Selection Report: Discovery Indigenous 2018


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 researchers;
  • support and retain established Indigenous 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 2018 opened on 23 January 2017, and closed on 29 March 2017. 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 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 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 Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.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 2018 proposals are:

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

The ARC assessment process for 2018 used 27 College of Experts members across five discipline panels and was managed in the Research Management System (RMS). A total of 143 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Discovery Indigenous 2018.

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Funding levels and duration 

Funding of up to $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 $99,369 or $116,905 or $151,977 or $175,360 or $210,430, (2016$) including 30 per cent on-costs.

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Summary of Outcomes 

The ARC received a total of 38 proposals for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2018, seven proposals more than Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2017.

The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2018 is 34.2 per cent, with a higher percentage of allocation of requested funds compared to Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2017 (Table 1).

Of the 38 proposals considered in this round, 12 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 2018 is 33.3 per cent (Table 2).

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

Funding year

Proposals considered

Proposals recommended

Success rate

Requested funds over project life (all proposals)

Requested funds over project life (recommended proposals)

Funds allocated over project life

Allocation as a percentage of request

2017

31

11

35.5%

$23,490,410

$7,154,177

$4,634,891

64.8%

2018

38

13

34.2%

$29,013,827

$10,202,501

$7,210,045

70.7%


Table 2. Success rates for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) for recommended Discovery Indigenous proposals 2018

DAATSIA Salary Level

Proposals with DAATSIA considered

Proposals with DAATSIA recommended

Success rate

Salary Level 1

1

0

0.0%

Salary Level 2

1

0

0.0%

Salary Level 3

5

1

20.0%

Salary Level 4

2

1

50.0%

Salary Level 5

3

2

66.7%

Total

12

4

33.3%

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Outcomes by discipline panels 

Table 3. Comparison of proposal numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for recommended Discovery Indigenous 2018 proposals by discipline panel

Panel †

Proposals considered

Proposals  recommended

Success rate

Requested funds over project life for all proposals considered

Requested funds over project life for recommended proposals

Indicative funds over project
 life for recommended proposals

Return
Rate for  recommended proposals

BSB

3

2

66.7%

$2,561,197

$1,382,798

$971,296

70.2%

EIC

2

1

50.0%

$2,517,663

$813,625

$573,032

70.4%

HCA

16

4

25.0%

$9,734,223

$2,883,104

$2,113,452

73.3%

MPCE

1

0

0.0%

$1,089,952

$0

$0

0.0%

SBE

16

6

37.5%

$13,110,792

$5,122,974

$3,552,265

69.3%

Total

38

13

34.2%

$29,013,827

$10,202,501

$7,210,045

70.7%

BSBBiological Sciences and Biotechnology; EICEngineering, Information and Computing Sciences; MPCEMathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences; HCA—Humanities and Creative Arts; SBESocial, Behavioural and Economic Sciences

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Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities 

Table 4. Recommended funding and success rate for Discovery Indigenous 2018 proposals by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Proposals considered

Proposals

recommended

Success
rate 

Recommended funds (over project life)

Environmental change

4

2

50.0%

$1,183,021

Health

21

7

33.3%

$4,017,640

Soil and water

2

0

0%

$0

Unspecified

11

4

36.4%

$2,009,384

Total

38

13

34.2%

$7,210,045

Total within Science and Research Priorities

27

9

33.3%

$5,200,661

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

71.1%

69.2%

 

72.1%

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Outcomes by Administering Organisation 

Table 5. Numbers of proposals and success rates for recommended Discovery Indigenous 2018 proposals by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Proposals considered

Proposals recommended

Success rate (%)

Recommended funding over project life 

Australian Capital Territory

1

0

0.0

$0

University of Canberra

1

0

0.0

$0

New South Wales

12

4

33.3

$2,140,531

Australian Catholic University

2

1

50.0

$373,754

Southern Cross University

1

0

0.0

$0

The University of New South Wales

2

0

0.0

$0

The University of Newcastle

1

0

0.0

$0

The University of Sydney

2

1

50.0

$678,640

University of Technology, Sydney

4

2

50.0

$1,088,137

Northern Territory

3

1

33.3

$689,924

Charles Darwin University

3

1

33.3

$689,924

Queensland

6

1

16.7

$320,249

Griffith University

3

1

33.3

$320,249

James Cook University

1

0

0.0

$0

The University of Queensland

1

0

0.0

$0

University of Southern Queensland

1

0

0.0

$0

South Australia

2

1

50.0

$512,688

The Flinders University of South Australia

1

0

0.0

$0

The University of Adelaide

1

1

100.0

$512,688

Tasmania

1

1

100.0

$458,608

University of Tasmania

1

1

100.0

$458,608

Victoria

10

4

40.0

$1,781,238

Deakin University

2

1

50.0

$497,807

Monash University

3

0

0.0

$0

RMIT University

2

1

50.0

$430,661

The University of Melbourne

2

1

50.0

$573,032

Victoria University

1

1

100.0

$279,738

Western Australia

3

1

33

$1,306,807

Curtin University

2

1

50.0

$1,306,807

Edith Cowan University

1

0

0.0

$0

Total

38

13

34.2

$7,210,045

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Career age and gender 

A total of 120 Chief Investigators (CIs), including 12 Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award Candidates (DAATSIA), were named on all proposals considered in this round. Of these, 62 were female CIs and 57 were male CIs and one CI has chosen not to specify their gender. The success rate for female CIs and male CIs in this round of Discovery Indigenous proposals is 41.9 per cent and 21.1 per cent respectively. Of 12 CIs who applied for DAATSIA, the success rate for female DAATSIA Candidates and male DAATSIA Candidates is 42.9 per cent and 20.0 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 have chosen not specify their gender (2.8 per cent), and CIs who did not specify the date of completion of their PhD or who do not hold a PhD (8.3 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1. Participation and success rate of Chief Investigators (CIs) in Discovery Indigenous 2018 by gender and career age*

* 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 recommended Discovery Indigenous proposals 2018

Gender of DAATSIA Candidates

No of DAATSIA considered

No of DAATSIA recommended

Success rate

Female

7

3

42.9 %

Male

5

1

20.0 %

Total

12

4

33.33 %

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International Collaboration 

Applicants foreshadowed 27 instances of collaboration with researchers in 11 overseas locations on 15 proposals. Of the proposals recommended for funding, six foreshadowed 15 instances of collaboration with researchers in nine overseas locations.

Figure 2. International collaborations by location in recommended Discovery Indigenous 2018 proposals

  • United States of America, 4
  • New Zealand, 3
  • Switzerland, 1
  • Kenya, 1
  • Germany, 1
  • Canada, 2
  • Papua New Guinea, 1
  • France, 1
  • Indonesia, 1

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