Overview

The Australian Research Council (ARC) provides grants administration services to other Australian Government entities who are managing grant programs focused on the university and research sector. The ARC provides a standardised research grants process through the Research Management System (RMS) called Research Grants Services (RGS).

The selection process for the National Intelligence and Security Discovery Research Grants (NISDRG) program, administered by the ARC through RGS on behalf of the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and Department of Defence (Defence) includes assessments by external peer reviewers in parallel with the assessment, moderation and overall ranking provided by the NISDRG Selection Advisory Committee (SAC).

The purpose of the Rejoinder process is to allow applicants to respond to assessment comments made by external assessors. The assessment comments provided by external assessors are made available to applicants prior to the final assessments conducted by the NISDRG SAC. This also provides an important feedback mechanism that can help researchers when drafting future applications.

Rejoinders are not viewed by external assessors but are considered by the NISDRG SAC when deciding the overall ranking of an application. It is therefore important to carefully review the comments provided by external assessors and provide clear responses to any points raised.

Applicants should keep the following points in mind when preparing a Rejoinder:

  • Rejoinders should be written in a clear and concise manner. 
  • Rejoinder text is limited to 5000 characters (including spaces). Pictures, graphs or other documents cannot be inserted or attached.
  • The purpose of a Rejoinder is to clarify any perceived weaknesses in the application, including how well the proposed research project addresses an important gap in knowledge or significant problem as implied through the Intelligence Challenge(s) or National Security Challenge(s) identified by external assessors. The Rejoinder should respond directly to assessor comments, addressing any misunderstanding or difference of opinion in a constructive manner.
  • As noted in the scheme Grant Guidelines, applications must contain all of the necessary information for assessment. Rejoinders should draw only on information already provided in the application. New information, including new research results/methods, should not be provided.
  • Rejoinders should not include reference to any new awards, appointments or publications which may have occurred in the time since the submission of the application. Track records and publication histories are assessed as at the time of application submission and therefore no updates should be provided.
  • Rejoinders should not include any information that was left out of or incorrectly entered in the original application. Modification to the application can only be made if requested by the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence.
  • Rejoinders should not include any information relevant to scheme round eligibility. Eligibility issues are dealt with in a process separate to and independent of the peer review process.
  • Rejoinders should not include any messages to the ARC, the ONI or Defence. Rejoinders are provided to the NISDRG SAC for assessment purposes and are not reviewed. 

The Rejoinder Process

A network message will be sent to Research Offices (RO) when assessor reports are available and the Rejoinder period opens. The first named Participant on each application will also receive an automated email informing them of the opening of the Rejoinder period.

Researchers involved in applications submitted to the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence are strongly advised to maintain contact with their RO during the selection cycle.

Each NISDRG grant opportunity has its own specific RMS portal.

Assessor reports and Rejoinder Forms are made available to Applicants via the specific RMS portals below:

Instructions for accessing the assessments and submitting Rejoinders are available below.

  • Research Management System—User Guide: Submitting a Rejoinder in RMS – PDF Format (507KB) – Word Format (642KB)

Rejoinder Dates

The period for submitting Rejoinders for the NISDRG grant opportunities is from 5 February 2021 to 18 February 2021.

Late requests will not be accepted, except in exceptional circumstances.

Requesting a review of an Assessment

Overview  

During the Rejoinder period, the participants and RO staff may identify an assessment that contains inappropriate elements, as detailed below, and may wish to have this reviewed by the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence.

Before submission of an assessment review request, please refer to the following criteria that may be considered for review: 

  • Defamatory comment/s
  • Evidence of assessor conflict
  • Discriminatory/biased comments
  • Brief assessment text (less than 100 words)
  • Scores included within the assessment text
  • Assessment text does not match with application
  • Comments in the assessment regarding application eligibility
  • Comments in the assessment regarding Research Output display errors.

Additional information regarding quality assessments can be found on the ARC’s Peer Review Resources page, including the definition of a quality assessment and examples of good and bad assessments. 

Process

To request the ARC to review an assessment, a NISDRG Assessment Review Request form (PDF Format - Word Format) must be submitted through the RO of the Administering Organisation. The form must:

  • have all fields completed, including an adequate justification. Incomplete forms will not be processed or responded to
  • meet one or more of the criteria that may be selected for review
  • be certified by the Research Office Manager level or equivalent
  • be received within 3 working days after opening of the Rejoinder period for all Research Grants Services schemes.

Completed forms should be emailed from the Administering Organisation to ARC-NISDRG@arc.gov.au 

Late requests will not be accepted, except in exceptional circumstances.

On receipt of a completed request form, the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence will:

  • acknowledge receipt of the form via email to the Administering Organisation
  • review the request
  • decide upon a course of action
  • notify the Administering Organisation of the decision via email.

It is at the absolute discretion of the ARC, which course of action will be undertaken, including: 

  • Determining that no change is required to an assessment – where the decision is not to change, alter or remove the assessment, Administering Organisations will be advised that participants should address all assessor comments within their Rejoinder.
  • Requesting the assessor to amend assessment text – the ARC will attempt to contact the detailed assessor and ask that they modify the assessment text.  

    The ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence will not make recommendations or provide advice to assessors on the content of their assessments except in reference to the inappropriate assessment criteria. In order to maintain an independent process, only assessments that meet the strict criteria as detailed on the NISDRG Review Request form will be requested to be amended.

    In the event that the assessment text cannot be amended by an assessor, the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence will decide whether the assessment should remain or should be removed from the peer review process and the Administering Organisation will be advised of the outcome.
    • If the assessment is removed, it will no longer be visible in the specific portal of RMS and will no longer be part of the peer review process. 
    • If the assessment remains, Administering Organisations will be advised that participants should address all assessor comments within their Rejoinder and the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence will bring the issue to the attention of the NISDRG SAC.
  • Removing the assessment – where the decision is to remove the assessment from the peer review process, this will be actioned by the ARC, on behalf of ONI and Defence with notification via email to the Administering Organisation. The assessment will no longer be visible in the specific portal of RMS and will no longer be part of the peer review process. Only assessments that meet the strict criteria as detailed on the NISDRG Review Request form will be removed.

Reviews will be carried out in a timely manner to assist Administering Organisations and participants to complete their Rejoinder as soon as possible. Please be prepared to finalise your Rejoinder immediately after notification of the outcome.