The University of Western Australia Grant Peer Support

A focus on research of an international quality and the fostering of an outstanding research culture have positioned UWA as one of the best universities in Australia and in the top 150 in the world.

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Further information

Plutus Instructions [PDF, 1.0 MB]
Updated 22 Aug 2017

For all enquiries, please contact Christine Casey



The Grant Peer Support aims to:

  • "raise the bar" - improve the quality of grant submissions from UWA investigators at all levels and across research funding programs;

  • advance the awareness of the standard of application required for success in national and international competition;

  • build collegiality; and.

  • increase opportunities for collaboration amongst colleagues within and across Schools, Faculties and Centres

Background and Rationale

UWA aims to improve the quality of grants submitted to research funding agencies for several reasons:

  • to improve the University's grant success at a time when competition for research funds is high and increasing

  • to build the University's reputation as a top 100 Go8 research intensive university.

As institutions providing peer review of grant applications submit more grants of higher quality, UWA has introduced Grant Peer Support.

Grant Peer Support of grant application schemes benefits applicants, UWA and our research community through improving collegiality amongst our research community and promoting internal research collaborations. Participation in Grant Peer Support serves as training for our early career researchers who will learn about applying for grants as well as specific research topics in their school. High quality grants:

  • improve the chances of success for the applicant,

  • build the University's reputation,

  • grow research enterprise at the University by increasing the flow of funds directly to investigators for research and indirectly to the institution through monies derived through formula based processes used to cover the indirect costs of research.

Grant Peer Support is an annual cycle for researchers applying for major grants schemes such as NHMRC and ARC.  We encourage applicants to use Grant Peer Support for all externally funded research grant applications.

Step 1:  "Proposal Planning" - The "Lean Canvas" Approach to Proposal Development
6-18 months prior to the agency deadline (for ARC and NHMRC grant and fellowship schemes)

We encourage you to plan early for applications to competitive grant schemes and have made available a 'Lean Canvas: for public good research proposal development' tool to support the planning process.  This planning tool can assist you in the design and planning of your proposal for the specific funding agency before you "Pitch Your Project" and write your actual proposal.  If you require support completing a lean canvas plan, please contact the Research Development Office.  

Utilise the "Lean Canvas" dashboard template with your team members and potential industry partners, collaborators, and peers.  It will help focus your research ideas on the key points that need to be driven home across the proposal to produce a strong compelling case for funding.

Step 2: "Pitch Your Project"
6-10 months prior to the agency deadline (for ARC and NHMRC grant and fellowship schemes)

"Pitch Your Project" provides you with the opportunity to pitch your idea for a grant to a panel of experts and receive feedback.  Any investigator planning to submit a project grant or fellowship application in the following year can participate.  Applicants need to prepare an Expression of Interest including hypotheses, specific aims, general methods outline and preliminary data using the available template and a two-page CV.  Applicants "pitch" the proposal to a "panel" of experienced colleagues for critical early feedback.

"Pitch Your Project" sessions are run by the Research Development Advisers and are held in April/May (and at other times as organised by Faculties and Centres).

Step 3: Internal (Scientific) Peer Review  
3-4 months prior to the agency deadline - submissin of application on Plutus
2 months prior to the agency deadline - review of application on Plutus

Scientific internal review allows time for critical and thoughtful review of grant applications by colleagues as well as adequate opportunity for the applicant to respond to those comments within the grant scheme timeframe.  Although participation in "Pitch Your Project" or internal scientific peer review will not guarantee success, it will improve the competitiveness of your application and help you develop the grantsmanship skills necessary for a successful research career.

Internal peer review of a research funding application may take the form of written and/or verbal feedback.  As a tool to help facilitate internal scientific peer review, we have developed "Plutus" which is a web-based system where applicants submit a draft application and nominate reviewers on-line.  The reviewers are then able to provide written feedback on-line or indicate they have given verbal feedback.

Applicants are required to nominate at least 3 reviewers - one scientific reviewer, another who has expertise with the relevant funding scheme e.g. someone who has participated in an ARC/NHMRC review panel and an informed non-expert.    Reviewers should be independent of the research group and may be external to the University.   Applicants are also encouraged to nominate early career researchers to provide them with the opportunity to develop their skills.    If you need help with identifying a potential reviewer, please refer to the list of UWA Research Expertise available on the website or contact your relevant Research Development Adviser.

Role of Research Coordinator/Applicant

A Research Coordinator (RC) in each School/Centre coordinates the internal scientific review process.  However, due to the timing of the major grant rounds and the implementation of UWA Renewal, Research Coordinators will not be required to assist with the process on Plutus for the period January - March 2017.     Applicants will be responsible for ensuring they have received 3 reviews on Plutus by the internal closing date for each scheme and these dates will be included in the relevant internal guidelines on the website for each scheme. 

Faculties, Schools, Centres and Institutes may wish to impose their own internal deadlines and processes to capture their research activity if required.  

Deans of Faculties will be asked to nominate Research Coordinators as soon as possible after UWA Renewal has been implemented.

Instructions for Use of Plutus

We have prepared instructions to assist with the review of applications on Plutus.

Step 4: Revise and Revise Again (RARA !)

Once you have been through the "Pitch Your Project" Session and completed "Internal (Scientific) Peer Review", you may want to return to the Lean Canvas Dashboard and adjust sections as needed and revise our proposal to reflect feedback gained along the way.

Internal Review by the Research Grants Office
3 weeks prior to the agency deadline

Applications received by the internal deadline (time and date) will be eligible for UWA Fellowshp Gap Central and/or UWA Near Miss Central funding - see below.

Step 1: The applicant submits a complete application to the Research Grants Office for review, together with a UWA Application Cover Sheet by the internal deadline.

Step 2: The Research Grants Office will provide feedback to the applicant who will then submit the final version to the Research Grants Office for submission to the external funding agency.

Guidelines for the application process and submission deadlines will be specific to each scheme and details will be available on the website.

Central Support Funding

Applications which are reviewed by at least 3 reviewers on Plutus by the internal deadline and submitted to the Research Grants Office, together with a completed UWA Application Cover Sheet by the internal deadline will receive the following central support funding providing they meet the eligibility criteria for each scheme: