The Australian Research Council Schemes and Assessment
University of Wollongong
10 August 2017
Dr Fiona Cameron

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Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2016–17 (%)

Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2016–17 (%)

Pie chart showing Commonwealth Investment in R&D 2015–16 ($m).

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National Competitive Grants Program

National Competitive Grants Program

Graphical representation of schemes in the ARC's National Competitive Grants Program. Each scheme is a rectangle with the area of the rectangle representing  ARC funding (new and ongoing projects) for 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:

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Linkage Projects

The Linkage Projects scheme provides funding to Eligible Organisations to support research and development (R&D) projects which:

  • are collaborative between higher education researchers and other parts of the national innovation system
  • are undertaken to acquire new knowledge, and
  • involve risk or innovation.

Proposals for funding under the Linkage Projects  scheme must include at least one Partner Organisation. The Partner Organisation must make a contribution in cash and/or in kind to the project. The combined Partner Organisation contributions for a Proposal (i.e. the total of the cash and in-kind contributions of the Partner Organisations) must at least match the total funding requested from the ARC.


The objectives of the Linkage Projects scheme are to:

  1. support the initiation and/or development of long-term strategic research alliances between higher education organisations and other organisations, including industry and other research end-users, in order to apply advanced knowledge to problems and/or to provide opportunities to obtain national economic, commercial, social or cultural benefits
  2. provide opportunities for internationally competitive research projects to be conducted in collaboration with organisations outside the higher education sector, targeting those who have demonstrated a clear commitment to high-quality research
  3. encourage growth of a national pool of world-class researchers to meet the needs of the broader Australian innovation system
  4. build the scale and focus of research in the national Science and Research Priorities.

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LP16

  • The Linkage Projects scheme opened for continuous submission and assessment of proposals from 1 July 2016.
  • 225 proposals were received from 1 July to 22 December 2016.
  • 89 projects were funded, with a success rate of 39.6% and a return rate of 76.9%.
  • The 89 funded projects were announced over five dates:
    • 30 January 2017—4 proposals
    • 24 February 2017—11 proposals
    • 5 April 2017—3 proposals
    • 5 May 2017—10 proposals 
    • 31 May 2017—61 proposals.
  • Partner Organisations contributed $1.71 for every dollar funded by the ARC. 
  • 65.6% of these contributions were from industry-based Partner Organisations, and the remainder were from government, non-profit, higher education and other sources.

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LP17

  • LP17 is open for submissions 23 December 2016 to 19 December 2017

  • The first two funded projects were announced on 24 July 2017.

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Comparison of Linkage Projects success rates between female and male participants from 2010 to 2016

Comparison of Linkage Projects success rates between female and male participants from 2010 to 2016. 

Source: LP Selection Report 2016, Figure 2.

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Industrial Transformation Research Program

The Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) encourages and supports university-based researchers and industry to work together to find solutions to a range of issues facing Australian industries.

The Program consists of two schemes: 

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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.

Over the life of the program the ARC will:

  • establish 50 Training Centres nationwide
  • support 10 “industry ready” Higher Degree by Research candidates and postdoctoral researchers in each Training Centre
  • provide up to $1 million per year for up to five (5) years for each Training Centre.

The objectives of the Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme are to:

  • foster opportunities for Higher Degree by Research candidates and postdoctoral fellows to pursue industrial training
  • drive growth, productivity and competitiveness within key growth sectors
  • enhance competitive research collaboration between universities and organisations outside the Australian higher education sector
  • strengthen the capabilities of industries and other research end-users in identified Industrial Transformation Priority areas.

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Details of approved Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2017

Training Centre Title

Administering Organisation

Training Centre Director

Approved funds over project life

ARC Training Centre for Advanced Technologies in Rail Track Infrastructure

University of Wollongong

Prof Buddhima Indraratna

$3,937,625

ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production

The University of Adelaide

Prof Vladimir Jiranek

$4,459,672

ARC Training Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies

The University of Melbourne

Prof Alastair Stewart

$3,123,492

ARC Training Centre for the Chemical Industries

The University of Melbourne

Dr Anastasios Polyzos

$3,279,502

ARC Training Centre for Musculoskeletal Biomedical Technologies

The University of Sydney

Prof Hala Zreiqat

$4,420,408

ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and their Applications

The University of Sydney

Prof Iver Cairns

$4,619,950

ARC Training Centre in Cognitive Computing for Medical Technologies

The University of Melbourne

Prof Timothy Baldwin

$4,133,659

ARC Training Centre in Fire Retardant Materials and Safety Technologies

The University of New South Wales

Prof Guan Yeoh

$4,272,072

ARC Training Centre for Innovation in Biomedical Imaging Technology

The University of Queensland

Prof David Reutens

$4,743,710

Source: Selection Report: Industrial Transformation Training Centres 2017.

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 Industrial Transformation Priorities in Industrial Transformation Training Centres proposals approved for funding commencing in 2017

Industrial Transformation Priorities

Instances in proposals considered*

Instances in proposals approved*

Advanced Manufacturing

8

4

Food and Agribusiness

8

2

Oil, Gas and Energy Resources

4

1

Mining Equipment, Technology and Services

6

1

Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

12

5

Total

38

13

Source: Selection Report: Industrial Transformation Training Centres 2017.

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Selection process

The outcomes were based on advice from the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) which:

  • assessed proposals and reviewed assessments made by independent assessors
  • reviewed applicants’ comments on assessors’ reports
  • ranked each proposal relative to the others on the basis of the proposal, the assessors’ reports and applicants’ responses to those assessments
  • assessed and recommended budgets
  • recommended proposal feedback.

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International collaboration on approved Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2017 proposals

Instances of international collaboration on approved Industrial Transformation Training Centres for funding in 2017 proposal

  • Canada—1
  • United States of America—6
  • China (excludes SAR and Taiwan)—4
  • England—2
  • Germany—2
  • Ireland—1
  • Hong Kong (SAR of China)—1
  • Israel—1
  • Japan—1
  • Singapore—1

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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.


The objectives of the Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme are to: 

  • encourage collaborative research and development (R&D) projects between universities and organisations outside the Australian higher education sector that will solve challenging industry issues relevant to the Industrial Transformation Priorities
  • drive growth, productivity and competitiveness within key growth sectors
  • leverage national and international investment in targeted industry sectors, including from industry and other research end-users.

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Industrial Transformation Research Hubs for funding in 2017

Research Hub Title

Administering Organisation

Hub Director

Approved funds over project life

ARC Research Hub for Energy-efficient Separation

Monash University

A/Prof Xiwang Zhang

$4,000,000

ARC Research Hub for Digital Enhanced Living

Deakin University

Prof John Grundy

$2,962,655

ARC Research Hub for Processing Lignocellulosics into High Value Products

Monash University

Prof Gil Garnier

$2,641,142

Source: Selection Report: Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2017.

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 Industrial Transformation Priorities in Industrial Transformation Research Hubs proposals approved for funding commencing in 2017

Industrial Transformation Priorities

Instances in proposals considered*

Instances in proposals approved*

Advanced Manufacturing

3

2

Food and Agribusiness

1

0

Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

2

1

Total

6

3

Source: Selection Report: Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2017.

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ITRP Hubs and Centres Success Rates

Industrial Transformation Research Program Hubs and Centres Success Rates for 2012–2017 (all rounds).

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The ARC Centres of Excellence—2017 objectives

  • Undertake highly innovative and potentially transformational research that aims to achieve international standing in the fields of research envisaged and leads to a significant advancement of capabilities and knowledge
  • link existing Australian research strengths and build critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to address the most challenging and significant research problems
  • develop relationships and build new networks with major national and international centres and research programs to help strengthen research, achieve global competitiveness and gain recognition for Australian research
  • build Australia’s human capacity in a range of research areas by attracting and retaining, from within Australia and abroad, researchers of high international standing as well as the most promising research students
  • provide high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers
  • offer Australian researchers opportunities to work on large-scale problems over long periods of time
  • establish Centres that have an impact on the wider community through interaction with higher education institutes, governments, industry and the private and non-profit sector.

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Previous process of applying for a 2017 Centre of Excellence

Competitive three stage process for applications

  • Expressions of Interest
    • external expert assessment/rejoinder 
    • shortlisted by Selection Advisory Committee (SAC)
  • Full Proposal
    • external expert assessment/rejoinder 
    • SAC shortlists Proposals for interview phase
  • Interviews in Canberra with SAC (including ARC ED)
    • Proposed Centre Director, key researchers
    • DVCR

The SAC will make recommendations to ARC CEO for Ministerial approval

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Discovery Program

The ARC's Discovery funding schemes recognise the importance of fundamental research to the national innovation system.

Schemes:

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Discovery Projects

The Discovery Projects scheme provides funding for research projects that can be undertaken by individual researchers or research teams.

The objectives of the  Discovery Projects  scheme are to:

  • support excellent basic and applied research by individuals and teams
  • encourage high-quality research and research training 
  • enhance international collaboration in research
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in the Science and Research Priorities.

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Discovery Projects—return and success rates

 

Discovery Projects scheme return and success rates 2009-2017.

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Participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Discovery Projects 2017 by gender and career age

Source: Discovery Projects Selection Report 2017 Figure 1

Chart showing participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Discovery Projects 2017 by gender and career age.

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DECRA—return and success rates

DECRA—return and success rates

Discovery Early Career Research Award scheme return and success rates 2009–2017.

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Participation and success rate of DECRA 2017 Candidates by gender and career age*

Participation_success_rate_CI_DECRA2017_gender_career_age

 

* Career age is calculated as years since PhD.

Chart showing participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in DECRA 2017 by gender and career age.

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DECRA eligibility

D9.1.2A DECRA Candidate must at the closing time of submission of Proposals: 

a.have been awarded a PhD on or after 1 March 2012; or

vi. carers’ responsibility, including:

(i)      being the primary carer of a dependent child, two years per dependent child;

(ii)     being the primary carer of a dependent child with extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability of the child; and/or

See also Future Fellows C9.3.2

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Future Fellows—success rates

Future FEllows success rate

Chart showing Future Fellowships success rates 2009–2017.

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 Participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2017 Candidates by gender and career age*

 Participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2017 Candidates by gender and career age*

 

* Career age is calculated as years since PhD.

Chart showing participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2017 Candidates by gender and career age.

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Future Fellows—flexibility

C9.2.5

The Future Fellowship may be awarded on a full-time basis, or a part-time basis if the Future Fellow needs to fulfil family and/or carer responsibilities. The Future Fellowship may be converted to (or from) part-time at any time to enable the Future Fellow to fulfil family and/or carer responsibilities, or with the prior approval of the ARC to pursue exceptional research opportunities, provided that the Future Fellowship does not exceed eight years from the date of commencement (excluding any approved periods of suspension and/or maternity and/or partner/parental leave).

See also D8.2.5 DECRA

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ARC Assessment Process

 [top]  Presentation slide header  Fostering the next generation of researchers

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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Detailed assessments

  • Detailed assessors are drawn from the Australian and international research community (≈ 25%)
  • Detailed assessors complete in-depth assessments of proposals by providing scores and comments against the scheme specific selection criteria
  • These assessments are then taken into consideration by General assessors in the later stages of the peer review process

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ARC Assessors

  • We encourage every active researcher to become an assessor for the ARC.
  • If you are not currently an assessor for the ARC and would like to become one then send:
    • a brief CV
    • list of five recent publications
    • or a web link to this information.
  • to  ARCAssessorUpdate@arc.gov.au.

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RMS profile example 

Expertise Text

  • My major area of research expertise is in x,y,z.
  • I also have experience in research a, b, c.
  • I would also be able to assess in the areas of blah blah.

Classifications

  • 6-10 x 6-digit FOR codes.

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How are assessors assigned? 

  • RMS generates a “word cloud” of a proposal based on:
    • Proposal summary
    • Proposal title
    • Impact statement
    • FoR codes
    • SEO codes.
  • RMS generates assessor suggestions based on assessor codes, expertise and history – make sure your RMS profile is up to date
  • No assignments are made “automatically”. This information is provided to ARC Executive Directors and College of Experts/SAC members to inform their judgment.

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How do I provide a good Detailed assessment?

  • Objective comments
  • Detailed comments (one or two sentences are rarely sufficient)
  • Sufficient information to allow applicants to provide a rejoinder to your comments
  • Comments match score—for example, if you have given significant criticisms an “A” rating is unlikely to be appropriate. 
  • Observe conflict of interest rules and declare anything you are concerned about to the ARC.

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What not to do

Investigator(s)

“I have serious doubts about the lead CI’s ability to deliver this project. I was unfortunate to collaborate with him on a number of publications in recent years, and partnered on an ill-fated DP proposal last year which fell apart due to his overbearing and tendentious manner. If this is how he behaves towards other researchers it is unlikely he will be able to bring this project, which requires extensive collaboration across institutions, to fruition.”

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Why do we need more (good) assessors?—some examples 

The ARC is grateful to a large number of extremely hard-working assessors who conduct the peer review process:

 

Detailed assessments

Proposals

Average assessments per proposal

DECRA 2015

4578

1394

3.3

Discovery Projects 2015

12,173

3689

3.3

Linkage Projects 2015

2294

710

3.2

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NEW Peer Review section on the ARC website

Designed to support our 20,000 strong assessor community. 

Peer Review section.

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What’s in it for me?
Assessor history/performance 

  • Improve own grant writing
  • Increased visibility into research activity
  • Service to the sector
  • Contractual obligation for grantees.

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