AMMC Grants Program 2012: Assessment criteria
Assessment criteria and process
The Australian Marine Mammal Centre Grants Program has limited funds and competition for these funds is high. To be eligible for an AMMC Grant, projects should contribute to the AMMC research priorities. These research priorities demonstrate the need to focus on questions relevant to applied conservation management. Applicants should consider whether conservation managers will be able to use their research to minimise negative consequences of interactions between humans and marine mammals.
The research priorities are sufficiently broad to allow most research projects to establish some linkage to one or more priorities, but applicants should note that strong preference will be given to projects that
- demonstrate how the research outcomes directly inform management and policy priorities
- demonstrate how the research outcomes might lead to improved marine mammal conservation outcomes, particularly for substantial threatening processes and/or for threatened species
- are collaborative, multi-disciplinary and maximise co-investment opportunities
Applications will be assessed for their scientific merit by the National Marine Mammal Scientific Committee (NMMSC) and for their relevance, utility and priority for management and conservation needs by the National Marine Mammal Advisory Committee (NMMAC). The assessment criteria of each committee are listed below. Successful applications must score well in both criteria. Applicants should take care to minimise and avoid duplication with previously funded projects.
Conflict of Interest
Committee members, external reviewers and staff are required to divulge any Conflict of Interest in relation to:
any financial interest in the grant applicants or applications;
- any relatives or friends with a financial interest in the grant applicants or applications;
- any personal bias or inclination which would affect a decision in relation to grant applicants or applications; and
- any personal obligation, allegiance or loyalty which would in any way affect a decision in relation to the grant program
If any Conflict of Interest applies the Committee member, external reviewers and/or staff member will not assess the relevant application.
Applicants are required to declare as part of their application, existing conflicts of interest or that to the best of their knowledge there is no conflict of interest, including in relation to the examples below, that would impact on or prevent the applicant from proceeding with the project or any funding agreement it may enter into with the Australian Government.
Where an applicant subsequently identifies that an actual, apparent, or potential conflict of interest exists or might arise in relation to this application for funding, the applicant must inform the department in writing immediately.
A conflict of interest may exist, for example, if the applicant or any of its personnel:
- Has a relationship (whether professional, commercial or personal) with a party who is able to influence the application assessment process, such as a department staff member;
- Has a relationship with, or interest in, an organisation, which is likely to interfere with or restrict the applicant in carrying out the proposed activities fairly and independently; or
- Has a relationship with, or interest in, an organisation from which they will receive personal gain as a result of the granting of funding under the [Insert program name] program.
The applications are first assessed by the NMMSC for scientific merit against six criteria, each of which is scored between 0 - 5 as follows:
|1||Is the intrinsic scientific value of the project of a high standard?||
0 Not demonstrated
1 Low scientific value
2 Useful/basic scientific value
3 Good scientific value
4 Very good scientific value
5 Excellent/innovative scientific value
|2||How well will the scientific outcomes of the project address the nominated priority areas in terms of current knowledge?||
0 Not addressed
1 Poorly addressed
2 Reasonably addressed
3 Well addressed
4 Very well addressed
5 Excellently addressed
|3||Does the methodology outlined effectively and efficiently address the research questions in the proposal?||
0 Not demonstrated
1 Poor methodology
2 Reasonable methodology
3 Good methodology
4 Very good methodology
5 Excellent methodology
|4||Will the data analysis described address the objectives of this project?||
0 Not demonstrated
1 Poor data analysis proposed
2 Reasonable analysis proposed
3 Good analysis proposed
4 Very good analysis proposed
5 Excellent analysis proposed
|5||Is the research proposed feasible, well budgeted, well organised and timeline achievable?||
0 Not demonstrated
1 Feasibility, budget, organisation and timeline unrealistic
2 Feasibility, budget, organisation and timeline not properly addressed
3 Feasibility, budget, organisation and timeline sound
4 Feasibility, budget, organisation and timeline demonstrated well
5 Feasibility, budget, organisation and timeline very well demonstrated
Do you consider the Chief Investigator and research team to have appropriate track record/s, including publishing in peer review literature and/or delivery into the policy and management arena?
This criteria is inclusive of and strongly weights past performance under AMMC (and other government) grants
Please consider early career research scientists relative to their stage of career. Scores accommodate consideration of career maturity.
0 Not demonstrated
1 Poor record
2 Reasonable record
3 Good record
4 Very good record
5 The CI and research team have excellent track record/s including publishing, management delivery and grant performance
|Overall total out of 30|
The Leader, AMMC and the Coordinator, AMMC assess the eligibility of the applications. Each eligible application is assessed by two external reviewers who comment on each of the six criteria. The reviewers are selected by the Leader, AMMC and the Coordinator, AMMC based on their expertise in relevant areas. The applicant can nominate in the application if they do not wish their application to be assessed by a particular individual or members of a particular organisation.
These reviewer comments are then provided to the applicants, who are offered a right of reply. The applications are then assessed by the NMMSC who assigns a final score for each criterion. These scores are based on the comments of the reviewers, the response from the applicant and the conclusions of the NMMSC members.
Applications are then assessed for strategic relevance and value for public money by the NMMAC. The NMMSC provides a recommendation to the NMMAC of a threshold science score below which projects do not merit funding. This score will vary each year and will reflect the overall range and quality of the assessed applications. Each member of the NMMAC is provided with the scores and comments from the NMMSC. The NMMAC then determines a score on a sliding scale of 1 - 10 where a score of 1 means that there was no value for public money, and no linkage between the outcomes of the proposed research and a management need was demonstrated, and 10 means that there was high value for public money, and the research outcomes were assessed to be highly likely to directly lead to positive conservation and/or management outcomes for priority marine mammal species and issues. Generally only projects that rank 7 or above on this scale will be considered for funding.
Note: Both the NMMSC and NMMAC will not consider favourably resubmitted applications that have not taken committee feedback into account and improved upon previous years’ applications.
Projects which score above the thresholds for each committee are then compiled and ranked in order of score and submitted to the International Whale and Marine Mammal Conservation Initiatives (IWMMCI) Steering Committee to ensure the recommended applications address the research priorities and Government policy. The recommended applications are submitted to the Minister, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, for approval. As many projects as possible above the funding thresholds are supported within the funding available for each year.
Applicants, successful or unsuccessful, are provided written feedback and formal notification of the outcome. Any further feedback can be provided on request to the Coordinator, AMMC.
|10 January 2012||Research applications open|
|21 February 2012||Closing date for research applications|
|February 2012 – April 2012||Applications assigned to Australian and International expert assessors for peer-review|
|April 2012||Reviews sent to applicants for written rejoinder|
|April – May 2012||National Marine Mammal Scientific and Advisory Committee assessments|
|June 2012||Research applicants advised in writing of the outcome of applications|
Appeals will be considered only against process issues relating to the application. They will not be considered against committee decisions or assessor ratings and comments. Appeals must be lodged through the administering organisation’s research office and be received within 28 days of the date of the letter notifying the outcomes of applications. The appeal should state the grounds for appeal and be signed by the appellant.
The signed appeal should be sent to:
National Marine Mammal Advisory Committee
Australian Antarctic Division
203 Channel Highway
Kingston Tasmania 7050