International—Overview of the ARC

Presentation Overview

  • Australian Research Council overview
  • National Competitive Grants Program (including opportunities for international researchers)
  • Excellence in Research for Australia
  • National Innovation and Science Agenda

The Australian Research Council

  • Established as an independent body under the Australian Research Council Act 2001, the ARC is a Commonwealth entity and reports to the Minister for Education.
  • The ARC is responsible for:
    • funding excellent research and research training
    • measuring the quality, engagement and impact of research, and
    • providing policy advice on research matters. 
  • The ARC administers the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP), through which it supports excellent research and research training across all disciplines, awarding funding on the basis of a competitive peer review process.
  • Clinical and other medical research is primarily supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

2017–18 Federal Budget
(Approx. AU$464.3 billion)

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2017–18 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated to agencies are shown by the size of the rectangles of each department and agency. 

2017–18 Federal Budget
(Approx. AU$464.3 billion)

Diagram to illustrate proportion of funding allocated in 2017–18 Federal Budget to all Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated to agencies are shown by the size of the rectangles of each department and agency. This graph draws attention with red regions to the proportion of R&D allocated funding.

2017–18 Federal investment in R and D
(Approx. AU$10 Billion) 

Diagram to illustrate proportion of R&D funding allocated in 2017–18 Federal Budget through Australian departments and agencies. Dollars allocated are shown by the area of the rectangles.

Source: Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables 2017–18

2017–18 Federal investment in R and D
(Approx. AU$10 Billion) 

Commonwealth investment in R&D 2009-2016.

Source: Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables 2017–18.

Selected research agencies 2009–2016 funding ($m)

Selected research agencies, 2009-2016 funding.

Source: Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables 2016–17.

National Competitive Grants Program

Graphical representation of schemes in the ARC's National Competitive Grants Program. Each scheme is a rectangle with the area of the rectangle representing  ARC funding (new and ongoing projects) for 2016.

ARC NCGP funding by Fields of Research 2009–2017 

 ARC NCGP funding by Fields of Research 2009–2017: Stacked percentage area chart showing ARC NCGP funding by two digit Fields of Research 2009–2017 as a proportion of the whole.

NCGP Funding by Institution (%) 2009–2017

ARC NCGP funding by Institution by percentage for the period 2009–2017.

ARC NCGP funding by scheme 2009–2016

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Stacked area chart showing ARC funding by scheme through the years 2009–2016 (New and ongoing). Discovery Projects makes up the largest component. 

Discovery Program

  • The ARC's Discovery funding schemes recognise the importance of fundamental research to the national innovation system.
  • Fund excellent, internationally competitive fundamental research by individuals and teams that will produce high quality outcomes.
  • Build Australia’s research capacity by supporting and facilitating research training and career opportunities for excellent Australian and international researchers.

Schemes:

Key Discovery schemes

  • Discovery Projects scheme supports excellent research by individual researchers or research teams
  • Discovery Indigenous scheme supports research and research training and development of research expertise by individual Indigenous Australian researchers or research teams
  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) scheme supports excellent research by early career researchers in both teaching and research and research-only positions
  • Future Fellowships scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance by outstanding mid-career researchers
  • Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme supports ground breaking research by outstanding researchers and research leaders of international reputation

Key funding features of Discovery schemes

  • Discovery Projects and Discovery Indigenous schemes primarily award project costs (travel, equipment, staff, etc.)
  • DECRA scheme primarily awards a salary for the awardee, with a small allocation of project costs
  • Future Fellowships primarily awards a salary for the awardee and a small portion of non-salary funding
  • Laureate Fellowships scheme awards a salary top-up plus funding for a team of postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers
  • Each scheme has different selection criteria, rules and funding limits, as each serves a different purpose

Discovery Projects—return and success rates

Discovery Projects scheme return and success rates 2009–2017.

DECRA—return and success rates

Discovery Early Career Research Award scheme return and success rates 2009–2017.

Linkage Program

  • The ARC's Linkage funding schemes aim to encourage and extend cooperative approaches to research and improve the use of research outcomes by strengthening links within Australia’s innovation system and with innovation systems internationally.
  • Support excellent collaborative research initiatives involving partnerships between higher education organisations and with other sectors in Australia and internationally.

Schemes: 

Key Linkage schemes

  • Linkage Projects scheme supports collaborative research projects with organisations outside the higher education sector (government, industry, business, end-users). 
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme supports existing and emerging research areas through funding of large scale cooperative initiatives so that expensive infrastructure, equipment and facilities can be shared between higher education organisations and industry.
  • ARC Centres of Excellence are prestigious foci of expertise that promote a high level of national and international collaboration by world class, internationally competitive research teams who investigate and find solutions to challenging and important Australian and international problems.
  • Special Research Initiatives scheme provides funding for new and emerging fields of research and builds capacity in strategically important areas by researchers and research teams. The ARC currently funds several SRIs in a wide range of research areas and calls for proposal are made by government direction. 
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program encourages and supports university-based researchers and industry to work together to find solutions to a range of issues facing Australian industries
    • Industrial Transformation Research Hubs support eligible organisations to engage in cutting-edge research on new technologies and economic, commercial and social transformation, and support the development of research in the Industrial Transformation Priorities
    • Industrial Transformation Training Centres foster close partnerships between university-based researchers and other research end-users and supporting Higher Degree by Research students and post-doctoral researchers in gaining real world practical skills and experience through placement in Industry.

Key funding features of Linkage schemes

  • Linkage Projects scheme primarily awards project costs including access to infrastructure, equipment, travel, hiring personnel.
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme provides funding for large-scale cooperative initiatives.
  • ARC Centres of Excellence scheme supports large teams to undertake focused and sustained investigations into, and find solutions to, challenging and important problems.
  • Special Research Initiatives scheme supports cooperative activities amongst researchers by providing funding for new and emerging fields of research to build capacity in strategically important areas
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program scheme encourages and supports university-based researchers and industry to work together to find solutions to a range of priority issues facing Australian industries
    • Industrial Transformation Research Hubs support engagement in cutting-edge research on new technologies and economic, commercial and social transformation
    • Industrial Transformation Training Centres foster close partnerships between university-based researchers and other research end-users. 

Linkage Projects—return and success rates

Linkage Projects (LP) scheme return and success rates 2009–2016. 

Support for international collaboration

  • The ARC’s overarching aim in supporting international research collaboration is to maximise Australia's contribution to, and benefits from, international research partnerships, developments and policy.
  • The ARC undertakes a range of international activities including provision of support for international researcher collaboration, participation in research forums, and liaison with research funding agencies overseas.
  • 74% of all funded projects commencing in 2017 involve international collaboration
  • All ARC funding schemes are open to international applicants applying through eligible Australian organisations
  • Support for international collaboration is incorporated within ARC’s funding schemes
  • Partner Investigators (PIs) can be based overseas
  • Project funding for travel, including for overseas PIs, to support international collaboration
  • International Collaboration in ARC schemes.

International collaboration on ARC-funded projects 2009–2017

Chart displaying proportion of ARC funded projects with and without international collaboration for 2009-2017. 

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 
What is ERA? 

  • ERA evaluates the quality of the research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks
  • The outcomes (ratings) are determined and moderated by committees of distinguished researchers from Australia and overseas
  • The unit of evaluation is broadly defined as the Field of Research (FoR) within an institution based on the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification (ANZSRC)
  • The indicators used in ERA include a range of metrics such as citation profiles which are common to disciplines in the natural sciences, and peer review of a sample of research outputs which is more broadly common in the humanities and social sciences
  • ERA is a comprehensive collection—the data submitted by universities covers all eligible researchers and their research outputs.

The ERA rating scale

Rating

5

The Unit of Evaluation profile is characterised by evidence of outstanding performance well above world standard presented by the suite of indicators used for evaluation.

4

The Unit of Evaluation profile is characterised by evidence of performance above world standard presented by the suite of indicators used for evaluation.

3

The Unit of Evaluation profile is characterised by evidence of average performance at world standard presented by the suite of indicators used for evaluation.

2

The Unit of Evaluation profile is characterised by evidence of performance below world standard presented by the suite of indicators used for evaluation.

1

The Unit of Evaluation profile is characterised by evidence of performance well below world standard presented by the suite of indicators used for evaluation.

Objectives of ERA?

  • Establish an evaluation framework that gives government, industry, business and the wider community assurance of the excellence of research conducted in Australia’s institutions
  • Provide a national stocktake of discipline-level research
  • Identify excellence across the full spectrum of research performance
  • Identify emerging research areas and opportunities for further development
  • Allow for comparison of Australia’s research nationally and internationally for all discipline areas.

ERA Unit of Evaluation—the FoRs

19

Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

 

1901

Art Theory and Criticism

 

1902

Film, Television and Digital Media

 

1903

Journalism and Professional Writing

 

1904

Performing Arts and Creative Writing

 

>

190401

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performing Arts

 

>

190402

Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting)

 

>

190403

Dance

 
 

>

190404

Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

 

>

190405

Māori Performing Arts

 

>

190406

Music Composition

 

>

190407

Music Performance

 

>

190408

Music Therapy

 

>

190409

Musicology and Ethnomusicology

 

>

190410

Pacific Peoples Performing Arts

 

1905

Visual Arts and Crafts

 

1999

Other Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

*The ERA Unit is not the department nor the individual researcher.

ERA 2015—Outcomes

ERA 2015 results are available in: State of Australian University Research 2015-2016 , Volume 1, ERA National Report.

ERA 2015 outcomes show Australia’s universities continue to produce high-quality research across a wide range of disciplines.

Overall research quality is improving and reflects ERA’s role in focussing universities on research quality.

Of the UoEs assessed in both ERA 2015 and the previous round, ERA 2012, 56 per cent of these maintained the same rating, while 29 per cent improved their rating by one.

The ERA results show an extraordinary breadth of outstanding research performance in Australia.

 

 

ERA 2012 to ERA 2015 Growth

There was steady growth in Australia’s university research activity between the ERA 2012 and ERA 2015 rounds, including increases in:



  • the total number of assessed UoEs, up 6% to 2460
  • the number of research outputs submitted, up 5% to 432,747
  • the number of research staff submitted, up 11% to 67,579
  • total number of patents, up 20% to 936.

Distribution of ERA 2015 ratings across all Australian universities

Horizontal bar chart showing distribution of ERA 2015 Ratings across all Australian Universities at 2-digit and 4-digit Field of Research code level.

High Performing two-digit 
Units of Evaluation 

Two-digit Fields of Research codes:

01 Mathematical Sciences 

02 Physical Sciences

03 Chemical Sciences

05 Environmental Sciences

07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences 

09 Engineering

11 Medical and Health Sciences

17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

18 Law and Legal Studies

21 History and Archaeology

 

National Innovation and Science Agenda 

In December 2015, the Australian Government announced the National Innovation and Science Agenda, providing $1.1 billion over four years to support innovation across the economy

The ARC will implement two main initiatives under the Agenda:

  • An assessment of engagement and impact of research at the university level by discipline, as a companion to the ERA exercise
  • Since 1 July 2016, the ARC Linkage Projects scheme has been open to continuous applications with decision-making fast tracked to better support collaborative research with industry

More information at NISA website.

Engagement and Impact Assessment—Overview

Overview:

  • All  42 Australian universities (defined by HEDSA 2003) will be eligible to participate – participation is voluntary
  • All research disciplines will be involved
  • The methodology will not advantage one discipline over another
  • Pilot assessment in 2017
  • Full assessment in 2018 as a companion to ERA.

Pilot:

  • It will fun mid 2017
  • All Australian universities are eligible to participate – participation is voluntary
  • The majority of Australian universities are participating in the pilot
  • Evaluations will be conducted by committees of experts from the university sector and industry.

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  • Research engagement is the interaction between researchers and research end-users (including industry, government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations), for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
  • Research impact is the contribution that research makes to the economy, society and environment, beyond the contribution to academic research.
  • Provides context for the engagement indicators
  • Allows institutions to describe engagement activities where the engagement indicators are not sufficient
  • Allows institutions to provide additional quantitative information, where relevant, which may be used by the ARC to develop indicators for subsequent rounds.

Continuous Linkage Projects scheme

Collaboration between researchers and business helps generate more products and services to benefit the business, the economy and broader society. 

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the ARC Linkage Projects scheme:

  • Is open to continuous applications, allowing both researchers and industry partners to take greater advantage of opportunities for collaboration faster, and encourage more partnerships between universities and business
  • decision-making on applications takes no more than six months from lodgment (and often much less)
  • funds the highest quality applications taking into consideration the anticipated benefit of the research.

Focusing Government Investment Science and Research Priorities 

Science and Research Priorities and corresponding Practical Research Challenges developed by Government

Designed to increase investment in areas of immediate and critical importance to Australia and its place in the world

  • soil and water
  • transport
  • cybersecurity
  • energy
  • resources
  • advanced manufacturing
  • environmental change
  • health.

More information on the Science.gov website.