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Issue 18 – October 2015

From the Associate Dean Research The quest for external research funding is continuous but there are particular ‘seasons’ when the energies of many researchers in BE, UNSW and the Australian tertiary sector generally are directed intensively to preparing for various grant opportunities. A primary goal of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage projects is to support the initiation and/or development of long-term strategic research alliances between higher education providers and other industry organisations and research end-users. UNSW did very well in the 2015 application round with 32 successful applications across the University. On average these attracted nearly $200,000 of industry money for an average grant size of over $320,000. The success rate of applications was about 47%. With a view to enhancing BE’s contribution to securing external income through research partnerships, a workshop was held on 29 September to discuss the art (and science) of competitive grant applications. We were joined by James Walsh from UNSW Research Strategy and Partnerships who gave an extended presentation on strategically preparing for the forthcoming ARC Linkage Grant round. This gave many insights into the application and assessment process, flagging key issues to take into account for the strongest applications. Several were emphasised. One was the critical importance of conveying in compelling terms ‘significance & innovation’ and documenting ‘partner organisation commitment’ in applications. A second was the need to provide as much contextual information as feasible in documenting track records, with attention to citations and any other measurable evidence to convey and benchmark the impact of one’s work. A third issue raised concerned the implications of the ARC moving toward a ‘word cloud’ distillation of essential application text to help select assessors (drawn primarily from the ranks of successful applicants in the last 5 years). And fourth was the intriguing possibility of ‘cashless’ Linkage grants for selected partnerships with certain stakeholders such as charities, museums and non-profit organisations. The seminar was followed by a roundtable discussion on several proposed faculty projects currently in development. Success in external research funding is vital to the vitality, profile and productivity of BE as a research entity and this workshop provided many insights into how to structure strong applications. The internal deadline for Grants Management Office compliance for this year’s Linkage grants is 21 October 2015. This date will not be long gone before preparation for next year’s ARC Discovery Project round commences (note, with an early internal deadline of 2 February 2016). Rob Freestone Associate Dean Research

Built Environment Research News: October 2015