Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs
16-18 Mort Street
GPO Box 9880
Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: (06) 240 8111

Dr Brian Martin
Dept of Science and Technology Studies
University of Wollongong
Northfields Avenue
Wollongong NSW 2522

Dear Dr Martin

I refer to your correspondence of 27 May 1996 regarding the exclusion of your application in the first round for an Australian Research Council (ARC) Large Grant.

The matters you have raised were referred to the Chair of the Research Grants Committee's Discipline Panel for consideration. The Chair has asked me to forward comments/advice as follows:

Panels of the Large Grants Committee consult with outside experts only in the case in which this has been approved in advance by the Australian Research Council. In this case, these consultees are officially appointed as Readers attached to the Panel. There were no Readers appointed to the Social Science Panel in 1996.

Dr Martin asks if a peace researcher is on the panel. This question is irrelevant because if one defines an area, as he does, by the "topic" there are literally hundreds of "areas" of social science which could never be covered by a limited panel membership size. The panel asks the question of all applications, irrespective of topic, whether it is an important contribution to Social Science, whether the aims and objectives can be understood, whether the research methodology is well grounded etc.

The panel viewed this application as uncompetitive relative to the other applications received because of the following: First, the application was very sloppy in defining its terms. What is meant by making technologies useful through social means? What are social structures? These have to be precisely and rigorously defined; applicants that do not help the panel in this respect do not help themselves. The aims of the proposal should be able to be understood by general social scientists. Second, the proposal "to stimulate" the practicality of these ideas (citing a 1966 study) needs to be better justified and explained. Third, the application failed to satisfactorily explain the theoretical basis in which the study was grounded. Fourth, the panel is never impressed with proposals that indicated they are going to survey the literature for the first 18 months.

I hope the above answers your enquiries.

Yours sincerely

David Murphy
Individual Grants Section
22 July 1996

cc: Mr Aapo Skorulis, Office of Research, University of Wollongong

This letter is relevant to Brian Martin's
"An ARC story."