AAMRI feedback on the 2019 NHMRC Investigator Grants Peer Review process

AAMRI feedback on the 2019 NHMRC Investigator Grants Peer Review process

14th November, 2019

In this submission, AAMRI would like to put forward feedback from medical researchers on the first round of the Investigator Grant scheme, particularly regarding the peer review process. After the grant outcomes were announced in August, AAMRI invited feedback from members through focus groups and over 40 individual discussions which were held throughout September. The intention is that this feedback will assist the NHMRC with ongoing development and improvement of the grant program over the coming years.

Overall, researchers were supportive of the new grant program and the Investigator Grant scheme, particularly the move to combine both salary and research support together in one grant. There was widespread support for the recent change to be introduced in the 2020 round whereby written comments from reviewers will be provided to applicants once outcomes are announced. This additional feedback on the application will greatly assist unsuccessful applicants to refine and improve their applications for resubmission in future rounds.

The main concerns about the Investigator Grants were on aspects of the peer review process including the composition of panels, the limitations on panel discussions and lack of sufficient guidance for scoring grants, particularly for Leadership grants (L1, L2 and L3). Feedback from researchers has also identified two emerging systemic issues with the scheme – poor funding outcomes for mid-career researchers and continuing gender disparity, particularly at senior levels. Both of these issues have been carried over from the previous grant program and will need to be addressed if we are to see improvements.

Full submission available to download below.