Thursday, January 21, 2010


I've been doing more work on my upcoming ARC proposal including meeting with ANU's pro-VC for research (who used to work at the ARC as "Executive Director, Humanities and Creative Arts and as the co-ordinator of the Discovery Projects scheme") and getting her feedback. I've commented before that compared to the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) the Australian Research Council (ARC) appears much more focused on giving grants to excellent individuals than on giving grants to excellent projects. Another major (and obvious) difference is that the key recommendations in the ARC system are made by interdisciplinary panels of experts rather than mostly by disciplinary panels in the case of the NSF. Economics proposals go to a panel of social scientists that includes some economists and management people but also people from psychology, public health etc. This should be good for interdisciplinarity but I'm feeling it might favor proposals that are fairly vague on the methodology side but strong on explaining their national and social benefits. ARC does use experts in the field but they have only an advisory role to the panel that makes the decisions as I understand it.

The problem at NSF is they often call for interdisciplinary proposals but then allocate them for review to disciplinary experts who tend to favor proposals with minimal interdisciplinarity. At least that was my experience in the past.

It's a difficult balance to achieve.

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