News from Research Development Coordinator Anna Sullivan

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Assessing Australia Research Council Grant Applications

Did you know that many Australian Education researchers provide feedback in ARC assessment reports, which is putting applications at risk of not being funded? 

At the recent Australian Education Research Leaders’ Summit, the assessment of ARC applications was discussed. Informal advice from previous ARC College of Experts indicates that, in Education we could do better in the way we provide assessments.
 
For example, many Australian Education researchers provide formative feedback on ARC assessment reports, confusing applicants, and not delivering the clarity required. 

The ARC requires assessors to provide well-targeted summative feedback with respect to the assessment criteria. For example, assessors are required to provide ‘Detailed comments on the merits or otherwise of the application with respect to the selection criteria’.

There are a number of resources available to guide assessors here. Of particular relevance are the guidelines for writing a quality peer review and examples available here.  

We need to ensure that the comments align closely with scores that we give against the criteria. For example, if a grant application is outstanding, explain clearly why it is outstanding – this helps the College of Experts to make positive decisions. The Assessment criteria and Scoring Matrix for Discovery Projects below, gives an indication of the language to use for each score.

Assessment criteria and Scoring Matrix

Finally, assessors need to take care when evaluating methodologies with which they are unfamiliar to ensure applications are not unfairly disadvantaged.

On behalf of Catherine Manathunga, Elke Stracke, Allyson Holbrook and Anna Sullivan AARE/cADRE
Education Research Leaders’ Summit Convenors