Overview

The Discovery Indigenous scheme provides grant funding to support research projects led by an Aboriginal and 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 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
  • support and retain established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers in higher education institutions.

Selection process

Applications for funding commencing in 2022 opened on 25 November 2020 and closed on
17 March 2021. 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 Unless otherwise specified, data represented in this report exclude withdrawn applications.

Assessment criteria 

All applications that meet the eligibility criteria for the Discovery Indigenous 2022 applications were assessed and merit ranked using the following assessment criteria:

Investigator(s)/Capability (35%)

Describe:

  • 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%)

Describe the:

  • 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’s National Science and Research Priorities and other priorities identified by Government.

Feasibility (10%)

Describe the:

  • cost-effectiveness of the research and its value for money;
  • quality 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
  • how the design of the project and the expertise of the participants is sufficient to ensure that it can be completed within the proposed budget and timeframe.

 If the project involves Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research describe:

  • the strategies for enabling collaboration with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where appropriate (for example, dialogue/collaboration with an Indigenous cultural mentor); and
  • any existing or developing, supportive and high quality research communities.

Assessment process

The ARC assessment process for Discovery Indigenous 2022 involved 10 College of Experts members as part of one multidisciplinary panel and was managed in RMS. A total of 106 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC.

Funding levels and duration

Funding of between $30,000 and $500,000 per annum for up to 5 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 $106,195 to $224,884 (including 30 per cent on-costs).

Summary of outcomes

The ARC received a total of 35 applications for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2022, of which no applications were withdrawn.

Nine Discovery Indigenous projects are approved for funding commencing in 2022, shown Table 1. The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2022 is 25.7 per cent. A comparison of success rates and funding amounts is shown in Table 1.

Of the unsuccessful applications in 2022, 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 2021 to 2022

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 (%)

2021

24

9

37.5

$24,793,664

$10,408,491

$7,121,756

68.4

2022

35

9

25.7

$35,874,661

$10,239,740

$8,462,620

82.6

Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA)

Of the 35 applications considered this round, there was funding requested for 18 DAATSIAs at one of 5 salary levels. The overall success rate for Discovery Indigenous DAATSIA requests in 2022 is 16.7 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 2022

DAATSIA Salary Level

Number of DAATSIAs considered

Number of DAATSIAs  approved

Success rate (%)

Salary Level 1

0

0

0

Salary Level 2

2

1

50.0

Salary Level 3

9

1

11.1

Salary Level 4

5

1

20.0

Salary Level 5

2

0

0

Total

18

3

16.7

Outcomes by discipline 

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 2022 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 ($)

Return
Rate for approved applications (%)

BSB

5

3

60.0

$6,943,367

$3,619,326

$2,860,352

79.0

EIC

2

1

50.0

$2,458,589

$2,041,799

$1,752,795

85.8

HCA

11

4

36.4

$9,188,247

$3,183,480

$2,562,473

80.5

MPCE

3

0

0.0

$2,451,350

$0

$0

0.0

SBE

14

1

7.1

$14,833,108

$1,395,135

$1,287,000

92.2

Total

35

9

25.7

$35,874,661

$10,239,740

$8,462,620

82.6

* 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

Outcome by Science and Research Priorities 

A summary of outcomes by Science and Research Priorities is shown in Table 4.

Table 4.     Approved funding and success rate for Discovery Indigenous 2022 applications by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Applications considered

Applications

approved

Success
rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Advanced manufacturing

0

0

0

0

Cybersecurity

2

0

0

0

Energy

0

0

0

0

Environmental change

5

3

60.0

$2,860,352

Food

0

0

0

0

Health

13

4

30.8

$4,686,252

Resources

0

0

0

0

Soil and water

1

0

0

0

Transport

0

0

0

0

Unspecified

14

2

14.3

$916,016

Total

35

9

25.7

$8,462,620

Total within Science and Research Priorities

21

7

33.3

$7,546,604

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

60.0

77.8

 

89.2

Outcome by Administering Organisation 

A summary of outcomes by Administering Organisation is shown in Table 5.

Table 5.     Numbers of applications and success rates for approved Discovery Indigenous 2022 applications by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Applications considered

Applications

approved

Success rate (%)

Funds over project life for approved applications ($)

Australian Capital Territory

4

2

50

$1,646,457

The Australian National University

3

2

66.7

$1,646,457

University of Canberra

1

0

0

$0

New South Wales

14

3

21.4

$3,217,352

Australian Catholic University

1

0

0

$0

Macquarie University

3

0

0

$0

The University of New South Wales

4

1

25

$541,352

The University of Newcastle

2

0

0

$0

The University of Sydney

2

1

50

$1,389,000

University of Wollongong

2

1

50

$1,287,000

Northern Territory

3

2

66.7

$2,682,795

Charles Darwin University

3

2

66.7

$2,682,795

Queensland

5

0

0

$0

Griffith University

1

0

0

$0

Queensland University of Technology

1

0

0

$0

The University of Queensland

2

0

0

$0

University of the Sunshine Coast

1

0

0

$0

South Australia

1

1

100

$468,026

Flinders University

1

1

100

$468,026

Victoria

4

1

25

$447,990

Monash University

1

1

100

$447,990

Swinburne University of Technology

1

0

0

$0

The University of Melbourne

2

0

0

$0

Western Australia

4

0

0

$0

Curtin University

2

0

0

$0

The University of Western Australia

2

0

0

$0

Total

35

9

25.7

$8,462,620

Career age and gender

Of the 129 Chief Investigators (CIs), including 18 DAATSIAs candidates, considered in this round, 81 were female, 47 were male and one chose not to specify their gender. The success rate for female, male and unspecified CIs is 35.8 per cent, 31.9 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.

Success rates of CIs by career age and gender in Discovery Indigenous 2022 round are presented in Figure 1. CIs who did not provide gender information (0.8 per cent) and CIs who did not specify the date of completion of their PhD (or equivalent) or who do not hold a PhD (8.5 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1. Participation and success rate of CIs in Discovery Indigenous 2022 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 6.     Success rates by gender for Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA) candidates, for approved Discovery Indigenous applications 2022

Gender of DAATSIA candidate

No of DAATSIAs considered

No of DAATSIAs approved

Success rate (%)

Female

12

2

16.7

Male

6

1

16.7

Unspecified

0

0

0

Total

18

3

16.7

International Collaboration 

Among 22 of the applications considered, applicants foreshadowed 44 instances of collaboration with researchers in 14 overseas locations. Of the applications approved for funding, 6 foreshadowed 11 instances of collaboration with researchers in 6 overseas locations (Figure 2).

Figure 2.    International collaborations by location in approved Discovery Indigenous 2022 applications*

* The international collaboration locations are listed in Figure 2.