What grant panels need to know

QUT researchers are surveying health and medical researchers about what they will include in research applications

They want to know how much applicants will reveal, abut medical and social circumstances, including about career disruption, to the National Health and Medical Research Council.  The  team invites responders to include “a hypothetical scenario on career disruption.” The survey also asks responders to report how they would consider such information if they were peer reviewing applications.

The anonymised results, “may inform national policy on career disruption,” the QUT team suggests.

Which matters to many researchers who apply to the NHMRC, particularly to people who take time-out for caring responsibilities and especially women of an age when they are most likely to have young children – which can mean they may never catch up in the research race.

National Health and Medical Research Council head Anne Kelso has acknowledged this could be a (but not the only) reason for fewer women than men winning chief investigator grants, “when women are having their families it is then very much harder to be a full-time researcher and to do all the travel and other things that are part of being a full-time researcher and being competitive in a scheme like this which is so track-record driven,” (CMM September 16 2019).

The survey also asks whether an “independent medical panel” should assess career disruption rather than scientific experts.