Australian Research Council
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The Australian Research Council (ARC) is one of the Australian government's two main agencies for competitively allocating research funding to academics and researchers at Australian universities. The other is the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The ARC's mission is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community. It supports fundamental and applied research and research training through national competition across all disciplines except clinical and other medical and dental research, for which the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is primarily responsible. Established as an independent body under the Australian Research Council Act 2001, the ARC reports to an Australian government minister, currently the minister for education and training. ARC is the primary source of advice to the government on investment in the national research effort.
National Competitive Grants Program
ARC funds research and researchers under the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP).
As part of its commitment to nurturing the creative abilities and skills of Australia's most promising researchers, the NCGP provides:
- support for the highest-quality research leading to the discovery of new ideas and the advancement of knowledge
- financial assistance towards facilities and equipment that researchers need to be internationally competitive
- support for the training and skills development of the next generation of researchers
- incentives for Australia's most talented researchers to work in partnership with leading researchers throughout the national innovation system and internationally, and to form alliances with Australian industry.
The NCGP comprises two main elements—Discovery and Linkage—under which the ARC funds a range of complementary schemes to support researchers at different stages of their careers, build Australia’s research capability, expand and enhance research networks and collaborations, and develop centres of research excellence.
The most recent annual report and corporate plan (formerly strategic plan) are available from the Publications section of the ARC website.ARC Grants Search is designed to make it easier for the public to find details about ARC-funded research projects since 2001, including electronic and paper-based research funding proposals.
Excellence in Research for Australia
ARC administers Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), Australia’s national research evaluation framework. ERA identifies and promotes excellence across the full spectrum of research activity in higher education institutions.
ERA is a comprehensive quality evaluation of all research produced in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks. The ratings are determined and moderated by committees of distinguished researchers, drawn 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).
ERA is based on expert review informed by a range of indicators. The indicators used in ERA include a range of metrics, such as citation profiles which are common to disciplines in the sciences, and peer review of a sample of research outputs, which is more common in the humanities and social sciences.
A set of discipline-specific indicators has been developed in close consultation with the research community. This approach ensures that the indicators used are both appropriate and necessary, which minimises the resourcing burden of ERA for government and universities, and ensures that ERA results are robust and broadly accepted.
The first full round of ERA occurred in 2010 and the results were published in early 2011. This was the first time a nationwide stock take of discipline strengths and areas for development had ever been conducted in Australia. There have been two subsequent rounds of ERA in 2012 and 2015.
Research integrity ARC-funded research is expected to comply with appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards in a research environment underpinned by a culture of integrity.
- ARC research integrity and research misconduct policy: To safeguard the integrity of the ARC's peer reviewing, grant selection, research evaluation processes, funding recommendations, and research outcomes, the ARC research integrity and research misconduct policy requires institutions to report to the ARC the details of research integrity or research misconduct matters that have been investigated and resulted in corrective or disciplinary action. It also describes pathways via the ARC through which allegations of integrity breaches can be referred to institutions for investigation.
- National codes and statements on research ethics: The ARC research integrity and research misconduct policy complements the ARC's funding rules, which require compliance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) and other applicable national codes and guidelines and their successor documents.
- Australian Research Integrity Committee
The Australian Research Integrity Committee (ARIC) is an independent body, jointly established by the ARC and the NHMRC, to provide a system to review institutional responses to allegations of research misconduct.
Assessment cycle—ARC research grants
Step 1, Funding rules
- Funding rules are approved by the minister
- Published on the ARC website
- Sector is advised of availability
Step 2, Proposals
- Instructions to applicants, sample application form and FAQs are published on ARC website
- Applications are submitted by eligible organisations by the relevant scheme closing date
Step 3, Assessment
- Proposals are considered against eligibility criteria and compliance with the funding rules
- Proposals are assessed by independent assessors in initial assessment
- Applicants may be given the opportunity to respond to assessors' written comments
- Proposals are assessed by the ARC's field-related colleges of experts or a selection advisory committee
Step 4, Selection
- The colleges of experts or selection advisory committee consider all proposals, rank each proposal relative to other proposals in the same discipline cluster, and recommends budgets for the highly ranked proposals
Step 5, Approval of funding
- ARC CEO provides recommendations to the minister with proposals to be approved for funding, proposals not recommended for funding, and the level of funding and duration of projects
- Minister considers recommendations and approves and announces funding outcomes
- APS Statistical Bulletin 2015–2016 (Report). Australian Public Service Commission. September 2016.