The Australian Research Landscape
University of The Sunshine Coast
24 August 2017
Professor Joanne Tompkins

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National Competitive Grants Program

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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.

Area of box represents ARC funding by scheme (new and ongoing projects) for 2016*. 

N.B.

  • *LP16 figures not including Continuous Linkage

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ARC NCGP funding by Fields of Research 2009–2017 

 ARC NCGP funding by Fields of Research 2009–2017: Stacked percentage area chart showing ARC NCGP funding by two digit Fields of Research 2009–2017 as a proportion of the whole.

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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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The Discovery Program

  • excellent, internationally competitive research 
  • research training and career opportunities for the best Australian and international researchers
  • international collaboration
  • research in priority areas.

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Discovery (DPs): Selection Criteria 1

Investigator(s) 40%

  • Research opportunity and performance evidence (ROPE); and
  • Time and capacity to undertake the proposed research.

Project Quality and Innovation 35%

  • 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?
  • What is the potential for the research to enhance international collaboration?
  • Are there adequate strategies to encourage dissemination, commercialisation, if appropriate; and promotion of research outcomes?

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Discovery (DPs): 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 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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Discovery Projects—return and success rates

 

Discovery Projects scheme return and success rates 2009–2017.

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DECRAs

  • support excellent basic and applied research by ECRs
  • promote enhanced opportunities for diverse career pathways
  • enable research and research training in high quality and supportive environments
  • Up to 5 years post-PhD (exemptions available)
  • Only two attempts
  • Salary and $40,000/yr research support
  • 200 per year across all disciplines

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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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Discovery Indigenous

  • support excellent basic and applied research and research training by Indigenous researchers
  • develop the research expertise of Indigenous researchers
  • support and retain established Indigenous researchers in Australian higher education institutions.

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Discovery Indigenous—return and success rates

Discovery Indigenous—success rates

Chart showing Discovery Indigenous scheme success rates 2009–2017.

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Future Fellowships

  • ensure that outstanding mid-career researchers are recruited and retained by Administering Organisations in continuing academic positions
  • build collaboration across industry and/or research organisations and/or disciplines
  • 5–15 years post PhD
  • Salary plus $50,000/yr research support
  • Has been 2 attempts: from 2018, 3 attempts
  • 100 per year across all disciplines.

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Future Fellows—success rates

Future FEllows success rate

Chart showing Future Fellowships success rates 2009–2017.

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Laureate Fellowships

  • attract and retain outstanding researchers and research leaders of international reputation
  • support ground-breaking, internationally competitive research, forging forge strong links among researchers
  • provide an excellent research training environment and exemplary mentorship to nurture early-career researchers.

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Australian Laureate Fellowships—success rates by gender

Australian Laureate Fellowshipssuccess rates by gender

Australian Laureate Fellowships success rates by gender 2009–2016.

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Linkage Projects

  1. Strategic research alliances between higher education organisations and industry and/or 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. Encourage growth of a national pool of world-class researchers to meet the needs of the broader Australian innovation system.

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Linkage Projects—return and success rates

Linkage Projects—return and success rates

Linkage Projects (LP) scheme return and success rates 2009–2016. 

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LP Level and Period of Funding

  • The minimum level of funding provided by the ARC under Linkage Projects scheme is $50,000 per year of funding and the maximum is $300,000 per year of funding per Project, for each year of the Project.
  • A project may be applied for and awarded funding for a minimum of two to a maximum of five consecutive years. 

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Partner Organisation Contribution Requirements

  • The Proposal must demonstrate that the combined Partner Organisation eligible contributions for a Proposal (i.e. the total of the cash and/or in-kind eligible contributions of the Partner Organisation) must at least match the total funding requested from the ARC. 
  • The combined Partner Organisation eligible Cash Contribution must be at least 25 per cent of the total funding requested from the ARC except for Proposals where all Partner Organisation are Exempt Partner Organisation.

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Linkage grants: exempt organisations

Exempt from cash contribution:

  • Archive and Public Record Office 
  • Charity
  • Herbarium 
  • Museum and Collecting Organisation 
  • Non-Profit Organisation 
  • Small Business
  • Start-up.

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Continuous Linkage Projects

  • Commenced in July 2016
  • Continuous submissions
  • 6-month turnaround (under National Innovation and Science Agenda—NISA).

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Continuous Linkage Projects—Scoring

  • Fast Tracking
    • Two “thresholds”
    • Score above high threshold
      •  recommendation to fund
    • Score below low threshold
      •  recommendation not to fund
  • Selection Meeting
  • Proposals with scores between thresholds plus any others flagged for discussion.

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Continuous Linkage Projects—Assessment

  • Selection Advisory Committee (SAC)
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Drawn from College of Experts.
  • Assessment of proposals
    • 3 General Assessors—from SAC
    • 2–6 Detailed Assessors 
    • Rejoinders to detailed reports
    • Proposals “fast-tracked”.

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Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF)

LIEF provides funding for research infrastructure, equipment and facilities:

  • Tends to share expensive infrastructure, equipment and facilities across institutions cooperatively. 
  • Fosters collaboration through its support of international or national research facilities.

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LIEF—return and success rates

Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities scheme return and success rates 2009–2017.

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Industrial Transformation Research Priorities

2 types:

  • Industrial Transformation Research Hubs: cutting edge research on new technologies and in economic, commercial and social transformation which support the development of research outcomes that benefit industry partners. The scheme supports collaborative research activity between the Australian higher education sector and industry, designed to focus on strategic outcomes not independently realisable.
  • Industrial Transformation Training Centres foster close partnerships between university-based researchers and industry to provide innovative Higher Degree by Research and postdoctoral training for the end-user focused research industries vital to Australia’s future.

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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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Centres of Excellence

  • Open next year
  • Applications from Humanities and Social Sciences are particularly welcome
  • Large scale, multi-institution centres 
  • Need a big vision for discipline-changing research and outcomes.

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Centre of Excellence Success Rates

Chart showing Centre of Excellence scheme success rates—EOI, Shortlist and Funded—for three rounds, CE11, CE14 and CE17. 

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Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) 

  • Childcare and/or parental care
  • Illness
  • Other forms of employment; unemployment
  • Remote location
  • Move from overseas.

Priorities: gender, equity

  • funding for enabling carers to attend conferences.

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Insights into grants process 

  • Pay attention to eligibility and ARC cross-scheme limits
  • Address every scheme objectives and selection criteria
  • Choose Field of Research Codes carefully: they assist ARC in selecting the right assessors
  • Write for assessors (College of Experts members) who will be outside your discipline
  • Write in plain English
  • Understand the research field and international context. Develop your ideas to solve a research problem 
  • Network with leaders in the field 
  • Seek mentors in your field and beyond
  • Don’t over-inflate authorship claims but don’t undersell yourself either 
  • Spend some time on the rejoinder.

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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 that you could use to address important concerns.

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What are assessors seeking in an application?

  • Compelling Project Description
  • Sound Methodology
  • Strong performance evidence, closely aligned with the Project
  • A robust Budget Justification
  • In the case of Linkage Grants, evidence of strong support from partner organisation.

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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
  • Are weakly linked into national and international research networks
  • Contain a high rate of spelling and grammatical errors
  • Are badly structured and difficult to follow.

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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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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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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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Are you on the ARC’s assessor database?

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 f, g, h.

Classifications

  • 6–10 x 6-digit FOR codes.

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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 scores – 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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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
  • Nominations open in the first half of the year.

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