University of The Sunshine Coast
25 August 2017
Professor Joanne Tompkins

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National Competitive Grants Program

description below

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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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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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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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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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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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 Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)

The DECRA scheme provides more focused support for early career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions.

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).

Up to 200 three-year DECRAs may be awarded each year providing a researcher with up to $139,369 per annum.

  • This is composed of $99,369 in salary and on-costs, and up to $40,000 in project costs. 

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; and
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in the Science and Research Priorities.

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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.(D8.2.2 and D8.2.3)
  • The DECRA Recipient may not engage in other professional employment for the duration of the DECRA without prior approval from the ARC under subsection D8.2.5. (D8.2.4)
  • The DECRA Recipient may spend up to 0.2 (20 per cent of Full Time Equivalent) 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. (D8.2.8).

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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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Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE)

  • 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
  • Performance Evidence is designed to provide assessors with information that will enable them to contextualise research outputs relative to the opportunity of a participant. 
  • The ROPE Statement (released Feb 2014) is online.

 

  • 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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Interdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary research (IDR) is becoming increasingly important to the national and international research effort.

  • 59% of applications recent ARC Discovery round identified as IDR.

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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What are assessors seeking in an application?

  • Compelling Project Description
  • Sound Methodology
  • Strong performance evidence, closely aligned with the Project
  • Increasingly 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

 [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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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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Additions to the 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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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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Other matters

  • Gender/Diversity
  • Importance of advancing ECRs
  • Value for Money
  • Improved assessor reports
  • Project summaries in HASS sector: importance of clear expression
    • Can you explain your project convincingly to someone outside your discipline?
  • Assessor descriptions in RMS
  • Centres of Excellence in HASS sector.

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