the highly ranked proposals.

Approval of funding

  • ARC CEO provides recommendations to the Minister in relation to which Proposals should be approved for funding, which Proposals should not be approved for funding, and the level of funding and duration of Projects. 
  • Minister considers recommendations and approves and announces funding outcomes
  • Postaward and reporting.

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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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National Innovation and Science Agenda

  • In December 2015 the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) was announced
  • ARC measures within NISA:
    • Continuous Linkage Projects scheme (opened 1 July)
    • Research Engagement and Impact Assessment

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Continuous Linkage Projects

 

  • Since 1 July 2016, applications for the Linkage Projects scheme can be submitted at any time. 
  • The continuous application cycle will allow a closer connection between proposal submission and outcome announcement. 
  • This helps industry and business to collaborate more readily on high quality proposals, particularly with regard to budget and planning, and will assist in boosting the commercial returns of publicly-funded research. 
  • Following a rigorous assessment process high-quality proposals will be expedited to the Minister for decision.

 

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Continuous Linkage Projects

The Annual Cycle

This chart compares the annual grants cycle of the previous Linkage Projects scheme with the new continuous Linkage Projects scheme.

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Linkage Projects—return and success rates

Linkage Projects - return and success rates

This chart shows the number of proposals received and funded, and the success and return rate for the Linkage Projects scheme for the years  2003–2016.

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Gender Balance—Linkage Projects scheme 

Graph showing success rate of female and male researchers named in proposals submitted under the Linkage Projects scheme from 2010 to 2016.

Graph showing success rate of female and male researchers named in proposals submitted under the Linkage Projects scheme from 2010 to 2016.

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Gender of first-named Chief Investigator—Linkage Projects 2016 

Gender of first-named Chief Investigator—Linkage Projects 2016

Graph showing success rate of first-named Chief Investigators, by gender, in the 2016 round of the Linkage Projects scheme.

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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

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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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Engagement and Impact Assessment

  • National Innovation and Science Agenda—7 December 2015.  $1.1 billion over four years on a range of initiatives
  • Includes $11.2 million over five years ($2.2 million on average) to conduct a national assessment measuring impact and engagement in university research
  • Government invests $3.5 billion a year in university research. The assessment will:
    • examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and 
    • incentivise greater collaboration between universities, industry and other end-users of research 

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Engagement and Impact—Timeline 

  • ARC and Department of Education to develop methodology in 2016, including extensive sector consultation
  • Consultation paper released—consultation ended 24 June 2016
  • Pilot assessment in 2017
  • Full assessment in 2018 as a companion to ERA

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