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 fourth data report (updated November 2019), 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 2019, and Linkage Projects applied for in 2018.

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, 63.9 per cent of applications received and 62.0 per cent of projects funded identified as involving interdisciplinary research in 2019
  • The success rate of interdisciplinary projects was 20.83 per cent
  • 'Methodology' was the most frequently indicated interdisciplinary element of applications and funded projects (82.8 per cent and 83.2 per cent respectively)
  • The primary 2-digit Field of Research with the highest proportion of interdisciplinary applications was 'Medical and Health Sciences' (94.9 per cent of applications)
  • The primary 2-digit Field of Research with the lowest proportion of interdisciplinary applications was 'Physical Sciences' (31.6 per cent of applications)

Summary of outcomes

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

Of the 5482 applications received for funding under all schemes, 3505 (or 63.9 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 (%)

DE19

735

1162

63.3

DP19

1752

2921

60.0

FL19

116

149

77.9

FT19

435

589

73.9

IC19

22

25

88.0

IH19

12

13

92.3

IN19

25

31

80.6

LE19

113

144

78.5

LP18

295

448

65.8

Total

3505

5482

63.9

Of the 1169 research projects funded under all schemes, 730 (or 62 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 (%)

DE19

129

200

64.5

DP19

377

654

57.6

FL19

16

17

94.1

FT19

73

100

73.0

IC19

6

6

100.0

IH19

4

4

100.0

IN19

9

12

75.0

LE19

27

36

75.0

LP18

89

140

63.6

Total

730

1169

62.0

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 13.8 per cent under the Laureate Fellowships scheme to 36 per cent under the Discovery Indigenous 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 Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme (33.3 per cent versus 0 per cent of non-IDR applications).

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 (%)

DE19

735

129

17.6

427

71

16.6

1162

200

17.2

DP19

1752

377

21.5

1169

277

23.7

2921

654

22.4

FL19

116

16

13.8

33

1

3.0

149

17

11.4

FT19

435

73

16.8

154

27

17.5

589

100

17.0

IC19

22

6

27.3

3

0

0.0

25

6

24.0

IH19

12

4

33.3

1

0

0.0

13

4

30.8

IN19

25

9

36.0

6

3

50.0

31

12

38.7

LE19

113

27

23.9

31

9

29.0

144

36

25.0

LP18

295

89

30.2

153

51

33.3

448

140

31.3

Total

3505

730

20.83

1977

439

22.2

5482

1169

21.3

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 (82.8 per cent of applications and 83.2 per cent of funded projects). This was followed by 'Investigatory Team' (64.9 per cent of applications and to 64.1 per cent for funded projects), 'Design' (45.7 per cent of applications and 44.5 per cent for funded projects) and 'Other' (6.4 per cent of applications and 4.9 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 2019*

*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

2903

3505

82.8%

607

730

83.2%

Design

1603

3505

45.7%

325

730

44.5%

Investigatory team

2275

3505

64.9%

468

730

64.1%

Other

223

3505

6.4%

36

730

4.9%

Figure 1. Instances of IDR element selected on research applications for funding commencing in 2019

  • Red—Funded IDR projects
  • Blue—IDR applications
  • Methodology—Red 83%, Blue 83%
  • Investigatory Team—Red 64%, Blue 65%
  • Design—Red 45%, Blue 46%
  • Other—Red 5%, Blue 6%

When comparing elements across all schemes for funded projects (Figure 2), 'Methodology' made up 83 per cent of all instances identified, followed by 'Investigatory Team' (64 per cent), 'Design' (45 per cent) and 'Other' (5 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

DE19

Applications received

635

251

386

61

DP19

Applications received

1455

1315

716

82

FL19

Applications received

93

73

63

12

FT19

Applications received

371

216

224

42

IC19

Applications received

21

22

15

0

IH19

Applications received

11

12

7

3

IN19

Applications received

20

21

11

1

LE19

Applications received

68

100

43

11

LP18

Applications received

229

265

138

11

Total

Applications received

2903

2275

1603

223

DE19

Projects funded

111

28

64

12

DP19

Projects funded

312

271

153

10

FL19

Projects funded

14

10

10

1

FT19

Projects funded

63

38

41

5

IC19

Projects funded

6

6

3

2

IH19

Projects funded

4

4

3

2

IN19

Projects funded

6

8

4

0

LE19

Projects funded

19

24

10

1

LP18

Projects funded

72

79

34

5

Total

Projects funded

607

468

325

36

Figure 2. Instances of IDR element on funded research projects commencing in 2019 (incl. all LP18)

    • Methodology—Blue 42%
    • Investigatory Team—Orange 33%
    • Design—Green 23%
    • Other—Yellow  2%

    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 Medical and Health Sciences (94.9 per cent), Studies in Creative Arts and Writing (86.7 per cent) and Agricultural and Veterinary Science (81.3 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 2019 (incl. LP18) by 2-digit FoR

    Primary 2-digit Field of Research code

    IDR projects funded (no.)

    Total projects funded (no.)

    Proportion IDR (%)

    01 Mathematical Sciences

    25

    53

    47.2

    02 Physical Sciences

    24

    76

    31.6

    03 Chemical Sciences

    60

    80

    75.0

    04 Earth Sciences

    27

    44

    61.4

    05 Environmental Sciences

    24

    33

    72.7

    06 Biological Sciences

    111

    173

    64.2

    07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

    13

    16

    81.3

    08 Information and Computing Sciences

    32

    76

    42.1

    09 Engineering

    124

    191

    64.9

    10 Technology

    27

    45

    60.0

    11 Medical and Health Sciences

    37

    39

    94.9

    12 Built Environment and Design

    11

    14

    78.6

    13 Education

    16

    27

    59.3

    14 Economics

    13

    28

    46.4

    15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

    5

    7

    71.4

    16 Studies in Human Society

    62

    82

    75.6

    17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

    26

    57

    45.6

    18 Law and Legal Studies

    15

    22

    68.2

    19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

    13

    15

    86.7

    20 Language, Communication and Culture

    25

    35

    71.4

    21 History and Archaeology

    24

    36

    66.7

    22 Philosophy and Religious Studies

    16

    20

    80.0

    Total

    730

    439

    62.4