News

Medical institutes top in quality of research grant applications

Burnet Institute

18 July, 2014

By Andrew Trounson, published in The Australian

MEDICAL research institutes top a new ranking on the average quality of grant applications but both Monash and Melbourne universities also make it into the top 10 despite the significantly larger numbers of applications they submit.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has released for the first time the average quality ratings of 2013 project applications by institution. It is part of a transparency drive to encourage universities to focus on submitting only competitive applications. Falling success rates have sparked concerns in the sector that too much time is being wasted on submitting and assessing uncompetitive grants.

All institutions comfortably made an average quality rating of at least 4 on the NHMRC’s quality scale, indicating that their average application was “good” and likely worthy of funding. But that is no longer enough.

The NHMRC rates applications on a scale of 1-7 with 1 being poor, 2 unsatisfactory, 3 marginal, 4 good, 5 very good, 6 excellent, and 7 outstanding by international standards.

NHMRC CEO Warwick Anderson has said that increasing competition for grants means that almost all applications rated at 4 are likely to have been culled in the initial assessment phase of 2014 round, the final results of which will be announced in October. Last year only 16.9 per cent of the 3821 project grant applications submitted were funded.

“It is very tough out there to get a grant,” Professor Anderson said.

Just three institutions generated average quality score of five: the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Macfarlane Burnet Institute took out the top three places in a list. WEHI’s performance was particularly strong given it was made 96 applications, compared with just 12 for the SAHMRI and 26 from the Macfarlane Burnet.

Monash came eighth to be the highest ranked university with an average score of 4.932 across its 429 applications, while Melbourne was ninth at 4.916 across its 485 applications. Despite that Melbourne generated a 20.2 per cent grant success rate against Monash’s 17.5 per cent.

The lowest average rating was 4.507 for University of Western Sydney across its 37 applications, followed by Deakin at 5.530 across its 54 applications and Edith Cowan at 4.532 across its 14 applications.

Across all applications submitted the average quality rating was 4.858.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)

Telephone

+61392822174

Email

brendan.crabb@burnet.edu.au

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