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ARC grant recommendations revealed before final approval


Early release of Australian Research Council grants list follows Senate order to address timing concerns

A list of recommended Australian Research Council Linkage grants has been published online before receiving final approval.

This is the first time the council’s grant recommendations have been revealed early, following a Senate order last year. The order was made after concerns were expressed about delays and inconsistent timing of grant announcements. The list of 66 ARC Linkage Projects went up on the Senate’s website on 15 March. Education minister Alan Tudge is yet to announce his decision on the round.

The publication of the list was revealed by the anonymous Twitter account @ARC_Tracker, which publishes information on ARC decisions and administration. In a tweet, the account’s operator said: “This is precisely what #ARCSenateOrder was designed to do: make ARC’s recommendations public in reasonable time, even if minister delays decisions.”

They told Research Professional News: “It’s great to see this transparency about the ARC’s recommendations, even if it’s by Senate order rather than volunteered.”

“I hope this reflects the new minister’s approach to providing researchers with as much certainty as possible. It would be even better to have full, timely public announcements of outcomes approved by the minister. It does raise the question about whether new processes within the department are delaying approval, like the security assessments we saw applied to Discovery Projects, which ultimately led to five not being approved.”

Although the list does not include applicant names, it describes the projects that have been recommended. They include research into Indigenous rock art, a planning tool for “bikeability” in cities, a family violence project and market development of a platform to create DNA “nano-vaccines”.

The most recent round of the Linkage grants, in November, provided more than A$26 million in funding.

Also in November, 18 ARC Discovery Project grants were held back from the officially announced list, pending further input from security agencies, and five applications were eventually vetoed. It is not clear whether the published list of Linkage grants includes projects that are recommended but still being considered for security risks.

The Linkage programme supports partnerships between researchers, businesses and community organisations.