ARC appeals decision relief; new delay concern

Today’s announcement that the Australian Research Council will fund fellowships for six brilliant early career scientists after successful appeals on the now-reversed pre-prints rule is a relief.

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Science & Technology Australia applauds the tenacity of the many scientists who pursued this result, in a hugely stressful six months as they pushed to stop their careers from being derailed.

The decision of the ARC appeals committee to rule 32 applicants eligible after further consideration of how the pre-prints rule was applied is the right call.

Among the 26 remaining researchers who were not awarded a fellowship due to their ranking in the competitive ranking scheme, 3 would have missed a last chance to apply for a fellowship.

We are pleased to see the decision by ARC CEO Professor Sue Thomas to ensure these 3 researchers will be ruled eligible to apply again for fellowships in the next round.

The six researchers will receive a combined $2.8 million in funding under the ARC’s 2021 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award and 2022 ARC Future Fellowships schemes.

We thank the ARC for these announcements today.

While these developments are welcome, there is deep consternation in Australia’s science and technology community about a separate significant delay in the latest ARC funding rounds.

“These fellowships are welcome vindication for these brilliant early career scientists – the future of the profession – whose careers were almost derailed,” said Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert.

“We’re also relieved and thankful that researchers who missed out on fellowships in this round have been ruled eligible to apply again.”

“This is a victory for tenacity – and for common sense.”

Throughout this year, STA has worked with the leadership of the nation’s professional scientific societies – our members – to seek a resolution for these brilliant researchers.

“The leadership of our scientific societies championed this issue tirelessly over the past six months, speaking up for their early career colleagues.”

“It’s a powerful demonstration to all scientists of the value of contributing actively to your professional scientific society in your discipline – and through them STA. They are a lifeline.”

“Despite today’s good news, STA is deeply concerned about the significant delay in the expected announcements of Discovery and ARC Linkages Projects.”

“We urge a swift announcement to give certainty to scientists who are in limbo – and whose skills are desperately needed to drive Australia’s economic recovery and solve Australia’s biggest challenges.”

STA represents 90,000 science and technology professionals spanning the research system, the private sector, commercialisation hubs and deep-tech startups.

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