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The National Interest Test statement

The National Interest Test (NIT) statement is a requirement in all applications for funding under the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). The purpose of the NIT is to demonstrate the societal benefits (economic, commercial, environmental, social, or cultural) of the proposed research beyond the academic community. The audience of the NIT is the general public - a different audience than the Application Project Summary, whose audience is the applicant’s peers. 

The NIT is a simple cohesive statement that demonstrates to a member of the general public how the proposed research can be of value to Australia.  

These statements deepen community understanding of why public money is being invested in each research project, and help Australia’s policymakers, community and industry draw on that research. Additionally, the statements provide an opportunity for applicants to promote the value of their research to the broader community.  

The ARC sought feedback on the NIT between May and October 2022 to test how researchers were finding the additional guidance on NITs provided in March 2022. In addition, the Statement of Expectation from the Minister for Education, the Hon. Jason Clare MP, directed that the NIT be clearer, simpler, and easier to understand.

Changes to the National Interest Test statement 

Following widespread consultation across the sector, the NIT will continue to be provided by researchers in each application. Key changes are: 

  • the considerations to be addressed in the statement have been refined, and the word limit has been increased in response to feedback 

  • NIT statements will be certified by the relevant Deputy Vice Chancellors of Research (DVCRs) as addressing the three considerations in plain English and that the statement is directed towards the public audience 

  • there will be no revisions to the NIT once submitted to ARC 

  • the NIT will be provided to assessors as an input to the peer review process. 

The Minister is the final decision-maker on all funding applications. 

The changes will not apply retrospectively and will apply to all scheme rounds opening to applications from 1 December 2022. 

What has changed?  

ChangePrevious National Interest Test Revised National Interest Test 
Word limit Up to 150 words Up to 200 words 
Questions to address  
  1. What is the project about? Describe the project in 1-2 sentences.
  2. What are the expected outcomes of the project? What gap is it addressing?
  3. How will the research benefit Australia (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially, or culturally)? How might the research be used?
  4. What translation and adoption pathway(s) might be used to achieve the outcome? For example, are there conditions that would need to be in place for the outcome to occur? If so, briefly describe them.
  1. What is the project about and what research gap is it addressing for Australia?
  2. How could the research benefit Australians (economically, socially, environmentally, commercially, or culturally)?
  3. How might you promote your research outcomes beyond academia to maximise understanding, translation, use and adoption of the research in future?
Consideration of the NIT

The NIT assessment is undertaken by the ARC CEO, separately to the peer assessment process. The NIT statements are a critical part of the funding recommendations to the Minister.

This is in addition to the processes that consider due diligence, eligibility, and peer review assessment of applications.

The ARC CEO is assisted in assessing NITs by ARC Executive Directors who are experts from academia, each responsible for a range of disciplines.

The Executive Directors may undertake the first assessment of the NIT and seek revisions and they are then subsequently considered by the CEO who may also seek revisions.

The ARC CEO must be satisfied with the NIT before submitting to the Minister. The Minister makes the final decision.

University DVCRs will certify in the application form that the NIT statement addresses the three considerations in plain English and is directed towards the public audience.

The NIT will be provided to assessors as an input to the peer review process.

Finally, the NIT will be provided to the Minister who makes the final decision on grant funding.


Which schemes does this new arrangement apply to?

The new arrangement will apply to all NCGP scheme rounds opening from 1 December 2022. 

Grant SchemePrevious National Interest TestRevised National Interest Test
LP22 Round 2YesNo

More information  

Frequently Asked Questions 

The ARC has published a range of NITs for successful projects.

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