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Current and Emerging Issues for- NHMRC Fellowship Schemes submission

ID: 
57
Step 2 - Personal Details
First Name: 
David
Last Name: 
James
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): 
Basic science – 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): 
NHMRC Scholarships and/or Fellowships
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?: 
This is impossible to gauge right now. Best ways is to rationalise with various measures: Need to limit number of Project Grants that can be held per investigator to 5 and one investigator can only be named on 2 submissions per year.
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?: 
This is crazy. This has been suggested before and it was howled down unanimously by the community so why suggest it again. Part of the problem is that too many inappropriate people are applying. This artificially inflates the numbers. One approach might be to move toward a shared model. The institution for every fellowship application should guarantee to provide 2 of the 5 years salary for that fellow. This will have lots of important flow on effects. It will force institutions to be more discerning about who they support and it may even make them think twice about topping up fellows salaries to unacceptably high levels. Most importantly it should increase total number of fellows by at least 40%.
Question 3: Are there too many Fellowship levels? Does this structure impede the career progression of rapidly rising stars in health and medical research?: 
I dont see how this has anything to do with hampering career progression. The only limit is money. One suggestion however is that people who are already at the level of Assoc Prof or greater should be exempt from applying for CDA. ie they have to apply at SRF.
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)?: 
I do not see how this will fix anything as there will constantly be more fellows coming into the system. I think if we create more fellowships (see above) this will help a lot.
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?: 
Of course - this should always be ongoing but only to a point as much money is/can be wasted on these types of initiatives as they tend to be very self serving. Be careful. These other groups MUST be supported but not to the point where the standards fall. We must encourage good people to enter the scheme and we must help them stay and move up
Question 6: Is there a better solution to encouraging diversity in careers than those based on years post-PhD?: 
I think this is a very personal thing. Hard to legislate
Question 7: Should employing institutions be expected to provide more certainty to their employees than now? : 
Yes - see above. I really would like to encourage NHMRC to think about the 3-2 rule where institutions have to pick up 2 of 5 years. This is very doable as someone who has worked in MRIs and university sector.
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? : 
I do not support this suggestion. Young people want to know at the beginning of their careers that it may be possible to remain in a scheme and find your own way without having to worry about imponderables. This was a very powerful factor for me. If I knew at the beginning that I was going to get chucked out when I was 50 this would worry me. And I know a lot of others that would feel the same. I still argue that the 3-2 rule is a much better alternative for all concerned.
Question 9: Should this be restricted to Early Career and Career Development Fellows?: 
no comment

Page reviewed: 28 January, 2016