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What lessons can we take away from DPEI25s?

Updated: Mar 5

We’ve just come to the end of our first ever Discovery Project EOI round and wanted to share a couple of the lessons we’re taking away from reviewing EOIs from researchers across Australia.

One of the first things most people notice about the new format is how few pages you get. So how do you manage to squeeze all your brilliance into this tiny space? 

First up, the Project Description

You can fit a lot into two pages! But there are a couple of traps we saw applicants fall into: some presented a snapshot or taster of the research, without much detail on how they were going to carry it out; others found it hard to reduce the level of background detail they provided, diving deep into the technical literature, which left little space for the overall story of the proposal.

We encouraged applicants to present a compelling narrative that emphasised:

  • the significant problem their research could contribute to solving (significance)

  • why their research field was the right one for the job (capability)

  • what was distinct about their proposed approach (innovation)

  • what they planned to do to meet their overall project aim (quality and feasibility)

  • how their work would contribute to beneficial outcomes into the future (benefit).

By hitting all these points, applicants positioned themselves as having met all the ARC assessment criteria. They also showed they didn’t just have a great idea – they also had a well-thought-out plan for achieving a defined goal and knew just how that was going to bring about beneficial change, both within and outside of academia.

ROPE sections

These followed the format we’ve seen rolled out across the ARC fellowship schemes over the last six months or so. The previous ‘five-pager’ has been replaced by a larger number of character-limited sections. We found dispersing the information across different sections could result in disconnect and repetition. By taking a holistic approach to the ROPE sections, we saw an opportunity for applicants to build a comprehensive picture of their track record. For example, they might have considered listing funding they had received as a career highlight (B10); describe the research they did with the funding as a contribution to their field, with impact beyond academia (B11); detail the outputs that reported those findings (B13); and summarised why they were significant (B14).

Overall takeaways

The first Discovery Project EOI round highlighted the challenge of condensing research proposals into limited space. We recommended a narrative-focused approach addressing key evaluation criteria to demonstrate both the significance and feasibility of the research. While the ROPE sections offered opportunities to highlight achievements, a holistic perspective was fundamental to avoiding disjointedness and repetition. Overall, strategic presentation and narrative coherence were crucial.


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