Purpose

This policy statement relates to the extension of eligibility periods for early-mid career researchers under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and Future Fellowships schemes.

Introduction

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is committed to ensuring that all eligible researchers have fair access to competitive funding through the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP).

The ARC promotes and encourages, within the NCGP, approaches to eligibility and assessment, which take into account the diversity of both career and life experiences of individual researchers.

Implementation

Under the DECRA and Future Fellowships schemes, the number of years, between the conferral date of a PhD (or equivalent) and the submission closing date for a proposal, is a key element of eligibility.

Under the DECRA scheme, researchers are eligible to apply within five years of the conferral date of their PhD or equivalent research higher degree (as certified by the Administering Organisation).

Under the Future Fellowships scheme, researchers are eligible to apply within five to 15 years of the conferral date of their PhD, or research higher degree or professional equivalent (as certified by the Administering Organisation).    

The ARC recognises career interruptions can have a significant impact on the period between conferral of a researcher’s PhD, or equivalent, and a subsequent application for ARC funding. The ARC therefore, allows extension of the eligibility periods for the DECRA and Future Fellowships schemes for specified career interruptions. 

Eligible (specified) career interruptions

The following significant and not overlapping career interruptions will be considered:

Career Interruption Time which can be claimed (must be for a period of greater than one month)
Disruption due to international relocation A period of time commensurate with the interruption, not exceeding three months per international relocation.

Carer’s responsibilities

Disability

Maternity or parental leave

Medical condition

Non-research employment not concurrent with research employment

Unemployment

A period of time commensurate with the interruption.
Being the primary carer of a dependent child Two years per dependent child, inclusive of any period of maternity or other parental leave, with no maximum identified.
A primary carer, of a dependent child, who has had extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability, may be granted a further extension (in addition to the two years) with justification.  

Process for extending the timeframe for eligibility

The Eligible Organisation submitting the proposal must assess whether the researcher’s circumstances meet the eligibility criteria. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the Eligible Organisation must certify that the researcher meets the eligibility requirements and is eligible to apply under the relevant scheme. Eligibility criteria are set out in the relevant Grant Guidelines. The ARC reserves the right to audit any evidence on which an application is based.  

Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence

In addition to the Eligibility and Career Interruption policy and criteria, the ARC also uses the selection criterion Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) to recognise research excellence in the context of a researcher’s diverse career and life experiences. ROPE aims to ensure assessment processes accurately evaluate a researcher’s career history relative to their current career stage, and considers whether their productivity and contribution is commensurate with the opportunities that have been available to them. ROPE is a selection criterion under the majority of NCGP schemes and allows consideration of any evidence that relates to career opportunity, including career interruptions for any reason.  

Researchers applying under the DECRA or Future Fellowships schemes may apply for an eligibility extension for a specified career interruption and include a career interruption, for any reason, under the ROPE selection criterion in their application.