ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award 2020 Resource Page (DE20)

Scheme Overview

The Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) grant opportunity provides focused research support for early career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions. The objectives of the DECRA grant opportunity are to:

  • support excellent basic and applied research by early career researchers
  • advance promising early career researchers and promote enhanced opportunities for diverse career pathways
  • enable research and research training in high quality and supportive environments
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities.

It is anticipated that up to 200 three-year DECRAs will be awarded to commence in 2020.

Further details can found on the ARC webpage

Key Dates

We strongly advise that you commence an application on RMS as soon as possible. This will enable the Grants Management Office (GMO) and Research Strategy Office (RSO) to track your progress and ensure that you have all the strategic, eligibility and compliance support you need.

Applications Open Monday 15 October 2018
RSO Deadline for C2 Statements Friday 22 February 2019
GMO Deadline for Request Not to Assess Monday 25 February 2019 - for submission to the ARC by 27 February 2019
GMO Internal Compliance & Eligibility Deadline Wednesday 13 February 2019
RSO Internal Deadline  Monday 4 March 2019
Final Application to GMO for submission to ARC Tuesday 12 March 2019, 9am
ARC Deadline Wednesday 13 March 2019, 5pm
Rejoinder Period  *20 June to 4 July 2019
Anticipated Announcements *Fourth Quarter 2019

*Please note that these are approximate dates and are subject to change

**New process for requesting the ARC to review an Assessment:

During the Rejoinder period, the participants and Research Office staff may identify an assessment that contains inappropriate elements, as detailed below, and may wish to have this reviewed by the ARC.

To request the ARC to review an assessment, an ARC Assessment Review Request form (PDF Format - Word Format) must be submitted through the Research Office of the Administering Organisation. The form must be received within 3 days after opening of the Rejoinder period for all NCGP schemes with the exception of Linkage Projects where the form is to be received within 2 working days from the Rejoinder opening due to the nature of the scheme.

  • For NCGP schemes other than Linkage Projects, this means, if Rejoinders open on the Wednesday, forms must be received by COB Friday.
  • For Linkage Projects, if Rejoinders open on the Wednesday, forms must be received by COB Thursday. 

Criteria that may be considered by the ARC for review: 

  • Defamatory comment/s
  • Evidence of assessor conflict
  • Discriminatory/biased comments
  • Brief assessment text (less than 50 words)
  • Scores included within the assessment text
  • Assessment text does not match with application
  • Comments in the assessment regarding application eligibility
  • Comments in the assessment regarding the National Interest Test statement (not applicable in all schemes)
  • Comments in the assessment regarding Research Output display errors.


DECRA 2020 Resource Page Contents

  1. Faculty | Head of School Endorsement and Statement by Administering Organisation
  2. Request Not to Access (RNTA) Process
  3. Compliance & Eligibility Advice (Grants Management Office | GMO)
  4. Strategic Advice (Research Strategy Office | RSO)
  5. GMO Successful Grants Library
  6. ARC Medical Research Policy
  7. ARC Documentation
  8. Application Tool kit and Strategic Templates
  9. Budget Information and Resources
  10. Research Management System
  11. Adding your ORCID iD (important new feature to reduce repetitive entry into RMS applications)
1. Faculty | Head of School Endorsement and Statement by Administering Organisation
  • Obtaining Head of School Support Prior to Application Commencement

All applicants must discuss their intention to submit a DECRA proposal with their Head of School/Centre Director in the first instance to confirm support the application.
Head of School sign-off is required prior to an ARC submission. In addition, the support provided by your individual school will need to be clearly detailed in the project-specific strategic statement within your DE20 application, so it is beneficial to start conversations early on.
Faculty Associate Deans of Research are required to approve all applications proceeding in their Faculty and will be liaising with the Research Strategy Office about their potential list of applicants. Applications that do not have the endorsement of the relevant Associate Dean Research (ADR) will not be submitted to the ARC. The HR Heads of School Page provides a list of all current Head of Schools and ADRs

  • Procedure for Part C2: Statement by Administering Organisation

All applicants who have commenced an application in RMS will receive a C2 Statement template in January. Your C2 Statement should be completed in consultation with your DECRA mentor and Head of School. Email your completed template to the Research Strategy Office (RSO) by Friday 22 February 2019. The RSO will also require an email from your Head of School confirming her/her support of your application. The Head of School approval email is to be obtained by the applicant and then forwarded to RSO (please cc the Head of School in your email to RSO).

2. Request Not to Assess (RNTA) Process

Applicants may name up to three person potential assessors whom they do not wish to assess their Proposal by submitting a Request Not to Assess Form. (RNTA)

In extraordinary circumstances, the ARC may consider a request for more than three persons only if direct and comprehensive evidence justifying the exclusion of each named person can be provided. However, the ARC has now clarified that if they consider the evidence insufficient for one or more of the named people in any request of more than three, the whole RNTA may be rejected, including the initial three.

In addition if a person nomination on a Request Not To Assess form is an ARC College of Experts Member, comprehensive evidence justifying the exclusion of the College Member will also be required - Check the complete list of ARC College of Experts

  • The RNTA must be submitted to the GMO by Monday 25 February 2019
3. Compliance & Eligibility Advice (Grants Management Office | GMO)

All intending applicants should initiate an application on RMS as soon as possible.

You will be advised of the details of your Compliance Advisor shortly after the UNSW internal deadline of Wednesday 13 February 2019 or once you have submitted your application to Research Office on RMS. As soon as your Proposal is ready for Compliance and Eligibility Review (all sections GREEN in RMS ) Submit the proposal to the GMO via RMS by clicking on "Submit to the Research Office" button. This will enable the RSO and GMO to track your process and ensure that you have all the advice and eligibility and compliance support you need.

Note that the ARC will not respond directly to enquiries from researchers – they request and expect that enquiries are made through the Grants Management Office. For RMS technical issues, please contact the Systems Team-

ARC DECRA Eligibility

  • The individual named in an application as the DECRA candidate must satisfy all the eligibility criteria as a DECRA candidate.
  • A previous recipient of a DECRA is not eligible to apply for another DECRA.
  • An individual who has applied for a DECRA on two previous occasions is not eligible to apply again. This includes withdrawn and ineligible applications.
  • To be eligible the DECRA candidate must, as at the grant opportunity closing date (13 March 2019);
    • have met the obligations regarding previously funded projects, including submission to the ARC of satisfactory final reports.
    • have an award of PhD Date on, or after 1 March 2014; or
    • have an award of PhD Date together with allowable career interruptions that would be commensurate with an Award of PhD Date on or after 1 March 2014. The allowable career interruptions that will be considered, and the period allowed for each are in the Table below.
  • A DECRA candidate can be concurrently funded through the Discovery Program for a maximum of: one ARC Fellowship and one project as a Chief Investigator (CI); or one ARC Fellowship or project if the individual is also a CI or Director on an active ARC Centre of Excellence or a Special Research Initiative project. Limits will be calculated at the closing time for submission of applications, and may be re-calculated as other grant opportunity announcements are made
  • The allowable career interruptions that will be considered, and the period allowed for each is in the Table below. Each period of career interruption must be:
    • significant and not overlapping;
    • for a period of greater than one month; and
    • certified by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Allowable career interruptions reasons and timeframes for DECRA;

Reason for Career Interruptions

Time which can be claimed

Disruption due to international relocation.

A period of time commensurate with the interruption not exceeding three months per international relocation.

  • Carer’s responsibilities
  • Illness or disability
  • Maternity or parental leave
  • Unemployment
  • Non-research employment not concurrent with research employment

A period of time commensurate with the interruption will be considered.

Being the primary carer of a dependent child (inclusive of carer’s responsibilities and any maternity or parental leave)

Two years per dependent child, inclusive of any period of maternity or other parental leave, with no maximum identified.

A primary carer who has had extensive caring responsibilities for a dependent child may be granted a further extension (in addition to the two years) with justification. This may be due to the child being ill or having a disability.


Eligibility to hold (Discovery Program Grant Guideline 2018 clause C3.12 to C3.14)

C3.12 The DECRA may be undertaken on either a full-time, or part-time, basis subject to Your organisation’s employment conditions and provided that the DECRA does not exceed six years from the date of commencement (excluding any approved periods of suspension).

C3.14 The DECRA candidate:

  1. must obtain a legal right to work and reside in Australia, prior to the commencement of the project if the candidate is not an Australian citizen;
  2. must not spend more than one third of the project activity period outside Australia, except where We have approved such activity;
  3. is expected to spend a minimum of 80 per cent per cent of full time equivalent (FTE) (or pro-rata part-time equivalent) of their time on research activities related to the DECRA;
  4. may spend a maximum of 0.2 FTE (or pro-rata part-time equivalent) of their time on activities not related to the DECRA. This may include teaching. The DECRA will not be extended to accommodate any periods of teaching. Supervision of honours or postgraduate students is not included in this limit;
  5. must relinquish any fellowships or awards. The DECRA may hold honorary or non-remunerated fellowships or awards. You must ensure that honorary or non-remunerated fellowships will not impair the capacity of the DECRA to complete the project. You must obtain Our approval for any responsibilities assumed after the award;
  6. cannot begin another ARC Fellowship until the DECRA has been completed; and
  7. may not engage in other professional employment during the project activity period without prior approval from Us (ARC)
4. Strategic Advice (Research Strategy Office | RSO)

The Research Strategy Office (RSO) is available for strategic advice on the scope, nature and suitability of any proposed project, how to address the selection criteria including track record, and general grantsmanship advice. RSO will review your proposal and if you would like strategic assistance in the development of your application please send your draft proposal as a Word file, to

  • RSO Deadline - Monday 4 March 2019
5. GMO Successful Grants Library

The Grants Management Office houses a digital library of successful UNSW applications for a wide range of schemes, including ARC DECRA Projects. Consulting successful grant applications can provide ideas on structuring your proposal and a better understanding of the level at which your proposal should be pitched.

Conditions for viewing successful Grants:

  • Access is restricted to UNSW employees and students. You must bring your current UNSW Staff ID card with you when you visit the library.
  • The applications may only be viewed at the Grants Management Office. Grants will be viewed digitally, but no part of the application is permitted to be printed, digitally copied nor photographed. You may take notes.

Make an appointment to visit the Library:
Email your request to, from your UNSW email account, including the following information:

  1. Name, position and school/Faculty (e.g. your UNSW email signature)
  2. The scheme(s) you would like to view (e.g. "ARC DECRA Projects")
  3. Scheduling requirements, preferred date and time i.e morning or afternoon

Bookings are essential, to ensure availability please request a booking 2 working days prior to the time you would like to visit the library.

6. ARC Medical Research Policy

(Version 2018.1 is effective from 11 September 2018)

The ARC definition of medical and health research includes laboratory-based studies, clinical studies and group/community-based studies that aim to understand the causes, treatment and/or prevention of human diseases and/or the maintenance of human health. The ARC does not fund DECRAs with these aims.
Applications will be considered ineligible for funding under the ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program if they include pre-clinical or clinical medical or health research, including investigations in which humans, animals, or their tissues are used to assess new treatments (including chemical, pharmaceutical, electronic, mechanical, bioengineering treatments), interventions or tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat, understand, diagnose or manage a human disease or medical condition.

Please review the full ARC Medical Policy, if you have any questions contact the Research Grants and Contracts.

7. ARC Documentation

ARC Discovery Program


The ARC no longer publishes Funding rules, documentation and guidelines on their website. All scheme documentation is now published on GrantConnect. You will need to sign in and create a User Registration account in GrantConnect to access all relevant documentation for Grant Opportunities. Go to the GrantConnect website.

8. Strategic Templates
9. Application toolkit and Budget Information and Resources

You will be required to use your UNSW zID and password to access these documents

  • Salary Scales for Grant Budgeting - Details of UNSW Salary Scales. Use these worksheets to budget academic, professional and casual salaries with appropriate on-costs for 2020.
  • The 2018/2019 ATO Rates can act as a guide for sourcing travel rates and indicate the maximum amount permitted. You should only request what you know you need - ATO rates are primarily aimed at business travel and as such, may seem high for some destinations. If you have experience travelling to certain areas and thus know what a realistic figure would be, this should be used in place of the ATO rates.
  • UNSW preferred Travel agents: Voyager, STA, Campus and Anywhere Travel. Travel booked via UNSW preferred suppliers are automatically loaded into MyTrips.
  • Commercial airlines / travel sites / other travel agents: Travellers my book directly with airlines or through other travel sites e.g. or If travel is booked through these sites, then you must record your travel details in MyTrips as the University is required to maintain a record of where travellers are at any time.
  • Mark Wainwright Analytics Centre - The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC) is part of the Division of Research. We manage major instrumentation used by researchers for the study of the structure and composition of biological, chemical and physical materials. Our facilities are housed in custom-built laboratories, mainly in the Lowy, Wallace Wurth and Chemical Sciences buildings.The Centre's major Research Facilities are accessible to all staff and students of UNSW, as well as to external researchers. Government and industry users are also welcome. Staff of the Centre provide research collaboration, technical support, education and training to researchers accessing the facilities.
  • UNSW Stats Central is available to provide a free statistical review of 2019 grant proposals. All applicants are strongly advised to make use of this service. Stats Central is UNSW’s statistical consulting and collaboration unit, a Strategy 2025 initiative based in the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre. The unit offers free study design advice to UNSW researchers, and applications are allocated to a suitable reviewer by Dr Nancy Briggs. It is advised that you consult with a statistician as early as possible when preparing design/analysis aspects of your grant proposal, ideally before you start writing it. Before submitting for review, you can also consult checklists which provide guidelines on statistical design and presentation of research data for publication, for example:

  • Research Technology Services - Data Management - It is important for you to maintain good data management records and practices with considerations about proper data storage, access, retention and reuse. Having good data management records and practices allows you to uphold the quality and integrity of your data, which contributes to maximising the impact of your research. The ResData system allows you to create an Research Data Management Plan (RDMP) to capture project details, data classification, IP and copyright, arrangements including but not limited to data storage, access and re-use. Creating an RDMP on the ResData system also allows you to provision storage on the Data Archive, a secure, long-term data storage solution for UNSW researchers. You are strongly encouraged to start an RDMP on the ResData system at the beginning of your project, and continue to keep it up-to-date until the end of your project.

Additional resources can be found on the Grant Application and Management Resource page 

For complete details in budget and expenditure refer to the ARC Discovery Program Grant Guidelines 2018

Eligible expenditure

C4.1 The grant money can be used for the activities set out in these grant guidelines and the grant agreement including:

       a. salary and on-costs for the DECRA recipient;

       b. projects costs outlined in Section 6.4, subject to limitations in the clause below

       c. in addition to the projects costs, up to one HDR stipend per application.

C4.2 Travel costs essential to the project, as detailed below (Section 6.4 ARC Discovery Program Guidelines) may be supported up to $50,000 over the project activity period. Travel and accommodation costs related to carrying out Field Research or any carer's costs are not included in this $50,000 limits

Section 6.4 ARC Discovery Program Grant Guidelines 2018 Grant money may be requested and used for budget items that directly support the research project contained in an application, including the following items:

  1. access to national and international research and infrastructure facilities including specialist archives, collections and databases;
  2. access to technical workshop services linked to and justified explicitly against the project (for example, machine tools and qualified technicians);
  3. expenditure on field research essential to the project, including technical and logistical support and travel expenses (accommodation, meals and incidental costs) (see Parts C to E);
  4. expert services of a third party if the services are directly related to and essential for the project. Such services include, but are not limited to:

                    (i) language translation services, transcribing services;

                   (ii) purchase of bibliographical or archival material (electronic or hard copy); and

                  (iii) data collection and analysis services;

  1. equipment (and its maintenance) and consumables essential for the project. Funding will not be provided for equipment or consumables that are considered to be for broad general use;
  2. publication and dissemination of project research outputs and outreach activity costs;
  3. personnel, for example postdoctoral research associates, research assistants, technicians and laboratory attendants. Salary support must be requested at an appropriate salary level for Your organisation, including 30 per cent on-costs. Where the relevant parts of these grant guidelines contain a specified salary level, only funding up to this level may be requested from Us;
  4. stipends for HDR candidates at a rate of $27,094 per year ;
  5. specialised computer equipment and software essential to the project;
  6. travel costs essential to the project, as specified in the relevant part of these grant guidelines (see Parts A to E);
  7. web hosting and web development specific to the project;
  8. workshops, focus groups and conferences that are essential for the conduct of the project (including reasonable hospitality costs such as morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea); and
  9. reasonable essential costs to allow a participant who is a carer, or who personally requires care or assistance, to undertake travel essential to the project (see Parts A to E).

ARC funds cannot be used for:

Section 6.7 ARC Discovery Program Grant Guidelines 2018 You cannot request or use grant money for the following activities:

  1. bench fees or similar laboratory access fees;
  2. capital works and general infrastructure costs;
  3. costs not directly related to the project, including but not limited to professional membership fees, professional development courses, fees for patent application and maintenance, equipment for live music or drama performances, equipment for gallery/museum exhibits, visas, relocation costs, entertainment costs, insurance, mobile phones (purchase or call charges) and other indirect costs;
  4. fees for international students or the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) and Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) liabilities for students;
  5. salaries and/or on-costs and/or HDR stipends for CIs or PIs, in whole or in part; and
  6. salary top ups for personnel above the salary level specified in these grant guidelines.

Your budget must be realistic, accurate and precise. A considered and well justified budget contributes to the feasibility aspect of your project when under assessment and may also translate into a higher level of award funding

10. Research Management Systems (RMS)

RMS is a web-based system used to prepare and submit research applications, assessments and rejoinders for all Australian Research Councils Grant Programs. Registered users can login in using your email address and password at To request a new account, go to and click on the Request New Account link.

Key documents and links

New feature in RMS - Research Output auto-population in RMS

From November 2018, researchers will be able to auto-populate their research output data into their ARC RMS person profiles and application forms. This auto-population could occur a number of ways including exporting data from ORCID and BibTeX, using a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to automatically harvest output metadata, and there will also be an option to upload manually RMS User Guide - Research Output Instructions

How to Access and Update your Personal profile:

Login to RMS 2.0
On your home screen, known as the ‘Action Centre’, find the ‘Person Profile’ section
Click on each of the Personal Profile sections in turn (‘Personal Details’, ‘Qualifications’ and ‘Employment’) and enter your details where any fields are blank.

How to Request a New Account:

If you have never had an RMS account, visit the RMS 2.0 homepage and click “request new account”. A new screen will appear where you can enter your details.

  1. Under “Admin Organisation”, select “The University of New South Wales”. This allows UNSW to administer your account and track your proposal once you commence an application
  2. Once you complete your details and click “register” at the bottom of the screen, you will be sent an automatic email asking you to validate your email address. Click the link to confirm your address.
  3. Your request will be sent to the GMO and ARC for approval. This may take several business days.
  4. Once approved, you will receive an automatic email with instructions for setting up your password. Once this is complete, you will be able to log in to RMS 2.0 and begin setting up your personal profile.

Step by step screen shots of the above processes and additional user instructions are available at the ARC RMS 2.0 Information Page or access RMS User Guide

For RMS technical issues, please contact the Systems Team-


11. Adding your ORCID iD

From November 2018 researchers will be able to auto-populate their research output data into their ARC RMS person profiles and application forms.

What does this mean for researchers?

Your RMS ‘Person Profile’ will be enhanced to include your research output data. Your research output data will be harvested from ORCID by authenticating your ORCID ID in RMS and adding the ARC as a trusted party.

You can choose to enter the data manually, or alternatively, use the ‘bulk upload’ facility. Once the data is entered into your RMS person profile, it can be used to auto-populate proposals without having to manually create and update your documents each time you submit a project proposal.

These changes are now in place and all RMS users will be able to auto-populate their research output data in RMS, this will allow researchers to add their research output data from their ORCID profile directly into their Discovery Projects (DP) scheme 2020 application forms.