Presentation on theme: "Presenting your ARC Track Record. Some issues to consider when preparing your application National Competitive Grants – Australian Research Council -Proposal."— Presentation transcript:
Some issues to consider when preparing your application National Competitive Grants – Australian Research Council -Proposal is written like a top journal article from Introduction to the end of the Methodology section (including method of analysis) - A Discovery application is an academic “argument” on how to advance the academic field/knowledge to prove this is a significant idea - Has specific, consistent, meaningful research objectives; Research Questions/hypotheses derived from a critical literature review; research questions are matched to studies proposed in the Approach - The proposal is written consistent with how the selection criteria is scored:
ARC continued – -Track Record or Research Record Relative to Opportunities (Discovery: 40% of the selection criteria; 20% for Linkage) of the research team/sole chief investigator - Significance and innovation (Discovery: 30% of the selection criteria; Linkage 25%) of the proposed research. Critical literature review an integral part of the application - Approach (DP and LP:20%): For example, must be specific and matched to research questions/hypotheses) - National Benefit: (DP & LP: 10%) Application of results matched to the published national benefits (can be more than one) - Industry Partner Commitment for Linkage (only): 25% - Do multiple drafts, get critical feedback from colleagues, do a pilot study to demonstrate feasibility - Funding rules and the guidelines to applicants must be read thoroughly, boring though they are. They describe changes from previous year’s round
Track Record (or Research Record Relative to Opportunities, Section F12, 2011 Linkage application) in detail -Track record of ALL chief investigators, partner investigators (e.g. overseas universities), Australian Postdoctoral Fellows (plus QE II and APD Industry if a Linkage proposal) candidates relative to opportunities and, where relevant, suitability to supervise postgraduate students - Capacity to undertake and manage the proposed research - What is assessed? - Impact (quality) of research outcomes and productivity of individuals and teams is assessed - “Productivity” in terms of numbers of publications, numbers of HDR supervision and completions, etc. - The “impact” of academic research outcomes is assessed particularly by qualitative comments provided in the application (both for Discovery and Linkage) and looking at where an individual has published and how frequently their publications are cited.
Track record/research record relative to opportunities cont. -Broader impact of research outcomes is assessed particularly by qualitative comments provided in your application with the key question being asked, “How have your research outcomes made a difference to the world?” - Suitability to supervise higher degree research students where you are requesting financial support for a scholarship. Judged primarily on numbers of HDR students an individual has supervised and completed. - Capacity: readers are looking for demonstrated evidence that – - the skills of the research team match those required for the project (evidenced mainly through publication track record) - where there is a team, that it can work together (evidence of prior history of collaboration)
Assessment of Capacity continued: - For Linkage proposals, a track record of collaboration with “industry” partner organisations - If a medium sized grant is being sought (~$150,000 to <$500,000 p.a.), then your track record in managing and successfully completing large projects is important (especially ARC projects) What is meant by track record relative to opportunity? -Track records are assessed relative to the opportunity an individual has had to undertake research and produce research outcomes - In theory, an early career researcher with a short but excellent research track record should rank higher than a professor whose recent research track record has not been productive in terms of research outcomes
Track record relative to opportunity continued -Periods of disruption to research careers are also taken into account in assessing track record - Assessment of track record relative to opportunity will not advantage applicants with very poor (or no) research track records, regardless of the reasons for poor research output - For Linkage applications, it is not uncommon to include partner investigators on the research team who do not have “traditional” academic research track records. Although the reasons for the lack of research outputs will be taken into account, there is nonetheless an expectation of an equivalent track record from such investigators
Team Applications For Linkage – Should we include Partner Investigators from Partner Organisations If a potential Partner Investigator (PI) brings special skills (that can be demonstrated in the application) to the project that will add value and would not otherwise be available to the project, and they can make a significant intellectual contribution, then it is worth including them as a PI. Should you include early career researchers as Chief Investigators? If an early career researcher has a good track record relative to opportunity and has the demonstrated skills capacity (especially demonstrated through peer-reviewed publications) to make a significant contribution to the project, then yes.
ECRs as Cis continued: Options for ECRs – -If modest track record (or no track record): -Include the ECR as an associate on the project (that is, they will not have the status of a CI and their role will need to be explained in the “Role of Personnel” section – no salary is being paid from the project budget) - Seek a salary for, say, a Research Associate so that their time may be bought out to allow involvement in the project (need to be named in the budget costing and budget justification sections, otherwise ACU HR may require the position to be advertised if it is greater than two years)
Presentation of Application that is directly relevant to track record assessment Role of Personnel – This section gives readers an outline of the roles and contributions of the whole research team (Chief Investigators, post docs, as well as associates and personnel whose salary or stipend is being sought in the budget). A few sentences to describe the role of each person involved in the project. Note: A senior CI or PI given only a minor role such as mentoring of an early career researcher may be considered ineligible due to the eligibility criteria that a CI must make a significant intellectual contribution and time commitment to the project. An assessor/ARC panel may also determine that such a person has been added primarily to boost overall team track record, especially where other named investigators’ track records are poor to moderately good.
Role of Personnel cont. Note 2: Be careful that the roles described are consistent with the time commitments described elsewhere in your application (e.g. Approach and Training) Project Cost – The budget section must include detail about the time commitments of personnel on the project who are either named personnel (CIs, PIs, Aust.Postdoc.Fellowships) or personnel whose salaries or stipends have been requested. The salaries and time commitments of Chief Investigators are entered under (a) Administering Organisation Contributions and/or (b) Other Organisation Contributions. (The salaries and time commitments of Partner Investigators from Partner Organisations for a Linkage application are entered under Partner Organisation Contributions. The salaries and time commitments or Partner Investigators who are not from Partner Organisations are detailed in the Justifications of Partner Organisation and other non-ARC contributions. A 100% FTE contribution is detailed automatically under the ARC budget for any APDI Fellowships requested in Linkage. At Project Cost section of the proposal, describe Chief Investigator or Partner Investigator salaries (as relevant) in the following way: CI1 Professor...., Level E2 @ FTE + 28% salary costs.)
Tip: Readers usually cross-reference the time commitment with the Role of Personnel section to see if the role of a person appears to be consistent with their time commitment. Tip: A time commitment of less than 0.15 will often be looked at very closely with a view to verifying whether the role of the person comprises a “significant intellectual contribution”. If it is deemed not be a significant contribution, then the application could be ruled ineligible or the track record assessment will suffer.
Details on your career and research opportunities over the last five years Detail to include: A summary of research publications track record including a focus on impact (CI 1 has published 50 journal articles including 35 in the last five years, of which 20 were published in journals with an ERA ranking of A or A* and are directly relevant to this project). ERA rankings will be recognised by Australian assessors but not by international assessors. You could also add the number of articles published in international journals in the given field(s) of research. A summary of higher degree research supervision track record (Dr John Doe currently supervises 3 PhD and 3 Research Masters scholars, and during his career has supervised 11 PhDs and 9 Research Masters scholars to completion. Many of his students have gone on to highly successful careers, including to academic appointments at University College London, MIT and Carnegie-Mellon University and high level positions in government and industry.
Career and Research Opportunities cont. A summary of research grant, contract research and consulting track record. Collaboration with your CIs and Partner Investigators to be highlighted. Tip: Be up to date on the key research performance indicators in your area of research and in particular the benchmarks that are considered indicators of excellence. Where your track record meets or exceeds “excellence”, press the point in your application. Tip: Benchmarks for “excellence” (that can be demonstrated) vary considerably between disciplines, so don’t assume that the assessor/panel will know your benchmarks – tell them – back up your claim of excellence with evidence.
Scholarly impact – ask yourself what positive difference has my research made to my field? Think of the national and international impact of your research as the latter is an important indicator of excellence. Scale of impact – greater and more enduring the better. Justify and demonstrate. In 2008 (name of CI) developed a new survey instrument for the testing of..... ability that is now used in more than 12 OECD countries, including Australia. This research has been cited 120 times in international journals with high impact (provide example). This research is at the cutting edge of innovative educational research and has had a substantial impact across a number of developed countries.
Tips - Don’t use the same “Research record relative to opportunities” section (F 13) of your application for every ARC application you prepare. Re-draft the section/sub-sections relevant tot he project being applied for. - For Linkage, highlighting your track record of collaboration with partner organisations is important, particularly if you can demonstrate a history of collaboration with the same sector as the partner organisation on the proposal. - Highlight your track record of working with other named investigators on the application. Many ARC expert panel members do not rate team track records highly if a team has no history of successful prior collaboration.
Tips cont. - Don’t provide half a page of dense text. Break it down in to dot-points or a least 2 to 3 paragraphs. - Don’t just provide a list of research key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are not interesting and don’t on their own do enough to differentiate you from other applicants. You need to explain what is interesting and unique about your research contributions, so don’t be demure but don’t make claims which cannot be verified. Recent and Significant Publications (section F13.2) - Ensure you follow the instructions for this section. Some common errors are: - Incomplete referencing, to the extent that the reader cannot verify that the article is published
Recent publications continued -Including journal articles and conference papers that have undergone an acceptable peer review process -Including publications that have not been either accepted or published and are not in-press - Including publications that are older than the specified period (last five years) - Including publications that the reader does not consider “significant” Tips - Add ERA journal rank, journal impact factor or citations data in square brackets that can be benckmarked as excellent.
Tips cont. Recent significant publications -Is you publication track record lacking numbers of publications in high impact international journals? Are most of your publications in refereed conference proceedings, or perhaps published as reports to government? Is the reason for this stated as a preamble to the “Recent significant publications” section of your application. - Be cautious how you define “significant”. - Asterisk publications relevant to the proposal in a way that the asterisks can be easily seen. - For Linkage: Partner investigators from Partner Organisations: Partner Investigators may have only a minimal publication track record or possibly none at all.
Ten Best Career Publications (sec. 13.3 in Discovery) -Ensure you include recent (past five years) publications in this list as well as older ones (if your career has been longer). If no recent publications have been included, the impression is given of a downward trajectory. - As explained earlier, add ERA journal rank, journal impact factor or citations data in square brackets after journal articles that can be benchmarked as excellent. - You can also add a brief sentence or so after each publication explaining why you have selected it for inclusion in this section.
Further Evidence in relation to research impact and contributions to the field over the last 10 years (section F13.4 in DP,F12.4 in LP) -Use dot points or short paragraphs covering one topic per block. - Long lists (e.g. Keynote addresses) will typically not be read. - Chief Investigators with limited academic research track records. - Linkage Partner Investigators: Relevant experience in industry and other professional activities should be added.
Interruptions to career or other circumstances that may have slowed down research and publications (covered in F13.1 DP or F12.1 LP) -Heavy teaching responsibilities are not normally considered to be a reasonable excuse for an average or poor research track record because heavy teaching responsibilities are common among applicants. - Balance discussion of disruption with positive statements to demonstrate that your research is now forging ahead. - Early Career Researchers: let the reader know that you are an ECR (i.e. Someone with no more than 5 years of research experience since award of your PhD).
Fellowship applicants (F 13.6 DP & F12.6 LP) -If a team based application, be careful to differentiate the fellow’s role in the project, providing greater detail than would be provided on this under Role of Personnel (Part C – Project Description) - When describing the research environment, as well as mentioning standard infrastructure and specialised facilities/expertise available, discuss how the fellow and the project fall within an identified area of research strength of the University - Identify a mentor and supervisor even if they are not named Cis on the application. If the fellowship will require the APD to learn new techniques and methods, ensure that appropriate intellectual expertise will be provided for training and mentoring.
Statement on Progress Tips: -Only report positive progress; - List publication outcomes to date; -If there are no published outcomes to date but there are publications submitted or in preparation, discuss those to demonstrate that progress has been made. Presentation of Application - The whole application is important.
Presentation continued. - A poorly developed, written and presented application will reflect poorly on your track record -A well prepared and presented application will not fare well if it requires skills outside of the teams’ demonstrated expertise Aims & Background (Part C) -Background should include reference to work of the team (especially published work and also unpublished pilot work) to help demonstrate capacity and in-depth understanding of the research problem/s being addressed - Approach and Training: Demonstrate through reference to your published work and iterate that the team has the capacity to undertake the project using the approach described.
Aims and Background cont. National Benefit: Consider how the team track record can help to demonstrate higher likelihood of achieving the stated national benefit (e.g. Investigator history of research outcomes leading to government policy change, new survey instrument being used by peers) Collaboration with partners (particularly important for Linkage): Discussion of prior successful collaborations with similar kinds of partners can help to demonstrate a higher likelihood of a successful collaboration on this project. Communication of results: how does your track record of publications and public communication and dissemination give confidence of disseminating high quality output from this project?