Reducing burden and supporting women’s careers

Reducing the reporting burden on researchers

In recent years, NHMRC has made considerable efforts to streamline the application process and reduce the burden on researchers applying for NHMRC grants.

Next week, we will introduce streamlining initiatives aimed at reducing the burden on researchers once they have received funding from NHMRC. 

As of April 1: 

  • Researchers will no longer be required to complete a progress or midterm report using the current forms - instead they will be asked to update their CV;
  • For those holding NHMRC scholarships, supervisors will no longer be required to complete a report at the end of the scholarship; and
  • Final reports on completed grants will still be required, but will be done within RGMS and will only require researchers to update their CV and submit a short summary of achievements.

We hope that this will reduce the administrative load on NHMRC-funded researchers significantly. Further details are available here.

Varying your grant conditions

We have also developed a new variation policy for researchers seeking to change their funded grants. This will come into effect on July 1.

Our peer review process is competitive and rigorously assesses grants against each scheme’s selection criteria. Sometimes researchers request variations to the details of their funded grants, but significant changes may, if known at the time of peer review, have changed its competitiveness against other applications that were just below the cut-off.

The new variation policy clearly sets out how NHMRC will consider requests to deviate from application submitted to peer review, noting that some requests will no longer be required.

Women in Health and Medical Research

Last week we made changes to our Administering Institution Policy to address the underrepresentation of women in senior research positions across Australia.

At the early career fellowship level, women greatly outnumber men (accounting for more than 60% of all applications) but this drops drastically when it comes to our senior fellowships – women account for just 11% of applicants for our most senior and experienced fellowships. Losing so many women from health and medical research is clearly a waste of talent.

Under the new policy, all institutions will be required to have policies by the end of 2015.

NHMRC is proud of this work, led by our Women in Health Science committee, and hopes that it leads to benefits for researchers across Australia.

All researchers are encouraged to engage with their institutions as they develop their policies in the coming months.

As always, NHRMC is very open to feedback. Any comments you might have on any of these changes are welcome, and you can send them to me at

Professor Warwick Anderson AM
Chief Executive Officer, NHMRC