Applying for competitive funding

baconossifiedMechanics

Oct 29, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)

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Assessment of Applications


Facilitator

Debbie Thackray PhD

Research Development Officer


Applying for competitive funding

Experience and Insights:

Prof. Dongke Zhang
FTSE
, Director, Centre for Petroleum, Fuels and Energy, UWA

Dr Tim Sercombe, Senior Lecturer, School of Mechanical Engineering

Prof. Greg Ivey, Professor, School of Environmental Systems Engineering


http://www.ecm.uwa.edu.au/staffnet/committees/research/best_practice


Outline:


Debbie Thackray: 2010 changes; Who assesses applications and how
(10 mins)


Dongke Zhang: Recipes for losing an ARC grant application


(15 mins)


Tim Sercombe: Tips to establishing a track record




(15 mins)


Prof. Greg Ivey: How to win friends and influence people
(in the ARC process)

(15 mins)


Debbie Thackray: Summary; Support





(5 mins)


Questions as we go.

ARC Discovery: Understand the scheme

http://www.arc.gov.au/about_arc/arc_profile.htm

Main changes 2010:


Funds for PI to travel to Australia


1 trip/year


International collaboration awards


1
-
6 months, up to $40k


Funds for workshop services allowable


CI eligibility


50% of time (not salary) with eligible organisation


-

non
-
resident employee of eligible organisation may be a PI


READ THE GUIDELINES AND FUNDING RULES

MAKE ELIGIBILTY REQUESTS WHERE UNSURE

Applications to Research Grants Office
at latest

10 working days before close:


* Ensures that good quality, accurate, complete, eligible applications submitted


* Certification


gold forms etc. Ensures support is there.

ARC Discovery: Who assesses applications?

ARC / computer assign Panels and Oz readers usually on RFCD codes

College of Experts (Panel)
: (may have only a general understanding of field)


-

Engineering and Environmental Science (EE)


-

Mathematics, Information and Communication Sciences (MIC)

Panel assigns international assessors, based on keywords and project summary.

External assessors
:


-

2 Oz Readers:
Australian based readers, scores and text (expert / semi
-
expert)


-

2 Int Readers: internationally recognized experts, scores and text (expert)

ARC provides assessment reports to applicants.

Applicants submit rejoinders.

Final
Assessment:

2 panel spokespersons: EAC1 and EAC2 provide final scores

Applications ranked based on all assessors rankings. Can be modified by College
based on rejoinders.

Budgets scrutinised, best projects get closest to requested $.

Meet the panel: Engineering and Environmental Science

http://www.arc.gov.au/about_arc/CoE_EE.htm


Professor Graham Schaffer

The University of Queensland

Professor Robert Short

University of South Australia

Professor Scott Sloan

The University of Newcastle

Professor Brian Uy

University of Western Sydney

Professor Xungai Wang

Deakin University

Professor Zhihong Xu

Griffith University

Professor Dongke Zhang

University of Western Australia

Professor Rose Amal

(Chair) The University of
New South Wales

Particles/
Nano

Materials
engineering

Bio
-
materials

Geo
-
technical
engineering

Structural
stability

Fibre
Science/
Nanotech

Carbon &
Nutrient
cycling

Combustion
& Energy

Professor Maria Forsyth

Monash University

Professor Ivan Marusic
The University of
Melbourne

Professor Steven Grant
Re
-
locating from UK

Dr Eric Wolanski
Australian Institute of
Marine Sciences

Electro
-
materials

Fluid
mechanics

Process
optimisation

Water
quality

Meet the panel: Mathematics, Information and
Communication Sciences

http://www.arc.gov.au/about_arc/CoE_MIC.htm


Dr Len Sciacca (Chair)

Defence Science and
Technology Organisation

Professor Alan Carey

The Australian
National University

Professor Lorenzo
Faraone

The University of
Western Australia

Professor Tony Guttmann

The University of Melbourne

Professor David Hill

The Australian National
University

Professor Geoffrey
McLachlan

The University of
Queensland

Professor Bill Moran

The University of
Melbourne

Professor Victor Solo

The University of New
South Wales

Professor David Suter

University of Adelaide

Mr Glenn Wightwick

IBM Australia

Professor Mary
-
Anne Williams

University of Technology,
Sydney

Professor Yanchun Zhang

Victoria University

Electronic
warfare

Network
systems

Micro
-
electronics

Equilibrium
statistical
mechanics

String, Index
& Quantum
field theories

Statistical
computation

Signal
processing

Systems/
signal
processing

Computer
vision

System
design

Modeling
decision
making

Information
systems

ARC Discovery: Get in the “right box”


Find out which panel similar applications have gone to.


Chose RFCD codes and keywords carefully


to try to direct to desired panel


Don’t use novel or unusual words that the non
-
expert panel will not recognise. Who


do you want to assess it, what keywords would they use to describe their research?


Look at successful applications and write in the “style” for that panel


Write application Summaries for non
-
experts (Panel)


Write Background and Approach for semi
-
experts and experts (Oz and Int readers)


Make it easy on the reader


they may have 100 applications to read. Each section


should stand alone and have an introductory sentence or “flag”. Break up text.

ARC Discovery: Selection Criteria

Investigator/s track record

-

40%
(LP = 20%; Industry commitment = 25%)



Relative to opportunities and/or suitability to supervise postgraduate students (as


appropriate) and capacity to undertake the proposed research.


Proposed project content


60%


Significance and innovation
-

30%
(LP = 25%)




Approach and Training (including appropriateness of budget)
-

20%
(LP = 20%)




National Benefit
-

10%
(LP = 10%)

Prof. Dongke Zhang FTSE (EE Panel)

Recipes for losing an ARC grant application!

Dr Tim Sercombe

Tips to establishing a track record

Prof. Greg Ivey

How to win friends and influence people!

(in the ARC process)

Make it easy on the reviewer



Use line breaks, italics, figures to break up text.



Spend lots of time polishing your summary = instant understanding for the


public / media. “Wow” the reviewer and make them really want to know more!



Reviewers may do their reading in bits
-
and
-
pieces


organise your application


so that it can be read in this way. They may only revisit some sections.



State your key message at the beginning of each section, and keep reminding


them of why and what you are going to do and how excited you are about it!



Show a strong link between aims and approach


same headings are best.



Avoid abbreviations, acronyms and jargon. Explain terminology.



Read the application aloud to spot long worded text and unclear areas.



Make sure that your application is free from errors.

Summary:
Give EVERY section your time



Get feedback on your track record and your proposal early on


2 pager.



A good project is paramount, but don’t spend 95% of your time on the description.



Show clearly, up
-
front and throughout how significant, innovative and exciting the


research is! Grab the reader’s attention from the first page onwards.



Spend enough time on the CIs profiles (especially for Discovery), use similar


layout, pull out the “wow” factor for each early on, show team links, etc.



Explain

National Benefit


list outcomes, name beneficiaries, etc.



Spend adequate time on budget justification


only a few proposals get all.


Mention budget items throughout


show how used.



Address communication thoughtfully and not only “will publish in high quality


journals”. Especially important for Linkage and Collaborative projects:



Get lots of feedback on EVERY section. Submit to Grants Office early.


Support



Workshops: RDOs, Research Exec, OSDS, FECM, visiting funding bodies, etc.



FECM contact and Mentoring: Associate Dean Research Rachel Cardell
-
Oliver





rachel@csse.uwa.edu.au

Ph: 6488 2231



FECM
Staffnet

and Research pages: Research Committee (in
-
progress), mentoring,


funding, Strategic plan, priorities, presentations, etc.



Research Development Office
:


Debbie Thackray:
debbie.thackray@uwa.edu.au

Ph: 6488 4765


Judy Berman:
judith.berman@uwa.edu.au

Ph: 6488 8033


FECM RDO: watch this space



Research Services:

Grants and Finance Office, Integrity and Ethics, Graduate


Research School, Scholarships Office, etc.


The people around you.

Additional Suggestions:

Sections: 100 word Summary


A good summary/abstract captures and illustrates the entire research picture


without leaving the reader puzzled or confused.


Start with a strong sentence which explains the problem for which this research


is a response.


Review panel members often study the application (and prepare written


reports, if required) weeks or months before the meetings. They then quickly


review all the abstracts just before the meetings in order to recall the essentials.


Assume that you are writing for a reviewer in a somewhat related field, rather


than for an expert in your area.


Sections: Summary

Acknowledgements to Mark Cassidy, Mark Randolph, Yuxia Hu

Sections: Track Record (40%)



Get feedback on how strong you are from successful CIs.



Applications with 2 CIs less likely to be funded: Must show genuine commitment (>


5%). Not because CI has 1 DP already, or CI’s track record boosting application.



Collaboration with CIs in WA and east beneficial, but must show team cohesion.



Overseas partners becoming more and more important.



Be sure to write with respect to opportunities, and claim ECR status if you can.



Write in 1
st

person. Use consistent layout for all CIs


shows cohesion!



Show the reader clear evidence of your strengths and international profile.



Use Impact Factors and Citations and draw attention to these.



Discuss with research grants office, research development officers and mentor
-


readers how to optimize your track record and how to best present it.

Sections: Track Record example


See Tim Sercombe’s examples

Sections: Background and Aims


This section should answer 3 questions: what is known, what is not known, and


why is it essential to find out.


Critically evaluate the relevant literature and state your contributions.


Discuss fairly all sides of a controversy or disagreement.


Don’t leave out your competitors’ work!


Identify specifically the gaps and contradictions that you will clarify.


Clearly list / dot point your aims and use same headings in Approach.


Ie. Use flags to guide your readers.


Use line breaks between paragraphs, headings, italics, figures (not greyscale).


Balance between innovation and your likelihood of success.

Sections: Background and Aims EG.

See Tim Sercombe’s and Greg Ivey’s examples and listen to Lectopia session.

Sections: Significance and Innovation



Don’t just say it, explain it.


Remember you are writing for non
-
expert, semi
-
expert and experts.


Talk about outcomes as well as the research.


Relate to other research in the area.


Relate to national research priorities.


Use title headings: “Significance” and “Innovation” to make it easy for the reader.


Sections: Significance and Innovation

See Tim Sercombe’s examples

Sections: National Benefit


Mention in Summary, discuss in Introduction/background, Significance and


National Benefit sections.


Show outcomes from project and then EXPLAIN how project outcomes are of


national benefit.


Link clearly to National Priority areas and explain why. You can talk about more


than one area if there is a tangible link.


Don’t make exaggerated statements.



Sections: National Benefit

See Tim Sercombe’s examples

Don’t forget to include research training aspects, both PhDs and Post
-
Docs.


From part of National Benefit section of ARC Linkage project of Mark Cassidy, Mark
Randolph, Yuxia Hu

Sections: Communication



Conferences: you’ll be informing the best in the world. You and your post
-
docs.



Publications: high impact journals/ best read in field.



Seminars: International, eastern states, local (established series), to partners.



Media releases: through UWA Public Relations/ Faculty Marketing; national


distribution.



Articles: UWA News, Faculty newsletters, Engineering Foundation, National


association news.



Project Description and Progress summaries on website.



Think outside the box.

Sections: Communication eg.

Acknowledgements to Mark Cassidy, Mark Randolph, Yuxia Hu

Sections: Budget

C1 Budget Details

Set realistic budgets


driven by the science

Teaching relief not recommended.


C2 Justification of funding from the ARC

Fully justify why you are requesting these funds. How would your research be
affected if you did not have what you are requesting funding for?

For personnel simply state why you are requesting a person at that level.
Section E7 is for explaining what they will do.

Equipment request should be realistic (<$120K) and should tie in with methods
and the experiment timeline.



Sections: Budget eg. from Arcady Dyskin

Personnel

The support is sought for 3 years (2005
-
2007) for salaries of Research Associate (level A)
and Technician (level 4) plus 30.95% on
-
cost (total for 2005 is $118,098; with the further
standard increase for each following year, see tables in C1)

The project has experimental and theoretical components. A very large amount of tests
including sample design as well as computer modelling require a qualified Research
Associate (RA) His/her specific skills should also include the basic knowledge of mechanics
of solids. A suitable candidate should have a PhD in Solid Mechanics or any closely related
discipline. Funding for the RA is sought for full
-
time for the duration of the project.

For the experimental programme an experienced Technician is required to manufacture the
samples, support experiments and maintain equipment. Funding for the Technician is sought
for full
-
time for the duration of the project.



Sections: Budget eg. from Arcady Dyskin

Equipment

The experimental programme consists of testing of structures from rectangular
blocks and hexagonal structures. The confining frame with controllable lateral load
is available at the School. Funding is thought from the ARC for manufacturing of a
loading frame for hexagonal assemblies. ($4,250). It is assumed that the School will
provide a PC system for the RA as well as software upgrades.

Maintenance

Sum of $1000 per year is requested for materials for block manufacturing and other
disposable materials and $1000 per year is requested for disposable strain gauges.

Travel

A sum of $3,000 is required for CI2 to attend the annual AGU meeting in the USA in
2007 to present the results of the research to the Geophysics community.

Other

No other support is sought.

Sections: Budget eg. from Cassidy et al.

Sections: Budget eg. from Cassidy et al.

Generic features of well ranked application


Use language that presents technical matters in a balanced and accessible way


Present hypotheses and/or controversies and explain how they will be solved


Explain how/why the area demands funding
now


Show how Australian work fits into the international picture


Back up compelling claims of excellence and innovation with evidence and others‘


judgments


Propose daring, ambitious goals but also propose prudent, responsible modes of


attack


Link to large international research networks/activities


Present excellent progress reports on previous grants


Advance compelling arguments in relation to National Interest

Generic features of poorly ranked application


Use dense intractable technical jargon without accompanying “accessible” text


Make grandiose and implausible claims about outcomes


Don't support claims of excellence or past progress with evidence


Are weakly linked into national and international research networks


Emphasize the collection of data rather than the solution to important problems or


controversies


Set a persistent negative or depressive tone about the state of the subject in


Australia


Show evidence of being hastily prepared