NCMAS 2015 - Information for Applicants

Welcome to the National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme (NCMAS) web site for the 2015 application round!

Site access

  1. An NCI username and password are required to use the on-line NCMAS application system. If you have a current username and password, select the  "NCMAS application" tab on this site and log in. NCI usernames take the form "abc123", where "abc" (three characters) are the user's initials, and "123" (three digit code) indicates the user's organisation or institution.
  2. If you do not have a current NCI username and password, select the "User Registration" tab, and complete the registration form. Please make sure you also complete a project connection form. If you are applying for a new NCMAS project, use the project name 'ncmas' in your connection request. 
  3. If you have forgotten your username and/or password, email ncmas@nci.org.au or phone 02 6125 3437 to activate your account and reset your password.
  4. If you want to change your registered personal details, select the "Update Researcher Details" tab, login with your NCI username (abc123) and password, and enter current details.
  5. If you are a Chief Investigator and want to update your track record, select the " Update Researcher Details", login with your NCI username (abc123) and password, and enter your current track record information. 
  6. If you are a Lead Chief Investigator, please update your track record information, and ask all Chief Investigators on your project to update their track records before fill in the application form. Updated track record information will automatically propagate to the project application form, make sure the researcher details is updated under the corresponding project code. If you fill in the application form before updating track records, empty the content of the fields and then navigate between pages will reload the updated information.
  7. If you delete previous loaded data, please don't leave the field blank. Make sure to enter "N/A" into the fields. 
  8. All Lead Chief Investigators must read the applicable Conditions of Use documentation, and submit a signed certification form (available via the "Certification" tab) as part of their NCMAS application. Note that DTCA certification by the project Lead Chief Investigator is mandatory. Select the DTCA certification case (tick box) applicable to the project, enter the required information, sign and date the certification, and scan and upload the completed certification form.
  9. Contact ncmas@nci.org.au or phone 02 6125 3437 if you have difficulties with your NCI account, or with the NCMAS application system.

 

Computational Resources

The National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme (NCMAS) is the premier, competitive program for allocation of high-performance computing resources in Australia. The 2015 NCMAS Committee will allocate a proportion of time on the following facilities.

Table 1. NCMAS Resources

System NCMAS share Computing TIME (KSU)
NCI Raijin (Fujitsu) 15.00% 75,000
Pawsey: Magnus (Cray) 15.00% 57,600
Pawsey: Fornax (SGI GPU) 15.00% 929 (Jan-Jun only)
SF Bioinformatics: Barrine (SGI) 18.73% 1,600
VLSCI: Avoca (IBM BlueGene/Q) TBA TBA
SF Visualisation: MASSIVE 10.00% 1,900

NOTE: All references to computational resources will be in units of kilo-service-units; 1 KSU = 1000 service units (SU). Service units are scaled to be equivalent across all systems based on the processing speed of the individual machines and in 2015 they are the equivalent to on core hour on NCI’s peak system, Raijin.

The NCMAS committee has established that no single project can be allocated more than 5% of the available NCMAS share of the resources for any given facility. Further information about NCMAS, including eligibility criteria and application procedures can be found below.

Schedule

Key dates for the NCMAS 2015 application round are listed in the table below.

Table 2. NCMAS Schedule

Date Event
01/10/2014 (Wed) Applications open
31/10/2014 (Fri) Applications close 5:00 pm AEST
02/11/2014 (Sun) Application assessment begins
14/11/2014 (Fri) Allocation Committee meeting
19/12/2014 (Fri) Award notifications

Application GUIDELINES

Eligibility

In keeping with guidelines for access to Commonwealth-funded research infrastructure, Lead CIs of NCMAS projects must hold a position at:

  1. a higher-education institution which is eligible to receive funds from the Australian Research Council, or,
  2. an Australian publicly-funded research agency.

Special allocations are available for Early Career Researchers.

A small number of special allocations will be available to help Early Career Researchers, new appointments, or others who otherwise would not be competitive in the main NCMAS pool to establish a presence and track record on the national facilities. These allocations will be determined independently of the main NCMAS application pool. Special allocations will be a fixed award of 250 KSU/year. Proposals for special allocations should be a maximum of 1000 words (2 pages). It is expected that these allocations will be highly competitive and suitable for researchers who would be competitive for a junior personal research fellowship, such as an ARC DECRA or NHMRC CDA award.

A researcher can be a Lead Chief Investigator on only one application.

Groups of researchers who collaborate on related projects (especially those within the same research group or department) are requested to submit a single combined application that covers all projects and includes all relevant Chief Investigators (CIs). This rule will apply even if these researchers have previously submitted applications for multiple linked projects. The lead CI on a successful NCMAS application would normally be expected to be the senior researcher within a group or organisation. Allocations will be judged on the overall merit of the projects included in the application, and on the combined records of all participating CIs.

NOTE: Facility operators will provide mechanisms that allow the management of granted resources among sub-projects.

Proposal length and rigour will be proportional to the requested allocation.

The maximum length of a proposal will depend on the total amount of computing time requested. This requirement is intended to (a) help the NCMAS committee more rigorously assess larger requests, and (b) simplify the application process for smaller requests. Guidelines for proposal length are are listed in the following table.

Table 3: Proposal Length

Request (KSU) Length (words)
4000–5000 3000
1000–4000 2000
100-1000 1000
<100 500

NOTE: 500 words is approximately one page of single-spaced 12-point type, with 2 cm margins.

The maximum combined allocation that will be considered is 5000 KSU. In each case applicants must justify their requirement for NCMAS resources. For requests of less than 20 KSU/year researchers must indicate what unique features to the national facilities are required.

Requests and allocations will be quantised.

To simplify the work of the allocation committee, computing resources will be requested and allocated in specific increments as indicated on the application forms.

Conditions of USE

All NCMAS applicants (Lead Chief Investigators) will be required to sign and return a certification for conditions of use and compliance with recent Commonwealth legislation, in particular, the Autonomous Sanctions Act (2011, Cth) and the Defence Trade Controls Act (2012, Cth), which impose additional requirements for supporting documentation and certification of project researchers in some circumstances. Applicants should review the current conditions of use available on facility websites (follow links to the individual facility web sites.)

Email Addresses

NCMAS applicants and current users must register and use an official institutional email address for all correspondence with the NCMAS Secretariat. CIs and researchers who currently use a non-institutional email address (for example, an @gmail.com or @yahoo.com address) will be requested to register an official institutional email address before 1 March 2015.

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Grants are assessed to according to the criteria of research quality, and computational suitability, described below.

Research Assessment

  • Merits of the research (excellence and impact dimensions), as assessed by the potential of the work to generate new knowledge in an important area, the comparative scientific merits of the work within its discipline, its originality and the international competitiveness of the research.
  • Experience and demonstrated research capacity of the applicant and the project team.
  • Alignment with national research priorities and, as appropriate, complementing other national research infrastructure capability investments.

Computational Assessment

  • Appropriateness of the computational resources requested for the project:
    • The need for such resources to conduct the research.
    • Suitability of the system (hardware/software) and its operational environment to support the project.
    • Evidence or experience to demonstrate that the project will use the facilities effectively and efficiently.
      • Effective and efficient use of the resources allocated means that the use will result in both the stated research outcomes and good system utilisation (i.e., maximised compute outcomes/outputs for the grant that is awarded).
  • Reasonableness of the level of resources requested:
    • Relative to the total resources available.
    • Needed to make adequate progress in the proposed research program.
  • Track record in using merit allocated computational resources (where relevant):
    • In the case of proposals to continue a project, or a new project from existing grant holders, this implies a record of achievement and the demonstration of effective and efficient use of previous allocations.

Acknowlegements

In accepting an allocation of resources through the NCMAS, applicants agree to provide an appropriate acknowledgement of the scheme and the facility in work that is published, or in any opportunities that may arise in publicising the research. An acceptable statement of acknowledgement for inclusion in reseach publication would be "This work was supported by <ReseachFundingAgency/Program>, and by computational resources provided by the Australian Government through  <NameOfFacility> under the National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme."

If you have any questions about the application process please contact the NCMAS administration team via email at ncmas@nci.org.au.

Best regards,

The NCMAS Secretariat