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Current and Emerging Issues for- NHMRC Fellowship Schemes submission

ID: 
22
Step 2 - Personal Details
First Name: 
Alexandra
Last Name: 
Martiniuk
Step 3 - A. Some questions for you
1. Which of the following best explains your interest in NHMRC’s fellowship schemes: (select ONE only): 
I am currently working in the health and medical research sector
2. If you are a health and medical researcher, which of the following descriptions best classifies your research? (select ONE only): 
Health services research – please complete the next two questions
3. If you are a health and medical researcher, which of the following best describes the main source of funding that supports your salary? (select ONE only): 
grants from organisations other than NHMRC.
Step 3 - B. Consultations questions
Question 1: How should NHMRC’s funding balance between research grants and fellowships be adjusted as the total number of Project Grants available falls progressively over the next few years?: 
No comment
Question 2: To increase the turnover of NHMRC Research Fellows, should these schemes be seen as ‘up and out schemes’, whereby Fellows wishing to reapply can only do so at a higher level?: 
Yes
Question 3: Are there too many Fellowship levels? Does this structure impede the career progression of rapidly rising stars in health and medical research?: 
Yes For instance, according to my years postdoctoral I was eligible for NHMRC CDF1 however was required to apply to CDF2 as I had just been promoted to Associate Professor.
Question 4: Noting the implications outlined in the Issues paper, should NHMRC extend the duration of Early Career Fellowships to more than 4 years and Career Development Fellowships beyond 5 years (to 7 or 10 years)?: 
Yes It is challenging to lead innovative, translational research in such short time frames. Supervising PHD and postdoctoral students is challenging when one "loses" job / job salary regularly. The time required to prepare fellowship applications can be up to 3 months taking precious time away from conducting actual research.
Question 5: Should NHMRC identify and support strategic priority areas in order to build capacity for the future? What else should be done to support women and increase participation and success by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers?: 
Yes Strategic areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, health services research and knowledge translation should be priority areas As a women I have found the career pathway challenging. I've been in stressful women specific situations during submission times, or have missed key career trajectory points (eg CIA on grants) due to sickness of pregnancy, maternity leave or breastfeeding and sleep deprivation in the first year to year and a half of life. The stress of expiring fellowships constantly occuring through all of the child rearing, and the focus on promotion and fellowship success being on CIA on large grants is a challenge as a woman. Such that I have thought (and may seriously) leave academia for a more stable job situation. This would be departing at the A/Prof level, a shame I think.
Question 6: Is there a better solution to encouraging diversity in careers than those based on years post-PhD?: 
Yes - we really must value time spent in other areas eg policy development, knowledge translation, innovation/patenting, commercialisation, supervising postgraduate students - not just crude measures of years post-PHD
Question 7: Should employing institutions be expected to provide more certainty to their employees than now? : 
Yes if it would be possible that would be ideal. Currently, even if applying /awarded an NHMRC fellowship one must "shop around" a university or research institute willing to host - this has large budget implications given the salary shortfall I have several times had 1 year or more between fellowships and these years between have not built my career and I'm often asked why I have such a diverse CV (academic areas) - not due to choice or lack of focus - but instead due to the dire need to get a job in any area which is hiring. Progressively difficult to find as one becomes mid-career or more senior. As a woman, and main bread-winner in my family - consistently on short term contracts due to short term fellowships - this underlies my reasons for potentially leaving academia/research as a career.
Question 8: Would this be achieved if NHMRC required institutions to commit to one or more years of ongoing support for researchers exiting from NHMRC Fellowships? : 
Yes, this would be a great start. the increasing competition in NHMRC Fellowship schemes, coupled with the increasing numbers of people graduating globally with PHDs and combined with the reduction in mid-career to senior faculty positions - has led to beyond stressful circumstances for the individual researcher.
Question 9: Should this be restricted to Early Career and Career Development Fellows?: 
Potentially yes

Page reviewed: 28 January, 2016