11 January 2022

From 2022, researchers applying for National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) funding through its track record based schemes will be asked to list up to 10 of their top publications in the past 10 years (accounting for career disruptions).

The full list of applicant publications from the past 10 years will no longer be provided to peer reviewers for their assessment.

This will help to ensure that assessment of publication track record focuses on the quality and contribution of the science rather than the quantity of publications.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said there had been a clear move in the academic community toward measuring quality, rather than quantity, of an individual’s research output.

Importantly, for those researchers who have experienced career disruption, publications can be nominated from the last 10 years plus any additional time accounting for the career disruption.

“High-quality research that is rigorous, transparent and reproducible contributes to scientific progress,” Professor Kelso said.

“This change in policy aims to make assessments fairer and to reflect NHMRC’s focus on research quality.”

Applicants will be asked to explain why each publication was selected and their contribution to each, and outline the quality of the research in the publications selected and their contribution to science.

The change builds on proposals made by the Track Record Working Group established in 2018 at the time NHMRC’s new grant program was introduced and was supported in recent sector consultation with peak bodies.

This policy will:

  • support NHMRC’s policy of emphasising the quality of publications, not the quantity, and drive sectoral change to value research quality rather than quantity of publications
  • help make assessment of publications equitable for applicants across all career stages and research fields
  • significantly reduce peer reviewer burden
  • align with publication assessment practices of many international funding agencies.

The first grant scheme to which the new policy will apply is the Investigator Grant scheme which opens in January 2022.

Publications beyond those nominated in the (up to) top ten, or those older than 10 years, can be cited in the Research Impact section of Track Record where appropriate to demonstrate the impact of the applicant’s past research.

More details, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), are available on the Publication assessment in track record page.