Discovery Indigenous
Selection Report for Funding Commencing in 2017

Overview

The Discovery Indigenous scheme provides funding to support research programmes led by an Indigenous Australian researcher and builds the research capacity of higher degree research and early career researchers.

The objectives of Discovery Indigenous are to:

  • support excellent basic and applied research and research training by Indigenous Australian researchers as individuals and as teams;
  • develop the research expertise of Indigenous Australian researchers;
  • support and retain established Indigenous Australian researchers in Australian higher education institutions; and
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability.

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Selection Process

Proposals for funding commencing in 2017 opened on 3 February 2016, and closed on 31 March 2016. Proposals were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines recommendations from the selection process for that round.

Funding recommendations have been prepared for submission to the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The recommendations are based on advice from the ARC College of Experts which:

  • assigned independent assessors to review the proposals
  • 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

and, advice from the ARC Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the ARC College of Experts or independent assessors
  • where required, sought clarification from Administering Organisations with respect to issues raised
  • made recommendations to the Acting CEO in respect of ineligible proposals.

This report reflects the approved recommendations by the Minister. Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.

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Selection Criteria

Selection criteria and corresponding weightings for Discovery Indigenous 2017 proposals are:

Project Quality and Innovation    40%
Investigator(s)        35%
Project Research Environment  15%
Feasibility and Benefit    10%

The ARC assessment process for 2017 used 80 College of Experts members across five discipline panels and was managed in the Research Management System (RMS). A total of 84 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Discovery Indigenous 2017.

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Funding levels and duration

Funding of between $30,000 and $500,000 per annum for up to five years may be awarded for each Discovery Indigenous proposal. In addition to a minimum of $30,000 in project costs per annum a proposal, Chief Investigators who are Indigenous Australians may be awarded the annual salary contribution called Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) providing the annual total does not exceed $500,000. The DAATSIA may be awarded at one of five salary levels, either $97,708 or $114,950 or $149,436 or $172,427 or $206,911, (2015$) including 30 per cent on-costs.

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Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received a total of 31 proposals for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2017, the same as for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2016.

The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2017 is 35.5 per cent, with a lower percentage of allocation of requested funds compared to Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2016 (Table 1).

Of the 31 proposals considered in this round, 15 included funding request for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) at one of five salary levels. The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous proposals requesting DAATSIA in 2017 is 26.7 per cent (Table 2).

Table 1. Comparison of proposal numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Discovery Indigenous proposals from 2016 to 2017

Funding year

Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate

Requested funds over project life (all proposals)

Requested funds over project life (approved proposals)

Approved funds over project life (approved proposals)

Approved funds as % of requested funds

2016

31

10

32.3%

$20,945,638

$5,441,127

$4,059,356

74.6%

2017

31

11

35.5%

$23,490,410

$7,154,177

$4,634,891

64.8%

Table 2.  Success rates for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) for approved Discovery Indigenous proposals 2017

DAATSIA Salary Level

Proposals with DAATSIA considered

Proposals with DAATSIA approved

Success rate

Salary Level 1

3

1

33.3%

Salary Level 2

4

1

25.3%

Salary Level 3

3

1

33.3%

Salary Level 4

3

1

33.3%

Salary Level 5

2

0

0.0%

Total

15

4

26.7%

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Outcomes by discipline panels

Table 3. Comparison of proposal numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Discovery Indigenous 2017 proposals by discipline panel

Panel †

Proposals considered

Proposals  approved

Success rate

Requested funds over project life for all proposals considered

Requested funds over project life for approved proposals

Approved funds over project
 life (approved proposals)

Approved funds as % of requested funds

BSB

2

1

50.0%

$1,146,437

$444,079

$372,474

83.9%

EIC

2

1

50.0%

$1,405,874

$556,732

$473,000

85.0%

HCA

13

4

30.8%

$10,215,222

$3,133,525

$2,020,104

64.5%

MPCE

1

1

100.0%

$720,013

$720,013

$355,000

49.3%

SBE

13

4

30.8%

$10,002,864

$2,299,828

$1,414,313

61.5%

Total

31

11

35.5%

$23,490,410

$7,154,177

$4,634,891

64.8%

 BSB—Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EIC—Engineering, Information and Computing Sciences, MPCE—Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences; SBE—Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences; HCA—Humanities and Creative Arts

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Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities

Table 4. Approved funding and success rate for Discovery Indigenous 2017 proposals by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Proposals considered

Proposals
approved

Success 
rate (%)

Approved funds (over project life)

Environmental change

2

2

100.0%

$727,474

Health

18

7

38.9%

$2,837,713

Resources

1

0

0.0%

$0

Soil and water

2

0

0.0%

$0

Unspecified

8

2

25.0%

$1,069,704

Total

31

11

35.5%

$4,634,891

Total within Science and Research Priorities

23

9

39.1%

$3,565,187

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

74.2%

81.8%

 

76.9%

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Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Table 5. Numbers of proposals and success rates for approved Discovery Indigenous 2017 proposals by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Proposals considered

Proposals 
approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Australian Capital Territory

1

0

0.0%

$0

University of Canberra

1

0

0.0%

$0

New South Wales

9

2

22.2%

$660,400

Charles Sturt University

1

1

100.0%

$348,000

Macquarie University

1

0

0.0%

$0

Southern Cross University

1

0

0.0%

$0

The University of New South Wales

2

0

0.0%

$0

The University of Sydney

1

1

100.0%

$312,400

University of Technology, Sydney

2

0

0.0%

$0

University of Wollongong

1

0

0.0%

$0

Northern Territory

2

1

50.0%

$358,313

Charles Darwin University

2

1

50.0%

$358,313

Queensland

5

2

40.0%

$975,000

Griffith University

1

0

0.0%

$0

Queensland University of Technology

1

0

0.0%

$0

The University of Queensland

3

2

66.7%

$975,000

South Australia

1

1

100.0%

$337,000

University of South Australia

1

1

100.0%

$337,000

Victoria

11

3

27.3%

$1,200,474

Deakin University

2

0

0.0%

$0

Monash University

3

0

0.0%

$0

RMIT University

1

0

0.0%

$0

The University of Melbourne

4

3

75.0%

$1,200,474

Victoria University

1

0

0.0%

$0

Western Australia

2

2

100.0%

$1,103,704

Murdoch University

1

1

100.0%

$371,000

The University of Western Australia

1

1

100.0%

$732,704

Total

31

11

35.5%

$4,634,891

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Career age and gender

A total of 92 Chief Investigators (CIs), including 15 Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award Candidates (DAATSIA), were named on all proposals considered in this round. Of these, 36 were female CIs and 56 were male CIs. The success rate for female CIs and male CIs in this round of Discovery Indigenous proposals is 27.8 per cent and 35.7 per cent respectively (Figure 1). Of 15 CIs who applied for DAATSIA, the success rate for female DAATSIA Candidates and male DAATSIA Candidates is 12.5 per cent and 42.9 per cent respectively (Table 6).

Success rates of CIs by career age and gender in the current Discovery Indigenous round are represented in Figure 1 below. CIs who did not specify the date of completion of their PhD or who do not hold a PhD (10.9 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1. Participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Discovery Indigenous 2017 by gender and career age*

Alt-text for Figure 1: Chart showing participation and success rate of  Discovery Indigenous 2017 candidates by gender and career age—where age is calculated as years since PhD. The chart only shows up to 25 plus years since PhD and female per cent figure is represented in dark pink whilst the male per cent figure is represented in blue.

* Career age is calculated as years since PhD.

 

Table 6. Success rates by gender for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) Candidates, for approved Discovery Indigenous proposals 2017

Gender of DAATSIA Candidates

No of DAATSIA considered

No of DAATSIA approved

Success rate

Female

8

1

12.5%

Male

7

3

42.9%

Total

15

4

26.7%

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International Collaboration

Applicants foreshadowed 23 instances of collaboration with researchers in seven overseas locations on nine proposals. Of the proposals approved for funding, four foreshadowed 11 instances of collaboration with researchers in seven overseas locations.

Figure 2. International collaborations by location in approved Discovery Indigenous 2017 proposals

Alt-text for Figure 2: Chart showing instances of international collaborations with specific countries in approved Discovery Indigenous 2017 proposals.  United States of America, 3 Canada, 2 New Zealand, 2 England, 1 Denmark, 1 Namibia, 1 Northern Ireland, 1

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