Researcher Development Awards

The Researcher Development competitive funding scheme offers three development awards for use in 2022. These funding opportunities are directed toward staff who are endeavouring to establish and/or expand their research profile, including considering grant funding from an external agency. They are aimed at supporting staff who have experienced career interruption, or are early career researchers, with a particular focus on gender equity. These awards are not directed to staff with an established research profile (i.e. those who have previously been awarded external funding such as ARC and NHMRC grants).

Awards are open to Level A, B or C academics (other eligibility criteria apply).

Please refer to the Scheme Guidelines (DOCX, 444.97 KB) (opens in a new window) for more information.

For further information, please email

2022 Application Timeline
3 May 2021 Call for applications opens
11 & 12 May 2021Information Sessions 
6 Aug 2021 Applications due to the Office of the DVC REI
15 Sep 2021 Ranking meeting
Late Oct 2021 Applicants notified of outcomes
January 2022 Funding awarded (to eligible awardees)

Women's Fellowships – up to $30,000

The Women's Fellowship supports female academics employed at Western Sydney University as a Lecturer A, B or C. This funding can be used to support your research in a variety of ways including teaching or administration buy-outs, pilot studies, research translation and project costs.

Applications for 2022 are now closed.

ECR Fellowships – up to $15,000

The Early Career Researcher Fellowship supports ECRs in balancing teaching and administrative duties while establishing a research profile. The fellowship provides ECRs with funding to allow for teaching, marking or admin buy-out or RA assistance.

An Early Career Researcher is considered to be someone who has been awarded a PhD within the past 5 years (eligibility exemption applies for career interruptions) and who holds an academic appointment.

Applications for 2022 are now closed.

Career Interruption – up to $10,000

This funding supports academics who are either:

1. Returning to work after a period of personal leave or a career break; spent significant time on health or family responsibilities; transition to remote teaching and learning; experienced changes in workloads to focus on teaching and governance roles and additional pastoral care roles in response to COVID-19; or experienced a withdrawal of research funding. It is designed to help re-establish research relationships, partnerships and projects that may have lapsed or been put on hold due to a specific career break.

2. Currently on family or carers’ leave (for a period of more than three months), to access funds for research support staff to be employed and supervised to maintain time critical experiments or projects. (n.b. an alternative supervisor must be nominated for the research support staff, whist the awardee is on leave).

Career Interruption awards are open year round for option 2 requests. All other career interruptions for 2022 are now closed.

Equitable Assessment Measures

The concept of assessing researchers relative to their ‘research opportunity and performance evidence’ or ROPE is the practice of the Australian Research Council (ARC). ROPE was introduced to ‘help provide a more realistic consideration of a researcher’s capabilities and assist those who have had career interruptions for family and other reasons’ and can readily be applied for academics seeking promotion, ADP and internal funding that may be available from 2021 onwards.

ROPE meets the research agenda of Western, seeking to prioritise quality above quantity, a pivot encouraged over recent years, as the University provides a framework within which the quality and benefit of achievements is given greater weight than the rate of outputs. It considers working arrangements, career histories and personal circumstances and provides an acknowledgement of research performance given the opportunities available. This is an established practice at Western and one which will continue with the inclusion of COVID related impacts.

Criteria for ROPE Assessment

ROPE provides a framework within which the quality and benefit of achievements is given more weight than the quantity or rate of particular achievements. It considers working arrangements, career histories and personal circumstances and provides an acknowledgement of research performance given the opportunities available.

Performance Evidence

Must be viewed in reference to research opportunity. Any assessment of research will need to apply an approach that quantifies the actual research time of the academic as well as assessing the ongoing ramifications of the interruption. For example, a career interruption due to carer responsibilities can vary greatly dependent on the nature and duration of the associated responsibilities. COVID-19 has exacerbated the impacts of career interruptions and introduced new pressure points such as home schooling and accessibility. The disruptions to women academics have the potential to be reflected in research activity and output well beyond the periods of lockdown and physical distancing. As such they will need to be considered when assessing research activity for funding, promotion and ADP in future rounds for as long as these impacts resonate.

Examples of career interruption that are often experienced by women academics include, but are not restricted to:

  • Carer’s responsibilities
  • Illness
  • Maternity or parental leave
  • Unemployment
  • Non-research employment not concurrent with research employment
  • Lack of access to facilities/mentoring
  • Inability to partner as necessary to achieve research outcomes
  • Travel restrictions impacting research/fieldwork
  • Inability to conduct necessary face to face experiments
  • Additional teaching loads and demands of transitioning to online delivery
  • Increased governance responsibilities – particularly pastoral care roles

Under these current and extreme circumstances, the established and long identified inequities for women academics are amplified. All these factors must be taken into consideration when assessing the opportunities and limitations for research confronting women academics, particularly those establishing their careers.

Past Awardees

The following links provide details of past awardees and their relevant research projects. Please feel free to contact individual researchers for more information about their projects or for possible research collaboration opportunities.