Discovery Indigenous Selection Report for funding commencing in 2024
The Discovery Indigenous scheme provides grant funding to support research projects led by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researcher. Discovery Indigenous grants include support for Discovery Australian and Torres Strait Island Awards (DAATSIAs) which are fellowships available to eligible Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers.
The objectives of the Discovery Indigenous scheme are to:
- support excellent basic and applied research and research training by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers as individuals and as teams;
- support national and international research collaboration;
- enhance the scale and focus of research in Australian Government priority areas; and
- support and retain established Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers in higher education institutions.
Applications for funding commencing in 2024 opened on 23 November 2022 and closed on 23 February 2023. Applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines outcomes from the selection process for that round.
These recommendations are based on advice from the ARC Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) which:
- assigned independent assessors to review the applications
- assessed applications and reviewed assessments made by independent assessors
- reviewed candidates’ comments on assessors’ reports
- ranked each application relative to the others on the basis of the application, the assessors’ reports and candidates’ responses to those assessments
- assessed and recommended budgets;
and, advice from the ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP) Eligibility Committee which:
- considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the members of the ARC College of Experts or independent assessors
- where required, sought advice from the ARC’s Medical Research Advisory Group
- made recommendations to the CEO in respect of ineligible applications.
This report reflects the outcomes approved by the Minister. Unless otherwise specified, data represented in this report exclude withdrawn applications.
All applications that meet the eligibility criteria for the Discovery Indigenous 2024 applications were assessed and merit ranked using the following assessment criteria:
- Investigator(s)/Capability (35%)
- Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE);
- time and capacity to undertake the research;
- evidence of experience in research training, mentoring and supervision (where appropriate); and
- the capability of the investigator or team to build collaborations both within Australia and internationally.
- Project quality and innovation (40%)
- contribution to an important gap in knowledge or significant problem;
- novelty/originality and innovation of the proposed research (including any new methods, technologies, theories or ideas that will be developed);
- clarity of the hypothesis, theories and research questions;
- cohesiveness of the project design and implementation plan (including the appropriateness of the aim, conceptual framework, method, data and/or analyses);
- extent to which the research has the potential to enhance international collaboration; and
- enhancement of project quality by DAATSIA.
- Benefit (15%)
Describe the potential benefits including the:
- new or advanced knowledge resulting from outcomes of the research;
- economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for Australia and international communities; and
- potential contribution to capacity in the Australian Government priority areas.
- Feasibility (10%)
- cost-effectiveness of the research and its value for money;
- suitability of the environment for the DAATSIA candidate and their project, and for HDR students where appropriate;
- availability of the necessary facilities to complete the project; and
- extent to which the project’s design, participants and requested budget create confidence in the timely and successful completion of the project.
If the project involves research pertaining to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities describe:
- the strategies for enabling collaboration with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities (for example, dialogue/collaboration with an Indigenous cultural mentor);
- any existing or developing, supportive and high-quality relationships with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities; and
any personal affiliations with local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities that can facilitate the proposed research.
The ARC assessment process for Discovery Indigenous 2024 involved 7 College of Experts members as part of one multidisciplinary panel and was managed in RMS. A total of 79 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC.
Funding of between $30,000 and $500,000 per annum for up to 5 consecutive years may be awarded for each Discovery Indigenous application, including, annual salary contributions for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) recipients of $109,080 to $230,992 (including 30 per cent on-costs).
The ARC received a total of 34 applications for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2024, of which no applications were withdrawn.
Nine Discovery Indigenous projects are approved for funding commencing in 2024, shown in Table 1. The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2024 is 26.5 per cent. A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 1.
Of the unsuccessful applications in 2024, none were found not to meet eligibility requirements.
Table 1. Comparison of application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Discovery Indigenous applications from 2023 to 2024
|Funding year||Applications considered||Applications approved||Success rate (%)||Requested funds over project life for all applications considered ($)||Requested funds over project life for approved applications ($)||Funds allocated over project life for approved applications ($)||Return rate for approved applications (%)|
Of the 34 applications considered this round, there was funding requested for 21 DAATSIAs at one of 5 salary levels. The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous DAATSIA requests in 2024 is 28.6 per cent and is shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Success rates for Discovery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) for approved Discovery Indigenous applications 2024
|DAATSIA Salary Level||Number of DAATSIAs considered||Number of DAATSIAs approved||Success rate (%)|
|Salary Level 1||2||0||0|
|Salary Level 2||1||0||0|
|Salary Level 3||6||1||16.7|
|Salary Level 4||7||3||42.9|
|Salary Level 5||5||2||40.0|
A summary of outcomes by discipline panel is shown in Table 3.
Table 3. Application numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Discovery Indigenous 2024 applications by discipline
|Discipline*||Applications considered||Applications approved||Success rate (%)||Requested funds over project life for all applications considered ($)||Requested funds over project life for approved applications ($)||Funds over project
life for approved applications ($)
* BSB – Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EIC – Engineering, Information and Computing Sciences, HCA – Humanities and Creative Arts; MPCE – Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences; SBE – Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences
A summary of outcomes by Administering Organisation is shown in Table 4.
Table 4. Numbers of applications and success rates for approved Discovery Indigenous 2024 applications by Administering Organisation
|Administering Organisation||Applications Considered||Applications Approved||Success rate (%)||Funds over project life for approved applications ($)|
|Australian Capital Territory||3||1||33.3||$747,494|
|The Australian National University||3||1||33.3||$747,494|
|New South Wales||11||5||45.5||$3,906,743|
|Australian Catholic University||1||0||0||$0|
|The University of New England||1||0||0||$0|
|The University of New South Wales||2||0||0||$0|
|The University of Newcastle||1||1||100.0||$370,408|
|The University of Sydney||1||1||100.0||$1,415,053|
|University of Technology Sydney||3||2||66.7||$1,320,201|
|Western Sydney University||2||1||50.0||$801,081|
|Charles Darwin University||3||0||0||$0|
|Central Queensland University||1||0||0||$0|
|The University of Queensland||4||1||25.0||$1,546,744|
|The University of Adelaide||1||0||0||$0|
|University of Tasmania||1||0||0||$0|
|The University of Melbourne||5||1||20.0||$1,943,920|
Of the 122 Chief Investigators (CIs), including 21 DAATSIAs candidates, considered in this round, 75 (61.5%) were female and 47 (38.5%) were male. The success rate for female and male CIs is 18.7 percent and 27.7 percent respectively.
Success rates of CIs by career age and gender in Discovery Indigenous 2024 round are presented in Figure 1. CIs who did not specify the date of completion of their PhD (or equivalent) or who do not hold a PhD are not represented in the figure below.
Figure 1. Participation and success rate of CIs in Discovery Indigenous 2024 by gender and career age*^
* Career age is calculated as years since PhD based on the relevant qualification as selected in the application.
^ Calculated career age does not take career interruptions into consideration.
Table 5. Success rates by gender for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) candidates, for approved Discovery Indigenous applications 2024
|Gender of DAATSIA candidate||No of DAATSIAs considered||No of DAATSIAs approved||Success rate (%)|
Among 34 of the applications considered, applicants foreshadowed 32 instances of collaboration with researchers in 10 overseas locations. Of the applications approved for funding, 4 foreshadowed 4 instances of collaboration with researchers in 4 overseas locations (Figure 2).
Figure 2. International collaborations by location in approved Discovery Indigenous 2024 applications*
* The international collaboration locations are listed in Figure 2.