5. Eligibility

NHMRC staff will not make eligibility rulings prior to an application being submitted. It is up to the applicant, in consultation with their Research Administration Officer (RAO), to judge whether or not their application will be suitable.

CDFs have eligibility criteria additional to those identified in section 7 of the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017. Applications will be excluded from consideration if eligibility requirements are not met or if NHMRC requirements have not been followed (see section 10.7 of the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017).

5.1 Qualifications

5.1.1 CDF Level 1

Applicants at CDF Level 1 will normally be at least two years and must be less than seven years (as at 31 March in the year of application) from the date that their Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) thesis was passed (not date of degree conferral), unless career disruptions exist (see section 6.2.1 of the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017). Applicants must include evidence of the PhD thesis pass date in their application.

For CDF eligibility the career disruption must involve one or both of the following:

  • a continuous absence from work for 28 calendar days or more
  • continuous, long-term, part-time employment (with defined % full time equivalent (FTE)) due to circumstances classified as career disruption, with the absence amounting to a total of 28 calendar days or more. For example, an applicant who is employed at 0.8 FTE due to childcare responsibilities would need to continue this for at least 140 calendar days to achieve a career disruption of 28 calendar days.

The only documents that will be accepted as evidence for career disruption are medical certificates and letters from an applicant’s employer summarising the duration (including start date, end date, %FTE) and type of leave taken and/or part-time employment (e.g. maternity leave, sick leave).

An example of acceptable career disruption evidence is provided on the NHMRC website.

5.1.2 CDF Level 2

Applicants at CDF Level 2 will normally be at least seven years and must be less than 12 years (as at 31 March in the year of application) from the date that their PhD thesis was passed (not date of degree conferral), unless career disruptions exist (see section 6.2.1 of the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017). Applicants must include evidence of the PhD thesis pass date in their application.

For CDF eligibility the career disruption must involve one or both of the following:

  • a continuous absence from work for 28 calendar days or more
  • continuous, long-term, part-time employment (with defined %FTE) due to circumstances classified as career disruption, with the absence amounting to a total of 28 calendar days or more. For example, an applicant who is employed at 0.8 FTE due to childcare responsibilities would need to continue this for at least 140 calendar days to achieve a career disruption of 28 calendar days.

The only documents that will be accepted as evidence for career disruption are medical certificates and letters from an applicant’s employer summarising the duration (including start date, end date, FTE) and type of leave taken and/or part-time employment (e.g. maternity leave, sick leave).

An example of acceptable career disruption evidence is provided on the NHMRC website.

5.1.3 Equivalent research qualification or experience

Applicants who do not hold a PhD but can demonstrate an equivalent research qualification or experience may also be eligible to apply. This is a qualification or experience equivalent to the level 10 criteria of the Australian Qualifications Framework Second Edition January 2013.

Eligibility restrictions in terms of time elapsed since the qualification or relevant research experience was obtained as stated in sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 above still apply.

5.2 Multiple Applications

Applicants with less than seven years from the date that their PhD thesis was passed (not date of degree conferral) are eligible to apply at either CDF Level 1 or CDF Level 2, but not both.

If an applicant submits applications at both CDF Level 1 and CDF Level 2, both applications will be ineligible.

If an applicant submits multiple applications at the same CDF level, all their applications will be ineligible, even if they are submitted in different categories.

5.3 Professor and Associate Professor Applicants

Given that an aim of the CDF scheme is to “develop Australian health and medical early to mid-career researchers so they establish themselves as independent, self-directed researchers”, the following eligibility restrictions apply:

5.3.1 Professorial positions and titles

Applicants who have been appointed to a Professorial position (including Adjunct, Clinical, Conjoint, Honorary, etc. positions) by an institution or have a Professorial title at time of application are not eligible to apply for either level of CDF.

5.3.2 Associate Professorial positions and titles

Applicants who have been appointed to an Associate Professorial position (including Adjunct, Clinical, Conjoint, Honorary, etc. positions) by an institution or have an Associate Professor title at time of application are not eligible to apply for a CDF Level 1.

5.4 Current or Former CDF, Research Fellowship or Practitioner Fellowship Holders

CDFs are a non-renewable award.

Prior to the 2007 application year (for awards commencing in 2008), CDAs were a single level award of five years duration. Those who have held or currently hold one of these ‘old scheme’ CDAs:

  • are not eligible to apply at CDF Level 1
  • are eligible to apply for a CDF at Level 2 if they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Applicants who have held or currently hold a CDF Level 1 award:

  • are not eligible to apply for a CDF at Level 1
  • are eligible to apply for a CDF at Level 2 if they meet all other eligibility requirements. If the applicant is successful in their application to CDF Level 2 and accepts the award, they must relinquish their current CDF Level 1.

Applicants who have held or currently hold a CDF Level 2 award are not eligible to apply for a CDF Level 1 or CDF Level 2.

Applicants who have held or currently hold an NHMRC Research Fellowship or Practitioner Fellowship are not eligible to apply for either level of CDF.

5.5 Citizenship

For information on citizenship, refer to the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017, section 7.4.

Note: Applicants who are not Australian Citizens (as indicated in Pro-PD: Personal Details of their Profile in RGMS) must indicate their Permanent Resident of Australia status in the same section, otherwise the application will be ineligible.

5.6 Time Commitment

5.6.1 Full-time Career Development Fellowships

These are intended to provide support for fellows who are employed at 1.0 FTE to engage in research. Full-time fellows are expected to devote a minimum of 80% of this time (i.e. 0.8 FTE) to achieving the outcomes of the Fellowship.

The remaining 0.2 FTE may be spent on activities directly related to research under the Fellowship, including commercial activities, policy development or public health activities. Fellows cannot use this time to engage in financial, administrative, or managerial activity beyond that which directly relates to their own research.

5.6.2 Professional Part-time Fellowship Option

A professional part-time option is available for applicants to the Clinical, Population Health or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship categories. This option allows Fellowship holders in these categories to share their time between research and their other professional activity (refer to sections 6.2, 6.3 and 6.5 for details).

Professional part-time Fellowships are available for 40-90% of a full-time position with the value of the award adjusted pro-rata. Applications for professional part-time Fellowships must be justified in professional terms, i.e. applicants must plan to combine their professional activities with their research and be able to demonstrate an interface between the two, and must be supported by their employer.

These Fellowships are intended to be held part-time for the duration of the Fellowship, however, fellows may seek to convert from part-time to full-time (see section 10.5).

When the part-time option is taken, the combined time spent on research and on the associated professional activity, must equate to at least 1.0 FTE. For the research component, 80% of that time must be devoted to achieving the outcomes of the Fellowship, e.g. if the research component is 0.5 FTE, then 0.4 FTE (i.e. 80% of the research component) must be directed towards research. The remaining 20% of the research component may be spent on activities directly related to research under the Fellowship. Fellows cannot use this time to engage in financial, administrative, or managerial activity beyond that which directly relates to their own research.

Note: Part-time options are not available for the RD Wright Biomedical or Industry Career Development Fellowship categories, except as described in section 5.6.3, below.

5.6.3 Personal Part-time Fellowship Option

There are also occasions when researchers who wish to maintain a research career are unable to do so because their capacity to engage in full-time employment is limited due to pregnancy, major illness or carer responsibilities including parental leave.

In these circumstances, researchers in all categories, including those whose Fellowships are already taken on a professional part-time basis (under section 5.6.2, above), are able to receive part-time support to allow them to divide their time between their personal situations and part-time research. Researchers may select this option at the time of application or convert to it during the course of a Fellowship. If they convert, they can do so temporarily – refer to sections 10.4 and 10.5 for details on increasing or reducing time commitments.

Under this part-time option, a brief justification must be provided. The non-Fellowship time is intended to be dedicated to serving the needs of a fellow’s personal circumstances, and cannot be spent on other paid employment, research, teaching or administrative roles, or clinical or practitioner responsibilities. The only exception is for fellows who already hold a Fellowship on a part-time basis as described in section 5.6.2.

Fellows must devote at least 80% of their part-time commitment to achieving the outcomes of the Fellowship, e.g. if a part-time Fellowship is held at 0.5 FTE, at least 80% (i.e. 0.4 FTE) of that time should be devoted to research. The remaining 20% of the research component may be spent on activities directly related to research under the Fellowship, including clinical responsibilities, commercial activities, policy development or public health activities. Fellows cannot use this time to engage in financial, administrative, or managerial activity beyond that which directly relates to their own research.

These part-time options are available for 50-90% of a full-time position.