The following Statements of Expectations describe the typical research experience and academic level expected at each Investigator Grant Level, and are to be used as a guide for applicants when selecting the Category and Level of their Investigator Grant application. They are not eligibility requirements.

The advice contained on this page is sourced from Attachment D of the Investigator Grant 2022 Guidelines which is available in full on GrantConnect.

All applicants are required to provide a justification of the selected Category and Level in the application form. This applicant justification will be considered by peer reviewers when reviewing an applicant’s track record relative to opportunity and must be reviewed by the administering institution prior to submission of the application to ensure that the Level selected aligns with the applicant’s career stage (relative to opportunity) and the Statements of Expectations.

NHMRC expects that applicants will apply at an appropriate Level to help achieve parity and fairness for all Investigator Grant applicants.

It is important that applicants consider the descriptors in the Statements of Expectations (the list of dot points) as well as academic level and years post-PhD. NHMRC recommends that all these elements are considered on balance by applicants and peer reviewers, and a judgement made about which Level is ‘best fit’. The justification should clearly explain why the applicant has applied for the selected Level, particularly where their application Level does not align with the Statements of Expectations, their years post-PhD and/or their academic level. If the applicant justification does not adequately justify the selected Level, this can be taken into account by peer reviewers when scoring the application (i.e. the peer reviewer may score the applicant’s track record, relative to opportunity, lower than they would have if the applicant had applied at the appropriate Level).

Recognising the diversity of the sector, and the many different settings in which researchers are employed, NHMRC recognises that individuals can achieve academic promotion for a range of reasons unrelated to their research career (e.g. teaching and learning, administration, community engagement). Investigator Grant Levels are not strictly correlated with academic levels. The required justification will support assessment where applicants fall outside the broad benchmarks.

Applicants who have previously held an NHMRC Fellowship or Investigator Grant are expected to apply at a Level commensurate with their previous or currently held Fellowships, factoring in the career progression that those grants support. Applicants are reminded that previous NHMRC Fellowships or Investigator Grants held affect eligibility to apply at some Investigator Grant Levels. Applicants who have never received an NHMRC Fellowship or Investigator Grant should refer to these expectations and apply at a Level commensurate with their experience and profile.

The descriptors provide a broad benchmark and it is not essential that all elements be met.

Leadership Level 3 (L3)

It is expected that L3 Investigator Grant recipients will typically be more than 20 years post-PhD (or equivalent, see section 4.8) and appointable at Academic Level E, and be leading international authorities in their research area with demonstrated:

  • significant original contributions of major importance that have had a positive impact on health and medical research, the health system, economy and/or the health of the population
  • experience in leading a major independent research program(s) involving national and international collaborative networks
  • national and international contributions through leadership in their scientific discipline (e.g. in research policy and on advisory committees) • extensive supervision, mentoring and promotion of early and mid-career researchers
  • significant leadership roles within their department, centre, institution or organisation, that extend beyond their research.

Leadership Level 2 (L2)

It is expected that L2 Investigator Grant recipients will typically be between 15 and 20 years post-PhD (or equivalent, see section 4.8) and appointable at Academic Level D or E (or equivalent), and be leading national and rising international authorities in their research area with demonstrated:

  • substantial and original contributions that are of major benefit to health and medical research, the health system, economy and/or the health of the population
  • experience in leading an independent research program(s) involvingnational collaborative networks
  • national and possibly international contributions to their scientific discipline (e.g. research advisory boards, peer review)
  • supervision, mentoring and promotion of early and mid-career researchers
  • leadership roles within their department, centre, institution or organisation that extend beyond their research.

Leadership Level 1 (L1)

It is expected that L1 Investigator Grant recipients will typically be between 10 and 15 years post-PhD (or equivalent, see section 4.8) and appointable at Academic Level C or D (or equivalent), and be national authorities in their research area with demonstrated:

  • original contributions that are of major benefit to health and medical research, the health system, economy and/or the health of the population
  • ability to independently conceive and direct research programs, coordinate a team of researchers and generate national collaborations
  • national contributions to their scientific discipline (e.g. public advocacy, peerreview, research advisory boards or professional societies)
  • supervision, mentoring and promotion of early and mid-career researchers
  • contribution(s) within their department, centre, institute or organisation that extend beyond their research e.g. membership of regulatory or management committees.

Emerging Leadership Level 2 (EL2)

It is expected that EL2 Investigator Grant recipients will typically be between 5 and 10 years post-PhD (or equivalent, see section 4.8) and appointable at Academic Level B (or equivalent), and be recognised for their expertise in their research area with demonstrated:

  • original contributions of influence in their field of expertise
  • ability to contribute to the conception and direction of research projects,while developing independence
  • experience in supervising a small research team
  • national contributions to their scientific discipline (e.g. public advocacy, community leadership, peer review and professional societies)
  • contributions within their department, centre, institution or organisation e.g.organising journal clubs, seminar series etc. It is also expected that Emerging Leadership applicants will be working within a larger team under the mentorship of more senior researchers.

Emerging Leadership Level 1 (EL1)

It is expected that EL1 Investigator Grant recipients will typically be between 0 and 5 years post-PhD (or equivalent, see section 4.8) and will be beginning to gain recognition in their research area with demonstrated:

  • original contribution(s) in their field of expertise
  • ability to contribute to the conception of research projects
  • scientific contributions within their region, state or territory (e.g. community leadership, state level contribution to a professional society)
  • limited but developing supervision of research staff and students
  • contributions within their department, centre, institution or organisation e.g. organising journal clubs, seminar series etc. It is also expected that Emerging Leadership applicants will be working within a larger team under the mentorship of more senior researchers.

Guidance on relationships between NHMRC Fellowship schemes and the Investigator Grant Levels is provided in Table 1 below. Eligibility to apply for an Investigator Grant based on previous or currently held Fellowships is at Appendix F of the Investigator Grant 2022 Guidelines.

Table 1. Guidance on relationships between NHMRC Fellowship schemes and Investigator Grant Levels

Current NHMRC Fellowship Corresponding Investigator Grant Level
Senior Principal Research Fellowship Australia Fellowship Leadership Level 3
Principal Research Fellowship
Practitioner Fellowship Level 2
Leadership Level 2
Practitioner Fellowship Level 1
Senior Research Fellowship Levels A and B Career Development Fellowship Level 2
Leadership Level 1
Career Development Fellowships Levels 1 and 2 Translation of Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship Emerging Leadership Level 2
Early Career Fellowship
Translation of Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship
Emerging Leadership Level 1