Home' InDaily : April 22nd 2010 Contents Vol21No3April2010|3
Supporting a stronger research culture
Flinders University is set to remove a
major constraint on the continuity and
progress of research programs with the
introduction of a range of "family
The financial support will underpin
conference participation and re-entry to
University after parental leave. Other
fellowships being considered will
facilitate "on campus sabbaticals" for
mid-career researchers and support for
more visiting academics.
The fellowships are amongst a range of
initiatives from Flinders' recently
appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor
(Research), Professor David Day, to
encourage greater research intensity at
the University by enabling continuity in
research programs and supporting early
Professor Day said researchers, frequently
women, who were carers of young or
older family members were often
constrained in their ability to attend or
give presentations at conferences
because of responsibilities at home.
"Attending conferences is an
important part of an
academic's working life -- it is
one of the ways that you
maintain visibility in front of
your peers, make the rest of
the world realise what you are
doing, and the knowledge and
experience gained enhances
your teaching expertise,"
Professor Day said.
"Flinders has decided to support this caring
role by funding childcare at a conference
destination or even the travel of a family
member such as a grandparent. Another
option to relieve the stress on researchers
travelling would include paying for a nanny,
for example, to remain with children or an
ageing family member at home," he said.
The Conference Travel Fellowships will
extend from $1000 for a national
conference up to $2500 for an
Professor Day said Flinders was also
introducing a Re-entry Fellowship that
would ease the transition from parental
leave back into academic life.
"The Re-entry Fellowship will provide
money to individual Schools to relieve
some of the pressure on staff returning to
the University by paying for a research
assistant or some teaching time to allow
them to focus on re-establishing their
research programs," he said.
"The amount required will vary
according to the discipline involved and
an individual's circumstances but we
envisage payments in the order of
$20,000 to $50,000."
Flinders is also considering how it might
support mid-career researchers to
reinvigorate their research programs.
"Promising research programs can
sometimes be subsumed by the heavy
teaching or administrative workloads for
senior academics in the mid-phase of their
careers. So I am exploring with my
colleagues ways in which we might lighten
that load," Professor Day said.
"The University may be able to
fund internships -- something
akin to a sabbatical on campus
-- in order to give people a
chance to re-establish
themselves in their particular
field of research," he said.
Such internships would be awarded on a
competitive basis with recipients
proposing a comprehensive research
program incorporating stringent
In an effort to also revitalise Flinders
research agenda with an infusion of new
talent and ideas, Professor Day is
considering offering a small number of
short-term fellowships with a particular
focus on attracting international
academics to the University.
In implementing a program to
support early career
researchers, Flinders has
recently announced the
inaugural round of"near miss"
grants which provide $30,000
to researchers who were
unsuccessful in securing
Australian Research Council
and National Health and
Medical Research Council
grants. The funds will underpin
the continuity of research
programs and, it is anticipated,
position the researchers for
success in subsequent ARC and
NHMRC grant applications.
Nine "near miss" grants were awarded to
researchers in Flinders Faculty of Health
Sciences to support a wide range of
activities from studying hip fracture
rehabilitation in nursing homes to a
number of cancer research projects.
Grants were also made to staff in the
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
(to study cognitive processing therapy for
acute stress disorder in adults after
sexual assault) and the Faculty of Science
and Engineering (to explore pattern
specification and discovery in higher
order data mining).
Grant recipient Professor David Gordon
Professor David Day
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