Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)
The Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme is a separate element of the Discovery Program. The DECRA scheme will provide more focused support for researchers and create more opportunities for early-career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions.
The objectives of the DECRA scheme are to:
- support excellent basic and applied research by early career researchers
- advance promising early career researchers and promote enhanced opportunities for diverse career pathways
- enable research and research training in high quality and supportive environments
- expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability
- enhance the scale and focus of research in the Science and Research Priorities
Researchers may be eligible to apply if they have been awarded a PhD within five years, or longer if combined with periods of significant career interruption.
Under the DECRA scheme up to 200 three year awards will be offered to early career researchers each year.
A Proposal may only be submitted through the Research Office of an Eligible Organisation (Universities and Institutes of Higher Education in Australia). The Eligible Organisation that submits the Proposal will be the Administering Organisation.
Eligibility for Researchers
- DECRA Candidates may be nominated on no more than one Proposal in this DECRA funding round, evaluated as at the closing time of submission of Proposals, regardless of any subsequent change in, or withdrawal of, Proposals.
- A researcher may only apply for up to two DECRAs over the period in which they are eligible, unless otherwise approved by the ARC. This includes Proposals that have been withdrawn after the closing time of submission of Proposals, and Proposals which were deemed ineligible by the ARC.
DECRA Candidate and Role
- The DECRA Recipient must be an employee at the Administering Organisation for the duration of the Fellowship.
- The DECRA Recipient is expected to spend a minimum of 20 per cent of their time on activities at the Administering Organisation.
- The DECRA Recipient is expected to spend a minimum of 80 per cent of their time on research activities related to the proposed DECRA.
- The DECRA Recipient may not engage in other professional employment for the duration of the DECRA without prior approval from the ARC
- The DECRA may be awarded on a full-time basis, or a part-time basis if the DECRA Recipient is required to fulfil family and/or carer responsibilities. The DECRA may be converted to (or from) part-time at any time to enable the DECRA Recipient to fulfil family and/or carer responsibilities, or with the prior approval of the ARC to pursue exceptional research opportunities, provided that the DECRA does not exceed six years from the date of commencement (excluding any approved periods of suspension and/or maternity and/or partner/parental leave). A DECRA does not have a minimum Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) for ARC purposes, but the FTE of the DECRA Recipient for ARC purposes must match that of the DECRA Recipient’s employment contract. The Administering Organisation and not the ARC is to manage changes to the DECRA Recipient’s working hours. The Administering Organisation will notify the ARC of any changes to working hours.
Eligibility Criteria for the DECRA Candidate
A Proposal must nominate one DECRA Candidate.
A DECRA Candidate must at the closing time of submission of Proposals:
- have been awarded a PhD on or after 1 March 2012; or
- commensurate with periods of significant and consecutive career interruption, as outlined below, and as certified by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), been awarded a PhD prior to 1 March 2012. The following types of interruption will be accepted:
- disruption due to international relocation for post-doctoral studies or other research employment not exceeding three months per international relocation
- non-research employment not concurrent with research employment
- maternity or parental leave
- carers’ responsibility, including:
- being the primary carer of a dependent child, two years per dependent child;
- being the primary carer of a dependent child with extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability of the child; and/or
- other caring responsibility.
- The period(s) of significant interruption must be at least equal to the period since the award of a PhD and the closing date and time for Proposals under this Scheme. Career interruptions of less than one month will not be considered. If the DECRA Candidate holds a research higher degree which is not a PhD, it is the Administering Organisation’s responsibility to certify that the DECRA Candidate is an early career researcher and that the DECRA Candidate’s qualification meets the level 10 criteria of the Australian Qualifications Framework Second Edition January 2013. For assessing overseas qualifications please see the Country Education Profiles Online tool. A subscription fee is required to access this service. The ARC reserves the right to audit any evidence on which an application is based.
- A DECRA Recipient who is not an Australian citizen must obtain a legal right to work and reside in Australia for the duration of the ARC Award.
- A DECRA Recipient must not spend more than one third of the duration of the ARC Award outside Australia or engaged in international travel, except where ARC approval has been granted.
- A DECRA Recipient cannot concurrently receive salary from more than one Commonwealth Award. The Administering Organisation must ensure any concurrent Award held by the DECRA Recipient does not impair the capacity of the DECRA Recipient to complete the proposed Project.
- The DECRA Recipient cannot commence another ARC Fellowship or ARC Award until the entire DECRA salary component has been expended.
Proposals will be assessed and ranked using the following selection criteria:
Project Quality and Innovation (40%)
- Does the research address a significant problem?
- Is the conceptual/theoretical framework innovative and original?
- What is the potential for the research to contribute to the Science and Research Priorities?
- Will the aims, concepts, methods and results advance knowledge?
DECRA Candidate (35%)
- Research opportunity and performance evidence (ROPE); and
- Time and capacity to undertake the proposed research.
- Do the Project’s design, participants and requested budget create confidence in the timely and successful completion of the Project?
- Is there an existing, or developing, supportive and high quality environment for this Candidate, their Project and for Higher Degree by Research students where appropriate?
- Are the necessary facilities available to complete the Project?
- Will the completed Project produce significant new knowledge and/or innovative economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefit to the Australian and international community?
- Will the proposed research be cost-effective and value for money?