30 September 2020

The ARC is committed to supporting the Australian research sector and is focused on continuing to provide flexible, effective and practical measures to ensure researchers can continue to participate in ARC schemes. 2020 has presented considerable challenges and it is important to reiterate the mechanisms we have in place to support researchers preparing applications:

Extensions

All upcoming ARC Grant Opportunity dates are published on the ARC Grants Calendar, at this stage we are not expecting further changes to these indicative dates or blanket extensions to the application deadlines because we are trying to minimise the cumulative impact of COVID-19 on future rounds of funding.

To assist with the impacts on early and mid-career researchers who have specific eligibility timeframes to apply for the DECRA and Future Fellowships schemes, a one year, automatic eligibility extension for all researchers currently in their final year of eligibility for both schemes has now been introduced. Researchers in their final year of eligibility can therefore choose to apply in 2021, using the one-year extension allowed by the ARC, or apply within the standard eligibility timeframes by applying in 2020. A researcher in their final year of eligibility, for either scheme, cannot apply in both 2020 and 2021.

In accordance with ARC Grant Guidelines there is an existing process whereby researchers can seek, through their university research office, short extensions to application submission deadlines where they have experienced exceptional circumstances that have significantly affected the preparation of an application. All extension requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Pre-award guidance

To coincide with the latest Grant Opportunity openings and to complement our previous Post Award COVID-19 advice—we have published Pre Award Guidance for preparing applications. We hope researchers and research administrators find these new general FAQs useful in preparing applications for the open and upcoming grant opportunities. We will continue to add to these FAQs if new issues arise. 

As grant opportunities open, the ARC has continued to engage with stakeholders, including hosting webinars. Our research office information webinars have proven very popular, providing a valuable forum for ARC to communicate to and engage with and Research Office staff.

Assessment criteria and Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE)

Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) is a key component of the Investigator/Capability assessment criterion and is an essential mechanism in ARC schemes to enable evaluation of a researcher’s activities, outputs and achievements, in the context of career and life opportunities and experiences, including significant career interruptions.

The ARC recognises the unforeseen circumstances that 2020 has brought about, and the ROPE Statement  has been updated to enable researchers to identify the extent to which their research opportunity has been impacted in an application. You will see some changes to the category descriptions, including two new categories for: 

  • Disaster management and recovery
  • Limited or no access to facilities and resources

Career interruptions arising from COVID-19 can be included under ROPE for consideration by assessors. Advice about how to do this is included in the new Grant Opportunity Instructions to Applicants.

Minimal changes to Grant Guidelines

With the introduction of multi-year Grant Guidelines, we will be using the existing Grant Guidelines for all open and upcoming grant opportunities opening this year. This means minimal changes to the application requirements, except for new personal material interest questions (more information about this in the Updated ARC Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy article.)

All requirements of the current Grant Guidelines must continue to be met, including for some ARC schemes minimum cash and/or in-kind contributions from the Administering Organisation and/or Participating Organisations. However, the ARC understands that the level of co-contribution pledged above and beyond the minimum threshold is likely to be minimal in future applications due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those schemes where Grant Guidelines do not require minimum co-contributions by participating organisations, we also understand that the level of cash and/or in-kind contributions pledged by Administering Organisations and other Participating Organisations to show support for a proposed research project are likely to be reduced in future applications due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.