Science leaders call on ARC to prevent repeat of pre-press mess

Excluding physical science applicants from funding rounds “appear to go against the tenet of equity that features heavily in ARC deliberation”

Four science learned societies have intervened in the controversy created by the Australian Research Council excluding research applications that included references to pre-prints. This breached a new, and apparently not clearly communicated ARC Rule (umpteen CMM stories from August 20).

The ARC excluded 30 apps, for Future Fellowships and Discovery Early Career grants, all from researchers in the physical sciences.

“This appears to go against the tenet of equity that features heavily in ARC deliberations. The removal from consideration of some of these grants must call into question the overall excellence of this funding round for these schemes, the presidents of the Australian Institute of Physics, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Astronomical Society of Australia and Australian Mathematical Society warn ARC chief executive Sue Thomas.  They hope the formal appeals process “will lead to a swift and fair resolution.” The four also say the next Australian National Audit Office review of the ARC, “should reflect on this critical issue.”  Greens senator, Mehreen Faruqi has called on the ANAO to specifically investigate the ARC over the pre-press citation ban (CMM September 30).

While the learned societies acknowledge the ARC has responded quickly, “ultimately aligning the handling of pre-prints with modern publication standards and research methods,” they warn the ARC must not use the ban on pre-print citations for the next Discovery Grants round.

The four also call on the research council o set up a “formal process for involving learned societies in the development of new AC rules and procedures.