Overview

One of the actions identified in the ARC Statement of Support for Interdisciplinary Research is for the ARC to provide data on interdisciplinary applications.

This is the third data report (updated November 2018), enabled by the inclusion in applications of questions about whether the proposed research is interdisciplinary. The report includes the outcomes of all selection rounds for funding commencing in 2018 except Linkage Projects, which is still underway, for which data is not available.

The selection rounds included are:

Discovery Program

  • Discovery Projects (DP)
  • Discovery Indigenous (IN)
  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE)
  • Future Fellowships (FT)
  • Australian Laureate Fellowships (FL)

Linkage Program

  • Industrial Transformation Research Hubs (IH)
  • Industrial Transformation Training Centres (IC)
  • Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LE)
  • Special Research Initiatives (SR)

The analysis of data arising from the interdisciplinary research (IDR) questions, is the first step by the ARC in seeking information to help it better understand the IDR profile of ARC-funded researchers. It informs future ARC policy and assists with the appropriate assessment of applications.

The report is indicative of the volume and range of interdisciplinary applications and outcomes. It should be noted that these are both subject to large variations between disciplines and in interdisciplinary intensity, so that drawing any direct conclusions about application versus success rate needs to be approached with caution.

Key figures

•    Overall, 62.8 per cent of applications received and 62.1 per cent of projects funded identified as involving interdisciplinary research in 2018
•    The success rate of interdisciplinary projects was 18.6 per cent
•    'Methodology' was the most frequently indicated interdisciplinary element of applications and funded projects (81.9 per cent and 82.8 per cent respectively)
•    The primary 2-digit Field of Research with the highest proportion of interdisciplinary applications was ‘Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences' (87.5 per cent of applications)
•    The primary 2-digit Field of Research with the lowest proportion of interdisciplinary applications was ‘Studies in Creative Arts and Writing' (20.0 per cent of applications)

Summary of outcomes

What proportion of total applications received by the ARC identified as involving IDR? 

Of the 5268 applications received for funding under all schemes, 3306 (or 62.8 per cent) identified as involving IDR.

Table 1. Proportion of IDR applications received

Scheme round

IDR applications received (no.)

Total applications received (no.)

Proportion IDR applications (%)

DE18

715

1212

59.0

DP18

1864

3136

59.4

FL18

108

134

80.6

FT18

392

509

77.0

IC18

26

28

92.9

IH18

9

9

100.0

IN18

29

38

76.3

LE18

135

171

78.9

SR18

28

31

90.3

Total

3306

5268

62.8

Of the 990 research projects funded under all schemes, 615 (or 62.1 per cent) identified as involving IDR.

Table 2. Proportion of IDR projects funded

Scheme round

IDR projects funded (no.)

Total projects funded (no.)

Proportion IDR funded projects (%)

DE18

116

197

58.9

DP18

340

594

57.2

FL18

12

16

75.0

FT18

79

100

79.0

IC18

7

7

100.0

IH18

4

4

100.0

IN18

11

13

84.6

LE18

39

50

78.0

SR18

7

9

77.8

Total

615

990

62.1

What is the success rate of IDR applications compared to the overall success rates?

The success rate of applications that indicated they involved IDR ranged from 11.1 per cent under the Laureate Fellowship scheme to 44.4 per cent under the Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme.

Success rates for IDR applications are generally on par with overall success rates achieved for each scheme, with the largest differences recorded under the Discovery Indigenous scheme (37.9 per cent versus 34.2 per cent) and the Special Research Initiatives scheme (25 per cent versus 29 per cent).

Table 3. Success rates for IDR and non-IDR applications

Scheme round

IDR applications received (no.)

IDR projects funded (no.)

IDR success rate (%)

Non-IDR applications received (no.)

Non-IDR projects funded (no.)

Non-IDR success rate (%)

Total applications received (no.)

Total projects  funded (no.)

Total success rate (%)

DE18

715

116

16.2

497

81

16.3

1212

197

16.3

DP18

1864

340

18.2

1272

254

20.0

3136

594

18.9

FL18

108

12

11.1

26

4

15.4

134

16

11.9

FT18

392

79

20.2

117

21

17.9

509

100

19.6

IC18

26

7

26.9

2

0

0.0

28

7

25.0

IH18

9

4

44.4

 

 

 

9

4

44.4

IN18

29

11

37.9

9

2

22.2

38

13

34.2

LE18

135

39

28.9

36

11

30.6

171

50

29.2

SR18

28

7

25.0

3

2

66.7

31

9

29.0

Total

3306

615

18.6

1962

375

19.1

5268

990

18.8

How is the research interdisciplinary? By Design, Investigatory Team, Methodology or Other?

Of the applications across all schemes that identified as involving IDR, the largest proportion selected 'Methodology' as the means by which the research was IDR (81.9 per cent of applications and 82.8 per cent of funded projects). This was followed by 'Investigatory Team' (62.8 per cent of applications increasing to 64.7 per cent for funded projects), 'Design' (42.7 per cent of applications and 42.6 per cent for funded projects) and 'Other' (6.1 per cent of applications and 6.3 per cent for funded projects). Note that researchers were able to select more than one category.

Table 4. Instances of IDR element for IDR applications for funding commencing in 2018*

*Note: This is a multiple response question so the total number of elements selected will be greater than the number of applications/funded projects.

IDR element

Element selected applications received (no.)

All IDR applications received (no.)

Proportion of IDR applications (%)

Element selected funded projects (no.)

All IDR projects funded (no.)

Proportion of IDR applications (%)

Methodology

2706

3306

81.9

509

615

82.8

Design

1413

3306

42.7

262

615

42.6

Investigatory team

2075

3306

62.8

398

615

64.7

Other

203

3306

6.1

39

615

6.3

Figure 1. Instances of IDR element selected on research applications for funding commencing in 2018

  • Red—Funded IDR projects
  • Blue—IDR applications
  • Methodology—Red 83%, Blue 82%
  • Investigatory Team—Red 65%, Blue 62%
  • Design—Red 43%, Blue 43%
  • Other—Red 6%, Blue 6%

    When comparing elements across all schemes for funded projects (Figure 2), 'Methodology' made up 41.6 per cent of all instances identified, followed by 'Investigatory Team' (34.7 per cent), 'Design' (20.8 per cent) and 'Other' (2.9 per cent).

    Table 5. Instances of IDR element for applications received and funded*

    *Note: This is a multiple response question so the total number of elements selected will be greater than the number of applications/funded projects.

    Scheme round

     

    Methodology

    Investigatory team

    Design

    Other

    DE18

    Applications received

    610

    236

    352

    43

    DP18

    Applications received

    1531

    1362

    745

    96

    FL18

    Applications received

    82

    74

    46

    14

    FT18

    Applications received

    331

    198

    193

    33

    IC18

    Applications received

    24

    26

    13

    3

    IH18

    Applications received

    7

    9

    4

    0

    IN18

    Applications received

    18

    26

    17

    2

    LE18

    Applications received

    84

    121

    33

    12

    SR18

    Applications received

    19

    23

    10

    0

    Total

    Applications received

    2706

    2075

    1413

    203

    DE18

    Projects funded

    99

    38

    47

    7

    DP18

    Projects funded

    290

    245

    147

    20

    FL18

    Projects funded

    12

    8

    4

    0

    FT18

    Projects funded

    61

    45

    40

    9

    IC18

    Projects funded

    6

    7

    3

    1

    IH18

    Projects funded

    3

    4

    1

    0

    IN18

    Projects funded

    7

    10

    7

    1

    LE18

    Projects funded

    25

    35

    9

    1

    SR18

    Projects funded

    6

    6

    4

    0

    Total

    Projects funded

    509

    398

    262

    39

    Figure 2. Proportion of IDR element on funded research projects commencing in 2018

    •  Methodology—Blue 41%
    • Investigatory Team—Red 35%
    • Design—Green 21%
    • Other—Purple 3% 

      By Field of Research

      In what 2-digit Fields of Research (FoR) are the largest proportion of IDR projects recorded as a proportion of total projects?

      The 2-digit FoRs with the highest proportion of IDR applications (that is, IDR applications as a proportion of total applications) were Agricultural and Veterinary Science (87.5 per cent), Medical and Health Sciences (82.9 per cent) and History and Archaeology (80 per cent).

      Figure 3. Proportion of funded IDR projects commencing in 2018 by 2-digit FoR

      • A graph of proportion of funded IDR projects by 2-digit FoR.
      • Blue—IDR projects funded.
      • Red—Non-IDR projects funded

      Table 6. Funded projects commencing in 2018 by 2-digit FoR

      Primary 2-digit Field of Research code

      IDR projects funded (no.)

      Total projects funded (no.)

      Proportion IDR (%)

      01 Mathematical Sciences

      21

      54

      38.9

      02 Physical Sciences

      30

      66

      45.5

      03 Chemical Sciences

      31

      49

      63.3

      04 Earth Sciences

      21

      40

      52.5

      05 Environmental Sciences

      15

      23

      65.2

      06 Biological Sciences

      121

      173

      69.9

      07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

      7

      8

      87.5

      08 Information and Computing Sciences

      28

      64

      43.8

      09 Engineering

      116

      173

      67.1

      10 Technology

      30

      41

      73.2

      11 Medical and Health Sciences

      29

      35

      82.9

      12 Built Environment and Design

      5

      7

      71.4

      13 Education

      11

      23

      47.8

      14 Economics

      9

      18

      50.0

      15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

      5

      10

      50.0

      16 Studies in Human Society

      53

      69

      76.8

      17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

      22

      47

      46.8

      18 Law and Legal Studies

      13

      20

      65.0

      19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

      1

      5

      20.0

      20 Language, Communication and Culture

      17

      26

      65.4

      21 History and Archaeology

      20

      25

      80.0

      22 Philosophy and Religious Studies

      10

      14

      71.4

      Total

      615

      990

      62.1