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Access to grants of sea time on research vessel (RV) Investigator offers a valuable but limited resource, and the Granted Voyage Program represents a significant investment of funding by the Australian Government. Researcher demand for grants of sea time consistently exceeds availability.

All research delivered by the Marine National Facility (MNF) is expected to be of the highest research quality and offer the greatest national benefit. The advice below is made available to applicants to consider when applying for grants of sea time. It includes the full list of Primary Application questions with guidance for each Stream, as well as information on how each question will be assessed.

Note for Stream 4 and 5 applications

If you are interested in applying for Stream 4, you should discuss your ideas with the MNF to consider how it will fit and should be framed in your application. If you are applying for Stream 5, please discuss your proposal with the MNF before applying.

Research Quality

The merit principle of Research Quality (RQ) has four separate criteria that need to be addressed by applicants:

  • Research Objectives and Rationale
  • Research Design and Methodology
  • People
  • Post-voyage Activities and Impact.

To be supported, research should have a robust disciplinary rationale, clear and appropriate objectives, sound methods, demonstrable feasibility, the prospect of informative results and be being delivered by researchers with the appropriate expertise.

Research Benefit

The merit principle of Research Benefit (RB) has four separate criteria that need to be addressed by applicants:

  • National Interest and User Needs
  • Design
  • Delivery
  • Impact.

To be supported, research should align with national interests, be likely to deliver upon national needs, have a path to impact and the right team to deliver benefit.

Assessment criteria

Applicants will be asked to complete one questions against each of the merit criteria. The questions are provided in the Guidance for Primary Applicants PDF (1 MB) document and are designed to allow assessment of proposals against the specific attributes of research quality and research benefit.

Assessment process

Research Advisory Committee

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) assesses your application and advises the MNF Steering Committee (MNFSC) on matters relating to your proposal’s alignment with Research Quality.

RAC membership is comprised of marine research experts from diverse backgrounds.

Further information about the RAC’s role, membership and Terms of Reference.

National Benefit Advisory Committee

The National Benefit Advisory Committee (NBAC) assesses your application and advises the MNFSC on matters relating to your proposal’s alignment with Research Benefit.

NBAC membership is comprised of user groups including government, industry and research institutes from diverse backgrounds. Committee members may seek external opinion and review as part of their assessment process.

Further information about the NBAC’s role, membership and Terms of Reference.

Independent Expert Assessors

All applications will be independently reviewed by up to 4 national and international assessors.

Assessor(s) will be sourced from the national and international expert pool for the applicant’s discipline and asked to evaluate your responses to the Research Quality criteria.

Operational and scheduling feasibility

The MNF Operations team assess each proposal for both logistic and scheduling feasibility.

Taking into account seasonal, regional, equipment and/or personnel, MNF will advise the MNFSC of the overall feasibility of each proposal.

This information does not impact the proposal’s score, rather informs the MNFSC’s final decision as to whether a meritorious proposal is feasible within a voyage schedule. 

MNF Steering Committee

The MNFSC assists the CSIRO Board to fulfil its governance responsibilities by providing high level advice on the ongoing delivery of ocean research capabilities for the nation.

Recommendations and scores from RAC and NBAC are compiled and provided to the MNFSC for consideration in parallel with MNF operational and scheduling feasibility reports.

A proposed voyage schedule will be complied into a recommendation to the MNF Director.

Further information about the MNFSC, including delineation of its role, membership, Charter and Terms of Reference.

MNF Director

The MNF Director will consider the MNFSC recommendation, including operational feasibility and scheduling constraints, and the make the final decision on the application’s outcome:

Sea time granted

If the application is successful, the applicant will be notified and provided with an offer of sea time and formal agreement.

Sea time not granted

If the application is unsuccessful, the applicant will be notified and provided with feedback.

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