Early Career Researchers and the ARC
Postgraduate and early career researchers workshop
Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) Conference UNSW
25 September 2016
Professor Marian Simms

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Early Career Researchers—Overview

  • DECRA 2018 Scheme Objective
  • Early career and DECRA data
  • (Discovery Schemes data – time permitting)
  • Assessment and selection processes
  • Questions? Discussion

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The objectives of the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme are to:

  • support excellent basic and applied research by early career researchers
  • advance promising early career researchers and promote enhanced opportunities for diverse career pathways
  • enable research and research training in high quality and supportive environments
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in the Science and Research Priorities.
  • Under the DECRA scheme up to 200 three year awards will be offered to early career researchers each year.

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Selection Criteria 1

  • Project Quality and Innovation 40%
    • Does the research address a significant problem?
    • Is the conceptual/theoretical framework innovative and original?
    • What is the potential for the research to contribute to the Science and Research Priorities? 
    • Will the aims, concepts, methods and results advance knowledge? 
  • DECRA Candidate 35%
    • Research opportunity and performance evidence (ROPE); and
    • Time and capacity to undertake the proposed research.

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Selection Criteria 2

  • Feasibility 10%
    • Do the Project’s design, participants and requested budget create confidence in the timely and successful completion of the Project? 
    • Is there an existing, or developing, supportive and high quality environment for this Candidate, their Project and for Higher Degree by Research students where appropriate?
    • Are the necessary facilities available to complete the Project?
  • Benefit 15%
    • Will the completed Project produce significant new knowledge and/or innovative economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefit to the Australian and international community?
    • Will the proposed research be cost-effective and value for money?

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Eligibility Criteria for the DECRA Candidate

  • A Proposal must nominate one DECRA Candidate.
  • A DECRA Candidate must at the closing time of submission of Proposals: 
    • have been awarded a PhD on or after 1 March 2012; or
    • commensurate with periods of significant and consecutive career interruption, as outlined below, and as certified by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), been awarded a PhD prior to 1 March 2012.

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The following types of interruption will be accepted:

  • disruption due to international relocation for post-doctoral studies or other research employment not exceeding three months per international relocation
  • unemployment
  • non-research employment not concurrent with research employment
  • illness
  • maternity or parental leave
  • carers’ responsibility. Including:
    • being the primary carer of a dependent child, two years per dependent child 
    • being the primary carer of a dependent child with extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability on the part of the child
    • other caring responsibility.

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Eligibility Criteria for the DECRA Candidate

  • If the DECRA Candidate holds a research higher degree which is not a PhD, it is the Administering Organisation’s responsibility to certify that the DECRA Candidate is an early career researcher and that the DECRA Candidate’s qualification meets the level 10 criteria of the Australian Qualifications Framework Second Edition January 2013. For assessing overseas qualifications please see the Country Education Profiles Online tool. A subscription fee is required to access this service.
  • The ARC reserves the right to audit any evidence on which an application is based.

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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 under subsection D7.2.6.  
  • 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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FoR 1606: Political Science—DECRA success rate (%)

FoR 1606: Political Science, DECRA success rate (%).

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FoR 1606: Political Science NCGP all schemes volume and success rates

Chart showing FoR 1606: Political Science NCGP all schemes volume and success rates.

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Histogram of Rank DE 2012–2016

Histogram DE

This slide shows for the selected scheme (DECRA) and for each two-digit discipline code, a histogram illustrating the number of proposals which occupied each rank, counting all proposals submitted from 2012–16 with funded rank bands coloured red.

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DECRA 2014, 2015, 2016 
Number of proposals and success rate by career age

Combined Line and bar chart showing DECRA 2014, 2015, 2016; Number of proposals and success rate by career age.

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DECRA 16—gender and success rate by panel

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%

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Number of ECR researchers on proposals received (DP and DECRA)

Line chart showing number of ECR researchers on proposals received (DP and DECRA).

 

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Proportion of ECR researchers on proposals received (DP and DECRA)

Line chart showing proportion of ECR researchers on proposals received (DP and DECRA).

 

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ARC NCGP funding by scheme 2009–2015

ARC funding by scheme

Stacked area chart showing ARC funding by scheme 2009–2015 with Discovery Projects being the largest through this period, but significant growth in Future Fellowships.

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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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Assessment Process

  • ARC staff and Executive Directors assess eligibility etc., but do not decide which proposals should be funded
  • All proposals are assessed against the selection criteria, and in accordance with the weightings for that scheme
  • Proposals are generally assigned to two College of Experts members by EDs and at least two external assessors by the College 
  • College of Experts meets to moderate judgments and to make final recommendations about fundable proposals and budgets
  • Under the ARC Act all recommendations are just that, and must be approved by the Minister

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ROPE

“Research Opportunity is designed to provide assessors with an accurate appreciation of career history against a timeline of years since graduation from highest educational qualification. Assessors will recognise research opportunities and experience in the context of employment situations including those outside academia and the research component of employment conditions. Periods of unemployment, or any career interruptions for child birth, carers’ responsibilities, misadventure, or debilitating illness will be taken into account. Access to research mentoring and other research support facilities and any other relevant aspects of career experience or opportunities for research will complete the considerations”.

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ARC College of Experts

  • plays a key role in identifying research excellence, moderating external assessments and recommending fundable proposals. 
  • assists the ARC in recruiting and assigning assessors and in implementing peer review reforms in established and emerging disciplines as well as interdisciplinary areas.
  • experts of international standing drawn from the Australian research community—from higher education, industry and public sector research organisations
  • ARC College nominations are approved by the ARC CEO for appointments of one to three years.

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What are assessors seeking in a DECRA application?

  • Compelling Project Description
  • Sound Methodology
  • Strong performance evidence, highly appropriate to the Project
  • Increasingly a robust Budget Justification

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ARC Assignment Information

  • The ARC has completely redesigned the way that potential assessors are matched to a proposal for assessment purposes
  • Multiple areas of the proposal are mined for a set of keywords and presented to the person completing the assignments as a word cloud
  • This information is then matched to information stored against a potential assessor’s profile and presented in a similar word cloud
  • The most appropriate person is then selected and assigned to the proposal to assess.