11 October 2021

Throughout this year, the ARC's Executive Directors have virtually hosted webinars on topics ranging from writing competitive applications and rejoinders to post-award matters.

The ARC’s Executive Directors are experts drawn from the research and innovation sector who bring discipline expertise to the ARC’s strategic policy and operational activities. They also have an important role in sector outreach, and this year they have engaged in over 40 webinar sessions across universities from every state in Australia. It is anticipated that by the end of 2021, all administering organisations will have taken up the opportunity to host Executive Director webinars for their researchers and research office staff.  

The sessions – small and large – have covered topics such as writing competitive applications and rejoinders, choosing the right scheme, finding suitable partner organisations, identifying the right time for a Fellowship application, as well as post-award matters including the impacts of COVID-19. Smaller sessions were often with groups focused on a particular scheme, while some larger sessions have been open to anyone who is interested in learning about the ARC and the opportunities that are available.  

The style of each session has been agreed with the administering organisation to meet the needs of their research community. It has been incredible to see the diversity and scale of attendance, in the hundreds in some instances, and perhaps one of the benefits of the online format. Sessions are run using different online systems (Zoom, Teams, WebEx) at the discretion of the Administering Organisation and this has allowed us to accommodate a large number of questions and answers, both written and live from the floor. 

While in-person campus visits certainly have their own particular benefits, it has been important to adapt and as a result stay engaged irrespective of lockdowns or travel restrictions. The sessions enable a sharing of information and open discussions about the hurdles that the research sector is facing, perceived or real. Understanding these challenges that the sector faces, and sharing our own perspectives with the sector, is particularly important in this time of lock downs and the different experiences that we are all having across the country.  

Participants have raised many important questions at these sessions about what makes a good application; the National Interest Test statement; about how they should space sequential applications for a fellowship; questions about the gender balance in success rates; and questions about how the medical eligibility processes work. If you have questions on topics like this and your university has not yet run an outreach session with us, please get in touch with your research office.  

We wish to extend our thanks to those who have already attended, for their great questions, stimulating discussions, all their useful feedback. We also wish to thank the administrative staff at universities and research offices for all their efforts in keeping the sessions running so smoothly.   

When travel restrictions are eased, we also hope that we will be able to return to more face-to-face information sharing, which has always been a valuable component of the ARC’s outreach activity.