To inform its submission to the Structural Review of the NHMRC's Grant Program the HSRAANZ undertook an online survey of health services researchers’ views on the three possible alternative models to the existing grant program. The survey was completed by 50 individuals: 18 SRs (36%), 11 MCRs (22%), and 21 ECRs (42%). The responses were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively to inform the responses to the consultation questions.
Summary of key messages from HSRAANZ survey respondents
A consistent theme within respondents’ qualitative feedback was the inability to provide an informed opinion on the relative advantages of the three alternative models. The lack of detail within the Consultation Paper was noted as a major concern for many individuals, with many suggesting there is need for modelling or evidence on the advantages of each approach (Box 4). This lack of detail may have also led to some respondents’ belief that these alternative models are similar to the existing NHMRC structural approaches and will not achieve change. Furthermore, individuals reported some difficulty in determining the differences between the models; this was evidenced in the number of individuals who could not easily allocate rankings across the three models.
Overall, Alternative Model 1 was ranked first in the following four NHMRC objectives: reduce grant preparation time; encourage ECR and MCR progress; balance safe and innovative research; and provide opportunity across career stages. Alternative Model 3 was also ranked first in the four NHMRC objectives: reduce grant review times; balance health and medical research; provide funding support for health service research; and encourage translation of health service research into policy and practice. It is important to note, that Alternative Model 2 was not ranked first in any of the reviewed NHMRC objectives.
There was also conflicting feedback on the value of each structural approach in relation to achieving a balance between ECR, MCR and SR career stages. This balance was also discussed in relation to the size of the applicants’ research institutions; with those SRs within large centres likely to receive an inequitably higher proportion of research funds, while ECRs within smaller teams less likely to benefit from the opportunity to participate in applications.
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey and Dr Elizabeth Fradgley who prepared the final report.