Guidelines to the Guidelines

General guide to the guidelines

Kate Christian, Research Alumni Program Manager at Cure Cancer Australia published an article on the Naturejobs blog site in February 2018. Titled “The extra bits of a grant application: a cheat sheet”,  the article provides a guideline for all those extra bits for a grant application, required in addition to the good science.

More specific guidelines, tailored specifically to the Cure Cancer Australia grants can be found below.

Guidelines to the Guidelines for Cure Cancer Australia Grant Applications through the PdCCRS

Cure Cancer Australia is interested in funding ANY aspect of cancer research.  This includes (but is not limited to) causes, prevention, detection, treatment, psycho-oncology, epidemiology, survivorship, bioinformatics in cancer research.

We fund people:

  • up to 7 years postdoctoral
  • up to 7 years post MBBS
  • up to 7 years postdoctoral for an applicant with an MBBS obtained at any time prior to their PhD

The eligibility is not based on age, but on experience.

Although you may submit two applications for Cure Cancer Australia funding through the PdCCRS, only one application (Category B, Category C or Category D) per applicant will be funded or co-funded by Cure Cancer Australia.

Researchers holding a Young Investigator Category C (two-year) PdCCRS grant being funded or co-funded by Cure Cancer Australia are ineligible to apply for further funding in the PdCCRS Young Investigator categories from Cure Cancer Australia in the first year of their two-year grant.

 

Key Advice for your Application

Focus on the fact that it will be people who will be reading and reviewing your grant application.  They might have a pile of 100 documents like yours on their desk. You are selling your story, so treat your application as documents which are marketing both yourself and your science. You want your message to stand out from the crowd – “Pick me, pick me! Mine’s best”.

Realistically, a grant application is not only about the science.

 

The Application Process

There are three parts to the PdCCRS application process.

  1. Register online as a PdCCRS young (or early career) investigator in January, via RGMS
  2. Project grant application, via RGMS – worth 50%
  3. Additional questions – worth 50%

 

Registration as a Young Investigator

If you fail to register as a PdCCRS young investigator you may still apply for a grant (provided you are an early career investigator), but the grant application will be reviewed by NHMRC without respect to opportunity. Also, you will not receive any moderating benefit which might be applied to all “young” investigators during the NHMRC part of the process.

 

Additional Questions

Don’t leave the additional questions to the last minute. They take a long time to prepare properly. They are worth half your ultimate score. If you get through the NHMRC section of the assessment process in the top half of applicants, your answers to the additional questions will matter!

Make sure you use the correct form - PdCCRS Questions Form - Priority-driven Young Investigator Project Grants

Remember that some of your reviewers may not be as familiar with your field as you might expect. This applies particularly to consumer reviewers, but can also apply to other scientists who might come from a different discipline and just don’t know as much as you do.

The initial sections of the form are straightforward. Just read the questions and complete every field.

The following sections are those which appear to catch people out.

 

D. Exceptional Circumstances (career disruption)

Quantify this. Don’t just say “took time off to have three children” but spell out that you “took 12 months parental leave in 2012, 2014 and 2016; working 0.6FTE in 2013, 2015, 2017.”  Allow the reader to understand quite how much time has been disrupted.

Please note we are only able to recognise career disruption when it is because of family or carer responsibilities, or ill health. We are not able to extend your time post-doctoral for time spent working outside direct research (e.g. teaching or in industry).

 

Question 1. Track Record Relative to Opportunity- worth 30%
(or 60% of additional questions score)

You do not have a great deal of space to work with on this form, but you need to use the narrative sections of each part of the form as best you can to demonstrate your knowledge of this field and your broader research experience.

 

i. Please list all publications (refereed journal articles, book chapters and key conference presentations, in ascending chronological order [most recent last]).

Use descriptive words to indicate if your papers were in high impact journals. You can’t rely on the reviewer to understand the difference between New England Journal of Medicine and Annals of Mumbo Jumbo Land, e.

 

ii.  Please describe the applicant’s role in key publications and patents

  • Describe your contribution to the papers
  • Try to provide fuller explanations than your bare list of publications, especially noting how they relate to the proposed research.
    • Describe the impact of your papers and evidence of how your research in these papers has been translated
    • Describe your original contribution as an inventor (patents)

 

If you don’t have room for all this in this section, see if you can include it in the section above where there is more space available

 

iii.  Research experience

Provide details of previous research experience highlighting the most significant contributions, evidence of novel approaches, and those most relevant to the proposed research.

  • If you have changed fields during your research life, mention this and explain and how each field has contributed to your development for the research you want to undertake now
  • In addition to the items in the detail of the question, provide evidence of your research leadership roles and capabilities

 

iv.  Other relevant experience

Provide details of clinical training and practice relevant to cancer if any (and whether your involvement in clinical practice will impact on your ability to carry out the proposed project), details of postgraduate teaching if any (indicating whether you are/were the sole or co-supervisor, and whether any of your students have completed their degrees), and details of any administrative responsibilities (including laboratory, departmental, institutional, or external).

  • Detail your supervision experience, including
    • The number of students, including completing students (Honours, Masters and PhD
    • Lab supervision

 

 

  • Mention Community Engagement

Include all the sorts of things you do.  They matter. They indicate your support of the broad field you care about, your citizenship, your contribution to society

  • Lab tours
  • Talks to community groups
  • Other involvement with community groups - fundraising, providing assistance, etc
  • University/Institute Engagement

Mention the extra things you take on at work. Again, this engagement indicates your good citizenship and your contribution to the team, and are a good indicator of leadership potential. This engagement might include:

  • Leadership of journal club
  • Social club
  • Writing for the newsletter
  • Mentoring
  • Establishment of meetings of an interest group
  • List any administration experience. When you receive a grant, you immediately need to learn how to administer your research. If you have had some administrative experience already, say so

 

v.  Academic Qualifications/Awards

  • List all awards and scholarships – these make you stand out from the crowd
  • Mention any competitive memberships
  • Mention committees you are involved with, and their purpose

 

Question 2. How the research will contribute to the career development of the applicant– worth 10% (or 20% of additional questions score)

 

 Career Development Objectives

i.  Briefly outline your career development objectives for the next five years and how the proposed project will foster these. If relevant, describe any collaborations that will be facilitated by the project.

  • Outline your career aims and objectives. Add specific milestones. Describe where you want to be in a few years and how this project will help
  • How will this project help achieve your career goals?
  • Use this as an opportunity to identify any gaps in your track record, and explain how this grant will help fill them.
  • Note the expected tangible outcomes. The project will result in generation of data so that…
  • Describe the collaborations which have been/will be facilitated in your proposed research environment.
  • Explain how this will allow development of the collaborations.

 

ii.  Research Environment

  • Describe your reasons for choosing the laboratory or place where you plan to work, including mentoring arrangements.

 Examples might include:

  • If this funding will allow the building of a team, outline the steps, and how they are specific to project
  • Detail the environment in which you will be working and what it will provide in terms of mentorship and facilities. Mention the special access to expertise that will result if project is successful (for example if it means a move to a new lab)
  • Detail the mentoring arrangements which will be available
  • Detail the expertise which will be available, plus technologies and equipment in environment
  • Mention how your network might be extended in this environment

 

Question 3. Relevance to cancer control – worth 5%
(or 10% of additional questions score)

Note this sentence: “Please use lay terms that would be suitable for a press release.

  • Describe fully the nature of the problem and its impact on people/patients
  • Clearly explain impact and translation outcomes which could be expected from this project
  • Ensure that your description is sufficiently lay

 

Question 4. Consumer Involvement – worth 5%
(or 10% of additional questions score)

Our request for consumer involvement is to be taken seriously. Please allocate sufficient time to it before you submit the application. Loose plans to approach consumers after you get funding will not be sufficient.

A “consumer” is any person who is or has been affected by cancer. The consumer could be a cancer patient or a carer or family member. As noted on the Cancer Australia website, “Evidence suggests that involving consumer leads to improved health outcomes, improved safety, a more trusted health system and a more satisfied workforce”.

The expectation is that you are not just delivering results to consumers. Your consumer involvement must be bi-directional.

Remember that this funding organisation is primarily supported by people who have been touched by cancer. Likewise, government funding is supported by taxpayers and one in three of them will have been touched by cancer.

In this section, describe:

  • The roles and responsibilities for consumers, e.g. review documentation, assist with dissemination
  • How consumers have been consulted already, and how they have influenced your project design in preparation this application
  • Exactly how consumers will be involved to tailor your project in the future
  • The nature and timing of meetings you have held to date, and will hold in the future.
  • Whether you plan to involve trained consumers, such as people from the Consumers Health Forum or Cancer Voices
  • The situation and timing for dissemination to consumers

You should be able to name names here, essentially providing evidence that you are already engaged with specific consumers or consumer organisations.

It is important to note that if part of your consumer involvement has been giving a presentation(s), you must demonstrate how this presentation was a two-way interaction with an opportunity for discussion and feedback

It is best if you incorporate more than one consumer into your project.

We are aware that it is difficult for some basic researchers to imagine how they can incorporate consumer involvement into their projects.  Remember the fact that whether you are working on detection, prevention, cure or cell mechanisms, the ultimate focus of all cancer research is patients.

Also, you must not under-estimate the people in your lay audience. They will be there because they want to be – already they are interested. You never know when they, or their friend, might lead you to interesting questions, or more funding.

 

Suggestions for Consumer Involvement

To find consumers

  • Make contact with a support group for patients or their families for your cancer type. Tell them what you are researching. Ask how you can help
  • Approach Cancer Voices in your state or Consumer Forum
  • If your workplace is associated with a hospital or patients, find the team which supports external engagement
  • Make yourself available for information presentations to community engagement groups. Tell them you want consumer involvement for your project. Interested consumers will find you.

To involve consumers

  • Talk to a patient or former patient or family member about their experiences during diagnosis and treatment. It will help you understand what matters most to the patients
  • Explain your research plan to your consumers and listen to their feedback. Incorporate it if you can. If you are unable to, explain why
  • Ask your consumer(s) to review your lay summaries. Do they understand?
  • Ask your consumer(s) to review your community engagement presentations. Do they understand?
  • Practise your 3-minute conversation about why your research matters with your consumer(s). Do they understand?
  • Later, ask your consumer(s) to review your progress reports. Do they understand?
  • Plan dissemination of your results with your consumers. Make sure you cover the topics important to the consumer
  • Invite suggestions for additional avenues to disseminate your research. Plan appropriate dissemination for each type of audience.

 

Questions?

Please contact Kate Christian Research, our Alumni Program Manager

Email: kate@curecancer.com.au

Phone: 02 8072 6114